This build is based around a 2020 Rocky Mountain Growler 40 frame and stock build. The geometry is slack and can be viewed here. The just-released 2021 Rocky Mountain Growler is similar, with a couple slight geometry tweaks to accommodate a bigger fork.
I chose the Rocky Mountain Growler because it is the slackest hardtail my LBS (The Bike Shop) carries.
It performs exactly as expected and you can read my full review here.
The Rocky Mountain Growler is affordable and offers great value across all models. If you’re looking for a base to start your build you can’t go wrong with this bike.
Be aware that this model can only accommodate up to a 140mm fork. The 2021’s can accept a 150mm.
The only stock components on my build are the dropper post, fork, tires, headset, and cassette.
This bike came stock with a 130mm Suntour Raidon 34.
I was hoping to limp it along until winter, when I’d upgrade to a proper 36mm fork. Unfortunately, it started showing wear after barely a month of riding.
The fork is not supple and I have to run it at higher pressures for support after bigger hits. It is not a good choice for Sasquatches.
For lighter riders, those on a budget, or for those looking for an entry level air shock, it is OK.
These are amazing and my favourite part of the bike.
I’ve always struggled with wheel issues and was looking for a DT 350 wheel set for this build.
They are well made, the hubs are high quality, and they’re stiff. Tubeless tires seal using a normal, manual floor pump with zero hassle!
After several significant hits they are still running laser-sharp.
I cannot say enough good things about these wheels and will be featuring them in a future review.
I have been impressed with the trail performance of both, although the Trail Boss is wearing out faster than any other rear tire I’ve had. This may be a result of being on a hardtail, but I am going with a Maxxis rear tire next season.
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SRAM GX Eagle with the exception of the stock cassette, which will be upgraded when it wears out.
Shimano vs SRAM is a controversial topic, but I like SRAM drivetrains for mountain bikes.
I prefer their “heavier” substantial feel to Shimano’s light and whimsical action.
I also find SRAM to be easier to keep clean and more robust overall.
It is important to note that setting up an Eagle derailleur has special considerations which you can learn about here.
Pedals are Shimano SPD. I ran flats with my last Enduro bike but prefer clipless on the hardtail. Another hot topic which will be covered in a future article.
Shimano XT calipers and SRAM Centerline Rotors.
The front is a 4 piston caliper with a 203mm rotor. This provides siginificantly more control and modulation compared to a 2 piston caliper.
I went with this brake on the hardtail because I am travelling relatively slower and ride tighter lines than on my old Enduro, so control over power delivery is critical. The braking power is more than enough.
On the rear I have a 2 piston caliper and a 180mm rotor.
I decided to try Centerlines because my last Shimano Ice-Tec rotors would warp and were more finicky overall.
So far the Centerlines have been fantastic, with no unwanted rubbing on extended descents.
Rocky Mountain Toonie Drop dropper, Specialized Phenom saddle.
Deity Supracush grips (these are XL for bigger hands).
Stock FSA headset.
Everything performs well with no issues, except the headset.
This is no surprise, as the stock headset is a lower quality item. After a month it was already showing signs of wear. When I bought the bike I’d intended to upgrade the headset in winter, which will now be necessary.
Between my size, keeping weight off the rear wheel on steep technical descents, and the larger diameter stiffer bar/stem, plenty of force is transferred to the headset. This is why I had previously ear-marked it for an upgrade.
For riders with bigger hands, consider the Supracushes. They have been a game changer. No arm pump, excellent damping, and extremely comfortable. Critical difference-makers if you’re on a hardtail!
All these custom components are high performing, high quality, and I have had zero unexpected issues with this build.
There is something to be said for taking the time for a custom spec. I am familiar with these parts so maintenance is simple and predictable. This saves me time and money. I can almost guarantee the stock wheels, brakes, and drivetrain would be needing work by now. The wheels would probably be broken.
It did take nearly 5 years of bike frustrations to get to this point. Selling stock parts and searching for your own can be a time investment, especially if you’re trying to find gently used/ takeoff components to save more cash.
If you have any questions about this build, or the components, feel free to comment below or message me directly.
In the future, Hardtail Canada will feature in-depth reviews of each of these components and discuss in more detail the process of speccing out your own bike.
Thanks for reading!
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