The Smokestone Henderson fat bike is the brainchild of Graham Foot from Slam69 Cycles in Gloucester in the UK. I was invited to spend the weekend with Graham and find out about the history of the bike and to spend some time in the saddle.
Graham’s history in the bike industry goes way back to the early days of the ATB, where he raced, designed, built and sold his ATB frames to the up and coming UK market. The name Smokestone originated from one of Graham’s old best buddies who sadly passed away a week before one of his early ATB prototypes was made. Graham designed the bike in the UK, its then manufactured in Asia where it is then shipped back in a raw state meaning each frame can be coloured and built to the customer’s needs. After spending a few hours in the spacious shop where Graham and his wife Celia issue their magic at Slam69 HQ, time was getting close to get on this modern ATB.
Graham wheeled me out a large Smokestone Henderson with a stunning cyan coloured 6061 T6 Aluminium frame with the lightweight yet strong DT Swiss DT710 rims with matching powder blue spokes. The reliable Hope Pro 4 Fatsno hubs spun the front 150 x 15mm bolt through and the rear 177 x 12mm with the typical Hope ticking sound. Traction was in the capable hands of the Surly Nate 26 x 3.8 120 tpi which was run tubeless. Visually the Smokestone looked the part and with a vast array of colours available, there is really no excuse not to have this frame looking good.
The terrain I rode on was in UK forestry with a mixture of rooted singletrack, off piste, gravel, waterbeds and very tight man made trails. From the off, we were riding a singletrack ascent with exposed roots lining the trail. The 1 x 11 SLX 11 x 42t gearing made this ideal for putting the power down. It was pretty sudden that I knew this bike was very capable of climbing and with the light tubeless wheelset the acceleration felt extremely responsive compared to other bikes I’ve ridden.
On the descents the Smokestone Henderson had me grinning from ear to ear as I ripped through the tight singletrack that Graham took me on. The singletrack had quick twisty turns around the inviting trees and with the foliage in full bloom the view of the trail was limited which kept the adrenaline flowing. Now I’m usually not one for ripping it down on the limit but the Smokestone Henderson gave me the confidence to keep up with the former DH racer on his local trails. The 120mm Bluto helped matters and with the Crank Brothers Highline 125mm dropper, I was able to take on some super steep descents and made it to the ‘other side’ in everything intact.
Overall I was mightily impressed as I liked the way the bike made climbing feel at ease and it descended fantastically. The look has a good balance and the paint finish is to a high standard. The bike I tested cost £2450 and complete bikes start at £1650 with the frame available separately for £450. With a vast choice of build selections available, the Smokestone Henderson will make any potential rider more than happy.
(Complete Bike Prices are from 2017)
If you’re after a rigid set up then Graham will set you up with a pair of Salsa forks which are ideal for cost riding or bikepacking. If you’re after something with more bounce then the Bluto or Wren are available. When it comes to wheel size, the Henderson is offering you real versatility in one bike. They offer 29 plus and 27.5 plus wheels built with hubs to fit.
So if you’re in need of your first fat bike or if you’re after another one for the stable, give the Smokestone Henderson a thought.
About summittoppler Summittoppler, based on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, UK. With beach riding and mountains on my doorstep you could say I live in the perfect place for fat biking.