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Measure Your Mullet

More MTB Mullets – Comparing Travel, Headtube, Trail & Flop

An interesting question come across my email wondering about MTB Mullet setup. In particular headtube angles and performance. How did the headtube angle compare between the Yeti SB165 in a 27.5″ stock setup with a 180mm fork compared to the Mullet 29″ 170mm concept?

What started as a quick email reply of concept turned into a more thorough review and I thought with more questions on MTB mullets these days we could put it up on a post for everyone.

So, the disclaimers. I couldn’t find Yeti’s published SB165 Mullet geo so I build a model to review. These models aren’t gospel truth on geo, but having been in this game for a lot of years some of the geo’s you’ve seen published I wouldn’t take for gospel either. Point is, these numbers will give you an idea of the concept I wouldn’t bet the farm on precision four points behind the decimal…

Next disclaimer. It could be a thesis trying to explain how these changes directly modify performance so we’re not going there today. We’ll have some basic concept and comparison of how one change directly modifies a whole bunch of the handling.

OK here we go.

MTB Mullets

So some riders will be familiar with the geo modifications from bikes like the SB130 or SB140 Lunch Ride setups. Headtube angle, trail, flop, reach and stack are all modified when you increase or decrease axle to crown distance.

With a mullet bike you’ve got other factors as well. Front wheel radius increases or rear wheel radius decreases depending on setup. When you’re working with a front wheel modification like the SB165 or SB140 your fork offset is also likely to change. All of these factors make it a bit complex (for me at least) to calculate the geometry and trig needed. So until BikeCo gets a grant to do it we use models to expedite this.

In this case the model utilizes the stock size M SB165 wheelbase, an estimated wheel radius (27.5/2), the published axle to crown of 569.1 as well as the 63.5 degree headtube angle. We build a model and then extend the axle and crown down and change the offset. From that point we rotate the model on the rear wheel axis until the front wheel is raised to the appropriate height.

Alright. So the quick answer to the question: “What would be the head angle of the SB165 in mullet config with 170mm 29″ fork?” It’s about a degree slacker coming in just under 62.5 degrees. That’s around 1.6% difference. So why does less than 2% difference and less than 1 degree headtube angle feel like such a notable change?

Lotta reasons. I decided to build out a couple more options into the model to help highlight where all the changes are.

Fork Travel & Wheel Size

Some considerations if you’re planning a mullet. ALWAYS check that at full compression the front wheel has clearance of the downtube. Remember that in full compression your tire will expand at the top (as the bottom of the tire is forcibly compressed). If at any time the tire can contact the frame you’re gonna get hurt. Period. You don’t compress a fork all the way going slow, in flats, where you can correct this. If it can hit the frame it WILL stop the front wheel turning you into a lawn dart. No good.

So given the 29er has a larger radius it is typical for both geometry considerations as well as keeping the wheel off the downtube to go to a smaller travel option like the 170mm 29er versus the 180mm 27.5 on the SB165 mullet.

Using Yeti’s geo charts we see the SB165 27.5″ 180mm is listed at 569.1mm axle to crown. The 170mm 29″ (from the SB150) is listed at 577.1mm.  The fork with less travel, albeit bigger wheel, is 8mm taller axle to crown. Then you add the radius difference between tire sizes, for this we’ve gone with a clean 27.5mm and 29″ diameter but they do vary a bit with tires, the less travel fork again adds 19mm.  (more Fox dimensions here)

Well this forces the front end up, pivoting on the rear wheel axis, increasing stack while decreasing reach.

Sidenote: The modification to these dimensions from the fork height needs to have the headtube angle compensated for, but the radius gain is the same no matter what.

Let’s look at numbers we can compare (again don’t use these as Jeopardy answers but you get the point…)

 

Medium Yeti SB165

 

I would say most sport level riders would feel the difference between the 180mm stock and 170mm mullet bike.

I’d also go on a limb and say I’d be hardpressed to feel a sub 2% change in a lot of things on my bike… So if it’s not the headtube change you’re feeling what is it?

I’ve gone down this rabbit hole previously comparing the 160 and 150mm fork options on the SB130 – but again I come back to trail and wheel flop. I think I would feel the 7.7% difference in trail but more notably the nearly 11% change in wheel flop during steering input.

Read more on Wheel Flop on Wikipedia Here

Also it’s important to remember in a world of 2.5mm stem spacers and 5mm stem lengths when you mullet that 27.5″ your hands are going up and back. It’s something to consider when dialing in your new setup if you find front wheel traction issues.

What Are You Changing?

So riders building their own 29 / 27.5″ mullet bikes really are working to define which aspects of the bike they want to modify.

Do you want the larger front wheel to monster truck over terrain with the smaller rear wheel to dive into turns more quickly? OK cool. But how do you want to get there?Do you need equal or near equal amounts of travel? (I do like to run out of talent before travel personally) Or do you prefer keeping the bike as close to factory as possible in geometry?

Does the additional wheel flop help the bigger wheel feel more lively into turns? I’m not sure. I haven’t done enough research to have an honest opinion here. I love my personal SB130LR but it does have more drift in it than the stock SB130…A rider who solely was looking for the improved front wheel roll over might look at the 150mm option. However they probably are going to have to setup a decent amount of volume spacers as well as compression control to keep the bike behaved with that much less front travel. Are they fast enough / skilled enough to control the differences in suspension setup fore and aft?

Frankly it comes down to understanding your riding style, terrain and what you need out of the bike. Good news? Well, kind of like the triangle math used in some of our geo calculations you only need a few data points to extrapolate the rest.Going Mullet?If I was in the market to build a mullet for myself I would sit down with BikeCo owner Joe Binatena and pick his brain on setup. Joe’s been working with Cody Kelley, Brian Lopes and Kevin Aiello for years racing at the highest level. He’s seen what works with his riders as well as other riders on the world level. There is a reason that top pro riders consult with him on setup.

And if you’re a BikeCo client you too have access to this expertise. Work with our expert staff to help define what you want and need out of your setup. We welcome questions and if the sales team doesn’t immediately have the answer they have constant access to Joe as well as our racers to help dial you in.

Already know what you’re looking for?

Well spec your dream bike using the BikeCo Custom Builders Here.

Mullet Options:

Yeti SB165

Yeti SB140
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Fork Formula (Stock Geo)
27.5″ 180mm
37.5mm Offset

29″ 170mm
44mm Offset
29″ 160mm
44mm Offset
29″ 150mm
44mm Offset
Headtube Angle  Model Driven 63.5 62.5
1.6% change

63
0.8% change

63.33
0.3% change
Wheelbase Model Driven 1230.2mm 1239.59mm
0.8% change
1235.8mm
0.5% change
1231.26mm
0.09% change
Reach Model Driven 460.1mm 449.6mm
2.3% change
454.4mm
1.2% change
457.7mm
0.5% change
Stack Model Driven 599.9mm 618.9mm
3.2% change
610.2mm
1.7% change
604mm
0.7% change
Trail Wheel Radius*Cos(HT <)-Offset / Sin(HT <) 132.2mm 142.4mm
7.7% change
138.4mm
4.7% change
136mm
2.9% change
Wheel Flop Trail*Sin(HT <)*Cos(HT<) 52.8mm 58.4mm
10.6% change
56mm
5.9% change
54.6mm
3.4% change

8 thoughts on “

  1. This was a really interesting article. I agonised over the same numbers for my 2018 SB6 before I converted to 29er front few months and the benefits were immediate for racing. I ended up dropping the travel to 150mm after doing calculations based on the 2019 SB6 170mm to maintain close to factory as possible but I do miss 10mm if front travel on big hits. I think the off season will lead to more testing using a 160mm fork to see how it effects the things you mention about.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Stoked that you’re trying different things and enjoying that Yeti SB6. That 160 may just be a super sweet spot for you, particularly if you’re in the chunk a lot.

  2. whats the difference between the “formula” and “27.5 180mm 37.5mm Offset” columns? formula looks like the stock yeti geo numbers. IIRC the sb165 comes stock as 27.5 180mm 37.5mm Offset.

    im looking to mullet my sb165 as well, probably with a 170mm fork

    1. Good Morning – thanks for the comment! Looking at the post the column headings were off. So yes, you’re correct that the Formula column was supposed to be the stock numbers for a 27.5″ setup. I bumped them over a column so it should read more logically. We’ve done a lot of 160mm 165 mullets as well as 170s. The real beauty is it only takes an air shaft to change that and play with the geo. Trail and Flop are the numbers that most modify through these configurations. If you need a fork, wheel, etc let our guys know!

      1. awesome. thanks for the quick reply! i was thinking about the 160mm fork but my OCD wont allow me to have 160mm front and 165mm in the rear. i wouldn’t be able to sleep. lol tho i do realize the 160mm fork preserves the stock geo more so than the 170mm. im still trying to price out everything to see if it’s worth the cost. my sb165 is size small, so im not even sure if the front wheel has clearance at full compression. im glad you mentioned it because i completely forgot about that aspect. im not crazy fast or skilled, but i think i want a 29er fork just to monster truck over all the things lol.

        1. I hear you on OCD – I’m playing that game with a CushCore XC in the rear and none in the front – I can basically run my rear tire PSI lower than the front but I just, just, can’t! So I run them equal right now. Along with the tire clearance on the small your headtube angle and therefor trail and flop are going to change more due to the shorter wheelbase being more effected by the larger front tire. Do a couple mockups – it’s a fun project. Let us know if we can get you any components to help along the way.

          1. when you mulleted your bike, did you run a longer stem? how did you orientation of headset spacers change? with the increased stack and a more rearward biased bike, i would assume you either lengthened your stem or moved the stem down(more spacers on top of the stem) to keep more weight on the front. is this correct? i run my sb165 with a 29er 170mm(44mm offset) fork and it def feels more rearward biased, manuals and wheelies are super easy.

          2. Excellent points all – yes anytime you rake a bike higher in the front you will effectively shorten the top tube / reach while raising the stack, and to a lesser extend the bottom bracket.. Depending on what factors one is looking for you might run less travel in the front of the bike to give the bike a more even, planted steering feel. However, if you’re enjoying the 170 29″ front end it’s not in the weeds by any stretch.