BY Vincent Edwards
February 12, 2015, 4:08pm
I made the switch to the Honey Badger because the design and geometry looked perfect for my style of riding, and because the belt drive was a very appealing concept. I’m coming from a more XC oriented steel 29er made with Tange Prestige tubes. Compared to my previous frame, the Spot is noticeably stiffer and more precise. The geometry really is ‘Spot On’. I find it’s a much more capable descender, and easier to manual over log crossings, etc. The bike is just more fun to ride! The advantages of the shorter chainstays and slacker head angle far outweigh the slight negatives (rear end compliance and stability while climbing).
The weight seems very reasonable for a bike that’s this stiff and precise- about 1/2lb more than my previous bike. That slight extra weight adds up to a bike that feels firmer under pedaling (important for a single speed!) and goes exactly where you point it, even on rough technical descents. I see this bike as falling in between your typical XC hardtail, and your heavy, all mountain bikes like the ROS9 and Nimble Nine, or the Singular Buzzard. It’s got a good bit more finesse than those bikes. It’s a trail hardtail, not an all mountain hardtail- Why aren’t there more bike like this??
The only downside I can see is that the short chainstays do make for a somewhat less compliant ride compared to my previous frame. Spot has done their due diligence to engineer some vertical flex into the rear end, and I do think it helps take the edge off. It’s just not as smooth as a bike with 450mm chainstays and (likely) thinner tubes. It’s still a steel frame, and as such it’s a nice ride. I’m also only 150lbs, and I’m riding the large frame. My guess is Spot has to design the bike to work well and have adequate stiffness for riders up to 250lbs… and the belt drive demands a stiffer frame to keep it in alignment.
The belt drive has been fantastic so far. I’m riding in winter, so there is plenty of water and sometimes light surface mud on the trails. It’s great to not have to worry about the drivetrain! It just works.
I’m using a 42-26 with a 113t belt- a slightly smaller pulley and sprocket than Spot recommends. I did this to keep the chainstays short (435mm tensioned), and to get a little more clearance for crossing logs, etc. So far it’s been flawless. I did some very steep fire road climbs today and power transfer was top notch. No skipping or other issues.
What would I change? I would like a slightly shorter seat tube on the large. Also, a nice integrated bash guard option to protect the belt would be great. Overall, this is the best bike I’ve owned and pretty darn close to perfect. Thanks Spot!
December 3, 2014, 10:56am
I’m a long time single-speeder. For the past nine years I’ve been riding custom built steel frames with sliders. Current bike is a 29er. I’m bikcurious and have wanted to try out the HB for a while now. I demoed the stock single-speed build on the Buffalo Creek trails in CO. These are trails I know really well and they were dry and loose for my demo. This is very well sorted bike. Bronson tires hooked up well on the kitty litter – they were fantastic in the loose corners. Avid brakes were quiet and had plenty of stopping power. The Manitou fork is not on the high-end of the spectrum but it worked great. Set up the air pressure about mid-range for my weight and then dialed in the rebound as I rode. Plush, active travel that had good support when I stood up to pedal. I never touched the lockout. The belt drive was quiet and did a fine job of making the wheels go around. The stock ratio is right in between my usual 32×20 or 32×19. The contact points pretty much disappeared when I started pedaling. The ride quality of the frame is very good for a steel frame. This was not burly terrain, but there were plenty of roots and rocky sections to test out the claim that the frame design provides extra compliance. I did notice that the bumps were muted compared to my bike (same tire volume and air pressure). I liked it. I also appreciated the slightly relaxed head angle. It is a good compromise for the XC oriented rider who likes to go downhill fast. The handling was neutral and the bike was easy to pop off of anything I pointed it over. With the stock build this is a great bike for anyone looking for a do it all belt drive single speed. I like the versatility of the frame. Easy to setup for fast XC riding or for burlier terrain. It would be a great ride with gears on it as well. What would this bike look like if I owned it? Tubeless. Longer travel fork with 34 or 35 mm stanchions and a bit more travel. Short stem/wide bar cockpit. Dropper post. 12mm TA sliders. I like the belt just fine, but from what I’ve seen it is hard to get a chainstay length under 17.5” with a useable gear ratio. I’d probably stick with a chain and fiddle with half-links to get that rear wheel as far forward as possible.
BY NameRIck Denney
June 26, 2014, 8:42pm
Let me start by saying, “Holymolysprocketoly”!!!! I’ve never ridden a fully rigid mountain bike, nor a singlespeed one for that matter. I will say this is by far the funnest bike I’ve ever ridden. My bros at the bike shop kept telling me alllllll about this bike, but I wasn’t convinced about how cool this bike was until I finnnalllly went out with a friend and rode it along with the Surly Karate Monkey. I started on the Honey Badger and it was pretty cool. Thennnn I rode the Karate Monkey for about 5 minutes and could not wait to get back on the Honey Badger. The primary thing that impressed me was that the HB soaks up the square edge rocks almost as if it’s a full suspension. I didn’t know this untillllll I rode the KM, which just pummeled my back and legs. I am soooooo impressed with the Badger that I have taken my Easton EC70 wheels and EC70 bars off of my full suspension Scott Spark and put them on the Badger. I’m really loving the technique required to ride a SS fast and honestly don’t wanna ride the Spark for a lonnng while, if ever again. Oh, and did I mention the belt drive? Quiet and buttery smooth is all I’ll say. Overal rating: Flawless, Super fun, Snappy, Pure Dopeness. Rick Denney, Bicycles Outback Racing
March 29, 2014, 3:33pm
Before I bought the bike, I had sent an e-mail to Spot asking about the fork. The response time was quick. Not only did Adam answer my questions, he gave me more information than I actually asked for. He was very helpful in sealing my decision to go with Spot.
Took my first ride on my new Honey Badger today and let me tell you it is spot on (pun intended). My only complaint is the tires. The WTB Bronsons grip great until you get really aggressive in the turns and then they lose traction. No problem though as I planned on converting over to tubeless anyways. Maybe Spot can pic a better tubeless ready tire.
As far as the frame goes it handles great and is fast. I don’t know if I can really add anything to any of the other reviews of it. When looking at some other bikes in the same (actually a little lower) price range the features of the frame and little touches are what sold me. The tapered head tube and how seat stay separated to allow the belt were the two big ones.
If you are looking for a factory built SS, this one has it all. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with this bike.
BY Alex Molick
December 9, 2013, 6:13pm
The Spot Brand Honey Badger 29er hardtail is unlike any 29er hardtail I’ve ever ridden. Its custom-drawn Japanese tubeset is tough as nails and more compliant than that of any of the other steel hardtails I’ve ridden in the past. The forming of the tubes on the back end becomes very self-evident when cornering in the saddle, and is noticeable when out of the saddle as well.
My foremost concern prior to riding the bike was its geometry. When riding hardtail and rigid 29ers in the past, single-speed and geared, I’ve always had a bias toward 72° head-angle, and a 73° seat-tube-angle – bottom line is I liked the steeper geometry up front. Despite my initial concerns and fears of the front end of the Badger being too slack, sitting at 69 ¼°, I quickly became quite fond of the handling characteristics the slackness provided. Riding the bike set up single speed with Gates Carbon Drive, by the time I came across any climbs steep enough to feel the extra couple of degrees difference, I was already out of the saddle – and appreciated the extra stability the geometry provided when spending time with more weight over the front end while sprinting. Point the bike down the trail, and the short chainstays, slack front end, and perfectly-positioned BB-height, and perfectly compliant back end instilled confidence when descending and railing turns.
Spot really hit the nail on the head with the Honey Badger, I outfitted this particular bike with 60mm stem cinched down to a RaceFace Atlas flat bar at 785mm wide. This setup is about as perfect as it gets for my style of riding. The handling of the bike was on-point and handled every obstacle the trail threw at us with ease – be it long climbs, chunky descents, or slipping and sliding through the snow on our late-November Colorado Trail exploration. I found I was setting personal-bests on many segments of the loop that I’ve ridden many times before – despite the differences of big wheels, little suspension, and single-speed.
The bike I’m on is the stock single-speed build kit offered by Spot minus a few personal tweaks (and some Enve wheels that I’m borrowing); having had rather unpleasant experiences with Manitou suspension in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fork performed very well. The fork tracked exceptionally well and the adjustments were easy to use – although knobs were cheap and plastic, I did find the compression adjustment to be very useful, offering several incremental steps in low-speed compression from full-open to locked out – perfectly suited to single-speed and hardtail duty.
In the end, I am extremely pleased with the Honey Badger and give am pleased to give Spot an emphatic nod of approval on their hard work; I was so pleased, in fact, I brought them cookies. Well-done, good sirs, your creation is truly quite bitchin’ and I’m eagerly awaiting the snow to GTFO so I can ride my damn bike!
BY Shane Kinkennon
September 11, 2013, 10:48am
I just bought the Honey Badger SS a couple of weeks ago. And in true honey badger form, I no longer give a s*^t. I love it. It’s my first-ever SS. And I’m hooked.
First of all, the marketing claims about the compliant rear triangle are spot on (so to speak). I have another high-mid level steel hardtail 29er that I adore. I *thought* that rear triangle was compliant … until I got on the Spot. These “animal leg” stays really do do their thing. This bike absorbs garden-variety trail chatter like a titanium soft tail. Wow.
This is also my first through-axle. I’d never put much thought into them, other than they’re annoying because they don’t fit my bike racks. But I had no idea the increased sense of stability that they provide on bombing descents. The Tower shock is very good, at least good enough for me. But the through axle combined with the reasonably slack head tube angle makes this thing feel super-stable on bombing descents. And it’s a pretty compact machine too, particularly in the Small size that I ride, which I sort of expected to be a little twitchy. It’s not.
Another thing, which others may know, but I didn’t. I’ve got short legs and a long torso. The Spot in size small is one of the few steel hardtails out there that affords me adequate standover height. I also like long cockpits, so I was worried that the Spot’s comparatively compact cockpit would be uncomfortable. But what I failed to realize (duh) is that I’d be climbing mostly while standing, and this geometry is PERFECT for that. As soon as I dropped the stem all the way, I’m getting full extension of my arms while being right over the front wheel. It enables me to keep the front wheel planted while experiencing very little spin out. I can seriously torque on that handlebar, giving me ample leverage to crank up hills. And it’s almost … comfortable?? I mean, it’s a SS, and I’m riding 9,000 feet and above. But the geometry is great for my quirky build for climbing, descending, and tooling around.
Finally, the Gates belt is pretty neat. The power transfer is almost startling. I now feel like when I get back on a bike with a chain, I’ll be wasting energy as the chain stretches and slaps.
Honey Badger ain’t cheap. It took me a year of debate with myself asking, “Is this thing worth the cost of entry???” I finally rode a demo, then pulled the trigger. In retrospect, I wish I’d done it sooner. Thanks, Spot (and Golden Bike Shop). Well done.
September 11, 2013, 10:47am
I have been riding for about 15yrs and have about 2 months on this bike. I am xc rider with a trail rider mentality. I like descending and technical riding but in reality mostly ride xc type terrain. My favorite bike to date and not just because it is my newest. The bike hit the sweet spot regarding geometry to terrain and riding style. A very confident descending bike that is also great on twisties and very little give up on climbing efficiency. Couldn’t be happier.
July 18, 2013, 10:59am
Whoa! In a word, that is how I would describe this bike. I’ve ridden many 29er and 26” single speeds over the years and I’ve never ridden one that feels as connected to the earth as the Honey Badger. The Honey Badger grips the climbs and rips the descents! When I ride up to an intimidating rocky section I just think to myself, “Honey Badger don’t care!” and whether I’m going up or down the bike rolls over and through the technical sections with smooth precision. The front end is stiff and tracks super well, which is key since you are out of the saddle torturing the frame a lot more when you are on a SS. The rear end is every bit of the 82% more compliant. It feels like there is an inch or two of suspension back there, especially on the clattery bumps. There is something exceeding satisfying about passing full suspension rigs on descents when you a riding a hard-tail SS. Frame buildup and belt tension was a breeze. There weren’t any annoying little things like rough threads on water bottle bolts, or cable housing mounts that can only use itty bitty zip ties. The sliding dropout stays put even on the stoutest climbs. Spot has really done their homework and passed the test with the Honey Badger. It’s everything a SS should be: simple, fast, bombproof, and fun. Whoa!
BY Mitch Westall
July 17, 2013, 10:37am
I don’t get the name, the Honey Badger. A badger is a slow agile animal. I get how the bike is agile. But it is not slow, far from it. I think it should be renamed to the Spot Screamer. I’ve raced the Honey Badger three times now, coming from the Spot Rocker. I was really skeptical that they could build a bike better than the Rocker. They did. Sundays RME race in Breckenridge, the B-32, proved it to me. Yes, the Honey Badger can climb, so can just about any bike out there, climbing is a result of a light bike and good training. But descending, for me, has never been my strength. But Sundays race with the Badger was different. The last final climb, I look over and see below and to the right the back bowl of Keystone. We are up high. Then we start the huge single track descent. I roll up on a guy, who I later discover is local, and we kill the descent, dropping off keystone mountain. I dropped off that mountain like I stole that bike and the police were chasing me, on a single speed hard tail. Passing a ton of other racers. After that descent I was thinking “yeah, that was fun.” I don’t think it was my ability. I think it was my ability with the equipment under my legs. That bike screamed all the way down that steep winding single track. Yeah the belt drive helped, yeah the Stans wheels helped, but really dropping a ride like that and passing all those other good racers. It was the bike, it adsorbed the bumps and railed the line. This bike has made me a better mountain bike rider and after two decades of racing, that is saying a lot.
BY Scott Schaefer
July 15, 2013, 9:11pm
I was lucky enough to get one of the early Honey Badger SS frames in early May and built it up with my dream (at least what I could afford) build. I could go into the parts details, but I would rather discuss how well this frame performs. I have been riding SS 29ers since 2007, with this being the third. I started with a Raleigh XXIX followed by a Niner SIR9.I loved both of those frames and logged many miles with many smiles over the years. I had been toying with the idea of purchasing a Spot Rocker when I heard the talk of the Honey Badger. I had to wait a bit for the Honey Badger frame as the first delivery date got pushed back, but put in my order and continued riding my SIR.
By the time I received my Honey Badger, all the parts were waiting, including the wheel build set up tubeless. I spent the evening and the next morning piecing it all together. The guys at Spot have been really great helping me to learn about the ins and outs of the Gates system. I have been absolutely blown away by the ride of the Honey Badger. It has a very stiff front end and bottom bracket with a very vertically compliant back end that takes it little bit more of the edge off the hits than even a good steel frame. The handling is quick and nimble through the tight stuff and very stable at speed. The slider system looks great and is easy to dial in your belt tension. I also like the subtle, no nonsense look of the Honey Badger. I couldn’t be happier with my dream bike.