by Daniel Shaw
The Mullet set up is a very enticing set up for many riders. Getting the benefits of a 29er by smoothing out the bumps while keeping the bike light and nimble through the corners and
jumps. I figured it would be worth playing around with for the upcoming race season to set up
my Warden LT perfectly. After talking with some other riders that are riding the Warden mullet
and comparing geo charts I was stoked to ride this bike!
For me, testing bike set ups is always something that I like to do a few months before race season starts so I can get comfortable before my first race. This year I got the Warden LT with 27.5” wheels and started tinkering. I adjusted the stem height to 30mm with my 20mm Chromag bars and put the bike into the slack position.
After a few pedals in Victoria BC, I was blown away by the capabilities of the Warden compared to riding my Fugitive last season. The extra 45mm of travel in the rear really makes the compressions smooth! But there was something that wasn’t quite perfect for me yet. Whenever there was a steep and technical section, I felt like I was using more strength then I needed to ride these sections well. I still had my fork and wheel from my Fugitive, so I swapped the two and tested out the mullet set up with a 170mm Fox 36 and 29er up front.
Immediately the bar height was where I liked it. By just testing it in the driveway, I could feel the added 3ish millimeters from the larger wheel size and was eager to get to the trails. I pedalled
about 10km to get to Bear Mountain, which is where I typically ride, and did the “race trail”.
I climbed up the paved road and then hit the punchy singletrack. It felt no different than the bike before the mullet set up. At the top, I switched the climb switch on my Fox DHX2 off, put on my glasses and dropped in. The bike was electric with energy! I was jumping things without any effort of putting a few pedal strokes in before it and literally monster trucking through rough sections. I even had to remind myself to brake before corners with all of this extra momentum.
Just after my first ride, I knew this was the set up that I would run for this race season. Keeping in mind that this was in February and the race season was fast approaching. I kept riding that exact set up until April and didn’t do any changes other than one tire swap and brake pads. It was a setup that was capable of absolutely everything. I was keeping up with Canada’s fastest downhill racers on Mt. Prevost on a Saturday and then doing a 1500m (elevation) of pedalling on Sunday with absolutely no changes to the bike.
I connected with another BC rider who recently set up his Warden LT Mullet-style; his name is Dale Mikkelson and he's Whistler’s trail association (WORCA) president.
Here what he had to say:
“My 2017 Warden alloy has served me well. A trusted friend, a reliable workhorse. But something shiny and new appeared on the Knolly website that led to a new lusting. The new 2020 Warden was the stuff of legends. Longer, slacker, but still promising the efficiency of the updated 4x4 linkage. I was smitten.
But I was also curious about a bigger travel 29er, given recent experiences of ann epic revelation on the Fugitive. That bike could do way more than any bike in that category could do, and it was the 29er on the front that blew me away the most... the ability to get that thing rolling and just hang on, even with just a Fox34 up front. So, after speaking closely with the folks at Knolly, and realizing that the new Warden could happily go with a short offset 160mm travel 29er on front with no significant impact to geo or trail, I was on it.
I called a buddy at Alba Distribution and rallied up a 2020 Formula Selva 44mm offset 160mm 29er and the cards were dealt. Three months later, 1300km, and over 36,000m of elevation (without lifts), and it's the best decision of my life. Big and powerful up front, yet quick and nimble in the back. I regularly ride the Westside jank of Whistler, where big burly rock lines and slabs slam into punchy tech climbs or short corners. The 29er bombs over the chunder and eats compressions, and the 275 gets me back to speed quickly. Personal records drop daily, and I'm
almost able to hang onto the heels of my enduro-bro kid (also on a mullet Warden). Truly a
remarkable and capable bike that takes middle aged men to new heights of enduro-ness.”
- Dale Mikkelsen (IG: https://www.instagram.com/dale_mikkelsen/)
And lastly, I connected with another BC local, Alec Suriyuth, from Vancouver BC. He also had his Warden set up with some beautiful decals; It’s a bike that clearly stands out!
“Even though I’ve ridden and enjoyed both 29er and 27.5 bikes in the past, for me it’s always felt like a compromise when choosing the wheel size. The mullet build on my Warden seemed like a great opportunity to test out something new and to make wheel choice less of a compromise. So far I’ve been a big fan of how composed the front end feels over the rough stuff while having the overall bike still feel nimble like 27.5 bikes I’ve ridden in the past. I think it really highlights how versatile of a bike the new Warden is.
- Alec Suriyuth (IG: https://www.instagram.com/alecsuriyuth/)
To say that this is the way that all bikes should run would not be optimum for every rider. For some, the stability of the Mullet is what attracts them to this set up. If you were climbing steep uptracks regularly then the mullet would not help with your riding. It’s a set up that is fast and fun for riders looking to get a little more aggressive. If you had the option to try different options with different wheel sizes and fork set up, would you try it?
by Daniel Shaw