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I've been sharing some concerns in the component category about outfitting my soon to be built custom steel gg bike - the Forty Four Huntsman . Kris Henry - owner and frame builder - has been building beautiful bikes for quite awhile. 44 Cycles has built up a strong contingent of happy bike owners in my local rural NH area. I've been lusting for one of his custom builds for several years. I finally bit the bullet in June, and put down my deposit. Yesterday, I took a test ride on one of Kris's own bikes (we have the same inseam measurement). Kris's bike is equipped with a 1x11 SRAM double tap  - 38T chainring, 11-40 cassette- which is a good setup for the short steep up and down dirt roads in our area. Kris's uses a mountain bike 29'r wheel set with wide and heavy WTB tires. To my surprise, he also favors TRP Spyr mechanical calipers with 160 mm rotors front and back. Kris explained to me, that he almost always rides alone and will frequently attack some of our local single track on his Huntsman. My test ride was a 10 mile out and back from his shop 50/50 dirt and pavement, with lots of short steep hills. The dirt roads were sloppy and slick from recent rain in our area. 
Here are some of my impressions of the bike:
- Despite being on the "heavy" side, the bike "feels" light. Kris's Huntsman uses a heavier steel tube set than the one he will be spec'ing for me. Kris doesn't use packaged steel tube sets; but mixes and matches tubes from several high end steel tubing suppliers. With lighter weight road disc wheels from Southern Wheel Works, my light weight eTap drive train, and light weight weight Compass Bon Jon's, my Huntsman will weigh considerably less than Kris's test bike. Fine for my skinny 148 pound body, and less aggressive road venues.
- The WTB knobbies were sluggish compared to my Compass Bon Jon's. But, I was glad to have them when I did some fast descents on the muddy back roads.
- The Spyr's with 160 mm disc's were more than adequate. I'll probably stop worrying about a fully hydraulic system and go with my mech. eTap shifters and either TRP Spyr's or Hy/RD's. I've elected however, to run my brake cable through the top tube on my new build. This routing will be compatible with both mech. and hydraulic brake lines, should I upgrade to fully hydraulic brakes in the future.
- The 1x11 double tap set up is nice, but I still prefer the 2x eTap setup with a 46/36 in front and an 11-36 (assisted by a Wolftooth Roadlink) in back.
- As far as handling, the bike is a dream. Kris seems to have found a near perfect geometry for his Huntsman. Secure and steady on high speed descents; but with almost effortless handling on turns and corners. Of course the steel frame and fat tires made the bumpy rural roads feel almost paved.
Can't wait for my new bike!

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