You may or may not have noticed, but the MK6 has finally arrived, the latest in a long lineage of frames that date back to that fateful day in 2013 when i recieved the first proto of the MK1 (a future post, perhaps). The design is still basically the same, but on the same note, a lot has changed. Over the years i’ve got into the habit of making small, incremental changes with each production run. A lot of people may not like or agree with the changes, and on some occassions its a case of me keeping things fresh and fun for myself, but mostly the changes are there for good reason, based on my own ideas and things learnt on the battlefield.
Back when i designed the MK4 with its 80mm offset fork a lot of people were overcome by a massive WTF moment, and honestly, you wouldn’t believe some of the comedy e-mails i recieved from thoroughly disgruntled keyboard bike designers, but i guess my point is, i didn’t allow myself to be held back by a need to conform with the latest trends. This was the age when all the bike mags were suddenly telling people that they needed a fork with 33mm offset for it to be rideable. The MK4 felt very much like a swansong at the time. The MK3 had taken nearly 2 years to sell 100 frames, so in my mind the MK4 was the last frame i’d be producing before i called it a day. Strange how things turn out.
The MK5 followed and it was a halfway house between the MK4 and the Scrambler. The fork offset was reduced to 57mm to allow the use of 27.5+ (the 80mm offset really did preclude this due to how quick the steering became, though in fairness a few riders run this size and love it). It was at about this time a strange thing also happened. I’d given Matt a Dirtbomb frame as he was intent on completing an enduro season on it, which he did, with amazing results. A couple of articles followed on Pinkbike and Wide Open Mag about his bike (and his earlier MK4), in which they referred to it as a rigid enduro bike. Suddenly i’m getting e-mails from people wanting rigid enduro bikes, and i’m feeling slightly unconfortable with all of this. My bikes are designed to be durable, but they’re not designed to be road-gapped, or more importantly, the biplane fork was not designed to be road-gapped or jumped incessantly. The biplane fork was designed to look cool as f–k and provide an exceptional amount of compliance for fast off road riding. So it slowly dawned on me that people were using the MK frames well outside of the fork’s remit, partly because they’re so damn fun and chuckable with the their big BMX vibe, and partly because of all this rigid enduro bike talk. And then I started to get a few bent biplane forks back and my soul screamed for mercy. (Worth mentioning at this point that i’ve never managed to bend a set of biplanes and i ride pretty hard, so if you have a set don’t fret, if you’ve got this far your forks will be fine. They’re EN tested to MTB standards, just don’t jump over cars on them 🙂 Worth also noting that from the Scrambler 2nd gen onwards, including the Speedbomb, the steel plates have been substantially thickened.)
So the fact was i suddenly had customers with no forks for their bikes, and i had no forks to replace them with, AKA a shitty situation.
A lot of the time i’ll design stuff and then leave it sitting on the computer for its moment to arrive. The Scrambler is a case in point. That was designed in 2015 but didn’t see production until 2020. I also had a segmented BMX style fork that i’d designed around the time of the MK2, and then years later Stridsland Journal came out with a very similar fork and i thought Damn, that looks bloody brilliant. So to solve my forkless customer problem i got a small batch produced, updated with boost spacing and 57mm offset, and sent them out. I knew that these forks would get hammered so it would also be a great testing ground, and the feedback was amazing.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it was time for the MK6, and the writing was already on the wall. I redesigned the frame slightly to include a straight seat tube to allow the use of a longer dropper post, and suddenly the straight lines of the frame became a whole lot more apparent, to the point where i felt the curved fork no longer sat well with the frame’s aesthetics. The MK1 and 2 had both been like large BMX bikes with their skinny tubes and straight forks and absolute agility, and i wanted to head back to that vibe and give the MK6 an identity all of its own, without the shared fork of the Scrambler and Speedbomb. So the new fork was drafted into service.
So the MK6 is now here and about half of them have sold already, and i think its a success of function and form. A lot of people disagree with me, but i can only follow my instinct for what i feel is right. I’ll stick my neck out and say i think its the most ‘complete’ version of what the MK frame should be – massively fun to ride, madly agile on the twisty stuff, capable of taking a shed load of abuse from those that so wish, but still perfectly happy being racked up and loaded up and taken on a mad adventure through the mountains for a week or two. In many ways its the ultimate bikepacking bike. So many companies are making them these days, and they’ve pretty much hit a universal formula of very safe, conservative geometry, a bit like fatbikes used to be back in their heyday. But what happens when the trail turns fruity, and what happens when the trip is over and the bags come off, surely, you want a bike that rips and is an absolute blast to ride. That’s where the MK6 comes in. There’s something very special about this one, its hard charging and offers a feeling of invincibility, i find myself wanting to ride down things that i wouldn’t normally attempt, and when i do it pulls me through, and as the speed racks up its stability and manouverability are quite astounding, to me at least. i think that’s always been the way with my frames, from the MK1 through to the Speedbomb, and that’s certainly been the intention.
And in other news, the best album you’ll hear all year is Rough Dimension by VR Sex, but only if you like shitty synths, crap vocals and pretty cool guitars. Plus, only a few of the songs are actually any good, so there’s that too. There, that was the music part.