BTL Big Bucks - Review

Sep 28, 2011
by Kevin Angeles  
BTL Big Bucks Frame Review

BTL Big Bucks

I now live within 3 miles of a skate park, dirt jumps and an ABA BMX track and wanted to add another bike to my quiver that would be able take on such duties, abuse and be a blast to ride. XC and endurance riding has pre-occupied my riding so it’s been a long time since the days of tearing around on my Haro Master and Kuwahara race bike. After researching an enormous array of options, I finally settled on a small rider owned (Cole Tseng) company, BTL. Here’s my candid review on the Big Bucks frame ...


Built to last, at least that what I thought BTL stood for when I unboxed the frame. This stout frame is a full 4130 chromoly tubing throughout, double butted top and bottom tubes, and tapered stays. The most unique and coolest looking feature is a chainstay yoke which wraps around the bottom bracket eliminating the chainstay brace and thus offering plenty of tire clearance and tucks the rear wheel in for a super short 14.5” chainstay length. The Big Bucks frame came in at 5lbs 14 ounces on my scale. BTL told me the double butted down tube is extra thick at the welds for strength and the seat tube is a larger diameter 28.6 (31.8 OD) to resist the twisting forces encountered in DJ/Park riding. My frame also came with a 28.6 to 27.2 seatpost shim.

The welds and paint were all uniform and looked very nice and clean. Your color choices are limited to black. However, the black color is applied via ED (Electro Dipping) treatment. The result is a smooth and durable black surface which also coats the inside surface of the tubes to prevent rust. My integrated headset popped right in but my Mid BB’s required some muscle to get them seated, actually more than what I’m used to. There was no need for reaming the shell, but BTL stated that their BB shell is spec’ed to the tightest tolerance allowed for a mid bb so as to extend the life of the frame. Overall, a strong well made frame.

The Build

I had a couple spare parts laying around, but had the freedom to select some new components. Chances are my skill level will never send me to catastrophic heights so I decided to err on the lighter side for components but still chose parts with a reputation for being strong and reliable. Here’s my true grit build:

The Ride

I’ve had a good opportunity to use the bike for a couple weeks now. Week one was spent locally here at the skate park, neighborhood jumps and BMX track. Week two was a weekend road trip to the Salida pump track, Valmont bike park in Boulder, and the new Frisco bike park.

Nimble and quick! It’s so easy to whip this bike around. The short chainstays make it easy to pull up and manual. Flying through the pump track and railing corners is a blast. I’m still adjusting the tire pressure and fork psi to get it dialed in for my local terrain. At 5’7”, the 21.8” top tube fits very comfortably with lots of room to move around on the trail and park. I may play around with a shorter stem length. The frame feels solid underfoot but the steel gives a smooth resilient ride. Big huge airs are beyond my ability so I can’t provide feedback there. However, the frame is definitely built strong and can take more punishment than I can dish out. In addition, the short 11.5” seat tube provides a good amount of top tube clearance. Based on my build spec’s here’s the resulting geometry:

I’m enjoying my setup to for an all around park, dj and cruiser class race bike. Though I think an optimum race position would be a flatter bar and lowered 80mm suspension fork. Also, couldn’t help to imagine the street/park potential with a build consisting of a free-coaster hub, pegs, rigid fork, front brake, and detangler. Nevertheless, I’m happy the way it’s built right now and the Big Bucks rides brilliantly and easy for my local terrain. Just being able to get back to my roots of ripping around the park, jumps and bmx track is absolutely fun! I’ll never give up on those classic long endurance rides, but it’s nice to mix it up on a small quick handling bike.

On the flip side

More sizes would be nice. No color choices other than black. Word is BTL is working on some color options.

Bottom line

Despite the anti-fashion black only, the BTL Big Bucks frame exudes with functionality. The frame design is smart to take advantage of short chainstays and an aggressive geometry to make for a nimble and easy to ride bike. The distinctive chainstay yoke also allows for lots of tire clearance with my 2.3 tire on a 35mm wide rim at an exact 14 20/32” chainstay length. It’s also built to last with large bearings in a mid bottom bracket shell and a well thought out selection of tubing to create one tough frame. The ED treatment provides rust proofing and eliminated the need for frame saver spray. BTL Big Bucks is a good looking frame that’s built burly with a lively geometry to take on dirt, street, or park.

1 Comment

  • 1 0
 Very keen review, and impressive frame. Really dig the ED coating - nice that it gets dipped so the insides are coated too. Love the build up too, am going to look in to the Velocity wheels. Looks like a fun ride!

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