Mouton’s E.T. 24″ Separable Bikepacking & Paragliding Rig
Just when you thought our coverage of the wonderful Concours de Machines 2021 was over (and Bespoked, for that matter), we bring you one last and especially fascinating bike. Mouton Cycles’ E.T., so named because of its unlikely aspirations for flight, is a separable hardtail that sports “unfashionable” 24-inch wheels, a Pinion drivetrain, Santana Z Couplers, and a truss-like rear rack complete with kevlar lines…
With thanks to Magali Paulin for studio photos. All other images by Laurent Gauthier.
It’s been our pleasure to showcase a whole slew of beautiful bespoke bikes as of late, be they examples drawn from the fascinating Concours de Machines and its think-out-of-the-box criteria or some truly alluring creations at Bespoked UK. The winner of the Concours de Machines’ 2021 Rookie Award, Mouton’s E.T., almost slipped us by. Thankfully, we were able to track down maker Laurent Gauthier and are now able to share his remarkable 24″ hardtail, a machine designed to fit in the back of a paragliding bag, be flown with… and enjoy techy trails with a bikepacking loads when it lands!
Read on to find out more about Laurent and a bike he calls ‘graceless’ but we think is beautifully bizarre! After all, given a background in both composites engineering and creating otherwordly machines for the performing arts, it’s no wonder that the E.T. is more than a little bit special…
And if you’ve missed them, be sure to dig into our Related Posts below to read more about both France’s Concours de Machines and its particular rules and criteria, as well as reports from this year’s Bespoked in the UK.
I’m Laurent, and I live in the great valley of La Drôme, in Southeast France, a perfect spot for mountain biking! Why Mouton? In French, a five-legged sheep is something unusual and extraordinary. Or, maybe it’s because of all the sheep we have up in our mountains! I’ve been riding mountain bikes since I was 12 years old in the Alps, craving especially steep singletracks and hairpin bends. As a teenager with friends—the Crazy Speedys, as we called ourselves—we used to dream of making bikes, designing full-suspension frames, and even chainrings.
When I was younger, I left France for England, seeking a degree in composites engineering, before working in the industry while travelling the world. Fifteen years ago, I changed directions in my professional life: I left the composites industry for performing arts, designing machinery and sets for circus and street shows such as La Machine.
While I’m still doing this at the moment, my intent is to move completely to bike manufacturing. I want to make things with time and love, to help everyday life be more local and fun! However, I’m a real beginner in the subject of bicycle making. My first two bikes were made in the Edelbikes workshop just last year. Thanks, François, for accepting my crazy ideas! The first one was a longtail for a friend to take her three kids to school.
I’ll be spending the next six months working on tooling, starting off by making bikes for friends. I hope to be fully established in the next year or so. As I’m planning to make transport bikes, I want to explore every possible way to avoid a car in one’s everyday life, from carrying cargo with trailers to all the things you can mount on a normal bike. I particularly like crazy ideas everyone says are impossible!
Nevertheless, and especially in my region, I take into account that I’m competing with an old €1,000 car, and not everyone can afford a €4,000+ bike! That’s why I’m also exploring the possibility of opening the workshop to people who want to recycle, repair, and modify bikes. And, I’ll probably also make hardtail mountain bikes, because they are so fun to ride!
I made this bike for a friend, Pascal, who loves riding mountain bikes all over the world, which he even does for his job! He wanted a bike to explore other travel possibilities beyond riding, such as packrafting and paragliding! The trick was to be able to pack the bike in the smallest possible bag and then paraglide with it. It also had to be a real mountain bike that can be ridden, with pleasure, downhill—even fully loaded! As for the name E.T., I came to it after looking at this slightly graceless bike that was going to fly.
All these needs led to the choosing of small, unfashionable 24″ wheels. They’re the most compact and strong wheels that we could find, while still having a large choice of tires. The bike geometry was adjusted for comfort and stability with these smaller wheels. The head tube went up to 190mm, which was the maximum I could make for the Reba steerer tube we already had. The chainstay length was pushed to 430mm to extend the frame and help stability when riding downhill. Because Pascal and I were completely ignorant about morphology—of humans on bikes specifically—we were forced to kidnap Julien Fritsch from Jolie Rouge for a full afternoon and steal all his knowledge on the subject!
Concours de Machines 2021
When I heard of this year’s Concours de Machines criteria, I realised the E.T. was spot on. As I had something to show, I decided to participate mostly to meet the other builders at the event. I knew my bike was not as finished as the others, and I didn’t make it specifically for the Concours. For example, the loaded weight was incredibly high as we packed a real two-person, 3kg tent for the ride, along with a lot of long-range travel equipment that’s more comfortable than it is light. When I received the Rookies award, I was completely astonished! It’s a great prize to motivate and push newbie builders to get started.
Special tricks for the travelling cyclist
Power supply: Velogical dynamo that charges a 10Ah powerpack stored in the toolbox behind the seat tube.
Rear rack: Mouton Cycles Shark Style. One single tube swinging on top of the seat stays, maintained horizontal with Kevlar lines (bottom) and adjustable straps (top) like a truss bridge.
Access to the tools: In the “Clairette de Die” handlebars corks!
Folding: It takes about eight minutes for the operation, the straps that hold the bags are reused to fit the tubes together. A paraglider’s bag was modified to fit the bike.
Flying: Work in progress! Pascal left for a two-month bike trip to Italy, and we still need to adapt the bag to the paraglider’s harness.
From bike to (paragliding) bag
- Tubes: Dedaccai Zero Uno and 25CRMO4 plain gauge
- Rims: 24″ Danny’s Spank Spike Race rims
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.3 / Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35
- Fork: Rockshox Reba 120mm
- Dropouts: Paragon sliders (with a splitting option to switch to a Gates belt)
- Pinion C1-12 gearbox
- Santana Z couplers
ST angle: 76°
Chainstay length: 430mm
Effective TT: 665mm
BB height: 300mm
For more on Mouton Cycles’ business as it grows, tune in to Laurent’s Instagram feed. And for more on Pascal Gaudin (for whom the bike was made) and his tour business France Bike Trips, see here.
Be sure to dig into these related articles for more on the Concours de Machines and Bespoked...
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