Help Surfcat Build a 29er

Thoughts and opinions on bits and parts for surfcat to get build a 29er. I’m getting the impression, he wants something decent with which to shred the gnar, but doesn’t want to get hip deep in a $3k expense. Let’s see what he’s got and what he can get cost effectively.

Here’s a turn at wheelsets:

$240 717/xt. This is the OP/Ultegra of the MTB world.

shimano has a cool 29er wheelset thats on chainlove on the daily. It’s pretty light and durable and tubeless compatible if you go down that route.

vassago jabberwocky/bandersnatch is rad handles better than my xtc, and can be found used for reasonable prices.
niner MCD (i think is their steel bike name) is great.

or say screwit and get a giant XTC2 or that felt 29er whose name i forget. those are both solid machines.

[quote=Halbritt]Thoughts and opinions on bits and parts for surfcat to get build a 29er. I’m getting the impression, he wants something decent with which to shred the gnar, but doesn’t want to get hip deep in a $3k expense. Let’s see what he’s got and what he can get cost effectively.

Here’s a turn at wheelsets:

$240 717/xt. This is the OP/Ultegra of the MTB world.[/quote]

I got those same wheels off ebay for $200 BIN, then saw an auction end for $140. edit: mine are rim brake and silver, so, not the same. My bad.

Also, look at the Price Point build kits. Cheap, everything you need, sent in one box 3-5 days later. Can’t beat that.


I’m want to build up a geared hardtail 29er built up from frameset (almost certainly a Vassago Bandersnatch) and would like to spend $1500 or less total. I’ve considered the On-One Inbred but it doesn’t move me the same way as the Bandersnatch. Karate Monkey was 2nd place but the Bandersnatch just speaks to me. Let’s consider the frame a set quantity, please.

I already have the following components on hand and would be happy to use some or all of them in the build:

  • Deore XT thumbshifters (friction, bitches)
  • Avid Speed Dial 7 levers
  • 175mm cranks
  • Deore XT rear derailleur 9spd
  • Shimano 105 front derailleur 9spd double
  • 9spd cassette 11x34
  • 9spd chain
  • Brooks B17 saddle (it works for me)
  • Seatpost

What I need:

  • 80mm or 100mm fork (most likely a Rockshox Reba SL 29)
  • Decent tubed wheelset
  • BB7 mechanicals (prefer this b/c I will be using for backcountry unsupported multiday touring)
  • Handlebar, stem, headset, grips

The cheapest way seems to be to buy a complete and pull the parts off I want, then sell the parts I don’t.

Thanks in advance everybody. I’m blushing. You’re probably steaming mad that I’m such an idiot. Let’s party.

This thread is relevant to my interests, so I’m curious what people say. I’ve got that TIG class coming up and I’m looking to build a 29er frame (Nova tubing, nothing fancy) and grab a KM fork and a PP X.9 build kit (gonna give SRAM mountain stuff a shot again). Conti Mountain King tires again, likely the same Easton bars that are on the Stumpjumper (why change what works right?), matching stem and post. Not sure about cable or hydro brakes, as I’d like something I can repair if need be when I’m out in the woods, but I know hydros are better.

Basically looking for the same as Surfcat is, so yeah. Good thread.

edit: Steve posted while I was posting, so here’s my response:

Get those XT/717 wheels, get the BB7s.

By way of explanation about the shifter choices: I’ve test ridden bikes with both Shimano rapidfire and SRAM Xwhatever and I just don’t care for them. I have Deore thumbies in friction mode on my Xtracycle and I love them. It’s not a pose or whatever, it’s just what I like and have on hand. Of course I’m happy to buy a build kit or a complete with my nonpreferred stuff, maybe give it a shot, and then either keep it or sell it. I’m not unreasonable, just unusual.

I think you’d be better off just buying the bits you need. No point in buying a build kit when all you need are brakes. Just hit ebay for some BB7s, and find some bars/stem you like. Get a Cane Creek S3 headset, and ESI Chunky grips (<3 my ESIs).

Sell all your old stuff on ebay. Buy this…

In all seriousness I just don’t get the whole steel is real thing when it comes to 29ers. Running tubeless on big ass wheels is going to do way more to keep the ride smooth then riding a heavy ass cro-mo frame will.

3 pound frame. Light ass fork. Lifetime warranty. Done.

Peatys or GTFO.

Also, you probably like friction on your Xtra, but if you want to get serious about shredding the gnar, you might want to get an indexed setup. I’d sure hate to be fussing with a friction thumby when I’m barreling through some rollers and I need to get the right gear to get over the top then down the next, but what the fuck do I know, my mountain bike don’t have gears.

Reba SL 29 is well-regarded and cheaper than the Fox F29, which is more expensive and also well-regarded. You need a front mech, probably just get an XT off ebay. BB7s are fine and cheap, but I’d reconsider hydros, which are sooooo nice. I mean, you have brake redundancy if one of 'em fails for any reason, which is highly unlikely. Bars and stem can just be whatever is cheap off ebay as well. I have a few stems of various angles and lengths that I got for <$10 each along with bars of various rise and sweep. Just get whatever is cheap until you find what you like in terms of fit, then get decent parts if you want 'em.

If you’re going to be touring off road more than shredding the gnar, maybe get some of these:

Reba SL 29 is well-regarded and cheaper than the Fox F29, [/quote]

This… Reba all the way if you are building a bike with a standard or tapered headtube.

This or SLX. It’s been my experience that every single piece of SLX stuff works exactly like XT stuff. It’s slightly heavier but I see you are into heavy bikes so this is a plus.

If you are not down with triggers I would give XO grip shift a shot. I switched from triggers to grip and love it.

Fucka grip shift, I’ve never hated anything quite so much.

Obviously, it’s a personal preference. Also, backing the fact that SLX being as functional as XT. Like a 105/Ultegra thing.

Ride a bike with GOOD grip shift. You’ll get it.

I have and I’ll pass. Shifting is effortless, certainly, but accidentally shifting always pissed me off. I had some bike throwing moments.

spend for tubeless, thank us later.

[quote=bradencbc]Sell all your old stuff on ebay. Buy this…


Something like this, of course, would be the logical thing to do. But honestly, after perusing all the major manu websites and riding a few bikes in person, they just don’t do it for me. I don’t know what my problem is, but a bike off the shelf built to a price point just invariably doesn’t do it for me. If I’m going to spend the money at all, I want something that I had a hand in speccing and that gets me jazzed every time I look at it. This is meant by way of apology for being such a tool.

Reba 29er forks are awesome. Do that, for sure.

I can’t recommend the SLX 36/22 double highly enough in place of a standard triple. Two rings will almost always shift better than three, and I’ve found the 36/22 rings to give an excellent selection of low gears as well as a big enough front ring for anything you might want to do. I’ve never really needed a 44 or 42 tooth chainring on a mountain bike. You can put the chainrings on whatever crankset you want/have and still have room for a bashguard, which is a definite plus. I think this gives more useful gearing than SRAM’s 39/26 because I can spend 95% of a ride in the 36t ring and use the 22t for bailout gears, but could probably not do that on a 39t unless I was being shuttled to the top, in which case I wouldn’t bother with a 26t. 36/22 x 11-32 9spd cassette gets me around, over and down just about everything.

I would seriously think about getting SRAM shifters, cassette and rear derailer, though. They just work. Yesterday I noticed that the derailer hanger on my chameleon is bent. Like, seriously bent. The shifting is still perfect. I have no idea how long that hanger has been bent and would probably never have noticed if I hadn’t looked for it specifically. Shimano mountain shifters and rear derailers just suck, IMO. The instant you look at them funny, they stop working right, and they don’t give enough tactile feedback about shifts for my tastes. You can always switch later if you just want to use what you’ve got, though. Shimano chainrings and front derailers are still superior, though, and I like their cranks a lot.

The wheels Heath posted are 26" wheels, but something with XT or equivalent hubs and rims from a brand you’ve heard of will probably be fine. You’re definitely going to trash your first wheelset as you learn how to mtb.

Really, though, however you end up building your bike (within reason), you will have fun. And that is all that matters.

PS: Brooks saddles are awesome on mtbs. My friend took the saddle that he toured the Pacific Coast on and put it on his AM hardtail and loves it.

^regarding shimano derailers, i’ve never had one i really liked*, i always chalked it up to having an old one (had an old xt) or a low-level one (plain old deore just) but i do want to try sram because i’ve been pleased with their stuff so far and your comments about shimano seem kind of like the majority of my experience and i’m definitely pushed father in that direction

*i had a road bike with ultegra but it was my first geared bike in a LONG time and i didn’t know anything, so i really had no opinion. i was happy, but what did i know?

Would these be pretty kickass as far as a wheelset goes? $445 shipped, includes tires & tubes. I believe the LaceMine29 reputation is pretty OK too?

Also, when the praises of a Reba fork are sung, do they apply to one of these '09 models, too?

I have those. Well, I got 'em with Hopes. They absolutely rock. Stiff as any 26er wheelset I’ve owned. They might be overkill for you unless you’re pushing 225+ lbs, though. They also require a bit more effort to set up tubeless than, say, Flows.

As far as Mike, he’s fucking awesome. The dude gave me more helpful, interesting advice and knowledge about wheels than I’ve ever received from anyone else. He also rides the Iditarod trail on a snow bike solo, and hucks 29ers off of 8’ drops and DH ride parks, so the dude knows how to build his wheels up strong.

If you want something slightly less burly on the cheap, I hear good things about the Halo Freedom Disk wheelsets on MTBR.

When looking at handbuilt wheels I’m a strict follower of the not tubeless = not relevant policy.

You can pick up some No Tubes Flows for not all that much more and they will be plenty strong, way lighter, and tubeless.