Bike Check: Project 12 Cycleworks' Victor is a Dutch Downcountry Bike with 73mm Travel

Mar 16, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  


Custom building a bike means you can tailor everything from the frame material to the geometry to your personal preference. Michiel Burgerhout, the owner of Project 12 Cycleworks, went one step further and tailored his bike down to the very trails he rides in the Netherlands.

Despite its reputation for flatness, there is a trail system in the east of the country that consists of several hundred kilometres of short punchy climbs and flowing singletrack. These trails left Michiel with a problem. He loved riding hardtails such as his patientZERO but they started to feel harsh on long rides, while his Vertigo full suspension (with up to 150mm travel) was too heavy and progressive with too much travel for the humble elevation the Netherlands offers.

Project Victor Details

Intended Use: Dutch downcountry
Frame Material: Steel
Travel: 73mm (120mm fork)
Wheelsize: 29" front and rear
Head Tube Angle: 66°
Reach: 460mm
Weight: 3.21kg (frame and shock), 13.4kg (full build)
Price: €2,950 - custom frame, SIDluxe shock, any RAL color.
More info: projectxii.nl

He first thought of the idea of making a soft tail around 4 years ago, but the concept was shelved until he was inspired by the Trek Supercaliber and the introduction of the new RockShox SID last year. 6 months of designing and building later he can reveal the first prototype of the Victor, a 73mm travel downcountry bike with geometry that's relatively progressive while still being efficient enough for long days on the bike.


Michiel thinks this could be the perfect bike for a lot of Dutch riders who want something that sits between a harsh XC bike and a trail bike that may be unwieldy on their mellow trails. He admits that the market for these bikes may not be huge but it has allowed him to find a niche that hasn't really been explored by any of the bigger brands.


Michiel currently runs the bike with 73mm travel using a 170x30 SIDluxe but there is the ability to expand that to 88mm using a 170x35 shock. The rest of the geometry comes from Michiel's patientZERO hardtail but adapted for a 120mm fork. This prototype model is tailored to his 1.75m height (5'9") with a reach of 460mm, a head tube angle of 66°, and a seat tube angle of 76.3°. Any customers will also be able to customise the geometry to their own height.

The intricate single-pivot gives a linear suspension curve

The bike is built from steel for the ride quality and the fact that Victor can work with it without too many specialist tools.

Designing the rocker was the most time-consuming part of the build.

Michiel is really pleased with his early riding impressions. He says that the travel feels much more than 73mm and that it feels poppy on the jumps, nimble in the berms and it holds up well in the braking bumps (or Dutch rock gardens as he calls them). Despite its steel construction, the weight isn't sky high with the frame coming in under 3kg/6.6lb (3.21kg with shock) and this full build tipping the scales at 13.4kg/29.5lb.

Victor will be added to the Project12 lineup once testing on this prototype is complete and Michiel already has his first pre-order. The price will be around € 2.950 for a custom frame with SIDluxe shock in any RAL color. Next up for Michiel is a Mk4 version of the Vertigo full suspension bike that will offer more travel. For more info, click here.




167 Comments

  • 120 0
 'Dutch Downcountry' - was about to laugh, but it's what a huge proportion of riders actually access. Wish more manufacturers would go in this direction. Great looking bike too.
  • 38 30
 See's a 'new' bike category, clicks back to home page without reading further. Looks great, but I've visited a dutch oven once, and it wasn't as fun as I was lead to believe.
  • 41 4
 @Waldon83: but take time to comment?
  • 20 2
 Dutch Downcountry is my new favourite phrase. Love the Dutch.
  • 12 1
 looks basicly like a slopestyle bike with xc geometry , kinda like it actually
  • 20 0
 In the old days a couple of my friends were riding the Blur 4X as their XC bikes. Usually paired with the OG travel adjust Pike. Too bad these types of bikes disappeared. You could hang on a XC ride, get down not too technical DH tracks and hit the dirt jumps on the same bike.
  • 7 0
 What I would love is to have trails in the middle of nowhere that are more or less flat with a little up and down so you can be away from all the people but you don't have to climb for 2 hours and then descend for 15 minutes. I don't really want to work hard anymore I just want to enjoy. This is perfect plus it's handmade and steel.
  • 5 0
 Dutch rudder
  • 3 0
 @iRiderPB: I use to ride a proto of Mark Weirs old bikes. It was a Blur XC front triangle with a Blur 4X rear triangle! Bike was so sweet!!
  • 5 0
 @Diesel-Powered: bmxc! I have a epic Evo 2021, short stem DH bar real tires and proper size disc brakes and boom
  • 3 0
 @stormracing: they were sweet! Saw probably the same type of frame under Kirt Voreis. As they were never made available, I in the end bought a long TT version (they made short and long) of the last generation Intense Tazer 4X bike. Still riding it and fits me (5'10), however, the ST angle could be steeper.
  • 2 0
 @iRiderPB: Ha, I did that as well. Bloody great bike!
  • 1 0
 @iRiderPB: i'm doing exactly that on an NS surge w/o gears and a 200 mm dropper.
  • 1 0
 @iRiderPB: Lots of bikes can do just that. Nukeproof Reactor, SC 5010/Tallboy and Process 134 to name a few. Go with air shocks, and easier rolling tires you can have a very nice do-itall package. They will most likely beat the old Blur 4x in every imaginable way depending on your spec.

The types of bikes you dream about never disappeared. They just got so much better, just like every other type of bikes the last 15 years.
  • 2 0
 I reckon this Dutch Downcountry would get a Personnummer in Sweden very quickly and become a svenska långloppscykel easyly. Same conditions in most of the country.
  • 2 0
 @fracasnoxteam: It was more a cheap shot eye roll at 'another new bike standard / category'

I did in fact read the whole article.....
  • 1 0
 @suppehue: They did. No 26", no care!
  • 52 0
 Looks like a great Florida bike to grind out miles and just enough cushion to take the edge off.
  • 13 0
 Every video I see of the Florida trails reminds me of the trails over here, looks like a lot of fun! (Minus the alligators..)
  • 6 0
 This Floridian concurs.
  • 7 0
 The one thing dutch people and florida men have in common
  • 1 0
 No! DH bikes or die. Jokes aside, I know of a guy who rides his DH bike here all the time.
  • 1 0
 My exact thoughts. Would love to have something like this
  • 48 0
 " He admits that the market for these bikes may not be huge "

I don't about that..I would say Dutch Downcountry describes a lot of people's trails.
  • 4 0
 would great for the hilly region I live, really great
  • 11 0
 Pretty amazing to hear that lots of people have these kind of trails. Living in the Low Country we always expect everybody else has mountains around, but that might not be the case.
  • 16 1
 It would probably be great for a lot of UK riders if they were honest with themselves. An XC bike that can take a bit of abuse with geometry to go fast. Perfect trail centre weapon
  • 6 0
 @suravida: and with today's geometries and 29er wheels, you seldomly need loads of travel.
also, the roughness of your local trails counts. I mean, even if 'my' hills are 250m high, trails are mellow and I feel 'overdressed' with my Ripmo
80mm of travel are more than enough to save your back of the thousands of hits caused by small bumps
  • 6 1
 I think there is a market for it. I think something like this would be great to take the edge off on longer rides especially with unavoidable long stretches of small baby head size rocks, but would retain the HT experience and efficiency.

I have a hardcore HT, and a modern geo 140/150 trail bike. And typically a goldilocks would be something in between- but not a 130 or 120 downcountry... something that is much closer on the scale to the HT. I guess what I'm arriving at is a softtail.
  • 7 3
 @vhdh666: I always say that geometry beats travel.
  • 4 2
 @CustardCountry: a cross bike would get you round most UK trail centres- they are hardly mountain biking.
  • 5 0
 @Molesdigmyjumps: I have ridden the trails I built this bike for on my gravelbike, no problem. But they a lot more fun on this bike. ;-)
  • 4 0
 @suravida: The upper Midwest is much the same as well, save for exceptions like Duluth MN and the upper peninsula of Michigan. It just makes you appreciate every small descent more than any big mountain bro does.
  • 1 0
 @CustardCountry: Perfect for South East/East Midlands for sure.
  • 1 0
 @CustardCountry: sign me up. I would live one of these.
  • 3 0
 @Molesdigmyjumps: lots of gravel snobs at my local trail centre. Most of them straight line ALL the corners an avoid technical sections for both strava times an mostly 'can't corner, won't corner' . Them an ebikes are destroying the lines laid out by Jardine working volunteers
FK em
  • 1 0
 ^hard working^ stoopid phone
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: The UK is enormously varied ay. Wales and Scotland have riding that can rival anywhere, but around Cambridge and Norfolk isn't much more hilly than the Netherlands.
  • 1 0
 @suravida: Die bevestiging van de remleiding aan het draaipunt van de swingarm is mooi gemaakt
  • 2 0
 @mrguzzo: I am thinking this thing would be awesome at all of the Twin Cities metro trails as well as Cuyuna.
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: This would be a great n+1 for me. most of my local trails aren't much more than a minute descent and could all be done on a hardtail no issue, but I have a 160mm full sus for bike park wales because I don't want to be under-biked there
  • 1 0
 @sd351: For sure, this thing would rip at Cuyuna, Leb, and Wirth. Battle creek might test its limits depending on fast you like going, but yeah you could carry so much speed.
  • 19 1
 Make a 27,5 version and take my money. Perfect bike for a lot of riding in Danish non-mountains. And its steel,what's not to like? Lot of nice details,and classic lines,yum yum
  • 6 0
 No problem!
  • 3 1
 This is why I ride an Intense Tazer 4X bike with dropper post and a longer travel fork. Perfect for most trails here.
  • 3 5
 A 100mm rear with a 150mm front, and a little more aggressive geo would be perfect!
  • 14 0
 Mountainbiking in Netherlands.
Ia that complete list of mountains and hills you have there? Wink
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mountains_and_hills_in_the_Netherlands
  • 4 0
 Pretty much, overall it is a flat country. It's a different kind of "mountain" biking. However there are quite a few XC loops and I do believe this bike could be very fun and comfortable riding them.
  • 16 0
 @Ocfug: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDBQ5EGCVpI&ab_channel=Vibemaker This is one of the most popular Dutch trails, definitely not proper mountains, but still lots of fun!
  • 4 0
 That’s amazing.
  • 2 0
 @suravida: Amerongen trails gives a good impression of man-made Dutch mtb flow xc trails .. but here in the south (Limburg) there are more technical naturals xc trails.. and I must say I think you're bike is spot on for that.
  • 2 0
 @suravida:

Video doesn’t really do it justice. Those holes are pretty deep and it’s basically a big, sand pumptrack section.
It can be ridden super fast. Tons of fun.
  • 1 0
 @DutchmanPhotos: @suravida Any idea if there are similar trails to Amerongen near Tillburg?
  • 2 0
 @jetter: Loonse en Drunense Duinen and Stadsbos 013 are nearby, but I think they are not as much as Amerongen (Or Rhenen or Nijmegen for that matter) These trails are winding singletracks, but even flatter.
  • 2 0
 @jetter: In Holland everything is basically nearby. You can cross the entire country in 3 hrs max ( by car )
  • 2 0
 very little hills, but there's a vulcano:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuidwal_volcano
  • 1 0
 @vhdh666: very little, and very few hills too.
  • 1 0
 @deadlyhifi: I know, that's why I moved away from NL
  • 11 0
 Thats a really good weight for steel- as light as Santa Cruz carbon frames haha. I'd totally love to try this thing out!
  • 8 0
 I have been dying for someone to build trail version of this. 140-150mm up front with 80-100mm in the back tuned like a DJ. Still have a lot of the benefits of feedback and the "feel" of a hardtail but with just enough squish to take the edge off.
  • 3 0
 I think a 140mm Pike up front and a bit slacker and longer might be very nice. I am already thinking I should bring this bike to Livigno this year, since it seems to be more capable than I had thought. Perfect for the red flowlines over there!
  • 3 0
 Check out the banshee phantom. Used to be 105 rear travel, but looks like they bumped it up to 115 on the v3

www.bansheebikes.com/phantom-v3
  • 3 1
 Yes! I've been saying this for a long time. HCHT with 100mm rear travel would be the bee's knees.
  • 2 1
 @suravida: what you're describing is just a slack trail bike..
  • 2 0
 And 26" wheels, perfect woods play bike, like the old Commencal Meta SL/4X/Hip-hop.
  • 9 0
 Jeeze - What an awesome bike!
  • 9 0
 DOUBLE DOWN DUTCH COUNTRY
  • 11 0
 Double Dutch Down Country?
  • 3 0
 If most people would be honest with them self. They would agree that this type of bike is enough for more than 90% of there rides. How many of you ultimately live in a place were they need a 160/170mm enduro bike for there weekly rides. A bike like this makes much more sense for most peoples rides. It's a shame that the big bike company's don't see this and instead of designing bikes must people actually need. They opt to raise travel with every new bike year. Because travel sells and people think they need that much travel to enjoy riding or the be fast. Because they see the adverts of pro's riding insane jumps and trails with those bikes. But they all now that's not the riding they do on a weekly bases.
  • 3 0
 I thought bigger the travel = bigger the cock. Look at all these over sized pick up trucks with tiny people getting out of them, its about the same 90%. Fishy in the little BIG marketing world
  • 6 0
 What is a false downcountry bike?
  • 7 6
 "The intricate single-pivot gives a linear suspension curve"

i don't get it. why make this link if you just want the leverage ratio curve to be linear? You could have done that with a true non linkage driven single pivot. Easier and lighter. confused.
  • 6 0
 I think a linkage on a single pivot often allows you more freedom on shock placement in the frame and can stiffen up/reduce side load on the shock.
  • 4 0
 maybe they want the leverage ratios (though linear) to be higher or lower than a non linkage driven single pilot. It also could free up more frame space for the ever important bottle cages. Would love to know what the motivation was
  • 2 3
 Non-linkage driven single pivots are inherently falling rate designs. Adding the linkage allows for a linear curve.
  • 3 3
 @b-mack: False. See the lev ratio curve of this Orange Surge.
linkagedesign.blogspot.com/2020/05/orange-surge-275-2020.html
  • 2 0
 With different link designs, you can tweak the suspension curve and stroke dimensions, so this allows some design options without changing the rest of the frame. Also, the link stiffens up a single pivot frame design, preventing side forces from being transmitted to the rear shock (which can cause damage).
  • 2 1
 Oka sorry, “most”. @freestyIAM:
  • 16 0
 @freestyIAM: I had several reasons, less sideload on the shock was one, getting the shock tucked under the toptube (I hate these shocks that "hang") cleaning up the lines of the bike, and tweaking the leverage ratio a bit. And the frame can take 2 bottles in the front triangle, especially for Mike Levy. ;-)
  • 3 8
flag freestyIAM (Mar 16, 2021 at 13:42) (Below Threshold)
 @suravida: thx for the reply, those are all very good reasons. Wish the article had sited those instead of the leverage ratio curve as it does not seem to have been the principle motivation. @jamessmurthwaite, an edit for you if you feel like it.
  • 5 0
 Amazing weight considering its a steel 29er
  • 4 0
 Those Dutch trails sound just like Michigan trails - we need more bikes like this!
  • 1 0
 That looks really beautiful, and fantastic spec's. I had a Trek STP years ago that I enjoyed, and have ridden a Moots YBB 29'er - I'm mildly surprised there isn't a little more choice when it comes to very short travel FS / soft tails, seems like a base design that could work well with a wide variety of modern geometries, riding styles and trails, adding a small degree of comfort and maybe a little extra grip for not too much weight gain or loss of a responsive, hard tail-like feel...
  • 1 0
 I love it, in fact I commissioned a down country bike for myself from Doug Curtliss, Curtlo Cycles. 4" travel from a coil sprung 7.5x2.0 and a 66 head angle with True Temper steel makes for a very fun bike, though it does tend to get overwhelmed when pushed into enduro duties.
  • 1 0
 I get the idea, and really would like to try one.
Hardtails are fun, but on the rough stuff, I really miss a bit of compliance on the rear end (yes, I'm not a spring chicken any more Frown

if suspension would be set fully hard on "flowish" trails and only starting to work on really hard terrain, this could be a new category of bike - just saying

I would go even further and make a 160 front...and 100 or bellow 100mm rear travel. Bike would be a "hardtail", since rear suspension would be for saving the day on really hard terrain.
  • 1 0
 a good old 29.er HT will do the job pretty well in the Netherlands but having 73mm rear travel is mainly to increase comfort for epic rides which you can definitely do because of the well organised and well indicated trail network. I love riding around Utrecht/ Amersfoort area.
  • 1 0
 This shouldn’t be looked at as a specific bike for a specific rider and his local trails. This is a realistic bike for 90% of all MTB riders; if they would only drop their egos which are fueled by the ludicrous bike industrie’s marketing.
  • 3 0
 Makes me extremely depressed considering I'll have to move to the Netherlands later this year...
  • 3 0
 Cyclocross is your friend for daily rides. If you drive you can always go to Winterberg or Hürtgenwald and this 100% calls for a full-on DH bike.
  • 2 0
 they have öot's of trails in the east and south
  • 1 0
 lots
  • 3 0
 They got some green Stuff to remedy that depression
  • 2 0
 @brodoyouevenbike: ???????? I'm addicted to adrenaline and nothing gives more adrenaline than cyclocross /s. I'm reconsidering my future, work and life choices hahahah
  • 1 0
 @brodoyouevenbike: for some reason pinkbike didn't like that first word
  • 2 0
 Ride in Belgium and Germany, no problem, trailforks is your friend!
  • 2 1
 Switch to sailing! Great conditions in the channel.
København is a great city! Beautiful girls, friendly people, nice bars/spots by the sea for a post work beer and a nice 6 days and a half long Summer.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: I'm only gonna work there for like 3-5 years depending on how quick the brand evolves, don't know if I wanna get myself into sailing haha
  • 1 0
 @theoskar57: Cyclocross is sketchy as f*ck, you will 100% have your heart in your throat going down a rooty hill with drop bars. It isn't ideal of course, but makes even tame trails appear harder.
  • 1 2
 @brodoyouevenbike: I mean I have a gravel bike for those mellower trails here but it's nowhere near the adrenaline you get doing a large road gap or doing some sketchy french line, I will miss it, and the shuttles too.
  • 2 1
 @theoskar57: For sure! My skills definitely suffered living in Düsseldorf for a few years. Can always find some staircases to gap if you're inclined to go that way (lots of stairs leading UP to the beach)
  • 6 0
 @theoskar57: At least you get to stay in Europe. My wife started to notice (aloud) how Singapore has thr world's best schools, how everything is so nice, always warm, low taxes, amazing parks and food, how I could there go back to sailing, blablabla..
I googled. Three hills. Four mtb trails. The highest hill is 160 m.
  • 1 2
 @pakleni: six and a half days!? You must have come on a good year.
  • 3 0
 Looks sweet. For riders (like me) who do a lot more clambering up hills than sending off stuff, it looks perfect.
  • 1 0
 Love this. My steel full sus at 100mm feels like 120mm due to the material. So, this 73mm should feel equivalent to a 100mm alum frame-- which is just so much fun as a mountain bike.
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike, can you please, please, please stop using this silly 'downcountry' term? This is a cross-country bike (and then even with 90's little travel). And one step up, we tend to call bikes 'trail bike'.
  • 3 0
 Damn... that rocker link makes the bike look so good!
  • 2 0
 and the cable routing's great also
  • 8 4
 Looks like a session
  • 3 0
 Waiting for double dutch downcountry.
  • 3 1
 A longer, lower, slacker, late '90s - early 2000s XC bike. €3k for steel frame & shock LoL
  • 1 2
 My dream trailbike would be 150mm front, 100mm rear, like a modern day GT Distortion. Just a little travel to take the edge off and improve traction and braking. Still keep you feeling the terrain under the wheels, but a tiny bit more forgiving than a ht. This seems like a more XC execution of the same idea.
  • 1 0
 Pretty familiar with Nederland. LOL. MAYBE just MAYBE that's too much suspension for even the Limburgse bergen. As a Dutchie livin in San Diego I might get one of these!!
  • 1 0
 "Intended Use: Dutch downcountry".
Until now, I thought "dutch downcountry" was called cyclo-cross.

Very beautiful bike anyway.
  • 1 0
 Love this bike, but couldn't Pinkbike remove the CA (the purple edges on shiny things) from the photo's before posting please.
  • 3 0
 That wraparound brace for the rocker is just lovely...
  • 3 0
 I dig it
  • 2 0
 This thing looks like a blast!
  • 1 0
 What brakes are on this bike? Are they oilslick? Never seen them before if they are.
  • 1 0
 Rotors look like Magura.
  • 2 0
 Has been developed from years research of riding the Dutch mountains.
  • 3 1
 I'll bet some of the 76mm travel is in seat stay flex........
  • 3 1
 Don't get me wrong, lovely looking concept but, I'd want beefier oval seat stays for peace of mind
  • 3 0
 @nojzilla: I concur. The hardtail version of this back-end was unfortunately already too flexy for me. So can only imagine this is worse when connected to some suspension.
  • 3 0
 Coming from the Shan5, this one looks soooooo flexy...
  • 1 0
 Get the Monoral HT ..awesome bike for anywhere between the Netherlands and Nepal
  • 1 0
 Lovely , from first glance at the thumbnail thought it was a hardtail.
  • 1 0
 Simply put - Seeing this bike makes me smile. Nicely done.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a fun bike!!
  • 4 5
 Hipsters rejoice! You can have your cake and eat it too. Which I really mean you can pay for a bike with less travel than XC but the weight of an enduro bike.
  • 2 2
 There's only two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.
  • 1 0
 I suspect most people don't get the reference...
  • 1 0
 I bet it feels like it's got 76mm out back at least
  • 1 0
 Bravo Michiel! The world needs more of this.
  • 1 0
 I’d really like a bike just like this, for winter razzing
  • 1 0
 I want this as a gravel bike! be so sweet
  • 1 0
 New bike category = Lowcountry
  • 1 0
 Trail version Pleaase
  • 1 0
 But who is Victor?!
  • 4 0
 Victor is m'n hondje
  • 1 0
 Peachy.
  • 1 1
 tighten up the geo and throw on some drop bars, my new gravel bike
  • 1 0
 I love it.
  • 1 0
 Guh-Roovy!
  • 1 0
 Gorgeous
  • 1 0
 We're going backwards.
  • 1 0
 Beautiful bike!
  • 2 4
 at 73mm of linear travel just use a hard tail...
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