Dear MBT,
My friends say that buying a bike like the Santa Cruz Tallboy is the most value for the money because it’s technically buying two bikes for one price. Help me understand how one could switch between a 27.5+ to a 29er on the fly. What parts are needed to make the swap?

-Randall Stenens


Well, technically that is true though there is a bit more to it than that. The most realistic way to derive at a bike where you can make the tie/ wheel swap in a reasonable amount of time (say 15 minutes) is to have a spare set of wheels wrapped in tires with cassette, brake rotors and a fork.

You could theoretically get by with just the fork, wheels and tires but keep in mind you’d be swapping the cassette and brake rotors every time you wished to transition from one size to the other. It could easily become a half day’s project.

The reason bikes like the Tallboy are able to make the transition at all comes thanks to adjustable frame geometry. Santa Cruz makes use of a flip chip- literally a piece that can be flipped and run in one of two directions at the upper rear link. This is responsible for the rear end; the fork swap covers the front. All told the difference between the 27.5” and 29” wheel is barley visible to the naked eye but requires compensation at both ends of the bike to successfully transition from one to the other.

Dear MBT,
I’m a larger rider (over 250 pounds) and notice all of the really sexy frames these days are carbon. Should I be trying to snag an aluminum build because of my stature or am I worrying needlessly?

-Garret Baker


Unless the build you’re after happen to be an XC frame with a manufacturer’s designated maximum weight recommendation, you should be good to go carbon style. Do keep in mind they make race car frames out of this stuff.

Dear MBT,
What ever happened to Ellsworth? I remember hearing about those bikes years ago and it seems they upped and vanished. Are they still making bikes?

-Jerry Farmer


Absolutely! In fact their new Evolution Convert with their patented ACTIVE Energy Efficient Suspension (AEES) linkage is currently making its rounds about the industry to solid reviews. It seems as though the American boutique brand movement isn’t getting the attention it once did as speccing materials and components globally has become the standard. Whereas once hand-built frames were synonymous with quality, these days its tough to argue with the output from cutting-edge Asian manufacturing facilities.

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