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Why Cycles el Jefe is a racey, titanium pro model MTB worthy of its namesake

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The newest bike from Why Cycles is a bit of a departure from their norm. When the brand launched just under four years ago, Why’s raison d’être was to create the fun loving bikes that their team wanted to ride. They had to be fast, sure, but being race-worthy was low on the list of priorities.

Why Cycles el Jefe in action

More recently, after Why Cycles relocated to Carbondale, CO, Why has been working with ultra-endurance legend, Jefe Barnham. After two seasons as a team rider for Why, Jefe had a vision for his dream bike for going fast in the backcountry. So Why Cycles made it happen with a new ‘pro model’ called the el Jefe.

Why Cycles el Jefe angle

Calling it “more serious and less swoopy” than their S7 hardtail, Why Cycles also says the el Jefe is just as capable as their Wayward in the backcountry. So what makes it different? The frame starts with the same Grade 9 3/2.5v titanium tubing with 6/4 titanium for the head tube, threaded bottom bracket shell, and machined pieces, but this time it does away with the belt drive split.

Why Cycles el Jefe adjustable dropouts

Why Cycles el Jefe on the Arizona Trail

The frame is still single speed compatible though, proven by Jefe’s recent fastest known time for a single speed attempt of the Arizona Trail 300. Those sliding dropouts allow for a chainstay length of 420-435mm with clearance for 29 x 2.6″ tires and plenty of mud clearance.

Why Cycles el Jefe top tube

Why Cycles el Jefe loaded for bikepacking

There are a number of accessory mounts on the frame to tackle endurance events, or you can go fully self supported like Jefe and max it out with bags and cages.

Why Cycles el Jefe geometry

Suspension corrected for a 120mm travel fork with a 44mm offset, the frame uses a straight top tube and is dropper compatible.

Why Cycles el Jefe frameset Why Cycles el Jefe seatstay

Additional frame details include a threaded 73mm bottom bracket, Boost axle spacing, 180mm direct mount rear brake spacing, and a 31.6mm seat post. As usual, Why has had some fun with the sandblasted graphics, and has included a number of Jefe special touches – including his mantra of “Fast or Slow – Just Go” on the seat stay.

Why Cycles el Jefe frameset with wheels

Initially, the el Jefe will be offered in three different ways – though not as a complete bicycle. You’ll be able to purchase one as a frame only ($2,349), frame + Rock Shox SID Ultimate fork ($2,999), or as a frame + fork + Revel’s new RW27 Fusion-Fiber wheels for $4,499. All three options include a CaneCreek 15-series IS42/IS52 headet, seat collar, and the rear Maxle. Frames are in stock, and shipping now.

Interestingly, Why Cycles is taking a page from the skate industry and making the el Jefe a true ‘pro model’. That means that for every bike sold, Why will be giving a portion of the proceeds directly to Jefe to support his racing career.

Why Cycles el Jefe complete bike


  • Headset Integrated standard 42mm upper cup, 52mm lower cup
  • Bottom Bracket Threaded 73mm BSA standard
  • Axle Spacing Boost 12mm x 148mm
  • Dropouts 12mm Thru Axle, 1.75 thread pitch, adjustable sliding 420-435mm
  • Bottle Mounts – Bottle mounts on seat tube, top of down tube, bottom of downtube. Third bottle hole mount on downtube for accessory mounting. Also two mounts on the top tube for bolt on “bento box” style bags
  • Rack Mounts – All standard rack and fender mounts
  • Seatpost – 31.6mm
  • Seat clamp – 34.9mm
  • Brake – Max 180mm rear, direct mount standard
  • Tire clearance –  29 x 2.6″ tires with slider adjustment of at least 5mm from fully closed
  • Frame weight 2130g (Large) 
  • Offered as Frame only ($2349), Frame and SID ultimate ($2999) and Frame/fork and new Revel Wheels RW27 wheelset ($4499). 
  • All frames come with Cane Creek 15-series headset, seatclamp and Maxle 

Why Cycles el Jefe with Jefe Branham

 A little about Jefe Branham (From Why Cycles)

Jefe moved to Colorado on a whim way back in 1992 and in short time the sage covered hills, the small town living and cold AF winters won his heart over. Moving through the mountains, breathing in the fresh air and feeling small in the immense landscape began to creep deeper into his blood. After hiking the north half of the Colorado Trail back in 1994, there was no turning back. Being outside and pushing the limits of what the mind and body could do became a lifestyle and eventually an obsession.

In 2001, hiking and skiing were replaced by mountain biking. Jefe started by spending a summer touring with a BOB trailer and his dog all around the Gunnison Valley, culminating with a trip up the Colorado Trail from Durango to Gunnison. Next, he spent a few years racing 24 hour races and 100 milers. Then in 2006, Jefe started and finished the infamous Grand Loop outside of Grand Junction, CO. He went right on to the Colorado Trail Race (CTR), the Arizona Trail Race, and the Tour Divide. Self-supported bikepack racing was right up his alley and the results were telling. He has racked up 4 Colorado Trail Race wins with 8 finishes, 1 Arizona Trail Race 300 win with two finishes, 1 Tour Divide win and another finish. After the 2014 Tour Divide win, Jefe took a small step back from racing, had hand surgery, fell in love, got married and had a daughter.

Now Jefe is back at it. In his first event on a Why Cycles bike, Jefe rode a Big Iron to victory in the inaugural Drift 100, an ITI qualifier. Most recently, on April 1st, Jefe rode his signature frame to the fastest known time of any singlespeeder on the Arizona Trail 300 course.  Plans to race in 2021 are somewhat up in the air until the world is not fighting a pandemic, but the dream is very much alive!


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3 years ago

If you have the means ($$) and can afford the better things in life don’t sleep on Why cycles.

3 years ago
Reply to  nooner

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