Building a winter bike, making mud more fun!
My timing is a bit off, but I’m looking to build up a bike to make the slop more fun and save my full suss for drier and harder trails. The scandal keeps catching my eye, but I think I will be too compromised on a fully rigid bike, however I do find the idea of a light bike appealing for muddy trails. It won’t be used on tarmac if I can help it, no interest in riding on the road. On the other side of the coin I’m liking the Sonder Signal st, but would the extra weight be defeating the point?Posted 1 month ago
Also considering gearing, I have a saint 10 speed shifter and XT mech in the parts bin, is 10 speed really better in the mud? So I’m looking for something that makes mud less of a slog, but still happy to go off a four foot drop. Max budget around £1500, but not until mid Feb.
I’ve been looking at exactly this ‘problem’ lately, but also to include riding with my pre-teen boys. I’m looking at a more mud friendly full sus though, but stuff like Orange 4 seem to hold value very well and I can’t get in my budget – preferably less than a grand. Your £1,500 is generous, especially for a hardtail as you want, so I’d be looking at new (but not with nasty SRAM NX or SX fitted). New Ragley range being announced on 28th Jan.
Nowt wrong with 10 speed on a 11-42 cassette.Posted 1 month ago
Depends where you live of course but I ride all my local on either of two fully rigid bikes. A steel plus bike and a fatbike.
It’s Warwickshire so not very #gnar but a rigid works very well.
Depends on your mud too. I’ve got 11 speed on both and it works ok until the mud gets utterly ridiculous. At that point though you’re often needing to get off and push as the wheels won’t go round.
If you really are mud plugging, then I would think singlespeed might have you walking more than a geared bike that clogs up occasionally.
I just spray them down with a hose after, 3-in-1 on the moving bits and it keeps going.Posted 1 month ago
You want an alfine or other hub gear for muddy use IMO
No mech to get clogged up, just works in all conditions.Posted 1 month ago
The scandal keeps catching my eye, but I think I will be too compromised on a fully rigid bike, however I do find the idea of a light bike appealing for muddy trails
Buy it with a suspension fork.Posted 1 month ago
I totally understand your motivation, but that’s a lot to blow on a winter bike (particularly off road). It will still wear (quickly), it will still need cleaning (regularly), and you will still get miserably filthy (unless you like that sort of thing!). A real ‘beater bike’ might at least minimise your financial risk, but bear in mind nothing will make mud less of a slog. Also bear in mind, that nothing will ride as nicely as your more expensive full susser.
I have a winter road bike and it gets used 2-3 times a week, but with mudguards it is not too onerous to maintain and I stay dry and warm (with the right kit). Several times over the years I have had exactly the same idea as you to build a winter off road bike, but it always ends up being just too much trouble. Winter riding is partly about kit, partly about the bike, but also partly about just accepting that not all routes are accessible or fun to ride (unfortunately).
If you really must scratch the itch, raid the parts bin and scour the used section. Think about bikes with the least moving parts possible (internal hub gear, rigid, single speed at the extreme, but bear in mind that they are an acquired taste and will not give you the same experience as your geared full susser). In my recent experience, a ‘gravel’/CX bike with large diameter wheels and narrow tyres fairs better in the mud than fatter tyres, but it won’t suit your 4 foot drop aspirations (which are going to be compromised on a hardtail anyway).
Financially, you might be better accepting £1,500 worth of depreciation and rapid parts wear on your full susser.
Sorry if it sounds like I am poo-pooing your idea, but speaking from bitter (and costly) personal experience, the reality rarely stacks up to the concept.Posted 1 month ago
Just a left field suggestion for you – considered a CX bike?
I have been LOVING the mud this winter, especially during lockdown when I’m restricted to local trails. It might not sound gnarly, but even with the tyres I’d use in a muddy CX race (Vittoria Terreno Wet) I can pretty much subconsciously instigate a slide round any muddy corner I fancy.
They’re super light and efficient too, so you don’t need gnarly gradients to get your adrenaline fix, although I persinally might draw the line at 4ft drops you could fit a dropper post and wider bars etc. to make it more gnarly. I’m not a massive fan of prolonged rooty and rocky sections either, although going tubeless has helped that.
Anyway, if your local trails are muddy, flat, pedally and not super gnar, you might surprise yourself as to how much fun you can have in an hour on a CX bike!Posted 1 month ago
“bear in mind nothing will make mud less of a slog”
Much as I like the idea of a conventional winter bike, I don’t think any normal bike is as fun in the mud as my Levo ebike is. You get a proper workout but the uphills aren’t endless slogs where so much of your effort is spent dragging through mud. And strangely I think I prefer my hardtail a lot of the time when it’s dry and grippy because the Levo is so fast (downhill with the power off – the joys of a big 29er full-sus) it gets rather scary!Posted 1 month ago
If it’s specifically for slogging about in mud then Tyres choice and mud clearance would be my main drivers, skinnier knobblier 29″ rubber? And I would be thinking rigid SS just to minimise the potential for mechanical issues and make it lighter, sintered brake pads too maybe?
Keep it simple etc…Posted 1 month ago
Screeeeeam……what’s that you…….screeeeetch……say…….?
The devils own work in the wet. They might last longer in the mud but that’s because you’ll be afraid to actually use them for fear of scaring wildlife in the next county.
Organics work better and are quieter, but you do admittedly wear them faster.Posted 1 month ago
I’d go with a geared hardtail with 2.3”ish cut spike style tyres and a sus fork. But my trails have a lot of roots so skinny mud tyres and rigid forks leave you rather short of grip in the turns. The singlespeeders I ride with seem to make the lack of gears work in the mud but I think that’s because they’re used to having no gears all year round.Posted 1 month ago
SS is a solution for drivetrain problems, but can also create other problems. Mine is great in the mud except where you have a sudden, sharp, muddy climb. On my fat bike, I just change gear and spin with low torque up the hill, on the SS, the high torque just make the wheel spin and I have a mud doughnut for the next 1/2 mile until it clears. Same for 600m rocky climb I have on my local routes, there’s only so much traction and as soon as you run our of traction/momentum, you’re stuffed.
Alfine isn’t a bad shout but chainline can be a real issue on modern bikes.Posted 1 month ago
CX bike would be pushing it a bit far for me, I’m terrified of any bike without a dropper! It would mainly be riding places like Woburn and Rushmere, but also the Downs by my house. I’ve had and enjoyed a Sonder Transmitter and a Bird Zero TR, but I’m fairly set on 29 only now, so the zero 29 is a definite contender.Posted 1 month ago
Just put a front mudguard on and ride the full suss. You’ll spend more on a new hardtail than you’ll ever spend maintaining the full suss. And the full suss will be more fun, give more grip and be faster. I was faster everywhere on my Stage 5 than I was on my Solaris, no matter what time of year.Posted 1 month ago
I’ve currently got a quite light new model Scandal, built XC style, and I’ve had numerous hardtails/winter bikes and a steel gravel bike too.
For pure mud-plugging – this is the best I’ve had, I really loved this bike.
Flat bars for control, but rigid for lightweight and as your not going to be going very fast, and narrow mud tyres (Shorty’s).
It was mega fun. Also – Deore FTW.
ETA – in my opinion, if the aim really is a winter and mud specific bike, then it really should be full rigid – whether thats flat bar like the Genesis or more of Gravel/CX type build.
Otherwise its just ‘a hardtail’ or another MTB. Nothing wrong with that!Posted 1 month ago
benman, it’s not just about sparing the full suss, it’s about the way the bike rides. Some of the short hills I ride are quickest standing up, which works well on a hardtail, even locking out the shock on the full suss just isn’t the same, also I want less travel and ideally less weight and more mud specific tyres.Posted 1 month ago
The solution I’ve gone for is a fully rigid singlespeed with plus tyres for a bit of squish. Disc brakes are a must, dropper post would be great but 27.2 so limited options. Just hose down at the end of a ride, wipe chain, quick drop of chain lube and it’s ready for the next ride. Singlespeed isn’t for everyone though.Posted 1 month ago
I’ve enjoyed singlespeed in the past, but I would end up walking half the time through lack of traction.Posted 1 month ago
I’ve found my Big Dog (with squidgy fork) a fine winter hardtail. Built up with parts bin 10 speed and old Hope Mono Minis to keep costs down – it’s been superb.Posted 1 month ago
Go for it. I certainly ride the hardtail more in the winter for all the obvious reasons. Plus building it will be a fun project and motivate you to ride more.Posted 1 month ago
enjoying my Bootzipper 29er.
you get beaten up a bit, but im surprised how ok it is, once youve got your tyre pressures just so.Posted 1 month ago
You either go slower and get beaten up less, or accept you have little to no traction and control and go as fast as you can to keep the bike hustling over the bumps.
Trails that are a bit bland on the FS, become fun, interesting or terrifying.
Connecting road bits are a lot less horrible.
Its not worse than my FS, its just different.
Its much easier to run the chain through a chain cleaning tool and ignore the rest of it too.
Think I’ve made up my mind to have front suspension, an alloy frame probably makes more sense, but I am finding myself drawn to steel. So I’m thinking 2.3 shorty on the front, but what rear tyre?Posted 1 month ago
“So I’m thinking 2.3 shorty on the front”
If you’ve got many roots on your routes I’d go with the 2.5
I like the DHR2 on the back – the 2.4 is seriously knobbly but will clog up if the mud is too sticky. The 2.3 isn’t really any smaller in volume, just has smaller knobs – I prefer it as an all-year tyre but it definitely has less bite. I’ve tried Shorty front and rear, both 2.3 and mixed 2.5/2.3 and you get more pedalling traction but they don’t clear loads better and the drag is pretty awful.
My other thought is that long, low, slack bikes are a whole lot more fun in the mud because they’re far less skittish when sliding both wheels most of the time. Longer chainstays help the front wheel grip, low BB is most important for the drifting, slack head angle seems to give you room to understeer but then save it.
I’ve had a Bird Zero AM as my hardtail for five years now. It has an angleset taking it to about 64 deg HA and dropping the low BB even more. Chainstays are shorter than I’d like in the wet (only 420mm) but it’s pretty hard to fault otherwise.Posted 1 month ago
Most important decision is going to be mudguards tbh! 1x can be a little bit of a drag in really bad mud since it’s hard to get both the high gears you want for fast stuff,and a really low seated-spinning-through-swamps gear, it’s doable but you pretty much have to get it right, there’s not much margin. But the benefits in terms of not clogging up with mud and chain retention are still worth it imo
So I’m thinking 2.3 shorty on the front
Go 2.5- it’s not really <that> much draggier but it’s far better. Or Magic Mary.Posted 1 month ago
Genesis longitude, 29+, hub gears and mudguards.
Amazing in the mud, snow ice etc. Very little maintenance needed, just keeps on going.
Totally in budget and riding rigid bikes makes your full sus feel amazing. Fact.Posted 1 month ago
I like singlespeed for this. Both ease of maintenance and I just like riding that way. Mine’s modern geo and fairly burly but that’s by the by. I’ve ridden Woburn and been very happy there on a (previous) singlespeed hardtail.
I also have a gravelly type bike singlespeed, which I love and coincidentally also rode a little of Woburn on the other day. If I’m honest I struggled with that a bit but it was only a little bit of that ride and that kind of bike SS is probably going to have a much harder ratio as well as being sketchier on roots/slippy corners/whatever. I normally ride that on about 50% tarmac and the only single-track on it has minimal +/- elevation.
Group rides with a lot of flat are my negative for mtb singlespeed. The odd climb where I can’t hack it I don’t mind walking.Posted 1 month ago
Where I live and ride the trails seem to be muddy and heavy going for around 5 months of the year nowadays.For me riding regularly(usually 3 times a week) my hardtail is the correct tool for the job.It has room for 2.8 tyres so running a pair of nice and grippy 2.35 Hillbilly’s leaves lots of clearance,frame has clean lines and no mud ledges.I’m not worried about jetwashing it so cleaning is quick and easy.I got an NX deraileur last winter and having bushing style jockey wheels that don’t seize in the wet or through jetwashing is great.Cheap steel chainring paired with a full steel cassette (GX) last really well for me.My bike is a steel Stanton,so not light-if I did notice it I don’t anymore.Posted 1 month ago
The Canyon Stoic looks great for the money-£850 gets you a winter bike ready to go-with a tyre swap.
Currently running a 2.6 Mary front with 2.4 SG Betty rear, so I’m sure a lighter rear tyre will make things more sprightly, I also prefer reasonably LLS geometry, quite tempted to get another Transmitter, but reduce the fork to 130mm. Always run a decent front mudguard, but can’t be putting one on the rear.Posted 1 month ago
I run a rigid Specialized Carve with a rigid Niner fork as my winter bike. It’s great fun. I’ve just put a PNW 27.2 dropper on there too. Takes 10 minutes to hose down and hang up when I get home.
I’d like to put wider tyres on there, but that means I’d have to change the rims. Which means throwing money at it.Posted 1 month ago
I’m really enjoying my Scandal which was chosen for this exact reason. I got the £999 built version which needed a dropper, saddle and tyres and is pretty much spot on. It’s fun bimbling on tame stuff but also happily manages steep technical stuff and pretty big drop offs (for me anyway 🙂 ). With mudhuggers it doesn’t get cleaned after every ride so is working very well for my needs.Posted 1 month ago
Have you thought about the Octane One Prone 29er. Frame is £199 from chain reaction. I have one as my winter/do it all bike and its great. Geometry is great and frame is at a price that I don’t care if it gets scratched or scraped. I’ve ridden everything on it, dh trails, the peak, iom end 2 end and it copes with it all.Posted 1 month ago
Octane looks pretty good, head angle a little steep for my taste and the tyre clearance is tight.Posted 1 month ago
The Scandal keeps catching my eye and some trails would be amazing on it, but some would be downright scary.Posted 1 month ago
I bought this bike secondhand and shortly after the official bearing puller kit. New bearings cost £30 and have done 2 winters and are still sound.Posted 1 month ago
£30 for at least 3 winters of comfort. Bargain.
I’ve taped up the area below the rear mudguard ,so that keeps the linkage mud free. My back gets a couple of dots of mud and my boots get dirty. Apart from that I’m always clean.
Of course, Bonty Muds are fitted.
I love this bike.
@bagstard. The frame I have is non boost and I run a 2.4 mountain king at the back. Clearance is OK. I believe the newer frames are boost so clearance should be better. Could drop a slackset in?Posted 1 month ago
Has anyone mentioned running it as a single speed. Far less to wear out.Posted 1 month ago
The Canyon Stoic looks great for the money-£850 gets you a winter bike ready to go-with a tyre swap.
This looks fantastic for the money
How can you make mud more fun? It’s already amazing! I just ride my regular bike and make an effort to clean after muddy rides. Likely go through an extra headset bearing or two, but other than that I don’t notice too much additional wear.Posted 1 month ago
For a true winter/mud bike, as has been said.. RIGID SS!!
Get a decent geo frame and fork, and fit a nice wide and grippy front tyre..
I found a combo of a bonty XR4 team on the frint, and XR3 team on the rear (29er) great, with a wonky 32/8 set up… great for the South Downs and the like..
If i can’t ride up it on the SS, then it’s too muddy to get up on ANY bike I guess!!
NIce a night, glides over mud and roots…
Mine is a Ti frame with carbon forks though…it just feels like it’s got 50mm of travel either end!
DrPPosted 1 month ago
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