New build. Chromag Samurai 65 – Handmade Steel hardtail.

Allright, a quick and dirty before the build posts begin.  I spent a lot of time thinking and checking specs on every steel hardtail I could find.  I had it narrowed down to two:  the Transition TransAm and the Chromag Samurai 65.  After talking with both companies about geometry, intended use, blah blah blah, Ian at Chromag (the founder of Chromag) convinced me that the Samurai 65 was the bike I was really looking for.  Here’s what their site says on it:

“Just because I ride a steel hardtail doesn’t mean I’m a curmudgeonly retro-revivalist luddite. I have a beard because it keeps me warm, that’s all. I started riding mountain bikes years ago and I’ve been through enough flavours of bikes to know what’s worthwhile and what’s BS. I want something that will get me to the top of the hill or mountain with minimum fuss but I need something capable for when I want to charge into steep, rocky, roots trails. I don’t want to ever have to think whether I have the right bike for the job, just one bike no matter how long or how gnar the ride becomes. I want something that is designed by guys I know I can trust and is handmade by someone I respect. I want something simple because most stuff is unnecessarily complicated, but I want it to be absolutely up-to-date, including rolling on 27.5-inch wheels. Back To The Future at 88 miles an hour!”

Ok great.  Keep in mind this is a HAND WELDED frame that one guy – the venerable Mike Truelove creates himself and the amazing Chris Dekerf paints himself to customer spec. I can have it painted ANYWAY I WANT.  That’s great.  And it sucks.  I’m indecisive.  So I let Sean at Chromag decide for me.  Here’s what he did:

DSC_1596 DSC_1597Sean’s description of the paint:

“The paint process is 2 layers of clear-coat. The first layer is tinted green. These 2 shots don’t really do it justice but you get the idea. We have had no sun in a while and so we haven’t seen it in its final form yet but that is when this will really pop.”

I’m ready.  So, what will I build it with?  I like to try new things.  I get a lot of shit for this in the shop.  They can eat a buffet of dicks.  Can I say that here?  I just did.

  • Fork:  Manitou Mattoc dropped to 140mm – Black
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Zee cranks and rear derailleur
  • Cassette/Chain: RaceFace N/W 32t 1×10 with XT 11-36 rear
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 180F/160R
  • Wheels: WTB ST i23 on SRAM hubs (stock wheels from Bronson)
  • Tires: Continental Mountain King 2.4s
  • Headset: Cane Creek 110 (black)
  • Bars: Chromag Fubar OSX in Satin Nickel 780mm
  • Stem: Chromag Ranger stem in Black 60mm
  • Grips: RaceFace Half Nelson or Chromag Squarewave both black
  • Pedals: Chromag Contact in black
  • Seat: Chromag Lynx in black

So that’s it for now.  Frame should be on it’s way to me.  I’ll do what I can to do justice to the build.

Quick note:

I did not take pictures of the Mattoc while changing travel, but I do recommend buying the tools provided by Manitou if you can afford them.  Otherwise you will need a grinder and steady hands to make the thin-wall 8mm socket and to cut the slot in a standard cassette tool.  Instructions from Manitou were straight forward.  I did not have the semi-bath oil stated in the instructions, but used RockShox 5wt oil instead.


About RCS

An interested, often crass fellow. Likely found on a bike or wandering in a seemingly aimless fashion in the woods. Use caution when approaching, as the subject is known to be oblivious, and at times obnoxious.
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4 Responses to New build. Chromag Samurai 65 – Handmade Steel hardtail.

  1. Mark Wyszynski says:

    Hey, I just saw your two posts on the Samurai!!! I’m now in the same boat you were when you were looking at the Transition.(Now I’m looking for used Niner ROS frames as well)l I have an opportunity to buy the Samurai from my local shop (Ridden for about a year). The owner’s been real creative, He went for the Ratrod look. Bare/Raw with a monthly metal conditioner to keep it from rusting. Anyway,If it’s not too inconvenient, would you be able to tell me what your verdict after riding the samurai for a year or two? Pros/Cons. PS. The one I’m thinking of is running a140 or 150 mm Pike (Not sure of the travel). Thanks!!


    • RCS says:

      Best hardtail I’ve ever owned, hands down. I’ve had a smattering of Samurai 65s and Wideangles now, and they all perform amazingly. If you like 650, and like a hardtail, it’s worth the extra dough!


      • Mark Wyszynski says:

        Did you find any big differences between the Samurai and the Wideangle?


      • RCS says:

        In certain ways. Hard to quantify though. The Samurai felt more forgiving, more “connected” to the trail. Both are amazing bikes. I’ve had a lot of really amazing rides on both frames. I would say set your budget and get the frame that fits that budget. You won’t regret it. Building a Rootdown BA now!


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