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Found 17 results

  1. It is everything I hoped for and am glad I didn't tinker with the geometry. "Bent at the knees, Iwan" has been my conscious and sometimes vocal reminder out on the trails as I soon realised I need to learn how to properly ride a hardtail again. I almost snapped my shins doing a drop off thanks to years on a dual suspension and the bad technique I've slipped into. Getting the front wheel, and whole bike for that matter, up in the air is the easiest I've ever had it on a bike that one can still pedal to the top of a trail. What is clear as day is the fact that the Hungry Monkey is a blast to ride. Sold on wide rims by American Classic's Wide Lightnings I decided to go one up and build a pair of Derby Rims. The 34mm Inner / 40mm Outer profile of the Derby rims are monstrous. I've had countless people who've asked whether it's a fat bike or 27.5+ because of the extra volume of the tires. I still need to find the sweet spot, but I've been running the air pressure lower and lower and the grip and traction just keeps getting better and better. 13 - 15PSI in front and 20PSI rear seems to be the way to go if the internet is to be believed. In a way I regret not trying it first with a more conventional wheelset as I'm not 100% sure where the comfort of steel ends and the extra squish of the rubber running on uber fat carbon rims begins. If you're considering one and are worried about the head angle on climbs then don't be. On the handful of rides I've done I've only used the lower setting of the dual-position Pike once and that was on the first ride while I was still trying things out. I have however used it to access the "other bike". Riding a trail like Meerendal with it's flat flowy single track with the bike in 120mm mode is heaps of fun. With a head angle that's still slack for a 120mm the bike carves and rips the trail with more confidence than most dual suspension bikes of similar front wheel travel. The Hungry Monkey with a dual position fork does make for a very versatile bike that will be fun for most riders. It will comfortably do a race on Saturday and carve a black route on Sunday. I still find myself looking down at the raw steel shining through the Bogus Designs paint job - pure trickery that would have seen him burned at the stake in the dark ages. My only let down so far has been the brakes. I've become used to the SRAM Guide RSC's on another bike I've been riding and the Hope's feel a bit wooden by comparison. Not at all what I was expecting. Will try a good bleed before I swap them out for either the new Tech 3's or Guide Ultimate that's coming the end of May. A big thanks to David Mercer for building a frame I've been dreaming about for years and to Anton (Bogus Designs) for blowing my mind with your attention to detail, creativity and incredible skill. Who knew building a mountain bike can be this rewarding?
  2. And so it ends. Or begins. The Hungry Monkey is up and running and all that's left to do is rip trails and contain my laughter and screaming (like a child) while out riding it. Click here to view the article
  3. The Frame Hungry Monkey frames are built one at a time in the Cape Town workshop of Mercer Bikes. The frame is 650b specific and is equipped with sliding dropouts and has been designed to accept long travel forks (140 – 160mm). The head angle is a relatively slack at 66 degrees running a 160mm fork and the top tube is on the long side - 620mm effective top tube giving you a roomy 428mm of reach in the large size. To make a stable ride at speed, the bottom bracket is lower than the norm and the chainstay length can be adjusted from 420 to 445mm. A 1x specific design, the Hungry Monkey also has cable routing for a stealth dropper post making it a very versatile frame that can be set up for many riding styles. Steel's longevity and liveliness are legendary and the heart of the Hungry Monkey is its handmade steel frame. A selection of double butted steel tubes from Columbus and Dedacciai are fillet brazed together - brass is melted into and around the join to fuse the tubes to one another. On a microscopic level some interesting things happen - there is a transition zone of bronze that forms through the interaction of steel and brass. The fillets are then worked on with a file and emery cloth to reveal a smooth bond at each juncture - this helps to dissipate stresses at the join, as there are no sharp transitions to form stress risers. Since brass is also more ductile than steel, there's a microscopic amount of flex that occurs at the joins. Traditional frame builders believe that this flex further enhances resilience. David Mercer does not use gussets on the front triangle as he feels that this concentrates stress around the ends of the gusset. Gussets are however used to increase the wall thickness of the chain stays where they are joined to the bottom bracket to compensate for the lack of chainstay bridges. By leaving out the bridge there's a bit more clearance for larger tires and mud. Components Most Mercer Bikes ship as a frame only, leaving the buyer to cherry-pick all their components themselves allowing for a truly custom build bike.Fork: DVO Diamond As a recent addition to the build, I don't have too much to say about the DVO just yet. So far it's been all good, but I need some more time on it to get it dialed to my liking. For now you can have a look at our "First Look" article about it here. Wheelset: American Classic Carbonator I had a 29er set on review and was very impressed with their overall performance. These were fitted in haste to get the bike up and running in time to make it to the Africa Cycle Fair. For the full review have a look here.Drivetrain: SRAM X1 One word: faultless. I can add quite a few more words of praise, but let's leave that for the full review coming up in the not too distant future. Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 125mm drop This is the second bike of mine with this stealth dropper and I haven't had a single issue with it. Once the review is done on this one, I will get a 150mm drop for this frame, as there's enough length.Brakes: Hope Stealth Tech Evo with 183mm floating rotors Another piece of kit that has made it's way to more than one build. They haven't let me down once and to date no maintenance has been needed to keep them operating at their best. Tyres: Hans Dampf TLR 2.35 front, 2.25 rear My love affair with Hans Dampf tyres have been a bit hot and cold. Quite capable in most terrain, but surprisingly weak in others - like sand. Running them on the super wide Derby Rims gave them a new lease on life. Alas, my search for the perfect one tyre continues. Pedals: Point1 Podium For their review I have dug into my archives to try and figure out exactly when I bought them. Although the exact year could not be determined I have established that I've had these for the best part of four years and they have somehow survived very little maintenance and have out-lived several bikes. Point1 was recently acquired by Gamut (a certain Mr Minnaar rides their gear) which means these are now available to purchase locally. Bottle Cages: Specialized Zee Cage II with EMT Cage Mount Tool Full review on these here.Handlebar & Stem: Easton Haven 35 Carbon 20mm Riser Bar, 750mm | Easton Haven 35 Stem, 50mm Easton was one of the first big players to release 35mm bars and stems and it certainly looks like it's here to stay and possibly take over as the steering of choice for longer travel bikes. Grips: ODI Rogue I have been a fan of ODI for a good couple of years. With colour, width and feel options to suit just about every rider regardless of discipline. The Rogues have been my grip of choice, as they provide an extra bit of give without being too soft or spongy. Plus, they perform well come rain or shine. Headset: Nukeproof Warhead 44IETS Along with a bike's bottom bracket, the headset is often an unsung hero expected to slave without much love and attention. The Nukeproof has been going for months without any issues. Saddle: SDG Circuit Mountain Ti-alloy saddle I've tried many saddles of this nature and the SDG Circuit has proven to be the most comfortable on longer rides. Full review on it here. On the Trail Spoiler alert: it is great fun. The Hungry Monkey manages to blend the perfect combination of a direct drive hardtail with the forgiving feel of steel. Stomp on the pedal and it leaps forward with gusto.Climbing rocky terrain is typical of a hardtail with a dash of forgiveness thanks again to steel's characteristics and Mercer's understanding and experience with building some "traction" into the rear triangle. What efficiency does get lost is made up for in heaps and bounds by it's competitively lightweight (2.4kg for a frame in size large) and a sorted geometry. The seat tube angle plays a big part in this and the ability to adjust the chainstay length means you can play around until you find a perfect blend of snappy response and sure-footedness. Hit open, flowy single track and let the Hungry Monkey loose for hours of fun. My original build had a dual position Pike on it that could be set to either 120mm or 150mm. I found the bike's trail manners surprisingly good in 120mm. The bottom bracket height does come into play so you will have to watch those pedal strikes, but get your mind around that and the combination of the low bottom bracket, healthy reach and head angle makes for one super capable trail bike. In fact, in this "mode" I would argue that it could be the perfect XC / Marathon race bike for most. It's not as harsh as some alloy frames and although there's no discernible flex, its not as harsh as some carbon hardtails where the goal from outset was the stiffest possible frame. Even here Mercer seems to have a one up on most big brands.Although not meant to be a definitive guide, for reference I would say trails like Meerendal, G-Spot and Bottelary Hills are perfectly suited to a 120mm Hungry Monkey. For our Gauteng readers... The Spruit? Just kidding, I have no idea really. Best description would probably be trails that aren't too rocky and rooty and have lots of smooth, flowy single track. That's not due to any short comings of the frame, purely based on the bottom bracket height in 120mm mode. Up the travel to the recommend 140mm - 160 mm and you have yourself a beast of a bike. Come to terms with the fact that you are on a hardtail and you will be rewarded with one of most fun bikes on our trails. Getting your tires off the ground takes little to no effort, manuals and bunny hops have never felt this "natural" on anything but a dirt jump bike.Tackle a technical downhill section and the bike's head angle comes into play as it let's you carry speed and momentum with confidence and bravado. Railing berms is uber fun and if you do lose some momentum getting back up to speed takes very little effort as every pedal stroke is rewarded with a burst of speed. When combined with the almost "plus size" effect of the super wide Derby Rims (35mm internal, 40mm external) the bike is a momentum monster delivering stupid grins for long after the single track has stopped. Verdict In our coverage of the Hungry Monkey for the Africa Cycle Fair's Best Bike in Africa two lines stood out for me: "In an era of mass production, the Hungry Monkey stands out as something unique and special" and touching on it being a handmade steel frame "this should make the Hungry Monkey a frame for life." Two lines that sum it up to the T. If you want to be to the point and factual about anything that can be ridden or driven then surely it all comes down to the cold hard facts or how it rides or drives and there should be little to nothing to add to that. We have seen the dawn of the hypercar era, but only a few have managed to stir the soul and evoke emotion. So too there are many great mountain bikes out there and one could actually argue that there are very few bad mountain bikes left, but of those great bikes only a few manage to get ones heart rate up - for me, the Hungry Monkey is one of those and I attribute that to 3 main factors: Steel. There is just something special about riding a steel bike. Okay, I suppose not every bike made out of steel rides the same. But with the Hungry Monkey you know lots of thought and consideration has gone into every tube, angle and finishing touch. Having met it's maker. When I first met Dave it was obvious that he loves what he is doing. This is not a way out of a job or a way into an industry. He is passionate about his bikes and the steel tubes on the shelves in his workshop - and it rubs off. The joy of riding a hardtail again. Yes, I miss rear suspension sometimes when out on the trail and yes I do still love dual suspension bikes, but here's just something beautiful in how simple and fun it is to ride a hardtail. Even more so when it's this new breed of all-day, all-mountain hardtails that can shred with the best of them. To add to that is the fact that I'm a tinkerer and that with the wide variety of bikes we get to ride in a month one never quite settles down. Not the case with the Hungry Monkey as it's a jump on ride type of bike. To me fitness and health has always been a by-product of cycling and riding the Hungry Monkey has been a return to my roots and reason for riding again. No Strava, no beginning or end, no set route and certainly less deadlines. It's taken me back to riding just for the sake of riding and for the love of being outside and the love of being on a bicycle. The smell of the early morning dirt and the reward of a Jonkershoek mountain stream on a hot day. Back to the tangible. Take into consideration how versatile the frame is and the fact that in steel you have a frame for life, and you have a clear winner here. A Mercer Bikes Hungry Monkey II frame retails for R12,500. Contact them here.
  4. The Hungry Monkey 2 is a semi-production mountain bike from Mercer Bikes. Made by hand in the Mercer Bikes workshop in Cape Town, it is available in three sizes – M, L and XL. The Hungry Monkey is a relatively lightweight but long travel 650b trail bike based around a 140 – 160mm travel fork. Click here to view the article
  5. Usually we use our own words but when the man who designs and builds the bike gives you some text, it just feels wrong to paraphrase. So here's what David Mercer has to say about his Hungry Monkey II: The beating heart of the Hungry Monkey is its handmade steel frame. Fillet brazed from a selection of double butted steel tubes from Columbus and Dedacciai, the Hungry Monkey frame is built one at a time in the tiny Cape Town workshop of MercerBikes. It’s a labour of love. And it shows – the fillets are sanded by hand to give seamless tube junctions and flowing lines. In an era of mass production, the Hungry Monkey stands out as something unique and special.The frame is designed to accept long travel forks (140 – 160mm), 650B wheels and is equipped with sliding dropouts. The head angle is a relatively slack 66 degrees and the top tube is on the long side. The bottom bracket is lower than the norm to make a stable ride at speed and the chainstay length can be adjusted from 420 – 445mm. A 1x specific design, the Hungry Monkey also has cable routing for a stealth dropper post. The Hungry Monkey is a very versatile frame that can be set up for almost any intended use. Steel’s longevity and liveliness are legendary – this should make the Hungry Monkey a frame for life. This particular Hungry Monkey has been built with out-of-bounds trail riding in mind. It rolls on wheels from South Industries – their bombroof AM Carbon rims laced to Tune hubs with double butted DT Swiss spokes and shod in Onza rubber. The Pike up front needs no introduction: 160mm of controlled plush has never felt better. A 1x10 drivetrain with SRAM’s GX cranks turning X9 oily bits provides propulsion and SRAM’s incredible Guide brakes help reign in the madness. The saddle is a custom covered Flite Titanium from Velobrien in Cape Town. Stem and seatpost are both from Thomson and a smattering of BX components round out the build. The Hungry Monkey aims to be the bike you reach most for. It’s fun, involving and rewarding. It’s a bike with soul. Feed it. Specifications: FRAME:Double butted Nivacrom steel with adjustable dropoutsFORK:RockShox Pike RCT3 160mmWHEELS:South Industries AM rims laced to Tune hubs with DT Swiss double butted spokesTIRES:Onza IbexCRANKS:SRAM GXDERAILLEUR:SRAM X9 Type 2 SHIFTER:SRAM X9CASSETTE:SRAM 10sp 11-36BRAKES:SRAM Guide R with Centreline rotorsSADDLE:Custom leather covered Flite Titanium from Velobrien (not shown)SEATPOST:ThomsonSTEM:ThomsonHEADSET:BXHANDLEBAR:BXFRAME RETAIL PRICE:R 12,000.00BUILD RETAIL PRICE:R 55,000.00 Find out more about MercerBikes over on their website here. If you like this bike and would like the chance to own one, vote for it in the Best Bike in Africa at the Standard Bank Africa Cycle Fair on 23 - 25 October at St Stithians College.
  6. The Best Bike in Africa will be held at the 2015 Standard Bank Africa Cycle Fair on 23 - 25 October at St Stithians College, Johannesburg. The competition invites fair visitors to vote for their favourite bike at the Best Bike in Africa stand. All the entrants that vote for the bike that wins the Best Bike in Africa will go into a draw to win the bike. Leading up to the fair, we'll be be revealing the bikes entered in the Best Bike in Africa. First up today is the MercerBikes Hungry Monkey II. Click here to view the article
  7. A custom build is always a rewarding project. Part of this is the agonising process of looking for the perfect fit of design and components. For me, the direction of the build gets locked down once the look, or in this case the colours, has been decided. Once that is done, then the hunt for a complementary build kit begins. Click here to view the article
  8. Searching for satisfactory components can take a while and bring about many direction changes - as I'm sure BogusOne can attest to. For instance, with this build the final look was only determined after it became clear that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on a green DVO Diamond fork in time. Seeing it all come together in the end is rewarding and a big part of why I go the bike build route rather buying a complete bike. Frame: Mercer Bikes Hungry Monkey Frame builder: Mercer Bikes The frame and reasoning behind it has been covered thoroughly in Part 1 and Part 2. What is new, however, is the spray job by Bogus Designs (user BogusOne on The Hub) and the inspiration for it. The brief handed to Bogus Designs for the frame paint scheme. The inspiration for the Hungry Monkey's look came from the big screen. The idea really took off when I saw custom paint jobs Field Cycles did on two of their bikes. I have become a big fan of their work and the incredible passion and attention to detail is obvious. Pearl Drums nailed the coffin shut when they showed a unique colour kit at the 2015 NAMM Show. I shared my ideas with Anton (BogusOne) and he took the initiative from there. Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Position, 150mm Distributor: Cape Cycle Systems There is not a lot that needs to be said about the Pike, as it's reputation precedes it. For the first time in years, I have gone with a dual position fork. This was done for two reasons. Firstly, there was the desire to compare how it feels out on the trails to fixed travel forks. Secondly, I thought it could be a good fit on the Hungry Monkey as the ability to drop the travel will come in handy when tackling technical climbs or using it as a "play" bike. Wheelset: Derby Rims / Industry Nine Torch Hubs / DT Swiss Aerolite Spokes Rims: Cycle Factory / Hubs: Rush Sports Cycling / Spokes: SCOTT Sports Africa Derby Rims were the first properly wide, competitively priced and durable carbon rims to hit the market. Launched in the U.S. in 2013, they have proven themselves to be reliable, strong and a popular choice for custom wheel builders. I won't go into too much depth on the wide rim debate here, but I consider myself a believer following a good couple of months on a set of American Classic Wide Lightnings. The 34mm Inner / 40mm Outer profile of the Derby rims is a level up from the American Classics and if all the glowing reviews on the Ibis 741 rims (35mm Inner / 41mm Outer) are to be believed, then I shouldn't be disappointed with these. I picked Industry Nine hubs for their reliability, crazy sound, adaptability and super fast engagement. For what they offer, they are very competitively priced and the fact that one can order them in all sorts of anodised colours adds to the lure. Going with a complete Industry Nine wheelset with red spokes was an option, but I soon realised that I would struggle to match the anodised red with the overall look of the bike. Instead, I opted for DT Swiss Aerolite spokes for their look, competitive weight and the wider profile of bladed spokes. Drivetrain: SRAM X1 Distributor: Cape Cycle Systems Chosen for the value it represents over its 1x11 siblings and (to be perfectly honest) being all black. I am looking forward to giving SRAM's entry 11-speed mountain bike groupset a go and comparing it to the XX1 and X01. Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth, 125mm drop Distributor: Cape Cycle Systems Another RockShox product that doesn't need much of an intro or explanation. I like how the Stealth version keeps things neat and tidy, and being black plays well the overall look. In three years, I've only had one mechanical on a Reverb and that was when an OTB incident tore the hose and locked the post in the dropped position. Brakes: Hope Stealth Tech Evo with 183mm floating rotors Distributor: International Trade The only piece of kit that has survived from my Ibis Mojo HDR build. Back then RockShox's Guide range of stoppers were just announced. It will be interesting to see how the Hope brakes fair against the Guide RSC's that I'm running on another bike. So far the RSC's have been faultless, but can they compete long term with Britain's finest? Time will tell. Tyres: Hans Dampf TLR 2.35 front, 2.25 rear Distributor: Stage N9NE I had these tyres on another bike and was impressed with their all-round performance; although sand seemed to be their weakness. Having experience with these tyres, I decided use them as a benchmark to assess the impact that the Derby Rims have on tyre performance. The tyres have been converted to tubeless using the supplied Derby rim tape and Stan's NoTubes sealant. Pedals: Point1 Podium Distributor: Not available locally. Not as sticky as Spank's Spike flat pedal, but I had these in the parts bin and will probably ride them until they die. Bottle Cages: Specialized Zee Cage II with EMT Cage Mount Tool Distributor: Specialized SA Credit to Specialized for their range of S.W.A.T. kit and gear. It offers solutions to problems that actually exist and brings versatility to riders - prefect. With these I will be able to hit the trails without the need for a hydration pack and will only need a pocket for an energy bar or cellphone. (With only 1 broken chain and no flats on tubeless tyres in over 6 years, I feel it's a calculated risk to not carry any spares or additional tools with me on rides). Handlebar & Stem: Easton Haven 35 Carbon 20mm Riser Bar, 750mm | Easton Haven 35 Stem, 50mm Distributor: Hullabaloo It is incredible how much mountain bike geometry, set up and trends have changed over the last couple of years. The revolution has pushed gear and kit to new heights with innovation resulting in a number of new standards. One of which is handlebars and stems with a 35mm clamping area. The additional diameter has allowed manufacturers to keep the weight down and strength up on wider bars. Easton was one of the first big players to release 35mm bars and stems and it certainly looks like it's here to stay and possibly take over as the steering of choice for longer travel bikes. Saddle: SDG Duster Mountain Ti-Alloy Distributor: A-Line MTB and Outdoor Speed Defies Gravity has got to be the coolest name in the business! It's not the only reason it made the parts pick. I've been riding SDG saddles for the last couple of years and have found them to my liking and they've proven themselves to be very durable. Grips: ODI Rogue Distributor: Cycles Africa I have been a fan of ODI for as long as I can remember. With colour, width and feel options to suit just about every rider regardless of discipline. The Rogues have been my grip of choice, as they provide an extra bit of give without being too soft or spongy. Plus, they perform well come rain or shine. Headset: Nukeproof Warhead 44IETS Distributor: Dial'd Bikes Along with a bike's bottom bracket, the headset is often an unsung hero expected to slave without much love and attention. This will be the first time I try a Nukeproof headset, but judging from the quality of their other gear I'm sure it will perform flawlessly.
  9. One can almost not help but to order a frame from David Mercer. He is as nice as he is enthusiastic and it's plain for all to see that he is a lover of what he does. Talking to him on the Mercer Bikes stand at the Africa Cycle Fair left me hungry for more Hungry Monkey and keen to experience the bike out on our local trails. Click here to view the article
  10. Once we got back home and the Africa Cycle Fair dust settled, I got in touch with David again to talk bike. As per my previous post, I considered a custom geometry, but soon realised that what I felt at the Fair was what I've been looking for and there was no reason to toy with a winning formula. David was kind enough to share some details on the Hungry Monkey frame and his frame building process with us below: The NameI've had a primate obsession all my life although I mostly manage to keep it under wraps. As a youngster I thought it was terribly unfair that humans didn't have tails - I mean, how cool would it be to have a tail? These days I still find myself wishing for a tail at times - it could be mighty handy in the workshop! For the longest time I was known by my various nicknames, all of which related to my monkey obsession - Sir Tail, was an early name, while Missing Link and Neanderthal came a little later. In early high school and around the start of my Mountain Biking passion my best mate Alex christened me ApeMan. It's a moniker that stuck and whenever I go back to Durban it resurfaces. There are many who haven't a clue what my real name is. Some have heard the nickname and assume I'm actually 'Abe'.While my monkey madness has cooled down here in these southern latitudes I can't help but poke fun at my past and so all of my own frames have primate inspired names. When I came to name my very first handmade mountain bike frame I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than Hungry Monkey - what could be more manic, willing to take more risks and generally more mischievous than a truly hungry monkey? Hungry Monkey II takes this theme and expands on it - I saw no reason to change the name and I hope others like it too. The only question is: are you ready to feed the Monkey? Why build a long travel, steel hardtail?Hungry Monkey II is a very versatile AM inspired lightweight bruiser. Very long travel forks haven't really been sensible options on hardtails until the introduction of Rock Shox' new Pike. Great support from a truly luscious travel stroke ensures that every inch of travel is used but without the wallow and dive traditionally associated with such long travel. Couple this with relatively lightweight construction, sensible through axles and there really hasn't been a better time for long travel hardtails. The geometryIn designing the Hungry Monkey II I wanted to create a bike that would be most at home on technical singletrack descents. Primarily though it needed to be fun to ride. It also needed to be able to get to the singletrack capably. I design my MTB frames around fork lengths with sag dialled in. For a 160mm fork that meant that 25-30% sag could be dialled in to give maximum plushness and to allow the fork to drop into small holes as it travels along the trail. Geometry with no sag. Geometry with 25% sag. When deciding on the head angle I look at what would happen at maximum compression: for every inch of suspension travel the head angle will change by approximately 1 degree. At full compression it's safe to assume that the rider is taxed to the maximum and so having a bottom out head angle that is too steep will result in a bike that is liable to throw you over the front when you least want to be. In my experience anything steeper than 72 or 73 degrees makes it difficult to recover the the front end in these G-out situations. If we start with a 73 degree head angle and progressively add travel by the time we've added 5 inches (roughly 160mm MINUS 25% sag) the head angle is sitting at 68 degrees. The seat angle does less to the handling of the frame but does influence it's maneuverability. Slacker seat angles make for bikes that manual easily and endow the frame with a playful feel as it's easy to get your weight back and over the rear wheel. The compromise here is that slack seat angles reduce your reach for a given top tube length. A bike with a very short reach may still feel stretched out when seated but as soon as the rider stands up and is positioned over the BB it can suddenly become very cramped - this hinders climbing performance. Very slack seat angles may also make a bike difficult to pilot up steep terrain as the front end continually wants to loft and wander as the riders weight is so far back. I gave the Hungry Monkey a reach of 428mm in the large size. A 73 degree seat angle is slacker than a lot of other newer bikes on the market but I feel it gives a good balance between playfulness and sensibility. Using these figures it then follows that the frame's theoretical top tube length works out at an even 620mm. If a large (19") frame is your usual size then you should be perfectly comfortable aboard a Hungry Monkey with a shortish stem. Seat angles are actually easily adjusted through pushing the seat forward or back and by changing to an inline or set-back seat post. The rear end of the Hungry Monkey II contains some mild trickery. It utilises sliding dropouts so that the rider can customise the rear centre length of the bike depending on their riding style. Very short rear ends favour drifting and aggressive over-the-front type riding but can be a bit of a handful for longer rides. Long rear ends add stability and encourage carving of corners - they do better when traction is good or when the rider wants a predictable feel that doesn't depend on their initiating a rear slide. Longer rear ends also beat you up less - the bumps transfer into the frame from further back and there's a longer rear triangle to help absorb shock - they also tend to climb better. On the frames I've owned with adjustable dropouts I've enjoyed the opportunity to play with these parameters depending on how I feel on the day and where I am riding. I hope this makes the Monkey as capable on gnarly trail days as on long rough endurance rides. As a happy aside it also caters nicely for single speeders. The rear end on the Hungry Monkey II can grow by 25mm from a short 420mm to a relatively long 445mm. In it's shortest setting there isn't room for a front derailleur - this is a 1 x specific bike. The BB is relatively low. With sag it sits 45mm below the axle line. This keeps the riders weight lower in the frame and makes cornering more stable. The disadvantage is that the pedals are closer to the ground and initially you may encounter more pedal strike than you are used to - most people adapt very quickly to this and really enjoy the cornering benefits and high speed stability it gives. Downhill bikes often have extremely low BB's and yet you never hear DH riders complaining! Tubing I gave a lot of thought to the tubing I used. I didn't want to make the frame unduly expensive but also wanted to take advantage of some of the metallurgical advancements steel has been through in recent years. Most of the frame is constructed with Dedacciai COM tubing. This is a Nivacrom type steel. Nivacrom was introduced by Columbus in the 80's and for a long time was the highest performing bicycle steel available. Nivacrom contains small amounts of Niobium and Vanadium alloyed with Chromoly steel. Vanadium and Niobium precipitate in the metal matrix when heat is applied and this blocks grain growth. The fineness of a steel's grain is responsible for it's resilience and resistance to fatigue. The finer the grain the better a steel will withstand fatigue. Think about mud pies - mud pies made of fine grained clay will hold together far better than mudpies made of coarse sand. In a standard steel alloy the addition of heat causes the grain structure to grow - this happens right at the weld site where you least want it and causes brittleness and loss of yield strength. Dedacciai is an Italian tubing manufacturer - they aren't as storied as their far older and more famous cousins, Columbus. As a result their tubing is a little cheaper. Another factor I considered was the length of the butted sections of the tubes. Dedacciai has quite long butts on one end of the tubes and this allows the framebuilder to use a longer butted section at the head tube junction where most of the forces are going to be acting. The walls are still relatively thin though and vary from 0.9mm at the butted ends to 0.6mm in the thinner walled centres. Butting removes material where it isn't needed but also gives high quality steel tubing another property: zing. Much is made of steel's vaunted reputation for ride quality but this cannot happen if the tube walls are too thick. Thinner walled tubing is able to vibrate and flex and gives a frame zing and zest. That 'feel of steel' will be absent in a frame built of plumbers pipe - I didn't want it to be absent in my Monkeys. To avoid any wet noodle syndrome I chose oversized tubing - the down tube is a manly 38mm diameter while the top tube is 31.7mm. The seat tube (a Columbus Zona offering) is a 33mm diameter that accepts modern 31.6mm dropper posts. Large diameter 30 x 17mm chainstays taper to a delicate 12mm at the dropout and 16mm tapered s-bend seat stays help the rear wheel to track better. I also just like the way the bends look. Up front a 44mm machined head tube will accept any new tapered steerer fork. The BB shell is 73mm wide and threaded. Press fit designs haven't really impressed me. Putting it all togetherEverything is fillet brazed together - brass is melted into and around the join to fuse the tubes to one another. On a microscopic level some interesting things happen and there's a transition zone of bronze that forms through the interaction of steel and brass. The fillets are then smoothed out with a file and emery cloth to form smooth radii at each juncture - this helps to dissipate stresses at the join as there are no sharp transitions to form stress risers. Since brass is also more ductile than steel there's a microscopic amount of flex that occurs at the joins. Traditional frame builders believe that this ductility further enhances resilience. I don't use gussets on the front triangle as I feel that this just concentrates stress around the ends of the gusset. Where I do use gussets is to increase the wall thickness of the chain stays where they are joined to the BB. I do this because I don't use chainstay bridges. By leaving out the bridge there's a bit more clearance for larger tires and mud. Since a chainstay bridge effectively shortens the chainstays one needs a little additional material to offset the stress. Chainstay gussets do this and... I just think they look cool. It's important to realise that as far as AM rigs go, the Hungry Monkey is a relatively lightweight machine. A bare 19" (large) frame weighs 2.14kg. Complete build comes in around 12.5kg. As such it's a tool for experienced riders who can read the terrain and pick a line. Hammer it into the face of doubles or flat land too many roof drops and the lightweight tubing will complain. In the right hands I believe this will be a very rewarding bike to ride and it'll beg you to push it further and faster. -- David Mercer Once my order was placed, all that was left to decided was the build kit and whether to keep the frame raw or to give it a lick of paint. More on that in Part 3.For more information on Mercer Bikes and to contact David visit http://mercerbikes.co.za
  11. I've been toying with the idea of a long travel, steel hardtail mountain bike for quite some time. Somehow I've always ended up heading in a different direction but not this time. Click here to view the article
  12. It all began with the On One 456 and the excellent reviews it received in U.K. magazines. The fire was further fuelled by the Ti model that was let lose on trails in 2008. It seemed like the perfect blend of trail ripper and friendly climber. The 456 has since been updated to the Evo 456 and has further evolved thanks to the addition of a carbon model and a bump in wheel size to 27.5" One On 456 Evo2. // Photo Credit: http://www.planet-x-usa.com/product-p/cboo456evo2x9.htm Transition joined the growing long travel hardtail crowd with it's TransAM - also to rave reviews. Made from 4130 Chromoly, they proved reliable and fun out on the trails. The original has been superseded by a 27.5" with a geometry in line with current trends. Unfortunately, that was long before Transition had an official distributor in South Africa, so I decided to give it a miss. Transition TransAM. // Photo Credit: http://www.transitionbikes.com/2013/Bikes_TransAM26.cfm When news broke of a slack, long and low 27.5" Stanton I was ready to swipe. With a static head angle of 64 degrees on a 140mm fork, I was very keen to feel the handling of a hardtail with those numbers. Unfortunately there were some manufacturing delays and once again my card made it safely back to the warm confines of my wallet. Stanton Switchback. // Photo Credit: http://www.stantonbikes.com/content/switchback As these things go, I was looking at the Production Privee Shan at the same as I was considering the Stanton Switchback. Many an evening was spent on Google studying the options, builds, ride videos and reviews. What almost convinced was the 917's Gulf Oil Racing Colors, but again it wasn't to be and the idea gave way to a steel hardtail of another kind - the rigid single speed Momsen ST-R29. Production Privee Shan. // Photo Credit: http://www.production-privee.com/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=15079439 Once I had scratched the long standing single speed itch, the illusive long travel chapter was opened again. Since I first started looking a number of other interesting bikes and bike designs had been launched. The BTR Fabrications Ranger which, in it's own right, is a bit of a Frankenbike - long, low and very slack frame designed around a 120mm fork. A head angle of 64 degrees on a 120mm fork is almost unheard of and slacker than that is something of fantasies. Trust two friends from Oxford, UK to slap a 64 degree head angle, usually reserved for downhill bikes, on a short travel hardtail. Unfortunately once it's asking price in British pounds was converted to ZAR, it proved a bit too expensive of an experiment. BTR Fabrications Ranger geometry. // Photo Credit: http://www.btr-fabrications.com/products/ranger/ Towards the end of last year, I was looking at another build project to replace my beloved Ibis Mojo HDR and was interested in a couple options. Ibis was about to release the new Mojo HD3, Yeti launched their SB6C and SB5C with it's Switch Infinity link, Giant rocked the establishment by announcing the new trail-crunching Reign, and Pyga was building a bigger and bigger following with the Pascoe catching my eye. While looking at geometries and exploring some ideas in line with Mondraker's Forward Geometry, I started toying with the idea of getting a bike one size up from the one size up that I was already riding with the help of a super short stem. At 179cm, I've always been between sizes on most bikes, but opted to go with a medium based on the thinking back then. This changed in 2010 when I realized that most medium bikes are just too cramped when running a shorter stem. I wasn't planning on going back to a long(er) stem so decided to rather size up. I haven't looked back since. I figured as long as the bike's stand over was sufficient and the seat tube short enough to run a 125mm dropper post, I would be able to make the rest work through clever component choices. A big risk, but one worth trying in my opinion. I somehow found myself considering dual suspension bikes between 130 and 140mm of travel and a head angle between 68 and 66 degrees. Three possible options made that cut and their XL bikes would work on the fitment side. They were the Santa Cruz 5010, Giant Trance 27.5 and Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt. Then I visited the Africa Cycle Fair. There were all kinds of bikes that would make many a heart race. I got to ride a few of these and enjoyed most of them, but only one really got my attention on the short, flat course around the fair. The Mercer Bikes Hungry Monkey. I had been eyeing it on the Mercer Bikes stand but nothing could prepare me for the way that first pedal stroke felt. Dave Mercer's Hungry Monkey as ridden at the Africa Cycle Fair. Admittedly the build kit (which included the super plush Rock Shox Pike) helped, but it didn't take much to realize that the frame is something special. By the time I got off the bike my mind was already made up and an order was placed with the man himself and in doing so the Mercer Bikes Hungry Monkey project build was born.
  13. The production frame will feature routing for a dropper post as well as mounts for a second bottle cage.
  14. BMC TrailFox TF02 29 XO1BMC have gone with 29er wheels on their TrailFox. The suspension is taken care of by a RockShox Pike in front and the Cane Creek BDAir at the back. The drivetrain is full XO1 while the brakes are SRAM Guide R. A Reverb Stealth dropper attends to the saddle height. 2015 Giant Trance 27.5 2The Trance needs no introduction. The 2015 model is more of a gradual evolution than a redesign. The bike features Fox CTD Evolution front and rear. The drive train is mostly SLX with Deore shifters. The paint work on this year's model is also pleasantly attractive. Pyga Pascoe Oneforty650I'm not going to be impartial here, this Pascoe build makes me weak at the knees. I'm still gutted that I didn't win it. Enjoy it, amasendeinja. Mercer Bikes Hungry MonkeyThe Hungry Monkey is the odd one of the bunch, being a hand built steel hardtail. The bike features short stays and big travel up front. Being a custom build, the specifications of each bike will suit the owner but do yourself a favour and go with a Pike. The bike pictured below is David's personal bicycle and prototype. The production frame will feature routing for a dropper post and mounts for a second bottle cage. Cube StingThe Cube Sting is a 120mm travel 29er featuring Manitou suspension front and back. 2015 Giant ReignGiant's Reign, with 160mm travel, is aimed at the more adventurous rider. The bike features a RockShox Pike at the front and a Monarch DebonAir down below. The wheels are wrapped in thick 2.35" Schwalbe rubber and the seatpost slides up and down thanks to Giant's own dropper post. Yeti SB5cThe SB5c is a complex yet elegant bicycle. Yeti's Switch Infinity suspension aims to promote pedal efficiency and soak up those smaller bumps while helping with overall stability. The bike comes in a number of builds and a frameset is also available for custom specs. Pyga Onetwenty650The Onetwenty650, coupled with a 140mm fork, is arguably the perfect all-round South African trail explorer. It features 120mm rear travel, 650b wheels and makes provision for stealth dropper posts.
  15. We were excited to see that the local industry is slowly recognising the demand for longer travel bicycles at the Africa Cycle Fair this year. Along with the increase in trail bikes on display, fair visitors voted for the Pyga Oneforty650 as their Best Bike in Africa, despite an impressive selection of cross-country bikes. We've put together a collection of our favourite trail travel bikes from the fair. Click here to view the article
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