It’s been said that the only thing left inside a custom frame is
the builder’s sweat and tears. This, being a full-custom machine,
certainly fits the bill, as each Black Sheep frame is built with plenty
of sweat equity, in addition to the metal that holds the wheels in
This 36er is built with ample amounts of titanium tubing,
including clearance for a custom, 210-millimeter-spaced rear axle
and 190-millimeter-spaced front hub. The bottom bracket is also
uniquely wide at 100 millimeters, which keeps the chainline workable for a single-speed or geared setup.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The custom-made truss-rod fork is an upcharge but looks right
at home on a bike like this. The slender titanium tubes don’t provide a measurable amount of suspension travel, but they do provide a buttery-smooth ride that matches the frame’s supple feel.
Our bike came equipped as a single-speed, but any of Black
Sheep’s bikes can be equipped with gears. The dropouts have a
replaceable chip that can be fitted with a derailleur hanger, which
is the setup most 36er riders will want.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: This is a big bike, no doubt about it. In fact, if
you’re less than 6 feet tall, James’ 29er or 27.5-inch creations will
probably suit your needs better than this monster. Thankfully, the
36-inch wheels fit us nicely and fit the frame, which is similar to a
size large from any stock brand’s lineup. The standover is reasonable. The wheelbase is long but not unmanageable, and the geometry is not that far out of whack compared to most XC hardtails.
Pedaling: We expected that accelerating this bike would feel
like we were trying to pedal-start an Abrams tank, especially given
that our bike came with a single-speed drivetrain. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to find the bike gets up to speed pretty
quickly. With our gear choice set fairly low at less than a 2: 1 ratio,
we felt like this bike could pedal up most hills with relative ease.
Cruiser racer: The single-speed
drivetrain is set up with a very low
gearing that allows the rider to
charge climbs. Even technical
terrain can be tackled with this bike,
because the wheels keep spinning
over nearly any terrain without
The signature: The custom head tube badge fits the bike perfectly, and the serial number can be whatever you want. This bike’s
number is “STR8 LIFTED.” This is truly a custom machine.