10 March 2010

bikefix Build Sheet: Marc's Maverick ML8

While not all of us can justify the time or expense of a frame-up bike build, over time, one can build up quite an inventory of parts and preferences. For that reason, we find that looking at long-time riders' bike builds can be illuminating. Sometimes grips or a saddle wind up on a new build because they have always worked. Sometimes a particular set of hubs has the boys at the shop all excited. Sometimes a brakeset is chosen because the deal couldn't be passed up. For that reason, we've decided to start a new occasional feature: the bikefix Build Sheet.

What we'll be doing on our Build Sheets is listing the components on a new build and why they were chosen. It's different than other sites' out of the box posts in that the reasons for selecting components are as often emotional or aesthetic as technical. We'll get into the technical and performance reviews after the bikes have seen real-world use and needed real-world care and feeding.

In the darkest depths of this past winter, I noticed that Maverick were clearing out inventory of their ML8 6.5in travel trail/all-mountain bikes with ridiculously low prices ($2,900 complete with a nice build kit- tell them bikefix.net sent you). Always having wanted an orange Maverick and a big bike for big days out (in Moab, for example), I called my local bike shop and got one on the way. As Id been sitting on a lot of lightly-used parts from my Giant Trance X0, most of the Maverick build kit was parted out. In it's place was a build designed to allow a skinny XC guy to push his limits on technical terrain becoming a burden on all-day rides. Altogether, the ML8 came in at a shade over 28lb with sensible tires, pedals, and sealant:

Maverick ML8
While the killer deal certainly had something to do with my choice, the Maverick ML8 has long been on my shortlist of longer-travel trail bikes. Virtually as efficient as the fantastic Durance, it's a lightweight 6.5in travel machine that pedals as efficiently as many 5in travel bikes. As bombproof as the hard anodized finish is, the Safety Orange grabbed my attention (and was $200 cheaper). This frame's name? Executioner. Cool.
2010 RockShox Revelation Team U-Turn
The previous generation RockShox Revelation is hands-down my all time favorite trail fork. When it came time to build a lightweight all-mountain bike, the new version, with a stiffer casting and now 120-150mm of externally-adjustable travel, was my first pick. I would have preferred a 15mm thru-axle, but will make do with the 9mm quick release version. As delivered, the 2010 Revelation Team came in at under 4lb and so far looks and feels fantastic. I'm looking forward to getting some miles on this one...
Fulcrum Red Metal Zero
So they're heavy for race wheels. And unjustifiably expensive. But, seeing as I have them (and they seem pretty sturdy), they've been fitted with big tires and will likely be spending time on both the ML8 and my Durance. For all their faults, they do make the nicest coasting sound ever...
Shimano XTR
If you're going to spend the money on one component from Shimano's top of the line XTR group, it should absolutely be the shifters. Largely tucked out of harm's way, they have dual release and can release two gears' worth of cable at one go or pull three. For me, it doesn't get any better- ergonomically or mechanically.
Derailleur (F)
Shimano R773
The Maverick's suspension design requires a braze-on front derailleur. The R773 is Shimano's compact triple front mech and is recommended by Maverick (and came with the build), making it a no-brainer.
Derailleur (R)
Shimano XTR (Rapid Rise)
Old XTR derailleurs don't die. After four years, there's no reason this one should still be going- but this one is. Can't beat that. I haven't written an Ode to Rapid Rise, but now that I'm used to it, I appreciate the backward system's incredibly smooth shifting and long drivetrain life.
Shimano XT
XT Cranks are hard to beat. They aren't cheap, but they are some of the best-performing out there. They're plenty light enough and sturdy to boot. Besides, they were in the garage.
Crank Brothers Mallet
The first generation of Crank Brothers' full-platform pedals, these were in the bike shop's take-off bin. Combining Eggbeaters' simple mechanism with Deore DX-style cages, they seemed right for the ML8. Besides, they're blue and so match the frame's decals.
Shimano XT 11-34
This used cassette has been on the pegboard for quite some time, but still has plenty of life left. A good Yankee, I'll wear it out before throwing it out.
Shimano (?)
Same as the cassette- it's seen some use but works just fine.
2010 Formula RX
Formula have been on a bit of a winning streak lately, with their Oro and R1 brakes earning Bikefix Pick status. Their entry-level ($140/wheel plus rotor) RX, at 351g, is as light as brakes costing twice as much. How will they work? We're excited to find out...
Race Face Next SL Carbon
These have been just sitting since the Giant was parted out and are a stiff, lightweight bar. A bit more sweep and rise would be nice- but not nice enough for me to go out and replace perfectly good bars.
Alpha Q Prolite
Probably the sketchiest part on this bike, given it's intended use. That said, I've been using these stems for years on several bikes without incident (knock on wood). Light, strong and cheap? Sure. The right length and already in the parts bin. You bet.
Ritchey WCS
Also a bit on the light side for a 6in travel bike, this was in my parts box and the right size. It's scratched and tatty looking, but it's the right size and it works.
Charge Spoon CrMo
This was a Charlie recommendation. The UK mags have been all over the Spoon for a while. At $30 and 269g, the CrMo-railed version seemed worth a shot.
Tire (F) Schwalbe Nobby Nic
A great all-around tire in an alarmingly quick-wearing compound at a steep price. Still, as a front tire, it should last.
Tire (R) Continantal Mountain King
A bit unpredictable in our local conditions when on the front wheel, my Mountain King still has loads of life left and behaves itself much better at the back of the bike. This is a combination that I proposed in my Nobby Nic review- we'll see how the pair work in the real world. If nothing else, the large volume should help to protect the ML8's lightweight wheelset.



Anonymous said...

Why not the Maxle Lite version of the Revelation?

bikefix said...

I decided against the Maxle version because I had a good 15QR/9mm wheelset (the Fulcrum) and couldn't think of any 20mm wheels that I actually *wanted* to try and review... That's the main problem (in my opinion) with the Maxle Lite for cross country or lightweight trail use- the wheel options really aren't there to support it...

Dan said...

Any word if Maverick is looking to do an ML9 (meaning a revamp on the ML8 with a bit more travel and geometry)? I ride a durance and would love to have a second bike for the downs, but it's hard to justify an ML8 for just an extra inch. I'm with yall on Rockshock forks but would probably pair a Lyrik Solo air 170mm with the ML8's 165mm rear travel, at least on paper it makes sense...

bikefix said...


Before ordering my Revelation, I measured a Rev and a Lyrik and the Lyrik was only 10mm longer- not enough to make a *big* handling or attitude difference. I hear your point about the Durance- the Durance is incredibly capable (and rides great with the Revelation) and it may take a nervier rider than I and a stouter build to really take advantage of the ML8. One thing that other ML8 owners I talked to recommended was an adjustable travel fork. Unlike some big-ish travel bikes, they find that the tall front end, rather than the suspension, is what holds them back...

Lan said...

Any thoughts on the Race vs. Team versions of the Revelation?

bikefix said...


The Team Revelations have a more complex damper- which isn't to say they perform noticeably better (I haven't ridden both back to back). It seems like the U-Turn Race forks are a bit harder to get a hold of, which is a shame- the fixed-travel versions run about $225 *less*. I liked my previous generation Revelation (with the non-Black Box damper) a lot and it was trouble free for a couple of years' hard use. Given the price difference and the complete lack of weight difference, the Race probably makes more sense.


Chris R said...


Chris at Maverick here. Thanks for the interest in a bigger travel Maverick! The idea has been bounced around in many ways and different configurations but at this time we don't have any solid timelines on when we might come out with a revamped ML8.

We have a new Monolink design that we are currenlty working on and it is going to be seen on a 4"-6" travel bike, maybe even a Maverick 29er.

Try and not think of the ML8 as a bigger travel Durance. The spring assist in the ML8 damper and the different shock placement within the frame changes the suspension feel compared to the Durance. The ML8 has a more linear feeling suspension because of those two traits but it still climbs like a Durance. Best of both worlds!


Maverick Bikes

Curtis said...

I totally agree with Chris, and I bought an ML8 from him....I have a durance as well. Though they are only a inch difference in travel, they ride very differently... The ML8 has a progressive spring, more sag and is much plusher. I just rode it all over Zion area slick rock for a week and it ate everything up. My buddies were on Santa Cruz blurs and Intense 5.5 and I was able to easily clean stuff on the ML8 that they struggled with.
The durance is fast, responsive, and turns faster, and stiffer....both awesome bikes...but the ML8 would serve your purpose as a freeride/downhill bike...and the druance is a bad ass cross country machine that can eat up big hits.


Anonymous said...

how is the ml8 working for you now since you first posted this review?

bikefix said...


The ML8 has changed a bit since this writeup and is really better for it. Though I'm not sure I like the 160mm fork, Crank Brothers Iodine wheels and bars, an EA70 seatpost, Syntace F119 stem, and 2.4in WTB tires are more in keeping with the bike's intentions. I'd like to try to get to Moab with it before too long, but we're running out of 2010...