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Jim’s Midtail

Jim has a pretty unique viewpoint on both life and bicycle journeys. I’m proud of how this bike so fully represents this viewpoint, and the solutions we came to to make this so completely a bike for Jim.

Jim goes on long distance, long term off road trips, and packs, not necessarily heavily, but differently: think portable wood burning stove, firewood collecting and hammocks. He has been exploring the long tail form for years now and is convinced of it’s appropriateness for his use. I’m also sure that the mid tail is the ideal platform for this use. We chose to dial the chain stay length to what we’ve been calling mid tail length: 590mm. This pushes the rear wheel back, making the bike really comfortable as bumps from the rear wheel aren’t directly under the rider. It also makes for a surefooted and stable ride, ideal for day after day of hardcore off-road travel.

Jim wanted a wishbone style rear end, based off of the Terrible One Barcode BMX he loved. Those stays make room for 29×3″ tyres with loads of mud clearance. I added mudguard bosses so some custom super wide mudguards could be added if he ever goes that way.

The rear rack is a brazed on truss structure, with no weight limit, no bolts to loosen. One of the non-drive side struts curves slightly to clear the rear brake caliper. The rack platform extends slightly past the twin rear dynamo powered lights to protect them. There are custom Mack Workshop panniers that secure with velcro and webbing straps for rattle free use.

Jim knew he wanted a truss fork. He was keen to use the truss blades as a structure to support custom bags, inspired by the legendary Jeff Jones. I was keen not to build the fork as a unicrown like Jones’ or every other truss fork I’d ever seen. My forks are twin plate, so I took that on. It turned out to be the most complex fork I’ve ever built. The front blades have to curve at both the top and bottom, but in different planes. They had to be threaded through the crown before being bent, which was…technical. It came out with a unique and exciting look, and spread the blades to clear the massive tyre in a way I’m really proud of.

We went for a custom 1 1/8″ quill stem so that Jim can raise or lower the bars to change up his position over the course of a long tour. The position is deliberately upright and comfortable to deal with Jim’s fit requirements.

The downtube has M5 threaded bosses, for nylon screws that act as sacrificial bump stops to protect the downtube from the wide fork crown. We added space for three massive 1.2l water bottles, bosses for the bolt in custom Mack Workshop frame bag, and I made a little front bag support for a handlebar bag that uses the upper sections of the truss fork to secure it. The super bright kLite lights are also switched at the bar for charging a cache battery stored in the frame bag.

To finish the bike off, and to pay further homage to Jim’s BMX roots, I built some Reynolds 853 cranks that work with Profile’s 48 spline axle and a spline drive chainring, all plugged into the Bushnell eccentric BB for tensioning the chain. It’s a feature that just rounds out this really personal build. I can’t wait to hear from Jim: he collected his bike at Bespoked Handbuilt bike show in Harrogate, and the day after began to pedal his way to Cape Wrath.

That’s Jim all over. This is his bike.