It took a while for bike to be in stock, but the wait was worth it. Bike arrived perfectly packaged with every part secured and appropriately protected to prevent damage during shipping. Assembly was easy. Now on to the bike itself.
I went with the 55cm size and 90mm stem. 650b set up and Rival 1 build. Iâm 5â11â with a proportionally longer torso than legs. Fits me perfectly (caveat: I donât like a stretched out riding position).
Fit and finish is good. The paint does have a slight orange tint to the red that may not be apparent in photos. Now on to the ride.
On gravel. The bike is stiff and responsive, while being pretty compliant. Handling is stable (no twitchiness whatsoever) and agile (more on this later). The Thunder Burt tires roll reasonably fast on gravel and are sufficiently grippy. Unless you plan on riding a lot pavement, I think the 650b set up is the way to go.
On flowy, single track (not too technical). The bike handles like a dream. You can really lean the bike in the corners. Tight switchbacks are a breeze. Itâs a lot of fun. The bike just rockets up climbs. Overall, I was actually faster on this bike than my Santa Cruz Tallboy riding the same trail. But you do feel every bump, and after a while, it does take a bit of toll on your body. At least relative to the Tallboy. The other thing. You do have to use more technique and concentration when riding the Hakka (the Tallboy is so capable that you can get away with a lot more sloppiness). Also, Thunder Burts donât work well in spots that are even slightly soft. The trick is to ride through those spots with minimal to no turning.
I also had the Easton AX70 handlebars but on the bike to get a bit more flare in the drops. Position-wise, they are comfortable but doesnât do much to dampen vibrations. Iâd recommend stepping up to the carbon version if you are going to do a lot longer rides on gravel or mountain bike trails.
Lastly, a big shout out to Kyle Brown. His advice was very helpful, and heâs very responsive to emails.