Updated: May 31, 2022
I get asked about the wheel and tyre clearance in the Eponym frames, specifically about mullet setups and the ‘mullet mod’ that I’ve mentioned a few times here and there on the socials.
So I thought I’d better explain exactly what I mean by the ‘mullet mod’, why I run it and why I think it’s such a great idea for my hardtails.
The ‘mullet mod’, is essentially just a setup consisting of a 27.5” wheel in the rear and a 29” wheel in the front. However I go a little further and run a bigger tyre out back than up front. More recently I’ve been using a 29x2.6” DHR2 on the front and a 27.5x2.8” Rekon at the back. Previously I’d been using a 29x2.4” DHR2 at the front and a 27.5x2.6” Forekaster at the back. Both setups have a great deal of merit but it’s the former, larger tyres that are now my go-to on the hardtail.
For me, the biggest differentiator between a hardtail and a full suspension bike is not necessarily the lack of rear squish and impact absorption but the lack of ‘float’. A full suspension bike can be unweighted easily without ever leaving the ground which is an element of control that is very difficult to achieve on a hardtail - clipless pedals can help but generally you’re either on the ground or off it - and not always at a time of your choosing!
I designed the Eponym with a very low stand over since your legs have to do the work that the rear suspension isn’t. The mullet mod takes this one step further, you gain a little more clearance of the rear wheel and the high volume tyre provides a little float (as well as impact absorption).
Setups will inevitably vary by rider weight and riding style but I’ve found with the 27.5x2.8” tyre on a 35mm rim with a Rimpact insert I can run pretty low pressures without destroying rims. For reference I generally ride either freeride lines or the rock strewn trails found in The Peak and I weigh 63kg.
Put aside all clichés of 2.8” tyres. It’s true, a big 2.8” tyre does roll and squirm more than a smaller, more taught tyre when ridden hard. But with a wide rim and a good insert to provide some support and damping I haven’t noticed a great deal of squirm or vagueness.
I put this down to the comparison with the alternative - a firmer, narrower tyre may not squirm so much but on a hardtail it does bounce a lot more.
And where squirm has been described as ‘uncontrolled’; in the case of a hardtail the larger tyre actually provides more control by helping to keep the bike in contact with the ground. After all there’s not a lot of control to be had with a bike that bounces all over the trail.
Some riders have pointed out that we usually run a larger tyre on the front of our bikes and the mullet mod seems to be the wrong way around. They’re right, of course. We do often run a larger tyre on the front but this isn’t because we want the bigger tyre at the front necessarily - but more that we don’t want a big tyre at the back because pedalling a big, heavy tyre is hard work! In the case of the mullet mod we’re using a larger tyre that is also smaller (in diameter) and a 29x2.4” Rekon weighs very nearly (within 15g) the same as a 27.5x2.8 Rekon. Indeed I’ve found these particular tyres pedal really well and the larger, softer tyre tractors up just about anything.
Does the mullet mod effect geometry? Yes. But doing it this way with the bigger-but-smaller rear tyre just tips the bike around 0.5° backward. So you get a slightly slacker head and seat angle than spec. A very similar effect to over forking by 10mm or so. And if you wanted to preserve the geometry one could simply reduce the travel of the fork by 10mm and all your angles will stay pretty much the same as if you had a pair of 29" hoops.
Can the Eponym frames take a 2.8” tyre plus mud? Yes. There is plenty of clearance for a 27.5x2.8” tyre in the Eponym 29. In fact there’s a nice chap down south who’s riding a 3” tyre in his Eponym with no issues but the 2.8” fits well and gives ample clearance for muck too.
So I hope that’s helped explain a little about the mullet mod and the way I recommend it; specifically on my frames.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about how we can make our bikes better. Usually I’ll have spent hours contemplating the theory of something before I build a frame and try it out, the good ideas stick and the less good ones slide. But in the case of the mullet mod I was never really that keen on the idea, the theory didn’t really add up to me. Until I tried it. And I’m now so invested in it, I see so much merit in this setup that I’m removing the 27.5” Eponym from my standard options. Because the Eponym frame + mullet mod does everything the 27.5” frame did and more.
We now have the Rallye 27.5” specific frame. With the Rallye we decided that rather than simply make a smaller wheeled Eponym we would fully embrace everything the smaller wheePs do well and the frame geometry that they allow.**
Disclaimer: the mullet mod won’t be for everyone. My entire business model is based on personal preference and (where bikes are concerned) I don’t believe there is one ‘best’ way to do anything, really. What works for you is all that matters and (usually) I steer clear of ‘advice’ for that very reason. My advice is just my opinion. Mr Seb Hampson has been riding my frames for some time now and still operates them with a pair of 29” wheels shod with chunky, 2.5” rubber. Do I think he’s crazy? Always have done. But also, I know there’s still merit in the full 29er setup for many riders. And that’s why I’ll continue to design the Eponym around 29” wheels with the option to run the mullet mod setup.