Neko Mulally's Frankenbikes

Oct 31, 2016
by Mike Levy  
Professional racers and riders use social media as a tool to increase exposure, either for themselves or their sponsors, which is both understandable and expected... and boring. Scrolling through an athlete's Instagram feed reveals much less insight into their life than you'd get by rifling through their household trashcan at 2am in stalker-like fashion, and about the only tidbits of information that one can glean from looking at their posts is that their bike is the absolute best bike in the universe, that they're either partying hard or training hard (depending on their discipline), and a list of sponsors who've paid for such exposure.

But then there's GSTAAD-Scott's Neko Mulally. The Brevard, North Carolina, resident has made plenty of the usual pro racer-type updates on his personal Instagram feed, but he's also made a few interesting posts over the last while where he's shown off his wild franken-bike creations.

Four weeks ago it was a Scott Genius LT Plus (see below) that saw the wheels swapped from 29'' to 27.5'', a strange hub and axle end-cap combo to (sorta) make it work, and a Fox 36 that was reduced from 160mm to 140mm of travel. Neat, but what's even more interesting is what he said about his creation: ''The bike rode awesome and I managed to win the race against some fast dudes! Shorter chain stays would have been nice, and less travel in the rear end would have been better too, but the stiffness of a bike designed around 160mm travel was great and I ran enough air pressure in the shock that I stayed high in the travel anyway.'' So, rather than blind, nearly religious-like praise of products and sponsors that we're used to seeing on racer's feeds, Neko appeared to share some honest feedback with fans. But he wasn't done yet.


Sick little slalom bike I put together for the Cane Creek dual slalom challenge at the Oskar Blues reeb ranch yesterday. Started with my Genius LT plus trail bike which I had set up with 29" wheels and switched to standard 27.5" wheels to drop the BB. Managed to fit a 150mm DH wheel in the boost rear end with a 150 end cap on the non drive side and a 157 end cap on the drive side. Maybe it's 153.5 now... new standard?? Reduced my 160mm 36 to 140mm to make it turn quicker and put on a saint drivetrain. The bike rode awesome and I managed to win the race against some fast dudes! Shorter chain stays would have been nice, and less travel in the rear end would have been better too, but the stiffness of a bike designed around 160mm travel was great and I ran enough air pressure in the shock that I stayed high in the travel anyway. Stoked I was able to do it with parts I found in my garage on short notice. Thanks @bikeonscott @fox @rideshimano @schwalbetires @syncrosbike @deitycomponents @odigrips @canecreekusa @oskarblues #longliveslalom

A photo posted by nekomulally (@nekomulally) on




Next up to get the frankenbike treatment was his Scott Gambler downhill rig, but not just any Gambler - this is the custom painted frame that the American raced at the 2016 World Championships. He swapped wheels again, this time going from 27.5'' to 29'', and then bolted on a shorter shock in an effort to correct the bike's geometry before realizing that the drop down from a 240mm length to 220mm was too much and that two offset bushings installed in the opposite way to how most people use them would help to compensate. And speaking of opposite, he also pushed in an offset headset to make the bike's head angle a degree steeper, again to compensate for the 220mm shock.

Perhaps most interesting is the altered fork arch to increase tire clearance for the 29'' front wheel and beefy rubber, a mod that Fox most definitely doesn't recommend. Don't do that, just in case you're thinking of copying Neko. ''The BB height is 340mm, head angle about 62.5 degrees, the wheelbase about 1260mm,'' Mulally said of his creation. He's even in the comment section answering questions from inquisitive fans about his unusual bike. God bless you, Neko.


Built this thing up with a few mods to the bike I've been riding all year. Started by fitting 29" wheels to the frame I raced at world champs. To get the BB low enough with the larger wheels I switched from a 240mm shock (9.5x3) to a 222mm shock (8.75x2.75). The difference in shock size was more than I was looking for, so I put offset bushings in both ends of the new shock to make it less of a change. The shorter shock made the bike too slack, so I put in a +1 degree headset. The front wheel fit into my standard 27.5 fork, but had very little clearance so I milled out the fork arch a few extra mm for a smooth fit. The rear wheel fit with plenty of clearance and has room away from the seat tube at bottom out. I had to run my seat post a little higher than normal and push my seat all the way forward on the rails. Other than that everything else fit perfectly. The BB height is 340mm, head angle about 62.5 degrees, the wheelbase about 1260mm. My first impression is that it makes all bumps feel smaller. The shorter shock cut off the top of my stroke so it feels less supple than riding my normal set up. Turning is not too bad, but feels kind of 2 dimensional. If you get late into a turn you really need to commit or you get stood up. It definitely is not as nimble with the big wheels, but when you ride smooth it's great. Then switching back to the 27.5 the front wheel seemed small after riding this thing! For a bike that I was able to build into another wheel size with all stock parts (aside from the linkage I've been using all year) it feels pretty good. I'm not sure better or worse yet, but it certainly has its sections and I'm excited to ride it more. I think there is huge potential for a downhill bike designed from the ground up around 29" wheels. It could be a great tool for certain tracks, maybe more than you would think.

A photo posted by nekomulally (@nekomulally) on



Here's what Neko thought of his one-off Gambler: "My first impression is that it makes all bumps feel smaller. The shorter shock cut off the top of my stroke so it feels less supple than riding my normal set up. Turning is not too bad, but feels kind of 2 dimensional. If you get late into a turn you really need to commit or you get stood up. It definitely is not as nimble with the big wheels, but when you ride smooth it's great. Then switching back to the 27.5 the front wheel seemed small after riding this thing!

"For a bike that I was able to build into another wheel size with all stock parts (aside from the linkage I've been using all year) it feels pretty good. I'm not sure better or worse yet, but it certainly has its sections and I'm excited to ride it more. I think there is huge potential for a downhill bike designed from the ground up around 29" wheels. It could be a great tool for certain tracks, maybe more than you would think."

I can't imagine many other world class riders making social media posts like Neko does, which is a shame. Sure, I don't think that a lot of top racers and riders are experimenting like Mulally seems to love doing, and that's fine, but any sort of insight beyond blatant sponsor plugs is always greatly appreciated. Neko's transparent and insightful Instagram posts, while not the norm (even on his own feed) show how a racer with tens of thousands of fans should be using social media.


115 Comments

  • + 108
 Very cool! Would definitely love to see more racers doing more than just nonstop sponsor plugs. That's one of the things I love about following Josh Bryceland on social media.
  • + 15
 The Rat on 29er downhill bike would be sick.
  • + 8
 I feel like bringing back the 29" DH bike with the same new tech from the new-gen long travel 29ers (S157+ especially) would turn the techy downhill races crazy fast. If I'm correct, most of the older 29" Dh bikes were pulled for concerns with stiffness, but there are 160-180 29" bikes out there with full carbon and sub 440 chain stays and standard (420-440-460) reach across sizings. And the wheels get better by the day. My experience is frightening levels of speed and a monster sled through tech with that same recipe.
  • + 3
 @siderealwall2: i would guess none of the early 29r dh bikes moved forward due to lack of reliable rubber.
  • + 14
 50/01 TV on Youtube is the shit
  • + 2
 @dancingwhale: I'm pretty sure they sponsor local riders on the condition that they film all the mucking about they do!
  • + 8
 Shouldn't we be getting a Bryceland interview by now?
  • + 60
 wish I had the balls/funds/sponsorship to mill away my fork arch for the sake of a sick experiment
  • - 60
flag WAKIdesigns (Oct 31, 2016 at 11:46) (Below Threshold)
 It's called experimenting with new sht whilst doing your best to not compromise the crucial aspects of performance... like tyre colume, casing type, pattern and compound. He could easily fit some 29" Nobby Nic in there but he was smarter than that. Unlike "Early 650B adopters" - arguably the single most stupid bunch of geeky MTB dorks to ever exist. They were mitigating the problem of tyre clearance by running tyres like 1.95" or thinner. Remember that frames and forks did not have as generous clearances as the ones of today. As if 650B tyres around 2005-2009 were not useless pieces of crap in the first place, turning a relatively legit 26" bike into a traction-less junk with executive power to throw you over the bars at the first bottom out. All that, in order to experience all the difference in the world that 584mm rim diameter provides over 559mm...

So kudos to Neko for having the brain in the right place and sharing it's creations with us. Hopefully we'll see 29" DH bikes in the close future. All hail the original chainless massacre!
  • + 67
 @WAKIdesigns: you completely and utterly missed the original point - commenting on how the majority of this site's users would not feel comfortable permanently altering an expensive piece of kit like a fox 40.
  • + 11
 When boost was introduced I had a big debate aboot 150 allready existing.. Jokeingly Said riders will just jam a 150 in a boost frame....
Called it!! Smile
  • + 1
 @nojzilla: Yeah, to be fair I put together my most recent bike with spare parts, but honestly you could really screw things up, and end up with an expensive parts shit heap.
  • + 5
 @Kramz: got three of them allready Smile
  • + 3
 @bikeaddict123: lowers are not actually that expensive from Fox though if you were serious about experimenting.
  • + 5
 I did it with a grinder (poorly) to clear cyclocross tyres in a Giant Iguana with a Manitou 80 mm entry level fork. Later did small jumps with 26 inch tyres back on. You don't' always need balls sometimes stupidity can be the source for experimentation.
  • + 50
 Awesome.. He knocked me out of the Open round of 16 at the Cane Creek/Oskar Blues Dual Slalom on the yellow Genius bike. Although I am sure he could have smoked me on a tricycle.
  • + 6
 Pffftt...I could have knocked ya out bud. For old times sake. ;D
  • + 4
 @bizutch: Whatever. Haha!
  • + 3
 @bman33: Yeah, probably not. Your roots are slalom.
  • + 6
 @bizutch: BMX was the roots, slalom sort falls in naturally. Not enough slalom racing going on right now
  • + 36
 sounds like neko just loves bikes. franken more!
  • + 12
 What I'd like to see is more people trying mixed 29" front, 27.5" rear combinations. I really think this holds huge potential for enduro / dh bikes on really steep / rough terrain, but I have not heard of too many people trying that. I know Foes makes a stock bike like that but it would be interesting to hear how to do it right on a normal stock 27.5" or 29" wheeled bike.
  • + 8
 Liteville does that on ther stock bikes.
  • + 2
 I turned a NP Mega 26er into a 76er (well...7.56er) and it seems to roll a little better and jump a little worse. I'm sticking with it for now. Nothing dramatic but not bad. It helped to have an X fusion fork that could fit either wheelsize.
  • + 1
 zink was running 26/27 at rampage wasn't he? know he said he runs his bikes like that in post recently
  • + 3
 I've been running a 29 front/27.5 rear on my 140mm travel Merida since March and it works very well. All the rollover of a 9er and manoeuvrability of a 27.5. Will definitely be keeping a similar setup if I change to a different bike in the future.
  • + 1
 I actually think this is the future of what Neko was getting at. keep the rear wheel small to solve frame geo problems that appear with putting a 29 back there, go 29" out front for the rollover benefits. Heck, I actually miss the feel of my Big Hit quite a bit. I also have a buddy who's done this to his Process & another bike that I don't remember ATM, took it to AF & had no issues.

Moto has had 2 different wheelsizes for years.
  • + 1
 @tremeer023: I have the same bike, what fork do you use ? A 140mm?
  • + 1
 I've been running 26+ front and 27.5 rear. Doesn't really affect the HA. Same benefits of added monster truckness up front, but keeps the bike nimble with the 27.5 on back
  • + 1
 @DrSam: yes, a 140mm Rockshox Yari 29er. It's got a 51mm offset which can make it a bit flip-floppy at low speed but you don't notice it once you get moving so it's not a problem.
  • + 9
 The issue for the 29" downhill bike is likely going to be that many downhill bike owners don't race their bikes. I can see some of the benefits of the 29er in terms of rollover and smoothness as well as how fast they roll but I don't see many people wanting to ride a 29er as a park bike, which is what many people use their DH bikes for. If it ever does take off it will likely be a true specialty race bike.
  • - 5
flag jackalope (Oct 31, 2016 at 19:31) (Below Threshold)
 I think the problem with a 29er DH bike is the big wheels are way to stiff, especially in hard corners. A shame, because I'm pretty sure a legit 29er DH tire wouldn't weigh more than a tractor tire.
  • + 2
 @jackalope: You'd have more space for PBR stickers.
  • + 9
 @jackalope: surely you mean the opposite and the bigger wheel is less 'stiff'?
  • + 3
 @jackalope: Hehehehe, I think some people are a bit slow today - Racer951?
  • + 2
 @headshot: Yep! I have not been on Ridemoney for a while and forgot that some people out there have a sense of humour!
  • - 1
 Damn...My original comment hasn't been downvoted to invisibility status? I am disappoint PB
  • + 1
 @jackalope: @headshot We could have an entire conversation on here, it would get downvoted and yet we would still be the mature ones.

By mature, I mean sarcastic.
  • + 11
 "That won't work" "I wonder I can can do that?"
The latter mindset moves the world forward. Love it.
  • + 8
 With all of the success EWS pros have had on 29ers, and considering how gnarly some of those stages are, I can't help but think we'll see a 29 inch production downhill bike.

Isn't pro downhiller Luke Strobel racing a 29er?
  • + 2
 Luke Strobel is racing the wreckoning that is a 29er enduro with 170mm travel
  • + 9
 Session 29... Whistler creep shots cant all be wrong
  • - 6
flag nismo325 (Oct 31, 2016 at 14:31) (Below Threshold)
 luke also doesn't race WC DH so not really useful info. Dunno why his name gets brought up every time someone uses "DH" and "29" in the same article. He won like one DH race (not WC) on a pretty tame track and all the sudden everyone on a 29 "enduro" bike thinks they can slay DH tracks lol I Remember Mitch R trying to run 29 at a few WC races couple years back with poor results.
  • + 4
 i have a Demo 26 inch and got the 27.5 V10. the V10 is much better in everything specialy because the bigger wheel. but when I ride steep drops the rear tires hit my shorts more often than in the 26 inch Demo and I am 1,86 with long legs. I dont like the idea of a 29 inch DH bike looks to much. it can work good on DH tracks like Sea Other where you dont have steep drops but in real Downhill looks to big in my opinion.
  • - 10
flag d-man (Oct 31, 2016 at 16:53) (Below Threshold)
 If the tire is hitting you in the ass its because you have poor riding position or poorly set up suspension. Not because of wheel size
  • + 8
 @d-man: NO - you are wrong .
  • + 2
 @d-man: kind of agree, with. 62.5 head angle, long wheelbase and lower than axle centreline bb height you wouldnt need to be in that position often if at all
  • + 3
 @d-man: sorry man but if I won more than 30 dh races in Brazil including nationals my riding position can not be that bad. my V10 is XL long wheelbase and 63.5 HA.
maybe when I say steep you think one thing diferent from what I say steep. I say in realy steep drops.
  • - 2
 @mudmandhbrazil: winning races doesn't mean you have correct position. It means you were faster than others that day.
If you're as fast as Peaty you can blame the bike.
  • + 1
 @d-man: man I don't ride well I admit. My riding style is ugly and poor. but it's just a question of space and sizes. imagine a rider with 1,65 meters riding a Downhill 29 bike. do you think that when he do a slow speed steep drop he will not hit the shorts in the rear tire? or do you thing he will be in atack position while dropping the steep stuff? 29 on DH are like Plus tires in Enduro. some people love it but no real racer or even average racers don't use them.
  • + 1
 @mudmandhbrazil: have you raced a 29r dh bike? Probably not so you are making statements based on no experience. There has been no real 29dh tires or properly designed bikes yet so yes no racers have moved to them. It's only a matter of time before it happens.
  • + 1
 @d-man: if 29ers come to real dh world will be very nice. I love 29ers.
  • + 8
 29er dh bike...didnt khs make 1
  • + 1
 Yeah they did, and Trek has been experimenting with it as well... Curious to see when we start to see them on WC tracks, should add another bit of setup that the riders have to decide on. I love to see bikes evolving, whether or not it's in the direction I like hahaha
  • + 5
 nice bikes they look like they were meant to be like that tbh they should start a custom line where the team riders get build up a bike and then have a limited run of them
  • + 6
 I cant wait for some one to make a 29" downhill bike! love the feel of 29ers
  • + 3
 Intense and I believe Specialized did at one point, then both bagged it.
  • + 5
 @neimbc: Trek has a mule out there
  • - 1
 Maybe they binned them because they handled like a steamboat? If 29er Dh bikes had ANY potential at all they'd have put the marketing division on it to convince us that we are all missing out riding those small 27.5 wheels.
  • + 2
 @bonkywonky: so a lot of peoples said about 29er in ews... and then a lot of 29er win in ews!!!!
  • + 2
 @barbasma: .....on bikes with 5 cm less suspension and way lighter wheels and tyres.
  • + 3
 I remember watching Neko race DH and DS when he was younger at the local tracks. His dad was always rolling out some cool bikes with wild setups no one was thinking of. One that sticks out was a 24" BMX cruiser with a Fox TALAS fork and 20mm axle. Bike was sick, Neko's riding was sicker!

Trying new setups is one of my favorite pass-times. If you need me, I'll be in the garage.
  • + 2
 I know its heretical, but I have felt that DH will move towards 29" wheels at some point. It won't be faster everywhere, but if a DH29er podiums at, say, fort bill, msa, or some other track that doesn't have tight turns, then I fear they will become a reality. I'm still on all 26" bikes and I'm 5'5", so its not like I want it to happen.
  • + 2
 Thinking outside the box is what the MTB world needs. I've been thinking of getting a Stumpjumper 27.5+ and putting regular 27.5 tires on it. I like the geo of the 6fattie better than the normal 27.5 bike (longer chainstays and wheelbase). Neko has done it. Brendan Fairclough has done it. I think I'm going for it.
  • + 6
 This is flippin brilliant. Why am I not following Neko?!
  • - 27
flag WAKIdesigns (Oct 31, 2016 at 12:00) (Below Threshold)
 Now all he needs to do is to build a DH hardtail. He'd be winning world cups considering how well he's doing without riding one in the winter.
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: It sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays.
  • + 4
 Ask me how you can save thousands on your next bike!*







*you would have to buy a BMX bike
  • + 1
 Met him at the world masters at sunpeaks. Dude was fast on that bike, He had issues with tires and broke a rear chainstay. Grabbed a few wood screws a sheetmetal bandaid and raced it!
  • + 5
 aw shit 29 just got real on dh Frown
  • + 1
 I actually did an experiment like Neko and put a 29er rock shock recon gold and 29er tire on a size small Fiji Tahoe and shredded on that for a little while. It rolled over everything and the back wheel being smaller made the back end feel so light. It cornered extremely well, but it was an extremely bumpy ride. If I were to do it again, I would do it on a dual suspension.

Also, I took a 98 mongoose and took a nordic ski and put it on the front and put a snowboard on the back. The nordic ski broke in the first test, and I put a kid's downhill ski on the front. I then took it to my local ski mountain and took it down until the local ski mountain until they told me it wasn't allowed. It was really fast (it didn't have a break) and it shredded so hard! I would commit to a turn and it would just go, to the point where I wouldn't be able to disengage the turn and would end up facing up the mountain questioning what just happened. I then blew out the shock trying to bunny hope it at the local sledding hill and currently have a hardtail on it the set up.

Needless to say, there should definitely should be more publications on frankein-bike's, they can be extremely interesting and can lead to some pretty sick developments.
  • + 1
 Judging by the direction the UCI tracks have taken in the past 3 years, I'm sure they can introduce straighter, less technical courses with more small rocks on them so companies can sell 29er DH bikes.
  • + 1
 Mixed matched wheels. ...been doing it on random bikes dating back to around 1997ish... works great with the right stuff. Motocross have doing it full scale for a good long time.
  • + 0
 I've been wanting a full 8" travel 29er for years. As long as the wheels are built well, it would be like an unstoppable freight train coming down the hill. It would be so fast and so smooth.
  • + 3
 There's always a compromise somewhere, and it would probably turn poorly, or at least have exactly the trait Neko mentioned that you're either stuck in on rails or stood up without an easy way to get it onto the shoulder knobs of the tire.
  • + 2
 I like seeing creativity. I'm sure we all have it in us, but it's nice to see it shared out like this.
  • + 2
 Just knocked this up the other night with parts I had lying around the garage...Nice.
  • + 3
 27.5 aint dead!!!
  • + 1
 Post someone's feed and then quote the contents straight under it, great journalism
  • + 1
 I think Fox can gather free real world statistics by making a batch of special edition 40s with taller arch.
  • + 1
 Luke Strobel was crazy fast at american nationals with evil wreckoning, so why not 29ers for DH..
  • + 2
 Have they just stolen this word for word from Dirt or vise versa?
  • + 1
 @poah must have his full Trump on for this article.
  • + 1
 ???????????
  • + 2
 Déjà vue
  • + 0
 Okay, going home to eat my 26" wheels!

Seriously, looking forward to some 29er's on the Wc circuit next season
  • + 1
 Trek is testing a 29er session... atherton ride it...
  • + 1
 I'll eat my shoes if ANY team will race a 29er at the WC next year.
  • + 1
 Congratulations Neko, you drilled it... for real!
  • + 1
 Who is he riding for next year? Pivot?
  • + 1
 I'd like to try 29 up front and 27.5 in the back.
  • - 1
 well looking at his results lately he maybe should focus more on training than building silly bikes...
  • + 3
 This is actually true. did he even race this season? lol
  • + 1
 Frank on hombre
  • + 0
 He trollin'
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