Tester: Eric McKeegan × Age: 42 × Height: 5’11” × Weight: 165 lbs. × Inseam: 32”
This bike seems to speak to a lot of riders on an almost genetic level. Perhaps it is because BMX bikes are buried deep in the DNA of every mountain bike and every mountain biker.
How do I know this? Personal experience. I didn’t grow up near a BMX track. I didn’t own any shop-quality BMX bikes as a kid. I didn’t see “Rad” until I was an adult. Even with such BMX-deprived formative years, when I stumbled across this bike at Interbike it only took me seconds to fall in love.
And in some ways, bikes like this have to inspire that type of visceral reaction. Because when you break it down, there is nothing really “better” or “practical” about a bike like this. Is uses BMX-style disc hubs in 110/160 spacing, steel handlebars with a cross-brace and geometry that is far from what most would call progressive. The tires are also straight-up sketch-city in wet conditions.
But what is does have is style, in spades. The included pad set perfectly offsets the blue metal-flake paint. Three-piece steel cranks are complete with a narrow/ wide chainring, and those skinwall tires are undeniably cool. Maybe you are denying the cool factor of this bike. And I suppose that is your right. But you are also probably a dork, so bugger off and write 80085 on your graphing calculator.
Riders cannot survive on looks alone. And weird or not, this bike is made to ride. SE’s product manager, Todd Lyons, took one of these to Mammoth Mountain and sent some big-ass jumps. I don’t even send big-ass jumps on downhill bikes, so I set my sights a little lower and stuck to the local trails and side streets.
The geometry of this bike is obviously much more BMX than mountain bike. That 71 degree head tube angle feels old school, as does the short front center. The high handlebars keep this bike poppy and fun, but that means it takes a concerted effort to keep the front end down when climbing.
Those Vee Rubber tires are more show than go when dealing with loose and wet conditions. If I was riding this regularly, the tires would be the first parts to go. On dry and dusty trails I’m sure these work well, but those tiny cornering knobs give up long before I’d like on East Coast dirt. I’d probably opt to track down a pair of Onza Canis 27.5×2.85 skinwalls, but at $150 a tire, improved traction and good looks come at a price.
The 11-36 cassette is adequate for a bike like this. Stand up and smash your way up hills, maintain momentum, take chances. The steeper and looser the terrain the less fun I was having, but I’m pretty spoiled with modern trail bikes with that front wheel pushed way out there due to slack head angles and long front centers. Wheel weight was enough to notice some centrifugal effect on the steering, but Lyons said my production bikes will have rims that are about 315 grams lighter than what I am riding. That is almost a pound and a half of noticeable weight.
I don’t ride this bike on many mountain bike rides, but I do grab it a lot when headed out to the store or the bar or when I have a bit of time to mess around. And that is what it seemed to like best. It isn’t a serious bike, at all. You either get on the bike and embrace it in all its quirks or you are going to be miserable.
This bike makes people smile. Just cruising around town or hitting up the local trails, I’ve never ridden a mountain bike that got more positive attention. Even if I can’t pull Todd Lyons-level wheelies, the OM-Duro has the ability to make a dork like me seem almost cool.
Sizes: standard, XL (tested)
You can find more info, including full specs and geometry, on the SE Racing website.
This review originally appeared in Dirt Rag #196.
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