A Look at the New 2023 Esker Hayduke (Video)
The 2023 Esker Hayduke was announced a few weeks ago, improving the brand’s tried and true steel bikepacking hardtail. In our latest video, Neil and Andrew outline the bike’s new features, including updated dropouts, rack mounts, and geometry tweaks. Andrew also offers his thoughts on how it pedaled and shares a look at his loaded bikepacking kit…
Photos by Andrew Opila
Earlier this month, Esker launched their latest iteration of the Hayduke, the brand’s timeless steel hardtail. The Hayduke has gone through some changes over the years, and they’ve been slowly inching it closer toward perfection with large and small refinements since its initial release under the Advocate Cycles name back in 2015. One thing’s remained consistent: the Hayduke has always been a bikepacking rig at heart, and it has withstood some serious trips over the years—such as when Lael Wilcox scouted the Baja divide route on it. More recently, a few of us pedaled the latest 2023 Esker Hayduke on the Queen’s Ransom Loop.
In this video, we talk to Andrew Opila—who had the most time on it during this trip—and find out how he packed his bike for this trip, the changes that were made to this model, and his thoughts on how it rides. Andrew tested a size large (S4) 2023 Hayduke. He’s 6’0″ (1.83m) tall and has a 32″ inseam, for the record.
- Highlights (S4)
- Angles: 67.6° Headtube, 75° Seattube
- Chainstay: 425-437mm
- Bottom Bracket: Threaded 73mm
- Hub specs: 15 X 110mm (front); 12 X 148mm (rear)
- Seatpost Diameter: 31.6mm
- Max Tire Size: 29 x 2.8″ / 27.5 x 3.0″
- Price (as specced): $4,200 USD
The Hayduke has always been a bikepacking-forward bike. It’s well-balanced, built for long days in the saddle, hauling gear, and comfort, and it fits the mold of what most of us are looking for in a dedicated bikepacking bike. In their words, the Hayduke is “designed with long-distance and hard-won backcountry miles in mind, this is the bike we reach for when headed out for days on end.”
For the 2023 redesign, it’s clear Esker wanted to keep it that way, and this is during a time when hardtails are becoming slacker, steeper, and more aggressive in general. While the 2023 Esker Hayduke didn’t see a lot of major changes—it kept its 67.6° head tube angle and a 425-437 millimeter chainstay lengths—there are some thoughtful and noteworthy updates worth mentioning.
Available in five sizes (S1-S5, or XS-XL), the updated Hayduke features size-specific headtubes and custom-tuned tubesets that Esker says are designed to keep you comfortable on longer rides. The bigger change in the 2023 Esker Hayduke is its tire size. The original Hayduke was built for 27.5+ tires, but as we all know, “B-plus” isn’t as popular as it once was. Part in parcel, the 2023 Hayduke was built as a dedicated 29″ platform. It’ll still clear 27.5 x 3” tires, but it’s now specced for 29er rubber ranging from 2.4″ to 2.8″, depending on how you configure the all-new Fixed Adjustable Nut (FAN) on the revised Portage Dropout system. This allows you to optimize the balance between tire clearance and chainstay to suit your riding preferences. It also has a slightly tweaked 58mm bottom bracket drop to help keep riders balanced and comfortable with the larger tires. All the complete bikes come with 2.6” tires.
Also new for 2023, there are now threaded rear rack mounts so you can load up with more gear before pedaling into the backcountry. The frame’s threaded cable guides and bolt-on frame bag mounts are back again, and JPaks, Rogue Panda, and Cedaero all have the drawings for the full range of sizes from Esker to ensure the perfect fit for a custom bag. The Hayduke frame is built from Esker’s proprietary quad-butted 4130 Chromoly steel that features an ED coating to resist corrosion inside and out.
The 2023 Esker Hayduke is offered as a frameset and two complete builds. The frameset is priced at $1,000 and includes a Wolf Tooth Performance Headset, 4-position Portage dropout system and axle, and set screws and nuts for single-speed-ability. A complete SRAM GX build costs $3,000 and features SLX 4-piston brakes, a full SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, NoTubes Flow wheels, and a Marzocchi Z2 fork. The Shimano XT build comes in at $4,000 and includes a full Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, Industry Nine A35 Stem and Enduro S 1/1 wheels, MRP Raven fork, and RaceFace Next R Carbon handlebar. In addition to various color kits from Wolf Tooth Components, upgraded forks and carbon wheels are also available. All complete bikes are built to order in the US. Andrew’s test bike had the XT Complete build with XT upgrades, which retails for $4,200. Find that build kit below.
Build Kit (XT Complete + XT Upgrades)
- Frame: 2023 Esker Hayduke, S4
- Fork: Fox 34 Factory GRIP2 29/120
- Headset: Wolf Tooth Components, ZS44/EC44
- Spacers: 30mm
- Stem: Industry Nine A35, 50mm
- Handlebar: RF Next R 35 20 rise x 800mm
- Grips: SDG Thrice
- Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
- Rotors: Shimano RT86 180mm
- Dropper: Fox Transfer dropper post, 200mm
- Saddle: SDG Custom Esker BA3
- Wheels: Industry 9 1/1 Enduro S 29
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT 12spd, 10-51
- Cranks: Shimano XT 170mm
- Tires: Vittoria Mezcal 29 x 2.6
- Model/Size Tested: 2023 Esker Hayduke, Large (S4), XT Complete
- Sizes Available: S1-S5 (XS-XL)
- Colors Available: Darkness, Bluebird, or Chili (as shown)
- Claimed Weight: TBD
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $4,200
- Manufacturer’s Details: Esker Cycles
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