Bike Check – Tony’s Spot Honey Badger
In today’s bike check, I’m introducing our mechanic Tony and his 2012 Spot Honey Badger singlespeed weirdo bikepacking go everywhere rig. Tony is a mechanic here at Steed, and this bike definitely shows off his jedi-like ability to put a bunch of esoteric parts together to make something that works sublimely and just about makes sense if you really use your imagination.
This is just one of Tony’s bike-packing rigs, and wasn’t his main ride until quite recently. Since COVID-19, this has been his ride of choice for all of his commuting and recreational riding (I should mention that bikepacking is off the table for him right now, of course), vowing that he will ride singlespeed until the pandemic is over. It’s his version of a playoffs beard, if he didn’t already have a beard…
Tony rides his mountain bikes everywhere, and though he doesn’t get quite as wild as he used to, he’s no stranger to some technical singletrack, nor is he afraid of grinding it out on gravel. To my knowledge Tony doesn’t own a road bike, and so he particularly enjoys passing road cyclists on his mountain bike, especially when it’s a singlespeed like this one. Since he commutes and rides everywhere, he’s got some legs on him, quite often putting the younger guys in their place!
This bike is built for simplicity and sturdiness, and that starts with the Gates Carbon Drive belt-driven drivetrain. Gates Carbon Drive is the gold-standard of belt-drive bikes and the envy of many. It’s a true “Zero maintenance” system, with no chain to lube or stretch – Tony has been riding the same belt for eight years now! No gears, no problem – it might be a little harder on the legs, but it’s a really quick way to get fit. The eagle-eyed among you might also notice the Hadley rear hub. Well-known as being super reliable and incredibly high quality, made in the USA and still operating despite not even having a website and relying on word of mouth, Hadley make some of the best and most reliable hubs out there.
In the name of simplicity again, Tony is running mechanical disc brakes with TRP calipers – they’re more reliable than hydraulic brakes but do need a little more adjustment to keep them good. TRP Spyre calipers are about as good as mechanical discs get with their two-piston action. Anybody that rode in the 90s will recognise the Paul Components brake levers. CNC machined in the USA they’re about as high quality as they get – their rasta anodized parts used to be all the rage.
The Rockshox RS1 fork is a recent addition. Produced for only a few years and recently discontinued, the RS1 was designed to be their high-end XC race fork. Those that have never seen an upside-down fork before might be wondering what the heck is going on! USD forks are typically stiffer and lighter than their traditional counterparts, and have less unsprung weight. Having the dust seals at the bottom also means that they can stay well lubricated as the oil sits against them. The RS1 was, at the time of launch, one of the lightest, stiffest and best performing XC forks available.
Tony loves the Honey Badger frame because, despite being launched 1 year before internally-routed dropper posts were commonplace, it has a super compliant ride. This is thanks to the material (steel) and what you can do with it – here the seatstays are super skinny and bent in a way that they flex slightly under load, giving a supple, comfortable ride. The lack of a dropper post means he can use a lovely Thomson seat clamp and post – something we don’t get to see a lot of these days. The Maxxis Aggressor tire on the rear and Minion DHF on the front give away the bike’s aggressive intentions. It might look like a weirdo singlespeed XC bike, but this thing is ready to go anywhere and do anything, just like the rider!