Past attempts at mixed wheels have failed miserably so let’s break down why do it in the first place, where things went wrong, and how Mullet Cycles fared in their attempt at developing their purpose-built 79’ers(?).

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Wheel sizes, like chain lubes & oval chainrings never fall short of creating a debate, especially when there have been repeated failures at attempts to say… use different sized wheels on a mountain bike. The motorcycle industry figured out decades ago the benefits of having a larger front, than rear wheel for riding on the dirt but it never caught on with bicycles despite multiple tries. Like the ill-fated 24/26″ wheeled Cannondale SM500 46er(?) in 1985 and later with attempts by Trek and a few other companies & frame builders with the short-lived 69er craze, nothing stuck.

While (still) having my doubts, I’ve changed my mind more than once on bicycle-related trends, (front suspension is heavy & slow, hard skinny tires are faster, underwear under bike shorts…). I had a rather long, nerdy chat with Mullet Cycles’s founders about their secret geometry, handling, this bike being the future, blah blah blah. I was transparent about my dislike for the previous attempts at different wheel sizes and they still seemed more excited than ever to send me their Honey Maker to shred.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Mullet History

Before I dive into the burger and fries on the Mullet Honey Maker, a little background information is worth mentioning. Mike Vidovich, the bike’s designer, raced motocross in the 70s & 80s, opened a motorcycle shop in 2013, and due to supplier issues, transformed it to Timberline Bicycles. There he carried several brands like Intense, Ibis, Turner, Ventana, and Foes which gave him an opportunity to become familiar with various suspension platforms. I’ll get into the tech goodness later but Mike knew how critical it was for a dirt bike to have different size wheels, and refused to accept a bicycle designed for similar conditions to not. He experimented by swapping 29er forks & wheels onto some of the various bikes he had in his shop thinking it had potential and the next thing you know, customers were buying into it. Mike now desired a purpose-built mixed wheel bike and reached out to some of his brands. One of his brands took interest and it took off… sorta.

As we were getting into the timeline, I mentioned doing a write up at Interbike in 2015 on a company doing what I saw as the first 27/29 mixed wheel attempts with full-suspension bikes. Mike chuckled and said “that was me. I paid for the booth, the bikes… everything”. Long story short, Mike said if he were to provide the geometry, pay for marketing, some up-front cash, and bought a large number of frames upfront, he would have exclusive rights to sell the model with mixed wheels out of Timberline Bicycles. According to Mike, things were doing great but just before he was about to hand over new geometry tweaks, the company pulled out of the agreement. Mike no longer carried any other brands and was unable to bring them or others in since he had liquidated his assets to invest in what was a short-lived effort. He had no other choice but to close Timberline Bikes.

As he was closing up shop, Miles Schwartz, owner of Miles Wide Industries, a small bicycle accessory supplier, stopped by to drop off some swag. Aside from an initial 3-way call, Miles has been my main point of contact. Miles is a mover & a shaker when it comes to ‘always be sellin’. Next to me, I am not sure I know anyone who could talk more about a product. He was however, very insistent I tell it like it is, probably not realizing, I already do that… often to a fault. On top of having an extensive cycling industry background, Miles was a downhill junkie having raced a few series in his past and has lived & ridden places like Pisgah and now his home of Colorado. Mike told him the story then gave Miles his personal bike and told him to turn on Strava. Miles came back having set some PRs & a KOM on his first ride and was hooked. Miles, being the savvy opportunist, and slinger of bike parts basically said, “We can do this” and Mullet cycles was born.

So enough of the mushy stuff, let’s dive into the tech behind this little mix up before we’re all drinking Bailey’s from a shoe.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Wheels throughout History

The bicycles you and I ride today are the continuing design of the ‘Safety Bike’. The safety bike was named so because, in comparison to the penny-farthing high-wheel bikes, the equal axle heights & same sized wheels reduced the chances of taking a header, (which is a saying that originated from going over the bars on a penny-farthing). Since then, the base design of a bicycle has changed very little over the last 150 years.

So, what’s the problem with past attempts to use different wheel sizes on bicycles if they are proven to work on a motorcycle? Simply put, a motorcycle weighing in at 250+ lbs and having a motor, that effortlessly puts out 200 times more power than any human ever could, mutes A LOT of the differences a person would experience on a human-powered bicycle weighing 25 to 30 lbs. For instance, the 29/26 combo was so far different in wheel size, a decent rider would feel the back wheel react a lot differently to an obstacle. I recall riding a 69er down a small 12-inch stepdown I’ve probably ridden a thousand times and going “nice…oof” as the front wheel made it feel great right before the rear slammed the trunk. It was also terrible trying to keep the wheel down on steep climbs.

For many years, I was never happy with 29ers on my local, twisty South East trails due to already being 6’1” and not chasing finish lines anymore. While faster, the taller axle height of a 29er didn’t pitch into turns as quickly back & forth regardless of geometry. I really just cared about ‘fun factor’ and in fact, my latest personal build is a slack, hardtail 27.5 bike with 150mm fork. Going from my bike to the 27.5/29 Mullet, also with a 150mm fork, I thought would be a great comparison. (spoiler, it was), I also did some things I was told NOT to do, [pffft] I’ll explain later.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

On a Plane

There are several reasons motorcycles, particularly dirt bikes, benefit from using different wheel sizes. One, while it does assist with snappier acceleration, the lower axle height in the rear assists the dirt bike’s ability to straighten up from being leaned over. Second, the slightly raised front end positions the rider more inside the motorcycle (I’ll explain this further down), rather than on top of it making the handling more intuitive on technical trails. Third, when a forward-moving bike whose tires are on the same plane (surface), the axle path has a rise to it, rear to front. (see illustration above). The axle on each wheel represents the two points of contact to the bike’s chassis. Because of this, the chassis has a rise which simulates a snow or water ski’s nose so any obstacle in the path will approach the slightly tipped up chassis in a similar effect to a rider lightly unweighting the front wheel over something.

On paper, the 27.5 does come a lot closer in size to the 29er… in fact, it’s so close, not one person that saw me on the bike even noticed the wheels were a different size. Part of that was probably because they weren’t looking too far past the sexy titanium frame… but still, I was surprised.

Prior to getting my dirty clean COVID-free hands on the bike, they insisted we have a conversation about what to look for, address a few common questions (like why their geometry chart is the way it is), and what not to do [double pffft]. While I have been primarily a mountain biker over the last 30 years, I have ridden motorcycles since the age of six and understood most of the ‘whys’ for different wheel sizes… and why they previously failed on bicycles. I also used to work for Maxxis and spent a lot of time working with tire design & testing so I speak the lingo when it comes to things like scrub angle front vs rear and predictive handling… two key things I’ll blab about further down).

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Mixed Wheel Primer

Here’s a take on why dirt bikes work with mixed wheel sizes, past failed attempts with bicycles, and, what is supposed to make the Mullet different

Honda CR250 – 19”/21” Wheels

Benefits – Larger front wheel has a better angle of attack & more contact for better handling when pushed by the powerful rear wheel. The smaller rear wheel has a snappier response and more quickly flicks the motorcycle laterally upright during acceleration out of a turn. The different wheel sizes offer the rider a much more intuitive level of control in technical sections. Wheelies.

Drawbacks – You wear out rear tires faster. Wheelies.

Cannondale SM500 – 24/26” Wheels

Benefits – None

Drawbacks – Just imagine trying to ride over a log when that 24” rear wheel catches it. It snags trail obstacles like cargo shorts on drawer knobs. Trying to stand up on steep climbs would cause the rear wheel to spin out due to every little obstacle disrupting the entire contact patch and… well, the list goes on.

69ers – 26/29” Wheels

Benefits – Almost everyone I know who swore by the 69er setup ranted over its ability to roll over things better while having better acceleration. Some mentioned it would handle better as it made the rear more playful. I seriously considered one for a frame I was having built around 2007 but chose to stick to the more playful 26” wheels front & rear. (judge me all you want)

Drawbacks – Personally, I felt the difference between a 29” and 26” wheel was extremely noticeable. Having had a good amount of experience on dirt bikes, I really wanted to like it. Two key things swayed me back then. One was the geometry of those days did a poor job in making the wheels come close to working well together. Second, technical climbs were horrendous. Between the steep geometry and much higher front axle path, keeping the front wheel planted enough to turn was difficult.

Mullet – 27.5/29” Wheels & ‘Perfected Geometry’ *(these are their claims)

Benefits – Does what the 69er was supposed to do with better roll-over & acceleration, but with wheel sizes that are close enough to not disrupt the ride. Better handling at speed, in tight turns, and steep descents than both a 29er and 27.5 bikes due to improving chassis & tire scrub angle. Wheelies.

Drawbacks – You will have to buy 2 different tires. People won’t stop asking you questions.

Often, what works on paper doesn’t translate well once the human factor is thrown in the mix, but it’s where you always have to begin. In the illustration above you can see a more accurate difference between the three wheel sizes. The key things to note here are how similar the contact patch is on the 27.5 & 29er wheels… while the turning radius of the 27.5 is closer to that of the 26” wheel. Now, I can’t verify the lower part of the above chart is accurate since I or one of my mad scientist, tire engineer friends didn’t create it, but it is more than enough to help everyone visualize what I’m about to talk about next. Scrub angles.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Scrub Radius?

During my time at Maxxis, I often snuck over to our tech center where tread patterns were born. Our engineers used a 3D printer well before they came mainstream to print sections of potential tires as it was critical in eliminating costly guesswork. Like kids in a sandbox, we would put these in various types of dirt add different sideways & approach angles to determine what was grabbing where… and what would grab next. This is where I learned about the importance of scrub angles and how they varied front to rear… especially when turning.

In the chart above, the top images represent two 29er wheels (or any equal size wheels for that matter), in motion. The lower images represent the two wheel sizes in question. What it doesn’t really show, but does represent in this illustration, is that the bikes are leaning inward during the turn. When a bike leans during a turn, the pivot point of the turn is based on the line between the two axles. When both wheels have the same pivot point (top images) and the front wheel is the only one that ‘turns’ the ‘fixed’ rear wheel sort of drags forward rather than along with the turn.

When you raise the front pivot point above the rear, leaning the bike becomes more intuitive requiring less steering input to turn the bike (this is a really big deal when on a 250 to 350 lb dirt bike in the woods). When the front pivot point is higher than the rear, during the lean, the rear tire’s scrub angle (remember, in motion) naturally faces more towards the turn as it’s happening, giving it a better chance of getting good traction and less chance of washing out.

An easy way to visualize the direction of force:

Take a pencil, laying flat on the desk and turn it as you push it forward as if to turn like the back wheel of a bike in motion going around a turn. It simulates a car drifting around a turn sideways. Now, take that same pencil and raise the front (pointed end) while doing the same motion as above. With the higher front pivot point, as the pencil turns, it’s pivoting on the eraser and turning more so with the front wheel.

Have I lost you yet?

Another aspect to the Mullet wheel combo, again on paper, is that since the chassis of the bike (where it attaches to the wheels), points up a bit, descending steep sections leans the angle of attack a bit more back… but climbing, it increases the chances of front wheel lift, (which was terrible on a 69er on steep and/or technical climbs). Mike and Miles swore they addressed this with the bike’s geometry so I was anxious to try this on a couple of hills I knew would challenge that.Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Frame Details

So, let’s just stare at the bike for a second: Giant over-sized titanium tubing, elevated chainstays, sleek, eye-catching design, and 150mm of squish on a hardtail. With the 3” wide tires, this thing looks badfuckingass. The elevated chainstays are much more than looks though. It allows for a 3” wide tire (with room to spare), up to a 38t chainring, and offers a slight give to take the bite out. It also eliminates any potential chain slap. 

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

The frame itself is in my opinion beautifully overbuilt as I am a sucker for titanium bikes, ovalized tubes, and old-school elevated chainstays. The downtube on the Honey Maker is massive, there are proper welds everywhere, and even added gussets in a couple of places for assurance. Because of the elevated chainstays, it looks more like a full-suspension at first glance since it does not follow the traditional hardtail’s diamond frame. They shipped the bike with 3-inch wide WTB Rangers but included a set of 2.4 WTBs to swap out upon my request. *(In the pics, the rear 2.4 had a sidewall puncture and I luckily had the exact tire in a blackwall, hence the different colored tires in some pics).Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Oh, let’s not forget to mention the head badge cast in Sterling Silver by the same company who cast for Tiffany’s & Co. The rooster on is a nod to Mike Vidovich’s nickname for being a serial ‘rooster’ in his motocross days and the ‘drops’ are the blood, sweat, and tears it took Mike & Miles to get to this point. Given the amount of work & materials to build this frame, it’s $1,999 price for a frame is pretty darn good ($4,999 as tested)… if it works. 

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?The frame has a low stand-over height and is designed to accept a 175mm dropper. Mike & Miles mentioned that because of the slightly raised chassis, the bike does well accepting forks between 120mm & 160mm (150mm tested), depending on how XC, Trail, or Enduro you wanted the bike to be. Their titanium frames sourced out of Asia, come with a 10-year warranty and their upcoming aluminum models (see below) will come with a 5-year warranty.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?Bike Setup

As you can see in their spec chart below, their geometry chart is a bit of a mystery. Rather than numbers, they put a little humor in each box. Their geometry is their secret sauce and they want to hold it close to their chest as long as they can. It might bother the head angle police, but in the end, once you ride it, you either like it or not. *(spoiler alert, I did!). Once I got the bike set up and stared at the 3-inch wide 29er wheel, I was ready to smash everything in sight. I really wanted to like the 3” tires as they look great on the bike but they squirm too much under my weight when properly inflated to roll over roots, etc. To get them to stop squirming, it feels like I’m riding on basketballs, (I run 2.6s on my personal hardtail hence why I requested the 2.4’s). Regardless, I ran both setups so no need to go into details on what tires to run other than this bike will let you run just about whatever you prefer. A couple of recommendations from Miles was to set saddle height, then get the bars as close to even as possible, and use the same tire, front & rear. He mentioned this because they found it really dials how the geometry works with the two different sized wheels. Being someone who usually scoffs at instructions, I (mostly) complied… which I’ll get into later.

As mentioned, the two wheels are so close in size, it is almost visually unnoticeable. Before the first pedal stroke, I wondered if I would notice anything at all… and whether that was a good or bad thing if I did not. A simple driveway road test didn’t push any of my buttons, good or bad. It just felt like a good hardtail mountain bike. Getting it out on the trails was no easy task as here in North Georgia, we had over 6 months of average rainfall in two… then COVID-19 hit along with a shelter in place. Despite the short time window, I was fortunate to get out on it as much as I did having access to a decent network of secret trails that never close just behind my house. My goto bike for local trails is a playful, 27.5 hardtail with 150mm fork so I immediately felt the benefit of the 29er wheel rolling over things better… and faster. Going over a chainring rubbing log was just as easy on this as it was my 27.5 bike with no major difference when the back wheel caught it… BUT, let’s back up.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Handling

One drawback to a standard 29er with a higher axle height (front & rear), is that it requires a tad more effort to get the front wheel off the ground. That has never been that big of a deal like it was in the early days of 29ers (long chainstays & taller axle heights made it wheelie terrible). The Honey Maker had that lower axle ‘snap’ I was used to and I later discovered, better than my 27.5 bike. In addition to the lower axle height, the slightly raised angle of the bike’s chassis appeared to aid in this maneuver. At this point, I have found two things I really liked, one of which I wasn’t considering until it happened.

My two biggest concerns were handling and climbing so let’s unpack those. Going into everything from a banked, slalom to technical garbage turns didn’t phase me one bit. I was really trying to nitpick the little things but it felt really natural… nothing like your typical 29er. The bike was fast & confident inspiring without losing that playful feel. I ride pretty light and often ride with little to no weight on the bars in technical sections. The Honey Maker made this easier to do because the bike had a more natural approach to obstacles due to the ever so slight upward angle of the bike’s chassis. I really felt a bit of my dirt bike muscle memory kicking in as I could let the bike track with less rider input (less leaning back) over obstacles & in turns. My body position stayed in a slightly more neutral position more often so I wasn’t having to dance all over the bike when going from a rock garden to a steep climb. This is where I began to appreciate the feedback and trust the bike more. Was it really that much better though? At this point, I wasn’t giving it any bad marks nor was I ready to give it any trophies… but keep reading.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Climbing

I have a few climbs that require manipulating a jumbly stream after a technical descent, maintaining momentum, and immediately sitting on the tip of the saddle to keep the front end down… assuming you have enough gas left in the tank to make it up a rather long punchy climb, (for perspective, my wife is that little dot on the other side). Since I have nothing to prove, 50% of the time I don’t even bother and push up the hill so I knew this would be a telling moment. The bigger wheel and raised chassis made it easier to conquer the technical stream thus keeping my momentum going almost every time. Once I began heading up, I could feel that teeter wanting to lift the front wheel up but it wasn’t bad. I did have to be careful though as when I did hit one of the many rocks or roots, it came up enough disabling my ability to steer, a second at a time. I think this could have been further improved had I swapped to a flatter bar, but the bottom line was, I made the climb more often because I nailed what is a very necessary good start.

But, is it better than my bike… and if it is, what happens if I just swap the fork and front wheel for a 29er on mine? Only one way to find out!!!

Back on the same wheel sizes…

One afternoon, my daughters wanted a dirt break during their sheltered homeschool day, so we mounted up and headed out. Not even a mile into the woods, I noticed my rear tire had lost some air. There was a small sidewall tear at the bead and climbing back to my house to swap out the Mullet for my bike seemed the better idea. I haven’t touched my bike in a month and when I did, wow. I felt a bit out of place… and I love my bike! The front end felt like someone added a 5lb weight to the front and I felt more front heavy. I also felt more on top of, rather than in, the bike. My bike felt twitchy and I frankly was a little WTAF. So I got back on the mullet after swapping out the rear tire and felt a preferred body positioning & feel. Well, damn.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Why not just add a 29″ wheel and fork to my current bike?

I got what I needed out of the bike so it was time to send back… but before I did, I swapped the fork and wheel to my bike to see if it was that simple or if the Mullet Honey Maker was actually something special. Once set up, I got on my DYI 79’er and hit the woods. Honestly, it wasn’t bad but I need to ride everything the Honey Maker excelled at before considering this to be a simple solution. In short, it didn’t not work, but it didn’t do it well enough. The biggest drawback was it wheelied waaay too much on climbs. (check out that seat angle!). The Honey Maker’s geometry was far more dialed, keeping it more planted. Descending was great since it pitched me back more as did the bike roll over things better, but the front end began to feel a little floppy as I slowed down for tight turns… especially when climbing.Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Any negatives?

In the end, the only nitpick things I found worth mentioning were the front handlebar height & weight. The stem was slammed on the headset cup so the only adjustment I could have made would have been to swap out the bars. Second, was weight. I am not a weight weenie by any means but always weigh bikes for review purposes. We are programmed to think, if it’s titanium, it’s going to be light. The Honey Maker is overbuilt so it can handle a lot more than your typical XC racer and the build itself wasn’t light by any means as there was no carbon to be found and a RockShox Pike Ultimate upfront. All together the bike, (size Large, with the 2.4 tires), came in at 29.5 lbs.Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Geometry… sort of

No, the geometry chart will make little sense. While tradition makes me want to know the numbers, a sort of blind test without knowing what to expect was kinda neat. From a consumer standpoint… well, above.Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Availability

So how do you go about getting one? Is this the only bike they sell? What if you want something cheaper? Full suspension?

One interesting kicker, unless you live in a desolate area, Mullet cycles will only sell their bikes through a local bike shop. I am very fluent in the consumer marketplace, where the bike industry stands, and where it needs to go, so this threw me a bit… but in a refreshing way. They really want Mullet Cycles to enter the market through channels which can build their brand through person to person interaction & ride experience as well as build a little at a time without going too fast and it blowing up in their face. Currently, the Titanium Honey Maker is in stock and selling great.

Review: Has Mullet Cycles nailed mixing wheel sizes with their titanium Honey Maker?

Aluminum ahead?

In the pipeline, there will an aluminum Honey Maker, a full-suspension Peace Maker, and the Deal Maker… a MIXED WHEEL GRAVEL BIKE! The Aluminum Honey Maker will run $999/$2499 frame/complete, the hydro-formed aluminum (only) full-suspension Peace Maker will come in around $1,899/$3.999, as an optimized single pivot platform said to benefit from the mixed wheel size. The Deal Maker gravel bike will come in either Ti Single Speed, Ti Geared, and Steel Single Speed. Pre-orders for the new models start in June.

A little bit of me assumed I wasn’t going to like this bike or it be ‘neat’ at best, but Mike Vidovich’s work & experimentation, and Miles Schwartz’s shuffle & hustle have seemed to pay off. 

mulletcycles.com

45 COMMENTS

  1. This bike has intrigued me for a year now since I first saw it. The only thing keeping me from dropping the cash on one is the owner’s absolute refusal to publish the frame geometry. I get trying to be cute with your new product but you’re not an established company and don’t have the credibility built to be that cool yet. I’m in the market for a new ti frame but won’t spend money on something without being able to see the geometry first.

    • Call them up and see what you can coax out of them. We spoke in detail about the back lash of not posting the geometry as consumers demand to know all the slack… but I 100% get they are trying to hold it close as long as they can so they don’t get copied right as they’re starting up. Once they’re more established… and the competition has figured it out, then it won’t be a big deal. – ed

    • Oderus, I’m right there with you. Hiding behind their “secret” geometry is a poor way to do business. I was turned away by that too. I mean, you can’t share a head-tube angle?! Stack and reach?! Head tube length? I mean, how do you know if you’re existing already-cut fork will work on a frameset! Shame on them. It took some searching, but I found their geometry online. These frames are not built by some custom frame builder in the States… They used a well established overseas Ti-builder. So get your google ninja on… and you shall find what you seek.

    • Stack and reach, at the very least. Not that I’m rushing out to buy one of these cool machines, but how large is Large? Most everything else is almost unnecessary, if you like it in the end, but S & R are really good for determining if it’ll work.

  2. It’s gorgeous, but I just want to put a 100mm fork, some skinny 29er wheels on it then pretend it’s the 90s and I’m racing XC on a borrowed Yeti Ultimate again. It’s the stays.

  3. “Because motorcycles” has rarely translated into a successful mountain bike. And these guys make all the same logical mistakes that have doomed previous attempts. Plus, like others said, the cutesy geometry chart is sure to turn off a lot of people.

    • Front suspension, rear suspension, hydraulic disc brakes- these came from motorcycles and transformed the sport into what it is now. Riding a Ritchey P21 is fun, too, especially if the trails are smooth, but modern bikes with motorcycle technology have opened the envelope for what’s possible.

  4. Thanks for a very interesting review. The physics of a 79er is interesting but the ride can be even more interesting. I bought a Liteville 301 a few years ago. I wanted a dual 27.5-wheeled version. The bike shop happened to have a distributor’s personal bike available for demo rides but it was set up as a 79er. I “knew” I wanted a dual 27.5 but I rode the demo model for a few hours on steep rocky trails just to see if I liked the bike in other ways. I did, but since these are pretty expensive bikes (at least for me), I decided to come back in a week and do a second test ride on the same bike but with dual 27.5″ wheels. (The bike shop didn’t have any 27.5″ front wheels sitting around the first week.) All wheels tested were Syntace W35s (Liteville is a Syntace brand) and all tires were Schwalbe Hans Dampfs. Only the rim/tire diameters and spoke lengths were different. I rode the same route on dual 27.5″ wheels and didn’t like the ride nearly as much. Just to make sure, I asked to swap out the front 27.5″ wheel for the old 29″ wheel. It took just a few hundred yards to tell that this was a totally different and better-handling bike when the larger wheel was used. It steered better, maneuvered better, rode over obstacles better. It did everything better. Obviously, this was this specific bike with its own specific geometry, and obviously every rider has his/her own opinions/desires. But I offer this as one more data point if you are interested in trying a 79er. You might like it – or not – but I think you will notice a difference.

  5. I digged reading this, thanks! A lot of interesting info that deserves to live outside of a bike review. Enjoyed the style of writing as well.

    Those stays remind me of BMXish 26″ hardtails with the big stays – those bikes redefined “hard” in hardtail.

  6. So, advatorial? Is this some guys new bike? Is it a press release for a company? Or what? I dig doing it different, I ride carbon rims and 25mm tire on a road bike on gravel. But still, what is the end game here?

    • End game was I rode something I had biased hesitations over and after putting it on my familiar trails & comparing it to what I consider a baseline (my similar personal bike), I was a bit awestruck. Despite making great sense on paper, I have yet to experience a mixed wheel set-up that worked on a bicycle since I rode a tricycle… till now. If given the chance, would I have swapped my bike for the Honey Maker? In short, yes.
      – ed

  7. I get trying to keep the recipe a secret, but you gotta give some info on sizing so we know which size to buy! Eff. top tube, stand over, stack, reach… something!

  8. “Drawbacks – You will have to buy 2 different tires.”

    That’s really a moot point. Most of us have been running different front/rear tires for years as they do very different things. As far as an emergency tube, just carry a 29er tube as it’ll work for both.

  9. Hold on, is that an MV Agusta Brutale in your garage? Okay, I respect your opinion.
    In all seriousness, great insights and tech talk but something about prying my steel 29er from my cold dead hands…

  10. With the number of mullets I have ridden, this bike seems interesting to me. Still, running my third 24/29, I dispute the way a 24″ rear wheel is played in this review.

    • Do tell! It has been a long time since I’ve ridden… or anyone has made a 26/24 but remember it was completely bizarre to ride. But a 24/29??? Your bike in your profile pic makes me think of a Yamaha TW 125! That fat tire would make up some serious diameter’age. – ed

  11. What’s the effective size difference front/rear on a typical dirtbike? Because while the rims are 19/21, the rear tire is *much* larger. Aren’t they pretty close to the same size?

    • I had to stick to being general with MC tires as that is a whole other dark corner of the tire world. Bicycle tires go by the simple width whereas MC tires go by width & aspect ratio. Dirt bikes have a wide assortment of wheel & tire sizes that can be swapped out based on everything from riding conditions, rider style, size of bike, etc. Enduro cross, supercross, woods racing, and supermoto (swoon). All use the same basic chassis & motors but vary the wheel/tire combos & gearing (internal gearing even), to get the most out of the bikes.

      • Well, sure, but if you look at an enduro bike like at KTM E/XC (arguably the most similar to a mountain bike), the overall diameter and axle height are the same. I just strolled over to my neighbor’s garage to verify – axles are within a few mm of the same height from the ground.

      • Axle height is within a few mm of identical on most enduro motos (closest analog to mtb). You can verify this very easily.

        • Great point! The tires on a woods bike have very different profiles, widths, and react differently. There is also a lot of variation on setups depending on where you live/ride. MCs also have the ability to lift the wheel with zero physical input (aside from the flick of a wrist) basically allowing a rider to adjust the chassis height on the fly *brap*. On a many woods MC, the reason for the near even axle heights are to keep the front wheel down ontechnical climbs. While many assume the trails they ride are similar to where a mountain bike rides, they are not. Enduro bikes ride up things many mountain bikes wouldn’t go down. Add to that, their specific duties during the technical situations are VERY different due to size, weight & having a motor. A woods bike’s weakness, where there are technical climbs, is climbing steep technical hills so they addressed it with a more even axle heights. On SX style bikes, and many enduro bikes (there are even different categories of woods bikes), they have a taller front tire profile than the rear because of the same reasons mentioned above. Bottom line, there is no one right way to do things, but there is much more to compensate for when human input is the only source of power.

          • So, are we agreed that the axle height/scrub angle thing is not relevant when analogizing to motorcycles? I thought that was one of the main points here – bigger wheel in front, smaller in back. As I’ve pointed out, that’s not true of motos you ride on singletrack.

            • If this were a MC review, I’d gladly go deeper but in short, the Mullet has a lot of similararities to why different wheel sizes work on… okay, a lot dirt bikes. Read past the motorcycle comparison to the more revelant parts as to why it works on the bicycle. I tossed the MC stuff in here as it is what led to a lot of tries in the past, why it would work on an MC and not, in the past, bicycles… and why it worked here. We could cherry-pick things all day, but my intent was to review the bike while providing some simple, informative insight. since I felt this one shouldn’t be judged like the previous fails. And scrub angles probably matter A LOT differently when you have inch-long knobs being spun by 30 to 50 horsepower through a turn. My comparison had nothing to do with scrub angles on an MC.

          • Ok, so are we saying motos are similar in some useful way, or not? And if so, since woods/enduro bikes use the same size wheels front and rear once tire size is accounted for (same axle heights), what motos specifically are serving as the model here?

            • Don’t forget that moto uses a narrower width up front always and mountain bikes never do. Mountain bikes need additional traction so bicycles get wider front tires. This also changes the way a moto corners relative to tire outside diameter. Best way to compare is to take a supermoto with 17/17 and swap them out for 19/21 and see how much different it feels.
              I have a new SC Chameleon coming in 27.5, will def be putting a 29er up front to compare the difference when it arrives.

              • I’ve done the dirt to supermoto back to dirt thing way back when with an XR400… then finally committed to a Husky 510SMR. It was terrible on the XR going back to dirt as the suspension had been revalved for track duty, but I get your point. Hell, I could have dived into counter-steering but that would have just confused things further with regards to bicycle handling.

  12. Great, detailed review. Even setting aside the mullet nature of this bike, that is one sweet looking hardtail.

    Please narrow down “Asia” as the location of manufacture.

    • I am sure someone tried it, but I have never seen, much less ridden a 76er so I had no reference to go by. Plus, 26″ wheels have basically gone the way of the dodo bird in the mid to upper category of mountain bikes.

    • I know a few guys that have run 67s. When 27.5 was new, they tossed the bigger wheel up front since it would *just fit* to see what it was like. One still has their Mojo this way – no real reason to go back.

    • As Dockboy said, tons of people converted their 26 into 76ers in the early 27.5/650b days. Since the radius is only around .5″ greater, most forks could accommodate the swap even if it wasn’t officially approved. A quick search on the MTBR forums will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. I really don’t see a downside if you have an old 26er and need a fresh wheel.

  13. Miles and Mike know what they are talking about and have the Mullet figured out whilst other companies are just experimenting with the concept to make it a success. So not posting geo is big as they are starting up and don’t want to be hammered by the big companies. I’m sure if you contact them they will help out with any questions you may have. After speaking with Miles I am fully on board with Mullet Cycles.

    • The best frame builders for production runs are still overseas. The same goes for saxophones.
      Taiwan made the investment in these industries early on and now the knowledge and skills are almost exclusively there. To build the Honeymaker stateside would add an insurmountable multiplier to the retail price. Call Mullet, they know what they’re doing. The rest of the industry is just selling compromise.

  14. I have no problem with mullet bikes but as a taller rider all I see is slack seat tube and short chainstays which probably don’t vary across the size range.

  15. That bike was some years back, but as I recall the front was 29×2.5 and the rear was 24×2.6. I suppose you might find a 26 x 1.7 that matched its diameter, but who wants to run tires that narrow? As for the wee rear wheel on any of my builds, I do give something up in overall speed, especially on relatively straight or wide open terrain, but it has never held me back from technical climbing or descending. I am thinking though, it is a different beast as all of mine have been fully rigid bikes, some of what you describe is quite similar to how the full squish set describe riding on hardtails, especially with longer forks on ’em.

  16. The whole axle height thing with regards to climbing and descending doesn’t hold water. Nor does the axle path line vs rock elevation.
    Geometry and body position affect weight balance. That’s it. Unless the 27.5 afford different geometry, it won’t matter.
    As for axle to axle elevation when the bike is vertical. A wheel doesn’t know that. It wont’t help you roll over anything other than the wheel size being what it is.

    A smaller real wheel can feel good though, a turned front wheel axle height actually drops in addition to the drop from lean. It likely matches the height of the rear wheel. Whether or not this is the requirement for good handling is nebulous.

    It may be a great hardtail.
    The marketing is BS.

    Their choice of Ti was smart. Not a ton of Ti hardtails. Al…well that market gets much harder to differentiate oneself. Same with FS.

    • If read carefully the claims above do bear out. Mullet’s dedicated mixed wheel geometry places the rider lower than a symmetrical wheel bike as well as changing CS length and HTA.
      In regard to the relative angles of attack and scrub/ ~turning radius of 29″ and 650b their respective axle heights, given equal tire and rim widths, are inseparable (see arches and spandrels in evolutionary biology). These do not change, irrespective of vehicle roll or yaw angle of the front wheel.
      A larger front wheel aids in downhill performance and the optimized geometry prevents any drawbacks in climbing performance uphill. The question of lower obstacle roll over resistance due to mixed wheels and therefore axle heights is a legitimate one but not unprecedented in bicycle design. Trust touts their own rollover performance by suggesting customers ride their trailing linkage fork directly at a curb in a parking lot with no hands on the bars if they so dare. The same claims were made about the Foes Mixer which was also originally Mike Vidovich’s design.
      Mike was selling aluminum full suspension single pivot mixers to customers who ditched their full carbon 29ers and the like just out of sheer performance before he started his own company with Miles Schwartz.
      Please call Mullet or try a build for yourself. There’s nothing like it on the market.

  17. I think its a good Idea to match 29/27.5 in the MTB World. The marketing is bold but it makes sense to me plus its looks awesome!

  18. What conversations about different wheels sizes (or any change in geo/size) always fails to consider is in the human factor. Sure, from an external standpoint of physics 26 compares to 27.5 compares to 29 however the above grpahs claim, but they always fail to take into account things like Weber’s Law of Psychophysics. Humans (and other animals) use ratio based comparison in our perception. So we will always notice a bigger difference between 24/26 or 26/27.5 than 27.5/29. Engineers always fail to consider the psychological and perceptual factors aside from asking people “how it feels” If Big Bike wants to give me a baller R&D job now, I’ll tell you more about it!

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