This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Outer Shell co-owner Jim Santos in San Francisco, who shares his Hunter Cycles Woodrat 29er. Learn more about Jim and read the story of how he ended up with one of five Woodrat steel hardtails built by Rick Hunter here…

Words and photos by Jim Santos (@jim.os)

Hi, I’m Jim. I moved to the US from the Philippines when I was four and have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since. I’ve been living in San Francisco for the last 11 years and find it difficult to imagine moving anywhere else anytime soon. The mix of people, activities, opportunities, and access to so many types of natural environments is tough to find anywhere else in the world (and we’ve traveled quite a bit!). It makes the inherent challenges of living here so worth it for my family and me.

Hunter Cycles Woodrat

My full-time job titles include father, husband, and co-owner/photog/production manager/operations lead at Outer Shell, where our team churns out many of the products featured on my Hunter out of our humble shop right here in SF. I started cycling fairly young, commuting to elementary and middle school, mountain biking on a steel Specialized Rock Hopper (my first “real bike”) in high school, and throwing SICK whipskids on track bikes in college.

When we moved to SF after college, the cycling habit really kicked into high gear, and I started racking up serious miles on roads and gravel trails through the dreamy Marin Headlands and surrounding areas. I’ve been known to rotate “flavors” of cycling over time, and for the last four years or so, MTBing has taken over almost entirely.

  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell

This bike is a Woodrat 29er, designed and built by the mad scientist Rick Hunter. It’s my second Hunter, and the first one was already my “If you could only keep one” bike. Safe to say I was pretty f’n stoked to get this one together. It was part of a batch of five Woodrats that Rick started back in 2019 or so, but he faced some pretty big challenges along the way to getting it done, and COVID barely even podium-ed that list.

Hunter Cycles Woodrat

This particular frame was originally intended for someone else, but somewhere during the extended wait, that customer pulled back, and Rick asked me if it could be a good fit for me. At first, I said, “Heck yes!” then a month later, “Actually, I dunno,” then finally, “I made a mistake, please take me back!” and boy am I glad I came around to it. Without hesitation, this is my new “If I could only keep one.” It’s so cliché, but this bike does EVERYTHING well. It perfectly balances shredability and nimbleocity, bears weight well, and is the ideal rig for taking off with no route and when your only objective is having fun on two human-powered wheels. I take pride in not being attached to material things in general, and this bike truly puts that to the test for me.

  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell
  • Frame/Fork Hunter Woodrat 29er
  • Rims WTB CZR i30
  • Hubs WTB Frequency
  • Tires Vigilante 2.3 (front) / WTB Ranger 2.25 (rear)
  • Handlebars Hunter Smooth Move Low Rise 780mm (by Nitto)
  • Headset Chris King
  • Crankset Shimano XT 8100
  • Pedals PNW Components Loam Pedal
  • Cassette Shimano XT 8100
  • Derailleur Shimano SLX 7100
  • Brakes Shimano SLX 7100
  • Shifter(s) Shimano XT 8100
  • Saddle WTB Volt Ti
  • Seatpost PNW Components Loam 200mm
  • Stem Paul Components Boxcar 50mm
  • Front bags Outer Shell Drawcord Handlebar Bag, Stem Caddy, and Handlebar Harness
  • Frame bags Outer Shell Half Framebag
  • Rear bags Outer Shell 10.5L Seatpack
  • Accessory bags Seal Line 5L dry bag
  • Other accessories Hunter Cow Catcher stem rack, King Cage Anything Cage, Widefoot LiterCage

At first glance, it may look like a pretty ho-hum steel hardtail build, but upon closer inspection, you’ll start to notice it’s chock-full of sweet little details. Rick machines everything manually, from the dropouts to the dropped chainstay yoke (which clears a 29 x 3″ tire!) and hand-bends the tubing for the wishbone seatstay and the seat tube. Double water bottle mounts on the downtube allow for a very deep insertion for the dropper in the seat tube. I’m running a 200mm post slammed to the collar—at perfect pedaling height.

  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat
Hunter Cycles Woodrat
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat
  • Hunter Cycles Woodrat

Triple bottle bosses under the downtube afford even more frame-mounted capacity. The Cow-Catcher stem-mounted rack is a drool-worthy piece all on its own that mounts directly to the Paul Components Boxcar stem with a specially designed faceplate and longer bolts. It allows the use of a bar bag without taking up any space on the handlebars, happily cradles a dry bag in the adjustable shelf/jaw, and even has bottle bosses if you’re really hydrationally inclined. I mounted a light to the support arm via a Paul Gino mount, and it sits unobstructed under the payload.

Hunter Cycles Woodrat, Outer Shell

You can see more from Jim on Instagram @jim.os.

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