Sea Otter Expo: Dean's Duke
A lightweight full-suspension titanium mountain bike caught Mark Hallinger's eye in the Sea Otter Expo.
There’s custom geometry and there’s custom build, the latter being the choice of components added to a bike frame - which may or may not have custom geometry.
Dean, like most companies offering custom geometry, offers custom parts too. Pretty much any parts that will fit, but the frame remains at the heart of the bike, which is why Johannes Schmidt, the sales and marketing director for Dean says, “Custom for us is anything that’s altering the geometry: the head tube angle, the top tube length and such.” About 90% of Dean bikes today are custom.
Johannes Schmidt of Dean looking like he wouldn't mind hitting the Fort Ord trails on the Duke. Photo: Mark Hallinger
The Dean Brand will celebrate its 30th birthday next year, having developed a reputation as a quality builder of titanium frames. In the early years, Dean also built with steel and even aluminium. These days, the occasional steel frame is built to order, but almost all their output is made with 3/2.5 seamless, cold worked, stress-relieved grade 9 titanium, often Sandvik pipe.
Dean’s most popular bike types include road, mountain, gravel and travel/adventure, but others are available on request.
One of the bikes on display at Sea Otter was the 2018 iteration of the Duke, a lightweight full suspension mountain bike that uses a drilled titanium flex-plate in lieu of chainstays. So far fewer than 10 of these have been made this year. The holes in the solid Ti plate are designed to add or control the flex, while moving that flex away from the welded joint.
Drilled titanium plate chainstays provide 1.75" of travel. Photo: Mark Hallinger
This sub 23 lb bike runs an XTR 1x11 shifting system but from there it’s all German. Carbon wheels, bars, stem, saddle and seatpost are from Tune. A THM crankset was attached to the model at Sea Otter, although the pictured bike has XTR. Forks are Xcite X-ray forks from German:A. They weigh 1325g, use air/oil suspension and are available with a carbon steerer option that’s rated for riders up to 105kg bodyweight. Although the photographed bike has XTR cranks, the model at Sea Otter was fitted with a carbon crankset from Germany’s THM.
The bike is just begging to be ridden.