John Parker, Founder of Yeti Bicycles, returns with the most fun, cutting edge Plus Bike available today
About this project
of hand fabricated mountain bikes and mountain bike frames.
John’s expertise in geometry, materials, and tubing sizes helped create Underground’s prototypes. Hundreds of details were examined, geometries compared, and competitors bikes ridden and tested by John and his handpicked team, Will Kenefick and Mike Foxworthy.
Tens of thousands of dollars have already been invested to create two rounds of prototypes with custom yokes and dropouts. Numerous riders, including notables such as Missy Giovie and “Jimmy Mac” former Mountain Bike Action editor have given feedback to the UBW team. After riding Underground’s 27.5 plus proto Jimmy described it as a “True quiver killer.” (review below)
This is your opportunity to purchase an extremely rare and handcrafted bike put together by two icons in the industry.
Our Bikes are being offered in two wheel sizes – 27.5 Plus and 29 Plus. in two componetry packages.
Don’t take our word for it. Below is a review from none other than in infamous Jimmy Mac:
Underground Bike Works 27.5 Plus Prototype Ride Report By Jimmy Mac
Pedaling: Surprising how easily this bike spins along the trail. If you were not looking at the tire’s width, it would be easy to mistake this for a conventional 29er, only smoother and even less affected by the trail surface. It floats over loose trail debris. The tire noise is less than a conventional 27.5 or 29er. It is a sweet muffled sensation. If there is added compression and rebound generated from the tires, I didn’t feel it in the saddle. The expected “bobbing” just wasn’t detected. I’m guessing your wheelbase selection has a lot to do with that (a shorter wheelbase on a big-tire bike can cause weird pedaling feedback). I experienced some heel contact with the seat stays but I think I am overly sensitive to this from my roadie days and the way my cleats are set.
Climbing: This bike has about a 6-inch taller gear in its 42-tooth cog than the bike I’ve been riding all year (a 2×10 Pivot Mach 429 that is also about 1.5 pounds lighter) but I cleared climbs I don’t always clear. First, this bike has no issues with its rider getting out of the saddle to punch over inclines or to increase crank RPM to get on top of a gear. It is equally impressive in the saddle. Over rocks and ruts, it maintains traction so the rider can just crank away. The pedal clearance helps in rocky sections too. The only issue was when the Wolf chainring hits its power stroke and the tire starts scratching for traction. There is a learning curve to riding with the oval chainring. I think I would have better results if I moved the saddle back a bit.
Cornering: It doesn’t feel slack (sluggish) or steep (nervous). It is right there in the middle with a light, neutral feel to steering input. This helps a lot on the climbs. The bike stays on its intended line. There is no sawing at the bar when going up slow, steep inclines. It shines on off-camber sections. The thing just sticks. Same goes for corners. The bike likes to be ridden aggressively through the corners with the rider out of the saddle and weight low. Again, the bike sticks.
Descending: This is a very forgiving hardtail that responds to aggressive riding techniques. Stay off the brakes and out of the saddle (dropped) with your chest a few inches over the bar and the bike feels like it is on rails. I liked the bike’s geometry, but I’m not a downhill racer. Gravity-oriented guys might ask for a slacker headtube, but I’m not one of them.
Braking: The Magura brakes are well matched to the task for slowing down these large tires. I locked up the rear wheel a few times, but I’m used to rear suspension so it would take a few rides to recalibrate my brain and right hand. (The only drawback to the Magura stoppers (I use them on my personal bike) is finding a bike shop that stocks brake pads. I buy them on Amazon and keep a spare set in the toolbox.
Overall Breathes new life into the trusty hardtail mountain bike. Expands the possibilities for the trail rider who doesn’t want the complexity or expense of a dual-suspension mountain bike. Selling direct will require good rider service when setting the bike up. I would have said I needed a longer stem but after riding it, a longer stem might have ruined the bike’s handling. There will be a bit of education for existing riders. I had too much air pressure in both tires, but that is so simple to experiment with that it is part of the fun of owning any oversized tire bike.
Description of the Bike from the Underground
Plus Sized Tires and Wheels
Because the goal is to make the bikes fun, our bikes are going to receive plus sized tires which are 3.0 inches in width. These only have a penalty of a 9 percent increase in the rolling resistance but have significantly more traction, additional predictability and some compliance which takes a surprising amount of harshness out of the ride of a hard tail, allowing the over-sized rear tire to act as a rear “suspension.” We are offering two bikes in two sizes, a 27.5 plus and a 29 plus in Medium and Large.
About the Geometry
The UBW bikes have been made with the most advanced geometry available. When the passionate and educated mountain biker thinks of a hard tail, it’s likely that they associate it with a dedicated cross country race bike with geometry that makes for an unforgiving ride. Our bikes were created not for the racer, but for the weekend warrior who is looking for a bike that will rack up smiles per mile, hoots and hollers, as well as high fives between their buddies. We created the ultimate hardtail trail bikes, fun geometry with maximum grip, low rolling resistance, and all the suppleness of a plus bike. Let’s take a look at each facet of these bikes in detail.
We placed the chainstay length at 428 millimeters to provide a very playful/snappy feel. The UBW bikes can easily flick into turns while requiring minimal rider input, providing greater climbing abilities that rail switchbacks and better maneuver descents than bikes with traditional chainstay lengths. Our shorter chainstays make the bike easier to manual, hop and control in the air. Having short stays also helps reduce the amount of flex in the frame. In order to achieve these aggressive angles, we had to manipulate the seat tube to allow the wheel to get pulled further under the rider and run SRAM’s Boost system to provide more sidewall clearance.
The head angles used for our bikes are considered slack by many in the industry. The head angle is the variation from vertical, or how the handlebars connect to the front wheel, and on what angle. A steep head angle (71-74 degrees) creates a twitchy but very agile ride. These steep head angles are generally found on cross country or even road bikes. The secret is in designing and understanding the trail and the rake of the fork as it relates to the faster the bike travels, the twitchier the bike becomes. The 67.5 degree head angle we put on the 27.5 and 68 on the 29 UBW bike allows the bike to feel less nervous and more stable at speed. Thus, it is more inspiring for the vast majority of the riders, including our target market who is looking for a “fun” bike.
Mountain Bikes in the past have had shorter top tubes and longer stems. Over the past couple of years a new generation of mountain bike design has morphed into a shortened stem with the effective top tube length being longer. The handlebar is in the exact same spot but it allows the rider greater freedom of movement without having to ride over the front end. This additional room makes the bike feel more open and fun and it inspires the rider to feel more confidence, versus being compact, nervous and constricted.
SRAM Boost 148
SRAM Boost 148 is the new standard in the bicycle industry, created between Trek and SRAM. It increases the width of the wheel hub by 6 mm, from 142 to 148, which moves the spoke base further apart and thus it allows for the wheels to be considerably stiffer. This is relevant because our bikes are trail bikes which benefit from the additional wheel strength. Also, because we are running plus sized wheels, the additional width allows for more mud clearance.
About the Underground Team
John Parker – Partner
John is Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee, five-time USA Cycling Board Member, one of the Forefathers of Mountain biking…these are all titles used to describe John Parker, founder of Yeti Cycles. John set the mountain bike world on fire by creating revolutionary bikes while working hand-in-hand with the best racers in the industry, such as world champions Julie Furtado, John Tomac, Myles Rockwell and Missy Giove. He was among the first to introduce fully suspended bikes, carbon fiber and thermoplastic frames, and the Lawwill suspension design, to outline some of his many notable advancements. Not to rest on his laurels, John is back with a vengeance to pick up where he left off, pushing boundaries once again to create some of the best mountain bikes in the world.
Will Kenefick – Partner
Will Kenefick has been a lifelong two-wheel enthusiast. Known for building racing and custom motorcycles, his bikes have been featured in over 30 magazines worldwide. A suspension and chassis expert, he has worked with Öhlins and Nitron. Currently, he is a K-Tech Suspensions technical expert for Southern California. Will is also an entrepreneur who has participated in a dozen startups from inception to sale; a consultant to multinational business dealings; and an expert in lean management, streamlined operations, and JIT supply chain. He combines the manufacturing and operational side of UBW with the cutting edge of technology.
Mike Foxworthy – Partner
Born with a passion for all things two-wheeled, Mike delivers a wealth of experience in sales, marketing, analytical research, data mining, and investor relations to the UBW team. Having been featured in numerous trade publications and a guest lecturer at universities such as UCLA, he brings a well-rounded entrepreneurial viewpoint to the company.
Risks and challenges
We perceive the risks affiliated with the project to be low. John and Frank have made close to a 50,000 bikes between the two they they have already mitigated many of the risks in creating a world class bike. All of the bikes have already been engineered and tested. The custom yokes and dropouts have already been developed and tested. The componentry on each bike had been tested and is available to purchase by Underground Bike Works. All aspects of the bike have been worked out. This is not John or Frank’s first rodeo, but we suppose anything is possible.
We have set up our financial model that at our goal, we can 100% cover all the build costs including materials, manufacturing, paint, stickers, componentry, packaging and shipping.
We will get you the bikes as soon as Frank can manufacture them. All bikes will be delivered on a “first come, first serve” We will be able to fulfill all the handmade bikes ordered on Kickstarter by October 1 2016, although we anticipate sooner.