Alex's 27.5 Splatter Spline wins Pinkbikes reader poll , 'The Sexiest AM/FR/Enduro Hardtail of 2015'!
Alex had a really clear vision of what he wanted when he came to me to have a custom geometry Spline made, the frame turned out to be a winner and with his select build the bike is awesome. Here's his story of the journey of having a custom Swarf frame plus some detail of his final build (including an interesting ghetto pro-core system!). Words and Pictures by Alex Klimow
The idea behind this bike was to take the fit of my previous bike i.e. the distance between the bars and the seat and exaggerate everything else, without going too far.
My previous big bike was a Ragley Bagger 288 on which I used a 70mm stem and 750mm bars. The seating position was generally alright, but the 70mm stem was inappropriate in my mind.
So I started looking around, 650b became a thing, I read a lot about Forward Geometry and what Chris Porter thinks about bicycle geometry and I didn't find anything that combined everything I now believed to be important.
A custom frame was the only solution to my 'problem'.
I contacted a few frame builders but wasn't thrilled with their responses and I kind of resigned. Then one day my good friend Franzi told me she was getting a steel full suspension frame built by a somewhat nerdy British bloke and that I should ask him. So I did.
The correspondence was everything I was hoping for. No immediate 'Yeah, I'll do it! Give me some money.', no 'Why would you want such a long reach?', no 'Fillet-brazing is for grandads! TIG welding is for men!' but a healthy discussion with countless emails* crunching numbers, discussing manufacturing techniques and evaluating subjectivities.
It took us a good four months to settle on the final geometry. January 2015 I think it was when I couldn't think of anything to be changed.
Compared to the Bagger I wanted the seat angle to be steeper, head angle slacker, bottom bracket lower and the whole bike to be longer. All using a 150mm fork and a 50mm stem.
The final geometry was as follows:
(sagged, as anything else doesn't really make sense on a hardtail)
For reference, I'm 1,77m tall.
66° head angle
75.5° seat angle
430mm seat tube
305mm BB height
It worked out great and the craftsmanship is excellent. I was and still am over the moon.
Especially with the frame being painted by Fatcreation's Alistair McLean.
The inspiration for this paintwork was an early nineties Kuwahara and Geoff Gulevich's prototype Rocky Mountain DH bike from 2014, I think.
I took the bike on two trips to the alps so far, did a lot of local riding and a bit of racing (one enduro event). And I can now tell you that a frame with this much reach is not to be trifled with. I think I slowly but surely got the hang of it now.
It definitely has huge benefits, but also its downsides. They are manageable, though.
The Spline's standard geometry should be more approachable.
Somewhere along the line I asked the guys at BTR for advice on the geometry and Tam generally agreed with it, but suggested to reduce the fork travel to 120mm. I was pleased with his response but thought to myself 'What does he know about fork travel? I'll stick with 150mm.'
It might surprise you then that I recently reduced the fork travel to 130mm. Which makes the bike handle miles better than before.
I also asked Brant Richards for advice and exchanged a few emails with him. Thanks again!
The build is more sturdy than light weight and with a proper mix of Shimano XT and Zee parts. I've got XT brake levers, Zee calipers, an XT rear mech body and a Zee cage. The cassette is a 9speed one. To make that work with the Shadow+ derailleur you need a 9speed Sram shifter and clamp a 6mm spacer under the gear cable.
Looking closely at the rear wheel you can spot a second valve stem, too. I put a 700c tubular tyre in there to never get a pinch flat again. I got a lot. Even with tubeless setup.
A lot of guys on mtb-news.de do this, which is where I got the idea and it's a great alternative to that Schwalbe Procore kit. You do need to drill another hole in the rim, but the rest is a doddle. And it's a LOT cheaper.
Ok, getting the tyre off the rim isn't a doddle but it's still well worth it.
That's about it. I hope you like the bike and give Adrian a call in case you want a new bike.
*read: more than 200''