The term “dream build” gets thrown around a lot in mountain bike media these days. Expensive, custom bikes with all the swanky stuff attached to them are pleasing to the eye but are rarely in reach of the average biker’s bank account. But not all dreams need to be of ultra high-end carbon, titanium and Kashima. Some dreams are simply about a bike that feels good, rides good and is built to last forever.
For average biker Jacob Maddison, his dream build came in the form of a Knolly Warden 168 in the beautiful, limited-edition colour “Britannia Blue”. On his Warden frame, Jacob has equipped durable, no-nonsense Marzocchi Bomber CR shock and Z1 Coil fork. Descent-focused durability is reinforced by Race Face Atlas on his wheels, bar, stem and cranks. Atlas pedals provide a super sticky (and spikey) platform for a well-loved pair of Five Tens. An Aeffect R dropper post and Love Handle grips really round out the build for anyone rocking a mountain biking Dad bod.
We’ll let Jacob fill you in on the full story behind what he has termed the “Dad’s Dream Build,” complete with expressive doodles done by Jacob himself.
I biked a lot as a kid. Growing up in Vancouver, like a lot of kids I rode the shore on my dinky little hardtail, vainly trying my best to catch up to all my heroes in New World Disorder and The Collective films. Fast forward to my 20s, I wrenched on bikes while going to college to stay engaged with the MTB scene, but as life and career took me further from home, mountain biking fell away to a distant hobby.
Then came a global pandemic, a newborn baby and a total reprioritizing of my life. I realized how much I missed being out on Mt. Fromme (one of three prominent mountains on Vancouver’s North Shore). I decided to build a very simple bike—with no suspension and 29-inch plus tires—just to see if I would fall in love with it again. And boy, I did.
Navigating all the changes in my schedule and the complexity of parenting, I hit up some friends who worked at Mighty Riders bike shop here in Vancouver and managed to get a job wrenching on bikes again. I immediately started plotting my dream build; a bike that would blow the mind of my teenage self.
A simple philosophy is at this build's core — it has to be fun to ride and it has to last. I’ve realized that I’ll never be that fast and I’ll certainly never turn pro. I’ll never even keep up with my patient riding buddies. But I’ll definitely giggle down the trail the whole time and I’ll always finish the day with a grin from ear to ear.
I always dreamed of getting the same Marzocchi’s coil suspension that the freeride pros used. And now I have them with the Bomber Z1 Coil and Bomber CR shock. These forks always seemed out of my reach, and with all the modern damping and tech behind them now, they are the plush cushion of traction that I always wanted. Sprung for my sizeable weight, they feel supportive and supple, and with some rebound tuning, I found the perfect balance between playful and planted.
I strapped the Marzocchis to a Knolly Warden 168 frame in the limited-edition Britannia Blue.” This colour plays off the ocean blue and copper flakes of the old Britannia Beach Mine you drive past on the Sea to Sky Highway on the way to Squamish and Whistler. To slacken it further I decided to mullet the Warden and take advantage of the tight rear triangle while keeping the rollover abilities of the 29” wheel up front. Pairing the Bomber coil suspension with the progressive linkage of the Warden and it’s simply a dream to ride.
To really round the package out I chose Race Face Atlas components. These parts feel the most like what I wanted as a child; durable enough for all the North Shore shenanigans but with the added benefits of 20 years of development. Bulletproof, overbuilt, but comparatively light and with a lovely attention to detail. They all fit and work harmoniously and look fantastic. It’s the little things that really impress me; the interlocking stem faceplate, the wide pedals with deep spikes, the satisfying engagement of the freehub on the Vault hub, the perfect width and sweep of the Atlas 35 bar.
I transferred over a modest Shimano Deore drivetrain from my rigid bike for now. This custom Warden has absolutely blown me away with its ability to stick to the ground when I want to push, and spring into the air when I want to play.
My Dad dreams really have come true.
Jacob’s Dad Dream Build:
Atlas 35Stem, Wheels, Cranks, Pedals