Home »Cycling» Business Up Front, Party Back: Why You Need a Mullet Bike
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine this: a mountain bike rolling over large rocks like a monster truck, stomping on landings like a pro, and still snappy and playful in tight technical sections.
If you think a bike that is both nimble and impressive sounds like a unicorn, I promise you it’s not like that. This is a mixed wheel bike better known as a “mullet bike”. And I’m here to convince you that it offers the best of both worlds.
Store up front, party back, mullet usually has a 29er wheel in front and a 27.5 in the back that plays with the strengths of the two. Like the haircut, they value practicality versus aesthetics, hitting the sweet spot between the two and ending the weary debate about which wheel size is better.
Without spilling unnecessary ink, both 29er and 27.5-inch mountain bikes have their advantages and disadvantages. Mullet bikes, on the other hand, are just plain fun. They offer stability and performance – and easily hit through rock gardens. At the same time, they maintain agile, tight handling.
In general, mullets are also looser and accelerate faster. The only blatant downside are problems with rocky climbs, which we’ll get into a little later. Read on for everything you could ever want to know about the mighty mullet (bicycle).
Photo credit: Specialized
Mullet Bike: Quick History Lesson
The first commercial mullet bike, the Big Hit, was launched by Specialized in 2004 with a 24-inch rear wheel and a 26-inch front wheel. Unfortunately, the big hit with consumers wasn’t actually a big hit.
Unbalanced geometry, a heavy frame, and poor marketing caused the brand to discontinue the bike a few years later. In 2009, Trek took a swing in the mullet category with the 69, which had a 26-inch rear wheel and a 29-inch front wheel. The bike showed promise but ultimately didn’t survive.
However, the idea still caught on with a handful of little bikers and enthusiasts who made their own Franken bikes. In the past 2 years, mullet has seen a rapid resurgence starting with the world of downhill racing.
If the UCI relaxed its restrictions In mixed-wheel bikes in competitions in January 2019, many elite riders began using mullets and taking podium places, which caused a sensation in the cycling world.
Who Makes Mullet Bikes?
Mullet is still a small part of the mountain bike market and is on the rise. Some examples are the MDE damper, Alchemy Arctic, Enemy mixers, Starling Cycles Twist, Liteville 301 MK15, Canyon transmitter CFR, Kona Trial X., and the Specialized status (the first full-fledged mullet from a major brand).
“When you jump on a mullet, you notice the difference immediately – a big difference. They’re a great option, but it depends on the track you’re riding, ”said Steve Saletnik, product manager for status and licensed mixed bike attorney. “You are not a silver bullet, but you definitely have a place at the table.”
Photo credit: Starling cycles
Mixed-wheel mullet bike: pros and cons
The benefits of mullet are numerous. First, they offer more control in rocky terrain. A bigger wheel hangs less and the steering is more controlled.
Second, they offer more clearance for the stern, which is a common problem on steep paths and when crossing steep inclines. Third, they take the inner line by helping to improve tight cornering.
Fourth, looser geo reduces rolling resistance and speeds you up. And in the end, you might just want something new. Curiosity is rarely a bad thing.
There is always a downside, however. Mullet bikes are often unbalanced if not properly adjusted.
“It’s not that easy to replace the rear wheel – it can have enormous negative consequences and ruin your bike,” said Saletnik.
Instead, he suggests getting one with a geometry specifically designed for mixed wheel sizes. If you don’t, it’s easy to feel behind the wheel rather than in the middle of the bike, making climbing difficult, especially on rocky, steep, or technical trails.
Mullet Bikes: Who Are They For?
Anyone feeling overwhelmed on a 27.5-inch bike or lacking maneuverability on a 29er should consider a mullet. With so much mountain biking, it’s all about confidence that mullet provides in a variety of ways.
You can see the big wheel in front of you taking care of business on big rocks and rough transitions. With a nimble bike, however, you will also feel snappy in tight bends and berms. With a loose geometry, you’ll also feel more comfortable when you release the brakes and just let the bike do the work.
“Mullets offer versatility between the two wheel sizes,” said Saletnik. “It’s really fun to train them, to play on jumps and to do most of the trails well. A mixed wheel bike does more than other options. In addition, smaller riders get more body freedom, which is particularly important for downhill bikes. “
“Oh,” he added, “and they’re easy to use.”
Photo credit: canyon