Test Ride Review: Durango Bike Company Pucker SS Titanium Hardtail

Durango Bike Company (DBC) was well represented at Outerbike Moab despite their small size and limited build-to-order business model. Their custom bikes with meticulous attention to detail garnered a lot of attention, as did the creative way they had the bikes displayed.

Bruce G climbs a section of the expert trails at the Bar M demo area
Bruce G climbs a section of the expert trails at the Bar M demo area

I did not personally test this bike, but instead it was tested by an endurance athlete I frequently ride with who, in my opinion, is more adept at discerning the nuances of singlespeed bikes since I do not own or ride one. He has been riding and racing long distance and singlespeeds longer than most of our testers have been alive (sorry Bruce). He rode this custom DBC Pucker and almost instantly fell in love with it. In fact, he is currently negotiating with Durango Bike Company about purchasing it to replace his current singlespeed hardtail (the power of Outerbike!). After a lengthy discussion with him about his impressions of the Pucker, I have included the bike’s specs and his take-aways to lend our singlespeed riders some insight into this model.

A custom Pucker is right at home on Moab singletrack
A custom Pucker is right at home on Moab singletrack

The Deets (from DBC for this specific custom build)

  • Pucker Ti Single Speed Large Build:
  • Frame – 18″ Ti w/ adjustable 12 X 142 rear thru-axle system
  • Fork – Rockshox Revelation 140mm black
  • Wheelset – Velocity Blunt SL 27.5 black (made in USA)
  • Tires – Schwalbe Hans Dampf – 2.35 Snakeskin/Pacestar – front & rear
  • Cranks – Paul Components 175 – 73mm BB – Polished (made in USA)
  • Chainrings – front – Paul 34T black – rear Surly 17T black
  • Brakes – Avid XX Carbon – 160mm front & rear
  • Headset – Chris King Angle 7 – black (made in USA)
  • Stem – Thomson X4 – 0 X 80mm – black (made in USA)
  • Bars – Thomson Carbon Trail 750mm (made in USA)
  • Grips – Lizard Skins – Durango Lock-On – silver/black (made in USA)
  • Seatpost – Thomson Masterpiece – black (made in USA)
  • Saddle – SDG Bel Air Ti – black
  • Seatpost Binder – Thomson polished (made in USA)
  • Retail Price – $6,200

    An example of the meticulous and beautiful welds on this bike
    An example of the meticulous and beautiful welds on this bike

Durango Bike Company also has more information on the Pucker and it’s versatility. From their website:

  • 650b Wheels – low rolling resistance, amazing traction, quick turning, lightweight with no geometry limitations
  • Optional 12×142 rear axle – Fully adjustable for shortening or lengthening your wheelbase to customize your bike for the terrain or riding style. Brake mounts slide with axle (no more adjusting your brakes when customizing your wheelbase) Perfect single speed set up – no need to adjust or fiddle with anything when taking off the rear wheel.

    Quality sliding drop outs with an optional 12x142mm thru axle
    Quality sliding drop outs with an optional 12x142mm thru axle
  • Oversized 44mm Head Tube – Stronger connection point of top tube and down tube than a tapered one and allowing more fork and headset options.
  • 68° Head Tube Angle – With a more relaxed head tube angle, the Pucker is much more stable at high speeds and on vertical descents, yet climbs with outstanding efficiency.

    A relatively slack head angle for a tight racing machine
    A relatively slack 68 degree head angle and oversized head tube make this a unique find for a tight racing machine
  • 120mm Fork –Engineered to soak up everything around you and even take a drop or two, allowing you to forget you are on a hardtail.
  • Oversized Butted Seat Tube – Large 31.6 diameter for added strength, stiffness and accommodates most seat posts including droppers if so inclined.

    Large diameter seat tube for strength and power transfer
    Large diameter seat tube for strength and power transfer
  • Under Top Tube Cable Routing – For clean look and non-slapping, quiet ride. Won’t get caked in mud or snagged on a branch like other’s under bottom bracket routing is susceptible to.
  • 2 Water Bottle Mounts – Not everyone uses hydration packs and besides, we still have water bottle style battery packs for our old NiteRider™ lights.

Impressions

Our tester seemed most impressed with the slack 68-degree head tube angle and the 140mm RockShox Revelation fork, not something you typically find on a racing singlespeed, or a hard tail for that matter. He described the fork as nothing short of awesome, which made the bike seem light and agile over the technical rocks on the southern end of the Bar M Trail System. He also noted that having the ability to change the head tube angle to a more crisp 71 or 72 degrees for different racing applications was a real bonus for a bike of this caliber. He was pleased at how well the bike maneuvered up and over round boulders, as well as up rock-type stair climbs, stating, “it was so responsive. . .it felt like when I wanted to go somewhere, I just thought it. . .and it went.”DSC_0638

He also noted that the overall geometry was stiff and allowed good power to the pedals, without feeling uncomfortable–except for the saddle, which he found unpleasant. The bars were quite a bit wider than he normally prefers, but he found them right at home on this particular bike given the long fork and slacker geometry.

The made-in-America custom Paul cranks are a vogue addition to this custom rig
The made-in-America custom Paul cranks are a vogue addition to this custom rig

DBC had this bike setup with a 34/17 gear ratio, and other than a personal preference of running a 16 on the rear, our tester thought the balance was “perfect” for trails that were tested and the trails he races on in Colorado.

Bruce also noted that the only thing he would change, given the way this bike was set up, would be to add a dropper post–which of course is an easy upgrade with the Pucker’s standard 31.6mm seat tube.

Everyone that admired this bike, even those who did not test it, agreed that the raw titanium and graphics made the bike “lust-worthy”.

Someone thought this through
Someone thought this through

Bottom line: titanium never goes out of style, and it lasts forever. A custom single speed like this, with modern geometry and slack posture, is guaranteed to last for years and provide miles and miles of grins above and beyond competitors with more traditional XC setup.

MSRP: $6,200

Big grins from the guys who were fortunate enough to test this ti beauty
Big grins from the guys who were fortunate enough to test this ti beauty

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