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Dreamride Mutant in nature



Riding the Mutant

This is a diary of the testing and evaluation of my personal Dreamride Mutant, here to clarify the philosophy behind the bike. To paraphrase, it is a bike, that when ridden over rough terrain, conserves energy, inspires confidence and is capable of handling a very wide performance range. Testing to design the bike has been documented on this website over the past decade. For 2007 the Mutant is mutating once again. Remember that while you are reading this log, you are going back further and further in time. The real news is just below. Down the page old news is there as a record. The Mutant's history is in the depths of links on this site, if you can find them. The Mutant has evolved from Rattler to Moment to its current shape and moniker reflecting change. Mutant rules its category with no real competition but the longtravel marketing budgets of bigger companies. Our bike is WAY better. Because we have been doing long travel since 1996, we ought to know. Our geometry is still at the cutting edge of what long travel mountain bikes must be to perform a range of duties from climbing steep singletrack to rolling big rock to dropping huge ledges. Some think the bike is expensive, but we know its not. It costs what it takes to make the bike perfect. We didn't choose the parts to be the most expensive. They are simply the best.

Update November 15, 2006

Thanks again to Sherwood Gibson for giving us what we want. With the re-introduction of the Ventana La Bruja in 2007, we are again borrowing from his three dimensional computer aided carvings. Since the original La Bruja frame inspired the manufacture of the current Mutant, it is only fitting we follow Sherwood's rear end designs to where we were before we picked up Ventana--7" of travel in a Cross Country/All Mountain trail bike. The Mutant sits in firm control of the All Mountain category, while we are happy to see La Bruja take over the freeride department so recently occupied by the Mutant alone. La Bruja's larger headtube and mounts for chain control take it away from what we invisioned the Mutant to be. We are very happy indeed to see that now the two bikes will compliment each other in the categorical logic that forms the backbone of the range of bikes we offer. The Mutant remains capable of custom sizings for riders up to 7' tall. The adjustable wheelbase Mutant swingarm and X-frame configuration are reserved for these larger riders seeking a 6" travel All Mountain frame that can accommodate their girth and long legs. All sub-20 inch Mutants (every Mutant frame and parts combo is custom tweaked for total fit for each client, so there is no set sizing scale or reference to speak of) will use the new 2007 La Bruja swingarm and rockers. This means a price reduction. Going away from the complexity necessary for wheelbase adjustment means a drop in costs for those in average size ranges. The front triangle, geometry, weight and overall feel of the basic Mutant configuration will remain untouched. We are also retaining the use of Marzocchi Z-1 forks, Fox DHX 5.0 coil shocks and XDT and XDT MAX parts kits. The Mutant front triangle gets a minor adjustment to allow for the longer rockers, a geometry tweak to assure that the bike has the exact handling qualities and upright rider position of the current Mutant. The feel and look of the straight gauge gusseted Mutant downtube is here to stay. The move to 7" of travel for the Mutant will further set it apart from the Fully, which is truly a 6" cross country bike. While the 6" Mutant is no slouch, the 7" will take us back to the Dreamride Moment's (forerunner of the Mutant design based on another manufacturer's rear end) original travel setting, 7"X6". It's fate. Why fight it?

As for recent testing of the Mutant for component shakedown: The Fox DHX-Air 5.0 shock and new Marzocchi Z-1 SL tested on the bike for two months at the tail end of the fall season--well, they flunked the exam. After a couple of hard rides the DHX-Air blew at the start of the Slickrock Bike Trail as I was warming up to guide a group on the trail. I was feeling some oats and rode with force into a few huge g-outs. I rode into a near vertical rock knob just to smack the rock with both wheels at once to feel the valving. I rode back to the parking lot to pick up the group who were getting their packs together with the second guide. As I got off the bike, it lowered so I could step off, sort of like a lowrider. This is a common failure of the shock--the seal between the air chambers gives and the pressures equalize. But, this is NOT acceptable with the Mutant, so we are only offering the coil spring suspension components this year. The Marzocchi Z-1 SL was just not adjustable enough by comparison to the Z-1 FR or the Z-1 Light and it just felt like it needed to be dropped from an airplane a few times to work those seals enough to give it a plush feeling. I just didn't like it. The 2007 versions of the Z-1 are just colorful reissues of our favorite All Mountain/Light Freeride fork, the Z-1 FR, so we are sticking with these for 2007. We will spec a 66 for anyone who wants one, but I wouldn't recommend it. If you are looking at the 66, that means you should probably give the La Bruja a real good look. So, if you understand the subtle difference between the Z-1 and the 66, you understand the division of categories here. For the big boys who want a lighter trailbike from the 6" long wheelbase version, we are still offering the air shocks on both ends. This is for weight concerns and is only offered to finesse riders (yes, a 240 guy can ride with finesse). It is a choice. Choices are good.

Update October 15, 2006

Last year I had three surgeries in the fall. One was for a sports hernia. Over the past year I have been building fitness lost during that recovery period, making friends with the small chainring once again. The most shocking aspect of my training and the return to guiding has been my Dreamride Mutant. I held off of riding it up until September because it was so much heavier than my other bikes. Because I run the tour company and design the bikes, my personal quiver has been built and tweaked to perfection just for my selfish purposes and body type. Three bikes, at this point, do everything for me, and all three have Dreamride logos on them, personally designed by me, selfishly decked out with the best parts ever produced for a two wheeled machine. Before I returned to my Mutant as a guide rig, though, I swapped coil springs for air, morphing the bike into a Mutant SL. It lost that gushiness and initial smooth small bumb damping that allowed me to drop the bike from over my head with absolutely no bounce whatsoever, but the bike also lost close to three pounds and didn't loose much in overall performance. I rode it like this for a few weeks. On the trail, there was a difference in downhill performance with the coils being missed sorely on the roughest, steepest grades at speed. On ledgy climbs I was very happy indeed. Gradually I began to put the bike through more speed and difficulty and soon I had blown the new Fox DHX-Air shock. I took it as a sign that the shock is fine for cross country and all mountain use, but as soon as you start putting it through the really hard extremes, the coils are needed. I went back to coil springs for the sake of reliability and performance. The extra weight made no difference when I finally returned to the springs. The fact is that I found myself far less tired after long rough rides than with any ot the other bikes. Over rough the rough varied terrain of Moab I can ride the Mutant with much less fatique. The Mutant has returned as my prime guide bike, with the Fully available for mountain singletracks and less brutal rough trail. The White Rim 29er is left for those long rides from town. The Mutant is my favorite bike once again! The only way I can explain the move to more weight is that the bike is so rock solid in every regard that it does not loose energy putting the power down over just about anything. My strength has returned and the Mutant is my reward. The advantages of the Mutant have reminded me of why I designed it in the first place: For an effective advantage that allows me to ride day after day without dying on the trail. The guys with heavier bikes are suffering. The guys with lighter bikes are desperately hanging on. I am cruising with a smile. This is one fantastic bike. There is one fact of life to share with you: Train on a lighter bike for the heavier bike. Do not ride the heavy bike all the time! This saves my 57 year old knees and hips, a very important lesson learned from the months in recovery from surgery.

Dreamride MutantAugust 6, 2005

This first installment is based on two rides on a couple of local Moab trails with a variety of technical challenges. The first ride was a shake-down break-in--and an introduction to the newly formulated geometry that, in the case of this particular bike, is set specifically for Moab terrain. The second ride was a full-out, no-holds-barred test of the bike's climbing, descending and technical trail handling traits. As time passes, there will be more installments, but for now, here are first impressions:

Before I dig in, I want to thank Sherwood Gibson, without whose years of experience, amazing engineering, fabrication facility and bottomless skills and invention, the Mutant would never have happened. Having a partner like Sherwood build your frames is like having Ray White sing your songs. Having the best of the best take your ideas and give them life is golden fate, a blessing and a gift. ~ Lee Bridgers, Dreamride owner, bike builder and the mind behind the Mutant

1st ride:
It was interesting and more than enlightening getting to know this bike on the first ride, which included a slice of the Moab Slick Rock Trail and the southern loop of Fins and Things. The Sand Flats area just above town is standard fare for a break-in ride to glaze the pads, adjust for cable stretch, set suspension adjustments, and put the bike through what, for most people, are fairly radical trail situations. This is the ride to make sure nothing stupid is going on with parts or set-up, before I take the rig into the deep end of the pool far away from human activity and support.

The first obstacle was the abrupt slickrock knob at the end of the short sandy, babyheaded spur that leads from the Slick Rock parking lot to the trailhead. This is a place I bring clients to gamble. We bet on whether or not each approaching rider is going to biff in the sand, bail before the rock, dig in and face-plant, or make it through. Most riders bail and walk, simply because people who come to the Slick Rock Trail are usually not prepared for how hard it is. A significant number crash with comic results. I grabbed some momentum over the bumpy river rocks (smoothed out by the plush travel and efficient pedaling of the Mutant) and when I got to the abrupt knob, I lifted the front wheel onto the rock. Because this is a new bike, I did what I must do to avoid surprises--I over-compensate with an exaggerated tug on the bars and weight shift to the rear. The front wheel stuck high on the knob at the same time the rear wheel contacted the bottom of the face for traction. I was on the top of the knob immediately, but not before feeling the weight of the bike in my legs for a brief moment. This is a freeride bike, after all. It pedals just fine, but it weighs 34.5 pounds. I was glad I grabbed momentum and planned on continuing to attack this kind of large uphill obstacle with similar intent.

I tried not to let the excitement of having such a capable bike under me take control once I was on the rock. . . . After the initial rush of the beginning rollies and g-outs at the head of the Slick Rock Trail I became more and more confident of the bike's ability to 1) sidehill like no other bike I have ever ridden, and, 2) attack tall ledges like no other bike I have ridden. This is the first freeride-oriented bike ever with custom geometry specific to Moab, so I knew it to have great clearance for pedaling on sidehills. It has a 14.5" bb height (measured without sag), where most other rigs of this travel and purpose have around 13.5". I expected it to have firm, positive handing characteristics due to the stiff platform, but, I did not expect the front end to feel so light and responsive, considering the 6" travel Z-1 FR fork, longish wheelbase (a tad over 44" in its shortest setting), and "light freeride" weight. Within a hundred yards of the trailhead I took a freeride diversion to hit some higher ledges and knobs. I found this bike to be the best ledge-worker ever. The travel, bb height and ease with which I could loft the front end meant that I could hit ledges at speed that I would otherwise have to slow for to pick a careful line of attack. This was the first major delightful surprise. I was in for more.

The next was tight turns. I am used to steep, steep angles and a short wheelbase, so when the Mutant turned on a dime at the bottom or top of a steep hill at slow speed, I was stoked. I remember thinking that I was going to be getting in good shape for the fall season because I love riding this heavier, more capable bike so much that I will not be on any other rig for quite some time. It is the kind of bike that gives you are workout just looking at it. It is also the kind of bike that you think about riding constantly. It begs you to put on armor and get out on the trail. North Shore visitors are going to want one of these.

On the backside of the Slick Rock Trail Practive Loop is a very steep descent with tight twisting turns. It is here that I realized that I had left my seatpost a bit too high. Because I placed two ziptie cable mounts on the seattube gusset, I can run a quick release without any bother of interference. I stopped and slid the Moots ti seatpost (I am addicted to these things--they are so light and have a feel all their own) down about an inch and slid the saddle back in the rails all the way. I found myself sitting even further back on the long WTB Power V saddle, and this proved to be a major development in understanding the Mutant's personality. Once my weight was further back ledges and rock knobs became even more fun and performance in sand was enhanced to perfection. It also improved pedaling efficiency by allowing more power through sand and rough rock, terrain the Mutant was designed for. The next section of trail was the perfect place to take advantage of this improved position.

There is a short, steep descent over slickrock in this section of trail constantly covered with a layer of sand and powdered rubber left by the 4WD vehicles that frequent the area. We use this spot for our skills clinics to get folks to understand even braking. There is a picture of this moderately disturbing obstacle at the top of a clinic web pages at PRIVATE SLICKROCK SKILLS CAMPS. It is basically a rock sliding board into a pit of sand where you must make a hard left turn to set up for the next, more difficult drop into sand. The Mutant went down this hill with remarkable stability, made the sharp left at the bottom, sidehilled along a steep rounded ridge, dropped into deep sand, and up onto another knob without a twitch. This is what this bike was designed to do and it was obvious to me at this point that the design of the overall geometry was a complete success.

There was another section on this particular trail that I was anxious to put the Mutant into. It is a downhill section of extremely deep "beach" sand that easily points to a problem with braking that plagues many long travel designs. If a full suspension bike "brake jacks"--meaning that rear brake forces cause the bike to jack-up and forward over the front wheel--well, this is the spot where "Jack" truly rears his head. As I descended I got my weight back behind the saddle, grabbed the rear brake hard, let the rear wheel slide and kept my eyes on the rocker. It didn't budge. No brake jack! Yay! The rocker position appears to be perfect.

2nd ride:
From town. Northern backside loop of Fins and Things.

One of the best things about our shop location is the fact that the Mill Creek bike path runs just behind us. I rolled on the mostly uphill paved bike path with the ProPedal circuit maxed out and the fork's ETA circuit on. The Mutant, due to its low center of gravity, feels like a cross country bike as I cruise along beside Mill Creek. As I hit slight uphills under the overpasses, I stand and pedal in a tall gear to keep momentum. The transition of sitting to standing is smooth and intuitive. Soon I find myself at the foot of Sand Flats Road and the long climb out of the Moab Valley. The freeridey Mutant, though heavier than the bikes I use to train on this climb, chugged right up the hill in a middle rear cog in the middle chainring. The rear end does not give me any problems. I used the big chainring and it was just as solid. The pedal efficiency is truly remarkable, a real surprise. When configuring the Mutant's geometry and assorted Ventana suspension parts, Sherwood and I did not fully realize that the combinations and modifications to existing Ventana rear end parts were going to be so effective at eliminating bob from rider pedal input. I could look down at the rocker and see that it was stable, maintaining its position as I geared up and pedaled uphill in the big ring. The Fully is very pedal efficient in the big ring, but the Mutant is efficient in every chainring, a more than welcome feature and something that may have an effect on Ventana's future rear suspension designs, as have other innovations in Dreamride frames. As I cruised past the Slick Rock parking area I stayed in the large chainring to grunt up the final paved hill. I was thinking about the trail to come, anticipating the fun on the way down. My legs were optimistic, and therefore happy to torque the big boy up the road.

I remained on the dirt road past the narrow gap on the way to Porcupine Rim (soon to be blasted to widen the road--ugh, progress, the rape of the natural and unnatural world). This last grunt went by without the usual frustration at having to climb boring dirt road, maybe because I blasted down from the gap to maintain speed to carry me further up before I had to stand and stomp. Surprisingly, I was not tired at all when I finally turned off of the road to plough through sand to my favorite downhill run. I backed off on the ETA and turned off the ProPedal valving circuits and railed the berms on the way to the top of the descent.

The downhill I was aiming at, finally under my wheels, is a Kayenta-layer ax-blade jackhammer affair, the same surface and angle of descent as the nasty jackhammer section on Porcupine Rim Trail. The rapid fire impacts of the peaked and angled ax blades send lesser suspended bike all over the trail as they bounce off obstacles. Off-angle impacts flex rear ends, suspension forks and riders' bones. The Mutant ate this stuff alive. My previous personal best on this section was accomplished with help of a Ventana La Bruja with this exact same XDT kit on it. The Mutant was not just faster than the La Bruja, it was a lot faster. It was obvious to me long ago that the Fox DHX is a far better shock than the older model Fox DH that is on that La Bruja, but there are other factors at work here.

Dreamride MutantThe Mutant is a quicker handling bike, allowing me to change line instinctively, where the La Bruja is a tad hesitant. The Mutant's pedaling efficiency allowed me to recover from braking into corners with smooth acceleration out of even the roughest, loose rock. But, the single most effective feature of the Mutant that allows more speed over this kind of trail surface is the higher bottom bracket height. I was pedaling all the way down, only stopping rotation to hop, jump or brake for turns. I could not do this on any other bike, except the 6" Fully, which is a lot twitchier due to its cross country steep angles. When I finally reached a hard right turn with two ledge drops prior to the 90 degree change of direction, I was going a lot faster than I was used to. I made the turn, using every inch of trail, then proceeded to roll down a dangerous section of jagged rock with assorted road apples, babyheads and deep potholes scattered down its twisting length. The Mutant is so plush that it sucked this stuff up. I had to think twice about upcoming tight turns because of the extra speed gained by this bike's abilities to roll over larger obstacles with little or no effect on the contact patch. I was taking bad lines just because I could. The Mutant makes bumps that I avoided on other bikes, smooth as butter. The trail was suddenly wider, the opportunities for lines endless. It worked like a much heavier DH bike.

I cruised into the long stretch of sand in the middle of this trail section, slid back on the saddle, leaned the weight of the top of my body rearward, taking all weight off of the bars and front end. The bike fired through straight as an arrow. Absolutely perfect in deep sand.

There are three little technical uphill sections on this part of the trail that really put a point on good or bad features of a rear suspension system. The first is a short, short uphill of solid rock with a very jagged and bumpy face. I have used this section in past reviews to check for rear end flex, and if you have read these reviews in the past, it has been the place where at least three high end bikes from well known companies flunked the flex test. I put the Mutant in a cross gear and pedaled up the chatter under power. It went up smooth as butter, erasing all insults, not missing a beat. Man, the DHX and Z-1FR are great suspension components. I was not surprised when the rear end of the bike remained rock solid. It is rock solid.

The second uphill is very smooth, but with sand and rubble on the face and a foot high ledge at the top. It doesn't look like much, but it can throw you because of the steep run over slippery stuff up to the face of the small ledge. I have seen expert riders biff the ledge. I powered up to the top, shifted my weight back and the Mutant just ate the ledge up without any extra effort.

The final technical move I was looking forward to is a wash bottom with a drop off a rocky ledge into deep sand. On the opposite side of the powdery wash is . . . more deep sand. I was able to drop into the sand pit with enough momentum to assist with the sudden grunt through the uphill powder on the other side. I actually passed through it faster than ever before. I even managed to get some berm action out of the opposite side to slingshot my way out of the nasty ruts and sand at the top of the wash. It was another unexpected moment from this wonderful bike.

The rest of the ride was fast, fast, fast, as I began to trust the bike and my understanding of its handling requirements. The last section of trail is horrible beach sand, the feature of this particular trail that keeps non-local mountain bikers off of it. I slid way back on the saddle and pedaled through. No problem, aside from the aching lungs and calves. The Mutant rolled straight through wobbly tire tracks left by three riders who had obviously ridden the trail earlier that day. When I left the sand, I turned to look at my track as compared to those already there. It looked like a line of attached dollar signs with my track being the straight line through the "s's".

I shot back onto the road from the top of a slickrock knob, through ruts and ditches, sand, ruts and potholes. The Mutant erased them all. The downhill on the road was a blast, of course. A moderately heavy bike with wide tires and sturdy rims loves those sweeping turns.

When I got back to the office, I changed clothes, drove home and stayed up until 2PM just from the rush of the ride. I was not tired at all. The weight of the bike is not an issue now that I know that both the efficiency of the rear suspension and the bike's intuitive handling over rough terrain saves enough energy to more than compensate for the grunts on long uphills.

Man, I love this bike. I have waited for ten years for this to come to fruition. After going through three different companies to get here, I am so happy to be partnered with Sherwood Gibson. The Mutant is not a disappointment, as was another bike currently wearing a name I gave it. On the contrary, the Mutant is better than I could have ever imagined. I am not just saying that because I want to sell a lot of them. Frankly, I don't care if I ever sell another one. I have mine and that is what counts. Despite the fact that Dreamride bikes cost more, I have never been in this business for the money. It is about the sport, not the bank account. I know Calvin, the fellow who challenged me to finally build the ultimate bike for Moab, the fellow who financed half of this first experimental run, will be just as stoked as I am to have his.
Dreamride Mutant in nature
August 17, 2005

The Mutant thumbs his nose at the popular people in high school!
Sometimes joy comes from making fun of uptight turdy people who group together to accumulate balls and combine penile length (if you have 6 of them, then they collectively have a foot long schlong and a complete pair of testicles). There is a neurotic band of white idiots in Moab, Utah we call the "Moab bike clique." They are here to torment and ostricize others "outside the group," much like a band of roaming killer chimps. And since I know just how perfect this bike is for this place, I can mock the Moab bike clique's immaturity and childlike playground behavior with a loud,
"Neener, neener, neener!"

Dreamride MutantA couple of long rides have confirmed the validity of the Mutant design and its current reign as the best Moab bike. This is what I have been aiming at all along. I am now totally certain of its abilities and the fact that it is a huge advantage on the trail, if the trail is rough. It is not just a Moab bike. It works for anyone who goes faster and needs a machine that will go faster longer with less physical effort.

The rides that proved this included a wide variety of Moab fun, including slickrock freeform surfing and freeriding, a long technical downhill, and, of course, the climb to get to the top of that descent. Let it be known that the Mutant can climb, climb, climb. It does not need progressive valving for pedal efficiency. The OVERALL efficiency of the Mutant is truly amazing. I am able to ride longer and farther without fatique on the Mutant as compared to all other bikes I have ridden on the rougher rides in Moab. It has even one-upped the Fully which is similar in design to the Mutant and weighs three pounds less. The weight issue has evaporated--completely. I found the secret to overcoming that feeling of coming from a light bike to a heavier bike. It is: Start slow and build speed as your legs learn how to take advantage of the momentum. It is now completely obvious that I have been right about the philosophy behind this design all along: Put the weight necessary for strength and stiffness where it has minimal effect on handling--near the ground. We have finally created a better bike for Moab terrain, the climax of eight years of research and development. Yay!

The Dreamride titanium freeride riser bar is coming!
Before leaving for the trail this morning I replaced the Easton Scandium handlebar I had saved for this bike for over a year with a prototype Dreamride titanium freeride bar we are testing to offer next spring. Real world testing of this component will go on through the fall season, but the bar has already won my heart. It has a radical 12 degree sweep for fine-tuning hand position as you rotate the bar in the stem. Tipped upward it gives a sweet BMX aroma to the cockpit, quickening handling and creating a perky aggressive feel. The bar is a natural for the Mutant during weight shifts and while lifting the front end over obstacles (and it matches the Moots titanium seatpost nicely). When I stand, it begs to jump the bike. The Dreamride titanium bar will be an integral part of the Mutant in the future, though I will still offer the lighter option of the FSA carbon DH bars now specified. The higher and slightly more forward hand position of the ti bar makes the front end easier to lift and quicker to turn. It also gave me a bit more security when pointing the bike down very steep slickrock faces. There were no negatives to the bar swap from the Easton Scandium to the Dreamride Ti-Freeride.

Yesterday, a friend from Victoria, B.C., someone who builds high zoot hot rods for picky drivers, visited the shop. He had seen the Mutant on this web site, but when he got next to the bike in the shop he could not keep his eyes or hands off of it. He hates to spend money, being an avid bargain hunter, so I could plainly see the conflict in his eyes. The Mutant is only a bargain to those who understand value, not price, . . and his wife was sitting right next to him! Danger, Will Robinson, Danger. He remarked over and over about how great it looked and began to recite design features that make it a perfect. He finally concluded by saying, "You really got this one right, Lee." From his years on four bar bikes, he understood the rear suspension design and clearly stated reasons why the position of the rocker and its pivot mount created a more plush ride than others with even a very slight variation. After taking the Mutant out into the street in front of the shop and raving over the light feel, the plush suspension and pedaling efficiency, he looked down the line of bikes in the shop that served as testing platforms used to get a bearing on balance of suspension and geometry for the Dreamride Mutant, and asked about each one's contribution. So, here is where I give credit to other manufacturers for their inspiration.
Dreamride Mutant in nature
Dreamride MutantThe influential frames ended up in our elite rental fleet built up with high end parts, because I love each best example too much to sell it off for a song. Of course, there's the 1999 Smellsworthless Dart (named changed to protect us from lawsuits and threatening phone calls) we call Blue Prince, and the 2003 Ventana La Bruja we named Kermit. Those who have followed the project may or may not know that I also used a 2003 Azonic Saber that I call "Cheap is Real." The Saber is still here because I once considered using the FSR Horst Link patent and virutally the same rocker placement and geometry. The Saber is incredibly pedal efficient and is a very good choice for anyone looking for a budget pedaling-freeride bike, but like the La Bruja, the bottom bracket height keeps me from choosing it as a steady ride in Moab. The Saber is also extremely heavy and possesses a swingarm that is not up to the task by a long shot. The Smellsworthless "Dart" was the initial spark of the Mutant project in 1998, a rear suspension frame with the weirdest geometry of any DH bike ever (tall bottom bracket and steep head angle). The rear end of that "Dart" pedals well, but flexes a full inch on full compression (hey, that's another inch of travel to some folks) and wags its ass like a dog in a turn like Fido when daddy comes to the door. At high speed it is a handful, but that frame had geometry that was so fucked up that it worked better as an XC bike than it ever did in its intended downhill use (the manufacturer was so cheap that they refused to build new jigs as the fork lengths increased from 1997 to 2001). That manufacturer still insists that marketing that says the bike is "handmade" and paid for reviews that tout it's "high level of craftmanship" are better than actually hand building the frame and truly employing a "high level of craftsmanship." These were reasons we never put our name on the bike that was eventually birthed from our testing and development. There is a Moment of Truth, and frankly, that Moment turned out to be a rip off and a lie. If you have one, I am sorry. The La Bruja, on the other hand, is the true father of the Mutant and the best of this lot by a mile. It's meticulous finish and detail were great inspirations for our Mutant. The "Witch" frame built a bike that pedaled, could drop off of a roof repeatedly without a twitch, was crazy stiff and a fine example of REALLY hand crafted boutique mountain freeride equipment for North Shore drops and very high speed turns. The Bruja's flaw was that it cost so much that it never sold, something I never cared about and still don't care about with the Mutant, really. I don't see any reason to compromise performance for the sake of a few hundred bucks or for the sake of people who are not willing to pay for the pinnacle of the sport. Let them eat cake. Some people know the cost of everything, but cannot see the value of anything. They settle for a Mustang and forever deny themselves a Porsche. I see the La Bruja as the Ritchey Commando of freeride, a true collectors bike. It's price tag was relative to its place in history. Shit, people pay almost $4K for a stupid Maverick frame and the Maverick is more than far from perfection, more of an albatross, a freak show, rather than a collectors item. The La Bruja was a perfect bike at a point in time, a true example of state-of-the-art mountain bike engineering. Cost be damned. Just the La Bruja's raw swingarm yoke cost well over $100 to produce. CNC machined from a massive block of aluminum that weighs more than a Dreamide Fully frame, it takes up so much time on the CNC mills that Ventana has to halt production of more popular bikes just to concentrate on this one part as a pet project. You see that same yoke on the Mutant. The Mutant's custom one-off construction and parts like that CNC'd billet yoke cause the price of the Mutant frame to be even higher than the La Bruja. FYI, every other manufacturer uses an extrusion to fabricate the swingarm yoke, which is a u-shaped tube pooted out like molten aluminum toothpaste. An extrusion can have grain, which causes it to fail without more material there to compensate.

When I was out on the trail, I thought of the La Bruja and just how much better the Mutant was than its Daddy.

Dreamride Mutant 8/22/05 ~ Night Riding on the Mutant:
I have been riding the Mutant exclusively over the past couple of weeks and have truly settled into this amazing rig. It has made me a better rider, a stronger rider, a much faster rider. It demands speed and now I am prepared to give it what it wants. I feel more than confident enough to ride it at night.

If you have ridden the Moab Slickrock Trail at night, then you know the creepy things that lights can do to the way this weird terrain appears. Everything seems steeper, vertically flat. Every loose rock gets bigger. Every approaching hump seems like a wall, and some of them really are. What I discovered by riding the Mutant at night was that I began to attack things I saw as impossible, just because I knew they were probably not as steep as they looked in the light of headlamp and handlebar mounted dual beam. The darkness actually helped me understand just how forgiving and capable this bike is as I actually hit a couple of things that turned out to be vertical ledges up to four feet high. Because I was exaggerating a wheelie upon reaching each ledge, I just went into them. I found myself punching over the top of rock obstacles I would usually avoid. By the way, don't do this. I know this place very well. If I did not, I would still be out there. When there is no moon, it is almost impossible to navigate open slickrock.

The only truly scary experience, aside from a couple "lost" moments, was when I out-ran my candlepower. This bike really wants speed and treats you like a king when you hit the magic rotation. In a long flat section with a few bermed turns and some jagged rock, I found myself accelerating up to a high speed to catapult through a long section of deep sand. Once at the speed I needed to completely shoot through otherwise "unrideable" sand to make it over a dune at the end, I came into a sweepng 90 degree turn in deep sand that led up to the rock. At that speedy moment I was confronted by a series of ledges and a tree. I had never taken that turn so fast, even in the light of day. The bike saved my ass by responding to my instant twitches. I thought to myself, "What an amazing bike! Finally, after all these years, I have the perfect bike for this place. I fully realize that this bike can change even the most jaded rider's perception of just what a All Terrain Bicycle really is."

As for the lighting system I was using for this ride, it was a Night Sun Team Issue dual beam and the very light Night Sun helmet light I always carry in my pack for emergencies. This combo is easy to mount, easy to maintain, easy to use and a system that I recommend to just about anyone who wants a safe, extremely reliable and relatively inexpensive night riding outfit. The combo is, however, not bright enough for the speed of the Mutant. In the future I will use a stronger headlamp (Nite Rider Digital Headtrip with a Halogen bulb), or at least one Nite Rider HID lamp (head or bar) in combination with a halogen lamp(Night Sun Team issue or Nite Rider Headtrip). FYI, an HID lamp can shut down quickly if there is a brief loss of power (caused by any number of things--faulty wiring, a bad connection, low battery, big impact, demons, bad vibes). I have had this happen (not fun), so I always use a Halogen in combination with the HID on fast descents, just for safety's sake. By the way, Dreamride offers Night Riding Invitationals. Check out the format at NIGHT RIDES.


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