Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from Michael in Frankfurt, Germany, who shares a look at his custom hardtail from Waltly Titanium. Read Michael’s story of first catching the MTB bug in the early 90s, learn about his inspiration for the frame and build, and find more photos here…

Words and photos by Michael Tietze

Hello, I’m Michael, and I work as an engineer for a big security company. I live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, with my wonderful wife Kristin and our beloved three-year-old son Jannes. Frankfurt is a city known for its financial business and Äppelwoi (a wine made of apples), but it’s also surrounded by some beautiful mountains in the region of Taunus. This is a fact that I’m really grateful for because I love mountains and, of course, riding those hills.

In the early 90s, I was affected by the hype of MTB that came from the U.S. to Germany. When I turned 14, my dream came true: my parents gave me a Scott Boulder. To make a long story short, since then, most of my bikes have been mountain bikes, and whenever I have tried something more tarmac-oriented, it bored me quickly. So, it’s become clear that I most feel at home on trails where I can enjoy nature and leave the city noise behind. My brother Markus and I went on some really great trips to the Alps with our enduro bikes and visited many bike parks.

Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail

A few years ago, the concept of “bikepacking” had just become famous, and I thought this would bring a new and interesting spirit to our sport. I was fascinated by the idea of getting out into the woods with minimal equipment, riding some cool trails with my friends, and laying my head on the dusty floor of some hut (after having enjoyed some good wine and whisky, of course). The engineer in me likes to fiddle around with bags and racks, especially improving his rig, and BIKEPACKING.com brings the right inspiration for all the gear.

I really like my full-suspension bike, but it’s clear that this kind of bike causes some limitations for bikepacking due to the small front triangle and moving rear wheel. I also considered building my own bike by hand—made of steel and with the geometry I like and fancy paintwork—but I knew that I was not skilled enough for such a project to be a success. It would be possible to learn how to build my own frame in one of the building classes, but to be honest, the result would be far from perfect, and the biggest hurdle would be the time required for a project like this.

  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail

My brother spread the thought, “Titanium would be really special for a custom bike,” and damn, he was right. But how could I do this without spending $4,000+ for the frame alone? You might have heard about the company Waltly from China. They are specialists for Ti parts and frames built to the needs of their customers. After we exchanged many emails to ensure everything was clear, six weeks ago, Waltly delivered a flawless frame. Everything was exactly as I had wished it to be. The full process of ordering worked well, and I can recommend it.

Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail

I think frame geometry has to be a balance of technical needs and personal preferences. I was influenced by hardtails such as the Cotic Solaris Max or the Pipedream Sirius S5, which I really like. I also used the experience with my last few bikes and their sizing. After merging all this semi-knowledge, I had a good idea for the “perfect” geometry of my bike. Considering that it would be a bike for long days in the saddle and for frame bags, I lengthened the seat tube and head tube just a little bit longer to create a big front triangle without making the reach too long for a more upright riding position. After riding a few hundred kilometers, I’m still happy.

  • Frame: Waltly Titanium custom
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation 130mm
  • Rims: Fun Works AM Ride 29” x 30mm
  • Hubs: Fun Works N-Light
  • Tires: Maxxis Rekon and Maxxis Forecaster (both 29” x 2.6”)
  • Handlebars: Reverse Base Alu 31,8mm, Rise 18mm, cut to 750mm
  • Grips: SQ-Lab with DMR Deathgrip Lock-Rings
  • Headset: CaneCreek Forty
  • Crankset: Phantom Alu 170mm with 30T SRAM steel chainring
  • Pedals: Reverse Escape
  • Cassette: Microshift Advent X 11–48Tt
  • Derailleur(s): Microshift Advent X
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC with 180mm rotors
  • Shifter(s): Microshift Advent X Pro
  • Saddle: WTB Volt
  • Seatpost: e*thirteen infinite Dropper 31.6mm, 170mm travel
  • Stem: Ryet 35mm
  • Frame bags: Platzangst Frame-bag II
  • Accessory bags: Fidlock tool bag, Revelate bolt-on top tube bag
  • Rack: Racktime
  • Other accessories: Merida Gravel Cage & Drybag, SP Connect Smart Phone Mount

In terms of components, I believe function is more important than weight, and functional components don’t have to be expensive. For example, I love the philosophy of the microSHIFT drivetrain: Simple, sturdy, reasonably priced, and good-looking because it’s black. The Advent X is just right for me. The same applies for the rest of the build: a Rock Shox Revelation will do the Job, G2 RSC brakes (everybody hates them) are good enough for a bike that’s not meant for DH racing, and so on. The fancy colours I was talking about earlier are now on parts like pedals and stem.

Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail
  • Waltly titanium, Waltly hardtail

What I really like about bikepacking is that there are so many ways to build up your rig. There’s not one single perfect solution. It always depends on your riding style, what you expect from your bike, and your budget. Some folks invest money in the perfect setup, and some just take their bike out of the garage and strap bulky bags on it. I’m somewhere in the middle of that range. But what’s more important than perfection is the spirit and the fun you will have.

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