JP's NEW MT: a case for going custom

Eminent Team
23 Sep , 2020

If you follow us on Instagram you know we've just dropped the Ongold collabo bike with some new partners.  You can read all about it here.  This bike isn't it, but it's still a looker... well I think so at least.  In any case, I thought I'd take you through my newest build and the thought that went behind it.  

Go Big or Go Home

I was coming off a large LT.   This bike would replace it.  Sadly this was not an N+1 situation.  At 6' even longer reach was definitely something I was curious about. Having moved to a longer hardtail and having a hard time finding any gripes adjusting I was pretty sure I wanted to give the XL frame a shot.  At 488mm, this was a big jump, possibly too much of a stretch for me.  My first demo run laid all that to rest.  The XL reach, even with a stock 50mm Valiant stem, felt really good. 


My next dilemma was LT vs MT.  I definitely like to pedal a bike, get elevation on, and earn a decent.  Given family/work/life balance I also need to be realistic that I'm not at a place in my life where I can't spend the entire weekend and summer afternoons doing park and shuttle laps... But hey I also like a 160mm travel bikes and as soon as Jeff said it was on my head started spinning and the internal debate raged in my head of going big or not so big...  

Here is where I landed:

XL Frame w 35mm stem - My mind was made up once I tested it.  Modern long front center geo agrees with me.  I have yet to find a situation where I feel like I'm giving up anything.  Thinking it through I don't come from a BMX background and I'm not JKW.  I'm not what you'd call a "playful rider" so long a stable tends to play better to my strengths and weakness.  

"BRO, no 38?" -  The 38 really is a stout battering ram.  The stiffness gains are noticeable immediately.  Maybe when JS takes the company to Whistler I'll throw one on, but I stuck with the 36 at 160mm.  Here's why... there is the better part of a pound difference between the 36 and 38 and it's all going up front.  I can't manual through life like Jeff Kendalweed.  Given the the added reach/down force I wanted keep the front end light.

65 degree HTA - I saved a bit of weight by going with a standard CC Hellbender vs. the stock Worx half degree HS.  More than that though, I kept the front wheel more neutral for climbing.  It also keeps stack height a little more neutral with the XL 130mm HT lenth.

MT Link/155mm travel with Fox DPX2 - This was the last major decision.   Again in the interest of weight I skipped the stock MT Fox X2 (again maybe when the company goes to Whistler).  Up to this point I had planned to just build an LT with a production DPX2 and upstroke the fork, but a light bulb when off.  Given the negligible difference in weight going from a 210 x 55 to a 230 x 60 DPX2, why not have 15mm of squish to the rear.  It's not like the longer shock changes the kinematics or geo of the rear end in any way.  It just gives it more depth on big hits.  If I really felt the extra mm of sag at 25% on the 60mm stroked shock, I could a) sag it less, or b) use my climb switch more often.  Side note: I rarely touch my climb switch.  AFS anti-squat is just too good to need it.

Finer Points

OneUp Bars/EDC stem/tool - This has become standard fare on all my builds.  If I could tap my carbon steer tube there'd be and EDC tool one on my gravel bike too.  PS - The compliant hype on the bar is real.

Specialized Power Saddle - Looks short because it is.  Three words: NO SNAGGED SHORTS... What do you use the nose of a saddle for anyway?

Shimano dropper remote - Again, standard fare.  Feeds the cable reverse of most droppers.  No measuring to cut or issues with grub screws popping offinside your frame.  Smooth action with a return spring as well.

Absolute Black Oval Ring -  First bike going oval and I'm a believer.

Crank Brothers Synthesis 11 Enduro Wheels and Vittoria Tires - More on this on a future blog.


It hit's the scale at only a pound over my LT.  The bulk of that is in the wheels and the longer (175 vs 150) dropper,  Both are easy trade offs.  CB Synthesis wheels ride quality is on a different level.  At 6 foot on an XL the 175 Transfer is slammed, but it fits.  The old gen Transfer insertion length limited me to 150.  Thanks to the revised head/clamp I'm now getting a proper 175 drop.  

I'm pretty happy with how it all came together, the gold/Kashima are a pretty good match, without being too flashy (you want flash, check out the OnGold bike).  Looks aside, I'm even more stoked on how well it rode out of the gate. As mentioned the longer reach felt perfect on both the downs and the ups.  That new 36 Grip VVT damper is soooo much more supple than the previous gen.  Fox nailed the tune (again) on our DPX2 shock and the extra 15mm makes the bike that much more plush.  

To top it off made it Bike of the Day on the first day I got it dirty.  


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