Project LTHT- Singular Buzzard: Final Review- by Guitar Ted

Singualr Cycles Buzzard

Time to draw some final conclusions on Project LTHT

Last year I searched out a way to gather the components, frame, and fork to assemble my vision for a “do-it-all” 29 inch wheeled hard tail. A bike inspired by the tests of the Diamondback Mason, the Trek Stache, and the ROS-9. Most of these bikes had been tested out West, with the Mason the only one I’d ridden extensively. Between that and the reports from Grannygear, I was intrigued enough to want to put something like those bikes to a longer term test. The Singular Cycles Buzzard became the foundation for this test, and the rest of the parts have changed a bit since last year, but now I have what I feel is a very good handle on what this type of bike is and if my original theories were proved out or not.

P1070653The Goals:

The main goals were to see if what I felt from the Diamondback Mason were things that could be worked out and which in the end would result in the kind of long travel, short rear end 29″er hard tail that could go from the woods of the Mid-West to the Rocky Mountains chunk and flow or anywhere beyond that. The Mason didn’t suit me as a seated climber to a “T” and that would have to happen with this project. It would also have to be at home on tight twisties, yet be capable enough to tackle severe terrain.

Since there is so much going on with this bike- components, handling, geometry, and overall feel- I decided to break this final review into smaller, bite sized chunks to cover all aspects of the project.

Project LTHT

Project LTHT Singular Cycles Buzzard in its current form

Components: This project would be a failure without reliable, solid performing components. I couldn’t allow for distractions from fiddly derailleurs or finicky brakes. In this regard, the Shimano SLX group installed on this bike has been absolutely stellar. I literally installed the components and besides lubing the chain, this set of workhorse components has been nothing but outstanding with no maintenance required. Outstanding also in that they did not interfere with my test, nor in the enjoyment of any of the riding.  The brakes- well, we have loved these Shimano brakes all along. Nuff said.

Project LTHT

The Project LTHT is outfitted with the Velocity Dually wheels and On One tires.

The Velocity Dually Rims with Velocity Hubs have been somewhat of a mixed bag. The rims are super. I have zero complaints in that department. Tubeless set up with my preferred On One Smorgasbord/Chunky Monkey tires has been solid, and these have stayed true throughout the test. The hubs, which are made for Velocity and are their newest design, have given me pause a couple of times due to a loud “scrunch” emanating from the rear hub under high torque climbs on a few occasions. I didn’t feel anything odd, just the loud noise. The hubs haven’t done this in over a month and a half though, so I don’t know what to make of that. Otherwise the tires and wheels on this rig are outstanding and I am a believer in the “wider is better” camp for trail bikes now due to my experiences with these wheels and tires.

MRP Stage

The MRP Stage fork, a new model, in a 140mm travel version.

The MRP Stage fork at 140mm travel is still on test here, so I won’t give away too much on that but just to say that it also has been one of those parts that has made this project really an enjoyable ride. More on the fork itself soon in a separate review.

Other bits of note: The Ergon grips are outstanding, the Specialized Command Post dropper seat post is a mere tenth as good as a Rock Shox Reverb, (so, not all that great), and the WTB Pure V is awesome for my tush. Maybe not for you, but I love ’em!

Handling & Geometry: The Project LTHT has to hang its hat on its geometry and handling, because if that doesn’t pan out for me, then the project is a failure.

Singular Buzzard

Even in the snow, Project LTHT showed its promise.

Happily, I can report that the Buzzard mated with the MRP Stage fork handles tight terrain just fine. I had absolutely zero issues with getting around the tightest corners in the single track. Negotiating uphill switchbacks was no problem, as long as I weighted the front wheel. I never really felt that the slack angled front or short rear end was a detriment. It certainly required me to take a bit of a different approach, but after riding this for so many months, that has become second nature now. The bonus of having a bike that is easily lofted, easily “flicked”, and scoots around corners faster than almost anything I’ve ridden just has made me smile and the handling and geometry of this bike are perfect for the goals of this project.

Overall Feel: The project has exceeded my goals in almost every way. However; I have a very small list of things that I wasn’t totally enamored with which I will cover here.

  • Weight: Obviously, a bike meant to be bashed around on rough terrain isn’t going to be really light, but at plus 30lbs, the Buzzard had me feeling its girth when pointed skyward. Honestly, most of the time I could have cared less, but after having ridden the excellent Borealis Echo, which I tested hereone can dream of what could be.
  • Details: There were a couple of details that were missing here. Stealth routing for a dropper post, proper cable routing, and no provisions for conversion to single speed, in case the worst happens out in the Styx. Sam Allison of Singular has promised that the cable routing will be addressed in the next batch of Buzzards.
  • Dropper Post: Having a dropper seat post is absolutely vital on a bicycle such as this. The Specialized Command Post I used is dismal in comparison to a Reverb dropper post, so I would want to upgrade to something of that ilk later on. Proper dropper post cable routing, (as mentioned above), would also be appreciated.

P1070444Overall the handling and feel of this bike leans toward the more upright, in terms of seated position, and slack, stable feel in terms of the geometry. It lacks the “pop” you might get out of a racy carbon hard tail when you stomp on the pedals, but this bike will also give you a different sort of “pop” when you stomp down on those Shimano clipless pedals. It will want to loft the front wheel, and leap forward like a D/Gas dragster, which is just a way to say that it is a different kind of fun. I like it as it takes you out of the “go fast every mile” feel to something that leans more towards the “looking for terrain to challenge your skills and have fun on” feel.

Final Conclusions: Okay, was Project LTHT a success? In a word, yes. Is it the “one bike solution” for someone that wants to cover all their bases from XC to AM type riding? It could be. I feel that this rig has a place in my stable for sure. Would I replace it if something as capable came along that was lighter and had better detailing than the Buzzard does? In a heart beat. Of course I would. Why wouldn’t anyone want that? That said, I am not ready to kick the Buzzard to the curb, not by any means. I am trying to illustrate that there is always room for improvement, and that in my opinion, the genre of “short rear/slack front” 29″er hard tails deserves to have more R&D attention given to it. This is probably the best use of 29″ wheels in a hard tail format for most mountain bikers to date. However; I feel that is about to change.

The Future: In my crystal ball, I foresee a mash-up of the recently tested Borealis and this Singular Cycles Buzzard as being a better representation of Project LTHT. 29+ wheels, (or the B+ wheels for shorter folk), with a proper 120-130mm travel fork, lighter frame, wide stance through axles, detailed routing for cables that makes sense, and maybe a tic longer in the stays. Ahhh! Wouldn’t that be a fun rig to ride?

In the meantime, I feel the 29″er wheels are really shining through on bikes of this ilk and the Project LTHT is a great example of what you can roll on today to tackle terrain just about anywhere.

NOTE: Parts for Project LTHT were submitted to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for test and review including the frame, fork, and drive train. We are not being paid, nor bribed by any of the companies who sent in parts for this project and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. For more on Project LTHT, simply type “Buzzard” into the search box above and hit “enter” on your keyboard.