By Kurt Gensheimer
Descends faster than the balance of your 401K
Magnesium frame = light, durable and shock absorbent
Handmade in Boulder, Colorado
Custom built down to the last chainring bolt
Gates belt drive is dead silent and bulletproof
Low hanging bottom bracket = rock magnet
Hard to maneuver in tight, technical singletrack
Even though it’s light, still feels sluggish on climbs
What, no seat tube water bottle mount?
Ruling: Regardless of the terrain you ride, Paketa offers fully custom, USA-made magnesium bikes with more build configurations than the dollars in our national debt.
There’s this dog in my neighborhood; a golden retriever. He’s psychotic. Every time I roll up the street on my way home from a ride, he hears me coming, leaps from his porch stoop, and sprints towards the fence. He either hears my fat knobby tires humming down the road, or more likely hears my under-lubricated chain and friction-ridded singlespeed chain tensioner.
At first he’s quiet, the only audible evidence of his presence is the jingle jangle of his collar, as he follows me along the fence line hidden by a thicket of oleanders. Then, just as the oleanders give way to exposed fence, he’s in full visible sight, and unleashes his ferocious barker. It’s not so much a bark as it is a frantic, high-pitched yelping which grates on your nerves so much that you want to reach through the fence and strangle him.
If the psychotic barking isn’t bad enough by itself, his snarling sonata grabs the attention of every other fenced-in dog in the neighborhood, setting off a cascade of angry barking which escorts me all the way home.
What does any of this have to do with a bicycle review? Well, the day I rode Paketa’s new belt-driven singlespeed magnesium 29er called the Wac Corporal, for the first time ever, my psychotic canine adversary never came to the fence; he didn’t hear me. Thanks to the Gates belt drive system, I had a quiet, peaceful ride up my street.
The Merits of Magnesium
You’re probably wondering who is Paketa, but more importantly, you’re probably wondering what exactly is a Paketa. Is it like a cheetah or a leopard or something? Or perhaps it means something in Pakistani? Or maybe it’s just someone’s last name? Don’t ask me, I have no idea. Whatever the meaning, Paketa is a custom bike builder located in Boulder, Colorado, and they specialize in only one kind of material – magnesium. Now for those chemistry buffs or air-cooled VW gearheads, we all know that magnesium makes one magnificent light show when ignited. But magnesium’s attributes go far beyond a juvenile junkyard twilight pyromania session.
It turns out that magnesium also makes a damn fine material to build bicycle frames with. According to Paketa’s website, magnesium is currently the lightest structural material in the world; 34 percent lighter than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than titanium. The test bike weighed in at a svelte 24 lbs. In addition, it has the highest known damping capacity of any structural metal, as much as 10 times greater than steel, titanium or aluminum. In other words, it won’t rattle your brain stem loose.
The next natural question would be ‘well if magnesium is so great, why isn’t everyone building with it?’ Well for starters, magnesium isn’t cheap. Then you factor in the difficulty of extruding perfect tubes and welding them in a way which doesn’t compromise strength, it makes for what you would call a niche frame builder market. And Paketa is exactly that, considering you can count on one hand the number of reputable frame builders in the U.S. currently using magnesium.