Simon Courtney’s Millimetre Bikes Study #1: Max Relax hardtail

Words and Images Simon Courtney

What is it? 

It’s a 29-inch extra-large-size handmade steel hardtail. A bit of a personal study in relaxed hardtail geometry and steel tube choices. It’s slack but tall in the front, long and low with a steep seat angle, and adjustable out the back. It’s a single-bottle ride kind of bike. You’re seeing it here in bare metal as I wanted to run it fully built up and give it a proper thrash test. Eventually, I’ll paint it before it gets too gnarly and rusts away. 

Why this bike? 

I’ve wanted to make a new bike frame for a while and the time was finally right to get my set up back together. It’s been good to pick up the torch again and relearn some old brazing and building skills, as well as update my fixtures and build process. 

My rides tend to be a good pedal up to a rip down, mainly in and around the Port Hills with some bike park sessions, or out in Craigieburn in summer. I don’t tend to do a lot of rolling, flat trails or multi day epics. I wanted a design that would go up comfortably, down confidently, and across averagely. From an aesthetic side, I’ve always loved the oversized tubes and smooth clean look of the classic Kleins and Cannondales. The fillet brazing, internal routing and the big tubes echo those influences and add to the strong and confident vibe I wanted from the bike.

This frame build has been a great project to get back on the tools and dust off the torch. I wasn’t aiming for perfection, just completion, so it’s far from perfect in my eyes, but I’m stoked to be riding this fun collection of tubes while I get to work on my next ones. 

Frame details 

Fully Internal cable routed tubes—stainless for the brake and shifter and brass for the dropper. 

Replaceable adjustable sliding dropouts. 

Brass silver brazed Millimetre Bikes head badge. 

Brass silver brazed sleeve at the seat clamp. 

Headtube: Paragon Machineworks, 150mm, 44mmID. 

Seat tube: Columbus 32.7mm outside diameter (OD) tapered and externally butted for 31.6mm dropper. 

Downtube: Velospec 44.5mm OD double butted tube. 

Top tube: Tange Prestige 38.1mm OD butted tube. 

Chain stays: Columbus MTB S triple bend. 

Seat stays: Columbus MTB 18mm OD. 

Bottom Bracket shell: Paragon Machineworks 73mm BSA. 

Dropouts: Allotech cast steel with alloy post mount thru-axle sliders. Custom brass faces silver brazed to clamp better and stop paint coming off and rust forming. 

Dimensions with 160mm 44mm offset fork 

HT angle: 62 degrees (63.6@ 25 per cent sag) 

HT length:150mm 

ST angle: 77 degrees (78.6@ 25 per cent sag) 

Reach: 505mm (523.7@ 25 per cent sag) 

Stack: 693mm (679@ 25 per cent sag) 

Wheelbase: 1307.5-1323.5mm 

CS length: 425-441mm 

BB Drop: 62mm (73.7@ 25 per cent sag) 

Fork travel: 160mm (or 170mm) 


Basically, I want the parts to feel elemental or natural, so I’ve been stripping things back to the raw metal and debranding bits as I go with a gentle polish. The frame will not remain raw steel, but the final paint is not going to be slick and boldly branded either.  

Wheels and tyres: 29-inch We Are One union rims on Industry Nine hubs, Maxxis Assegai 2.4-inch and Maxxis Shorty 2.5-inch (winter set up). 

Suspension: Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Air. 

Controls: Stripped and polished e*thirteen stem, Deity carbon bars or Race Face with a higher rise, Deity Supercush grips, Hope EC/ZS 44 headset. 

Drivetrain: Shimano XT crankset with a Unite 34T chainring.  

Brakes: XT M8120 four-piston brakes on 203mm rotors. 

Seat post and seat: One Up 210mm dropper with stripped and polish leaver, Fabric seat. 

Miscellaneous: Stripped and Polished XT trail SPD pedals or Burgtec Penthouse Mk5 flats depending on mode or mood.