Tester: Adam Newman
Age: 35, Height: 6’2”, Weight: 180 lbs., Inseam: 34”
Price: $750 (frame). Complete bikes from $2,699
Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
More info: Advocate Cycles
The Hayduke is named for the infamous anti-hero of “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” Edward Abbey’s 1975 cult classic novel of radical environmentalism (and sabotage) in the wild American West. George Hayduke was a master of crippling the heavy equipment that built roads and dams on land he considered sacred, but he had no qualms about tossing an endless stream of empty beer cans out the window of his dusty Jeep.
Like George, the bike from the new brand Advocate Cycles has something of a split personality itself, in that customers can configure it with 29 inch wheels or 27plus. Thanks to its replaceable dropout design, it can also fit standard 142 mm thru-axle hubs or 148 mm Boost hubs. There’s even a singlespeed option with either hub spacing. Each is an entirely separate design, however, so the geared dropouts can’t be called into singlespeed mode the way some rocker or sliding dropouts can.
The steel frame is fairly straightforward in its construction, with Reynolds 725 tubing joining a 44 mm headtube, a BB92 bottom bracket shell and internal dropper post routing. One downside to the Hayduke is its weight— a full 7 pounds for the size large frame we tested. As pictured it spun the scale past the 32 pound mark.
The Hayduke has no trouble holding its own against other trail hardtails on the market these days. While I would normally go straight for an XL, I was actually glad I ended up on a large. The reach is still plenty long enough to keep the front wheel far out front, where I like it, while the slightly smaller stature helped it feel more responsive than it might have with a longer wheelbase. Because my saddle was also extended higher, and thus farther back, it also moved my weight slightly rearward, and helped make lifting the front end effortless. The 16.9 inch chainstays didn’t hurt either.
Just like Hayduke’s Jeep, this bike can tackle a little bit of everything— trail or no trail—and help you escape over the next mountain pass. It works well for a mix of uses beyond traditional mountain biking, veering into bikepacking and light-duty fat biking on sand or snow.
The extra weight will always be a drawback for 27plus compared to a standard 29-inch platform, and almost all of that weight is rotating mass in the wheels and tires. I think it does hold the Hayduke back if your goal is to go top speed all the time, but the versatility earned by those big tires more than makes up for it. The fore-aft traction is downright remarkable, and despite the weight I found it to be very capable on low-speed, techy climbs. The plus platform floats over holes that would typically catch your tire and kill your momentum or buck your behind off the saddle. The added surface area on the ground improves braking, but it’s not true that the big tires act as a suspension— this is still a hardtail through and through.
The truly unique thing about the brand, and thus its name, is that Advocate Cycles has pledged to donate 100 percent of its profits back to bicycle advocacy. Incorporated in Minnesota as a Specific Benefit Corporation, it has a legally binding social purpose in addition to its business ventures, and customers can give input on which of the organizations they would like to support. So far Advocate Cycles has partnered with IMBA, PeopleForBikes, the Adventure Cycling Association, Bicycles for Humanity and NICA.
Advocate Cycles are available through your local bike shop, but if you can’t find one in your area, give them a call and they will get you set up.
The build you see here isn’t a stock setup, but rather a mix of new and existing components as part of our Project 27plus test. Read our introduction to the bike here.
Thanks to its own in-house design and manufacturing in North Carolina, Industry Nine was one of the first brands out of the gate with Boost compatible hubs. Its Torch Classic hubs use traditional J-bend spokes and spin on a six-pawl driver with 120 points of engagement. Do a little math and you’ll see that’s a nearly instantaneous three degrees of engagement.
The hubs are laced to WTB’s Scraper rims, the first “plus” rim designed for a 2.8 to 3 inch tire, with all the advantages of the TCS tubeless system. It’s a double-wall rim with a massive 45 mm internal width to help spread the plus tires out wide. For this project I’ve been running the WTB Bridgers.
Hayes started with a clean-slate design for the Radar brakes, moving away from DOT fluid to a more user-friendly mineral oil fluid it calls Venom. They have a long lever arm that has plenty of room for two-finger braking, but can also be adjusted fore and aft for perfect single-finger fit.
If you’re a Brit or just prefer moto style, you can easily flip them upside-down and run them backwards. At the other end of the line, the calipers use Hayes’ Crosshair design that lets you micro-adjust their placement on the post mounts for drag-free operation.
Built for an entry-to-mid-level market, they have linear braking power but lack the sheer stopping force of some of the competition. Aside from a little squeal in the wet they performed great throughout the test, and sometimes reliability is more important than outright performance.
With such a big front wheel to wrangle I grabbed a pair of Easton’s Haven carbon handlebars with a 35 mm clamp and a manageable 750 mm width. Combined with the big tires the carbon bars absorbed any sort of hard knock or buzz traveling to my hands. With nine degrees of sweep and a modest 20 mm rise they felt great right away.
At the ends are the Primergo Jet ergonomic cork grips from Herrman’s. Though they are designed for city bike users, I found their modest size to be comfortable without being hard to handle when I’m constantly adjusting my position. They have a single locking bolt and offer plenty of grip in the wet.
Up front is the new Manitou Magnum, designed specifically for “plus” bikes; it’s available in both 27plus and 29plus versions, and this is the Pro version with adjustable high and low speed compression as well as rebound and bottom-out. Watch for an in-depth review in an upcoming issue.
- Reach: 18.0”
- Stack: 24.7”
- Top Tube: 24.8”
- Head Tube: 68.5º
- Seat Tube: 73º
- BB height: 12.4”
- Chainstays: 16.9”
- Wheelbase: 44.9”
- Weight: 32.2 lbs. w/o pedals (specs based on size tested)
This is our third annual roundup of trail bikes that aren’t priced to the stratosphere. We could call them affordable, budget, real-world, blue-collar or college-fund-friendly, but someone would take offense at our assumption of disposable income level. It doesn’t really matter though. These are great bikes for the price, and we’ll leave it up to you about what to spend. Each bike was hand picked, not just for its price, but its components, geometry and modern features. From Issue #189.
Get an overview of all of the bikes in this test, here, and keep an eye out for full reviews of each.
Tester: Katherine Fuller
Age: 29, Height: 5’4”, Weight: 120 lbs., Inseam: 30”
Sizes: XS, S (tested), M, L, XL
P.J. O’Rourke opined in a 2010 issue of Car and Driver about why he chose a Jeep Wrangler as his daily vehicle. He described the utilitarian machine as “three things not easily found these days: straight, square and forthright.”
O’Rourke wrote of irrational love, acknowledging he would rarely use the Wrangler off road and explained that cars are largely outward manifestations of our inner selves. All of that essentially sums up how I feel about the Surly Wednesday: It’s a bicycle that is “straight, square and forthright” and deserving of your irrational love no matter how you intend to use it.
Building on a decade of fat bike design experience, the affectionately cantankerous Minnesota company cross-pollinated its lineup to create a bike equally capable of crushing your local trails as it is wandering off for loaded touring. Not as shreddy as the aggressive Ice Cream Truck but more singletrack-curious than the old-school Pugsley, the Wednesday carries on the “Addams Family” nomenclature and offers four-season ride capabilities.
The use of 4130 chromoly steel and voluminous rubber mean you can have a lot of fun plowing over rough stuff. That is really the only way to ride the Wednesday since its 100 mm wide bottom bracket means you’re not daintily threading rock gardens. You might be pedal striking more than usual on your favorite 12 inch singletrack until you get used to the Q-factor girth.
The Wednesday won’t respond to dainty, last-minute wrist flicks like a svelte carbon bike, but that’s actually part of the fun. Handle it aggressively and see how big of a smile it puts on your face. Whenever the trail turned playful, its front end was more than willing to rear up and launch over rollers on fast descents. Yep, this is a pudgy rigid hardtail that wants to go airborne.
The seat tube and head tube angles are each one degree in the slacker direction than the venerable Surly Pugsley, a bike I have owned for a few years. The Wednesday’s top tube is also a full inch longer. The difference is noticeable on long, steady climbs and hour-long grinds over flat ground where I found the more laid-back, stretched-out ride of the Wednesday to be slightly less comfortable for the job. A simple parts swap to a more upright cockpit, and ditching the stock seatpost for one with no setback, should help make it more suitable for non-rowdy cruising and touring.
Front hub spacing is 150 mm and rear is 177 mm (symmetric) and—hooray— the bottom bracket is threaded. Thanks to track dropouts with 20 mm of fore-aft adjustment, you can move the rear wheel (relative to the wheel/tire combo you are running) to achieve a rear chainstay length of 17 to 18 inches. With the rear wheel fully aft in the dropouts, it fits up to a 4.6 inch tire on an 80 mm rim. With the wheel slammed full-forward, you’re looking at 3.8 inch tires on the same rims.
Take advantage of that adjustability based on how you want this bike to ride. I can imagine that a shorter stem and a 100 mm suspension fork (which slackens the bike and raises its bottom bracket) would make it even more of a blast on singletrack. You can endlessly mold the loveable Wednesday to your whims thanks to its versatile frame design that accepts an internally-routed dropper, has room for 29plus tires and features numerous braze-ons.
The SRAM X5 build kit, tubeless-ready rims, 3.8-inch Surly Nate tires and Hayes MX Comp mechanical disc brakes all make sense for keeping the price down and offered a reliable ride experience. With the right pressure, the Nates’ aggressive traction is phenomenal on wet trails and climbing on snow, but they are painfully sluggish rolling on smooth, dry ground.
“So, what can a person of modest means do to get a life?” O’Rourke asked at the end of his Jeep Wrangler story. He was writing about cars but, if you feel that way about your bikes, try a Surly Wednesday; you just might like how “straight, square and forthright” it is. It’s one of the most fun, versatile fat bikes out there.
- Ultra-low maintenance without suspension or hydraulics
- Grows with you better than the clothing your mom said you’d “grow into”
- Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy
- Wide load can be cumbersome on skinny trails
- Balloon tires don’t negate that it’s still a rigid hardtail that can beat you up
- It’s heavy and, oh, who the hell cares
- Wheelbase: 43.3”
- Top Tube: 22.7”
- Head Angle: 69°
- Seat-Tube Angle: 73.5°
- Bottom Bracket: 12.5”
- Rear Center: 17 to 18”
- Weight: 35.6 lbs. w/o pedals (specs based on size tested)