Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Going backward to ride forwards – the Mason Bokeh

Posted by Matt | February 2, 2017 | 18 comments so far

Mason Bokeh 700c
This bike has a 71° head angle (ish) and can take tyres up to 2.0 inch. Does that sound like a ’90s mountain bike to you?

I’ve had my eye on this concept for a while; if you want to slot this into some kind of niche, we’re talking adventure bikes but I prefer to think of it as a bike-that-can-do-lots-of-things.

Why would I want something like this? Well, the adventure bike concept is to take a road bike and make it more rugged. Not necessarily racy and rugged – that would be cyclocross – but rugged enough to cope with broken roads and potholes with a high degree of comfort, and rugged enough to actually go off-road as well.

Back in the ’90s, when mountain bikes were starting to take off, they too were rugged versions of regular bikes. The racing scene was all about XC and every jey-boy wanted an efficient bike that could take a beating over what today would be very tame trails. The idea was to get off the tarmac and explore the woods. Over time, that exploration got wilder and more extreme, but for a lot of people, riding XC trails away from traffic remains an end in itself.

Meanwhile, at the simplest level road bikes have split between racy and endurance objectives. The idea of adventure bikes is to extend the endurance part to create bikes that can operate in a much wider range of conditions. People have realised that wider tyres on the road increase comfort and generate more grip without making the bike much slower. I’ve put this to the test running 28mm tyres on my road bike all last year and loving the feel.

Mason Bokeh 650b

So here we are. Take those ideas. Add a few more an you have the Mason Bokeh. It has geometry that’s built around stability and comfort, so with regular tyres would work extremely well as a endurance oriented road bike. But it has disc brakes and enormous tyre clearances as it doesn’t need to worry about accommodating rim brakes – with 700c wheels it comes as standard with 35mm GravelKing tyres meaning it will happily deal with XC trails without concern. Where it gets really interesting is if you switch the wheelset to a 650b setup, because then you can fit 2.0 tyres and ride off-road more seriously. Not gnarly, but certainly you could spend the majority of your ride away from traffic without concern as it’s more like a cross country 29er.

This is why I’m interested. Every year, through the long dark months of December, January, February and sometimes further, commuting on the road, for me, is not that pleasant. Between Dorking and Redhill are some pretty narrow, pretty dark country lanes with rough surfaces for the unwary. Mornings are fine, but coming back at night is quite a challenge, particularly with unsophisticated drivers in the mix. Sometimes it’s icy, always greasy, sometimes it’s very wet indeed and half the time it’s hard to see where I’m going. So my commuting efforts are naturally compromised.

Mason Bokeh in the woods

Imagine if, when conditions are bad, or dark, or I just fancy it, I could just use the North Downs Way, which I normally resort to doing on my mountain bike? It’s muddy and wet in places, but it’s safer than dark roads in winter. The problem is that on the mountain bike it’s much slower commuting and pretty hard work – certainly not sustainable over more than a couple of days a week. If I had the Mason Bokeh, when the roads were fine I could use them. When conditions were against me, I could just use the trails – they’re not gnarly in any way and with careful route selection piecing sections of tarmac and trail together I reckon I could maintain a decent enough pace. More importantly, it would be fun.

So, I’m going to be saving my pennies. I have a vision for my bike collection, being: Urban bike; Carbon Road bike, Hardtail MTB, Slack Full-sus MTB. That covers everything from pub, to utility, to fitness, to entertainment. But what’s missing is a fast, efficient commuter that can deal with everything – on-road, off-road, trail, tarmac – without making life boring.

The Mason Bokeh has a bolt-through front fork, internal routing for the cables (including the hydraulic hoses), wide rims with a tubeless ready wheelset, rack mounts, mudguard mounts, is available as a 1x setup, has huge mud clearance and a beautiful Dedacciai frame. It ticks every box for proven, quality modern bike thinking and design.

I reckon the Mason Bokeh would be awesome.

Mason Bokeh on the trails


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 18 comments on ‘Going backward to ride forwards – the Mason Bokeh’

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  1. TurnerGuy says:

    Yep, I have the titanium Kinesis Tripster ATR, which was designed by the same guy. it is excellent fun offroad. I have 40cc WTB Nanos (highly recommended) on it. I also have the slightly flared Salsa Cowbell bars which are much better offroad.

    One thing with these bikes is that they are designed for a shorter stem to offset the slack HA, so don’t go with your normal road bike measurements as a longer (100-110) stem would make it steer slower.

    But with my tripster if I had the correct 70mm stem then I would have a bigger frame and not enough standover for offroad. Luckily the 40cc tyres offset the 100mm stem, and it ends up feeling like the perfect bike.

    Also with the tripster (as this was his previous design) he jumped from 54 to 57 frames in the range initially and then later brought in a 55.5. However the ST and HA angles change and so the reach/stack don’t scale up as you would expect, in fact the bigger frame would give me less reach !

    So basically I am saying that if you are thinking of one then it really is worth finding somewhere to try the sizes out, as I nearly made a mistake which I only corrected with the big tyres.

    Also look at PDW City fenders as they will let you run 40c tyres and be somewhat dry in the winter.

    • Matt says:

      That’s quite interesting Andrew, I noticed the geometry changes on the Bokeh as the sizes grow. I would very much like to try the bike for sure but have also seen the Tripster as being worth looking at.

      Ho hum, it’s not imminent but I just felt there’s a definite cross-over to bikes many of us cut our teeth (so to speak).

  2. Batbling says:

    I’d love a Bokeh. I’ve done all sorts of crazy sh1t on my CdF (more still to come) and I love the whole adventure niche. It’s 50% old skool mtb and 50% I-really-shouldn’t-be-riding-this-trail-on-this-bike ecstasy. Saying that if you get one before me I’ll cry !

  3. Brian davey says:

    Love my tripster,also Whyte gisburn = great ride off-road.

  4. Tony says:

    Come on Matt there is more potential than
    “I have a vision for my bike collection, being: Urban bike; Carbon Road bike, Hardtail MTB, Slack Full-sus MTB”

    Winter mud guards road bike, folder, old MTB pub bike, best summer use road bike, short travel Full-sus MTB, singlespeed MTB…….

    Hmmm this might explain the bike collection issues I have!

  5. Kev says:

    Funny you should post on this topic as a Spesh Diverge is about to land at GM towers 🙂

  6. Colbeano says:

    Looks awesome and great fun. I kinda miss my Whyte Saxon Cross, which was a hoot off road and even in my hands, very quick on bridleways.

    I like your thinking – A Make It Up As You Go Along bike, which is what my Stooge will become next Summer. Road cassette, big ring, flared drop bars and monster tyres!

    Anyone making 2.8 slicks in 650B these days??

  7. Tony says:

    Nice on GM. Looks like an interesting bike.

    Like a road bike only slower …. sorry couldn’t resist!

  8. MTB says:

    I got a Bokeh earlier this year and think it’s fantastic… handles brilliantly off-road and rolls effortlessly on road, even with the 35mm tyres I have on now. Like you say, in some respects it’s going full circle back to MTB roots and it does remind me of my Dad’s old 1990’s Trek MTB which I used to love to borrow back in the day.

    I took it on the inaugural #crossdurowales17 race earlier this month:

    300km in 2 days from N to S Wales, half the time spent off-road – and it was fantastic. Haven’t found a fault yet. Next stop Greece on the #TCRNo5…

  9. Related: Kinesis Tripster AT launched | 2017, News | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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