How to be an MTB Purist

11.16.2007 | 6:43 am

A Note from Fatty: I’ve got a new article posted on BikeRadar today. You can read the preview below, or click here to go to the complete article.

For years, cyclists thought the road to mountain biking superiority was paved with body armor and motorcycle-like shocks. It’s only recently that mountain bikers have realized that this war of escalating suspension is unwinnable. If you have five inches of suspension, I can get a bike with six. And then you’ll get a bike with seven.

This way madness lies.

The answer to this MTB one-upsmanship? Go the other direction. Trendsetters in the mountain bike scene are now rejecting derailleurs, suspension, and lightweight materials in favor of old-school cool.

The problem is, rigid, steel, single-speed bikes already over the place. What’s left for the trend-setting retro-grouch to do?

I’m glad you asked. There are still plenty of ways you can shun technological progress to impress your friends. Just follow these simple tips:

Go Hardcore
OK, fine. You’ve shunned carbon fiber and even aluminum in favor of good ol’ fashioned steel. Good for you. But you know, as long as your bike is made of hollow tubes, you haven’t really embraced the material. For your next bike, go with solid steel. Demand that your frame weigh no less than 40 pounds. Ideally, you should have your frame cut out of a solid block of iron, or poured into a bronze mould. Imagine a steel bike with no welds. Beautiful.

But don’t let it end there. Are your tires really filled with air? You may as well fill them with helium, you weight weenie. If you really want to convince your friends that you’re after a pure, simple experience on your bike, you’ll cut out all the complex gymnastics required to keep a tire inflated, and will go with a solid rubber tire — like the kind wheelchairs use, but with more tread.

Just think: no more tubes, no more rim strips, no more pumps, no more flats right in the middle of the road. And all at a weight penalty of only six pounds of rolling weight. Per wheel.

It’s totally worth it, though, because you’re keeping it simple.

Click here to continue reading “How to Be a Mountain Bike Purist” at


  1. Comment by Mike Roadie | 11.16.2007 | 6:59 am

    Wasnt sure you’d get to BR this week.

    Hope you guys will get some time to relax and enjoy.

    God Bless!!!

  2. Comment by fatty | 11.16.2007 | 7:25 am

    mike roadie – man, i almost didn’t. i actually used to work in print / online publishing, though, so i hate to totally bail on my editor.

  3. Comment by Big Boned | 11.16.2007 | 7:45 am

    Do you have (or need) a twin? If you need a twin, you could just ship me that Superfly and I’ll do all your riding and community service with it. You can still do the laundry.
    Just trying to help.

  4. Comment by bikemike | 11.16.2007 | 8:17 am

    who will be the first to go truly retro and do a cruiser with funky wide bars and motorcycle brake levers and tires with little to no knobbies?

    any takers? no, i didn’t think so.

  5. Comment by | 11.16.2007 | 9:08 am

    OK, now you’re just plain confusing. First you’re telling me that we need to sand bikes to bare frame, get rid of seats and breaks, tape, cut out spokes in the name of saving weight, now you say heavy is the way to go… Im just confused man!

    Seriously: Way to go. Im going to start a high-wheel tomorrow and just save the trouble.

    BTW: Like the 29 front 26 rear, I prefer, however, to rock a 700 back 16″ front on my roadie.

  6. Comment by Anonymous | 11.16.2007 | 9:54 am

    “Just a the ultimately biking experience.”

    You need an editor!
    I applied for the “Fatty’s Apprentice and Gopher” position a while back, and I would certainly include proofreading under either of those headings. ‘Cause…damn…

    (great stuff though, really. seriously. I mean it.)

  7. Comment by swtkaroline | 11.16.2007 | 9:55 am

    ^ that was me. funny stuff, eh? I forgot to leave my name. I hereby rescind my self-nomination to edit you. /sigh

  8. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.16.2007 | 10:27 am

    As a engineering weenie nerd, I felt compelled to recalculate the frame weight of a solid vs tubular steel frame, Fatty. I assumed a 58cm frame, and assumed, since this ultimate of MTBs is the picture of simplicity, that every rod (as opposed to tube) on the frame is 1-1/8″ in diameter, (including the seat & chain stays, and fork blades – (dude, talk about ruggedness!) the frame would only weigh about 35 lbs!

    Man this is looking promising. With the 6 lb tires, we could still keep this thing under 50 lbs, if you went to fixie and left the brakes off!

  9. Comment by AMG in Texas | 11.16.2007 | 11:00 am

    Sounds like you are describing the Hummer bike…

    Maybe they come in pink….

  10. Comment by mark | 11.16.2007 | 11:34 am

    I’m content just to have an aging steel hardrock retrofitted to be a single speed with a biopace ring in the front.

  11. Comment by mark | 11.16.2007 | 11:36 am

    Clydesteve, I’m pretty sure the “rod” frame bike still weighs less than my buddy’s freeride rig.

  12. Comment by axel | 11.16.2007 | 12:56 pm

    the mountain unicycle meets almost all your criteria – except we’d have to simplify the tire and ruggedize the spoke wheel. Come to think of it, just go with the ultimate wheel if you are a real (wo)man.

  13. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.16.2007 | 2:04 pm

    Mark – Th efreeriders need the superior descending mass – They should consider incorporating lugged rod frames.

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  15. Comment by Ben Ayers | 11.18.2007 | 4:11 am

    Fatty, great blog…we could do with people like you over at meandmybicycle. It’s a social network I have set up for cyclists and can be found at Let me know know what you think! Sorry to contact you in a comment – couldn’t find an email addy!

  16. Comment by Walt Roscello | 11.18.2007 | 6:26 am

    Fatty – funny, I had been contemplating heaping scorn on your single-speeding friends for not going to non-pneumatic tires. I was thinking they should go all the way to wooden rims though.

  17. Comment by KeepYerBag | 11.18.2007 | 7:07 pm

    Chariots. But this is mountain biking, so Chariots with goats.

  18. Comment by Lee | 11.19.2007 | 5:42 am

    They actually sell the solid inner tubes at Wal-Mart, I wonder if anyone’s ever tried them.

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