This titanium 29′er was made for New England mountain biking legend Mike Ramponi…
Ramponi has been shredding every square acre of Northeastern trails since his days racing for the Fat Chance factory team in the late 80′s and he has been doing it exclusively on bikes built locally. Ramponi came to Firefly to build his dream bike because he knows us, trusts us and has been riding bikes we built for years. We are honored to know that he will be flying the Firefly flag at almost every endurance and 24 hour race this side of the Mississippi and we couldn’t ask for a more bad-ass endorsement.
Mike’s riding style can only be explained as: “A high speed bulldozer that turns really quickly”, so we adjusted his geometry to reflect his style and amazing flexibility. Short trail, long wheelbase and a long and low body position. Achieving a low front end is one of the harder things to do on 29′ers due to the large diameter of the wheels and the long length of almost all of the available forks. To get Mike in the right position we had to do a couple of things. First we used a large diameter headtube that accepts a Chris King 44mm InSet headset. This headset sits mostly inside of the headtube effectively lowering the front end ride height. The other way we were able to achieve such a low front end position was to have short (435mm) custom steel fork made by Engin Cycles. Upon returning from his first ride, Mike couldn’t stop raving at how the handling characteristics of the fork lent to the overall feel of the bike. He described the fork as a “Granite Crusher” and the bike as a “Flow-cycle”.
Another challenge building this bike was dialing in the hand positions. Ramponi has been experimenting with bar extension placement for years, but could never get it just right. Framebuilding legend Lloyd Graves often told Mike: “Ya know Mike, you’ve got 4 bar ends…”, at which point we would always burst into laughter which then led quickly into giving him a hard time. But Mike was serious, dead serious about his bars. He would only take our hard times for a second and would then dive deep into an intense lecture about how important these positions are to his riding style, make total sense, and shut us up real quick. If we were on the trail he would simply school us. Either way was effective enough to get his point across.
Above is what his last set of bars looked like. Those bars are about 3 weeks old at the time of this picture. Their gnarly condition is representative as to how hard (and often) he rides.
We made his new titanium bars with 20 degree bends, 26 inches wide and welded on inner extensions to place mike in his preferred high speed descent position. He does a lot of 24 hour endurance races and also appreciates the added hand placement options these extensions provide.
His Firefly titanium seatpost has zero offset and matching aqua anodized team graphics.
As a special finishing touch, Mike’s bike received a titanium headbadge (only available on 44mm head tubes), anodized to match the frame.
This bike is a weapon. For real.