Paketa Magnesium Belt Drive Singlespeed 29er Review

Pro Reviews

Redefining the words “Custom Built”

So now you’re thinking that magnesium sound interesting, but the 29er isn’t ideal because you live in a world of tight, technical singletrack requiring a 26er with a higher bottom bracket. Fear not my fellow fahrrad fanatic, because Paketa gives you more build options than the buffet line at Sizzler, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own threadbare couch.

Paketa’s website helps you build a completely 100 percent custom bike in four steps: geometry, wheel size, drivetrain and aesthetics AKA paint and graphics. Every bike is built by hand in Boulder, Colorado, so if you buy a Paketa, pat yourself on the back for supporting American manufacturing. For geometry, simply submit your desired tube lengths and angles or just send your body measurements and they can do the rest. In addition, if you weigh a buck-forty or are pushing over two bills, Paketa can either lighten or beef up frames by using thinner, round tubes, thicker ovalized tubes or extra gussets.

For wheel size, you can choose from 26er, 650b or 29er, so no matter what the terrain you ride, there’s a Paketa which can fit your conditions. If you live in terrain with tight, technical singletrack where quick acceleration and nimble handling are a must, go with a 26er. If you live in terrain that’s mostly flat, has long, flowing trails or bombing high speed downhills where stable tracking and cornering in loose conditions are a must, get a 29er. If you just like making life difficult for yourself and your wallet, get a 650b.

Now its time to choose how all that raging muscular leg power gets transferred to the pavement. You can select a traditionally geared 3×9 setup, a Rolhoff internal hub either chain or belt driven, or a traditional singlespeed hub either chain or belt driven. Paketa exclusively uses Gates for their belt drive systems, and can cost up to $300 extra for a belt drive setup. Is belt drive worth it? Worth every last penny.

Aesthetically, we wouldn’t necessarily choose our test bike paint and decal scheme, but Paketa offers a variety of color and decal choices so your bike is truly one of a kind. We just hope that along with all these custom options there’s a checkbox for “seat tube water bottle mount”, as our test bike wasn’t equipped with one, forcing us to carry a second bottle in our jersey pocket.


So now for the business end of this relationship. When I first went to the Paketa Custom Magnesium Bicycles website to check out pricing, I have to be honest, I got a serious case of sticker shock. Just the frame and headset alone come in at $2650 – and that’s for the 26er. Expect to pay even more for the fad of owning a 29er. Fully built with their high end singlespeed component package including the Fox fork, Gates belt drive, WTB wheels and Magura Marta SL brakes, you’re gonna be signing away over $5000. That’s for one gear. Uno. And no rear suspension.

Although the Paketa is spendy, keep in mind that for this price you’re getting one of the most custom-built, handmade in the USA mountain bikes that money can buy. Every single element of the bike build is up to you. Additionally, you’re getting a frame that is lighter than aluminum and titanium, with 10 times the amount of damping capacity. And of course, you’re getting the exclusivity of owning a magnesium mountain bike. Just make sure that your bike isn’t the one which gets “accidentally” tossed in the campfire by your drunken cronies.

In Closing

Paketa has a terrific mountain bike in the Wac Corporal. It’s light, fast, responsive, doesn’t hammer you to death like aluminum does and of course, is a bike you can truly make one-of-a-kind to fit any kind of riding conditions. Paired with the belt drive system, we were remiss to pack it up and send back. It was a fun bike, especially on those long, bomber downhills.

Although we came away really impressed with how magnesium performs, the jury is still out on durability, as magnesium is still a relatively unproven material in the cycling world. But if you’re in the market for a fully-custom hardtail, and you’re looking at the equally spendy titanium and carbon, you owe it to yourself to also check out a Paketa Wac Corporal. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get out on my bike and listen to the snarling serenade of angry mutts.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Looks like I know what the word Paketa could mean.

    It’s Russian for rocket. That simple. )

    The way it’s written in all capitals on the downtube, together with that rocket on the headtube badge, it’s almost unmistakable.

    Anyone remember Litech?

  • J. Random Psycho says:

    It was me who made the previous comment (in short, Paketa is Russian for Rocket, written with Cyrillic letters).

    I just found this post on MTBR, back from 2005:

    Interesting stuff.

  • kam says:

    i’m sorry but that is a horrible paint and graphic job.

  • Jared says:

    Yep, the graphics are horrific. First thing to catch my eye and just lingered through the whole article. A solid powder-coat would even be more appealing.

  • lucyfek says:

    not sure about this Russian link – as far as i can recall it, Rocket would be spelled Pakema in cyrylic

  • Mitch says:

    Does that thing come in any other colors or design? Sheesh that paint job reminds me of my last trip to Pinkberry.

  • J. Random Psycho says:

    lucyfek, you’re partially right. Cyrillic letter T has several renditions. The one you mention, which resembles an “m”, is used for the small letter T in handwriting scripts. What we can see on the frame however, is the capital block letter T, which is rendered just like Latin capital T. It says PAKETA in all capitals.

    On to the paint job. The short answer is, “programmers tend to be horrible UI designers”.

    A team of talented but out-of-touch engineers (especially if they have to deal with the language barrier) can design a superb magnesium frame, but they don’t necessarily have any idea of what is aesthetically pleasing to the common eye. And in severe cases, there is no one near to tell them.

    Even if we drop the language barrier, the out of touch thing still remains, because these engineers most likely come from military contractor circles. That is, they do recognize that their frames have to *kind of* look good. But they don’t understand that it takes a good professional artist to actually do it. They may even have had hired some undergraduate student of fine arts to do their paint scheme, and considered the result satisfactory.

    That is, what we see here is most likely a case of function over form.

    Speaking of function, can anyone see where the driveside chainstay interrupts for belt insertion?

  • Shop Mechanic says:

    Undergrad fine arts student? More like high school freshman in Art 1.

  • J. Random Psycho says:

    This is early times anyway. The luxury of attractive paint jobs shall come later.

    Although I do agree that they should have simply painted the frames in one color. I would totally dig Pixie Blue, for instance. As it is, it seems that they fancy themselves better artists than they really are.

  • M. T. Biehr says:

    Those frames are imported to the USA, not made here. What is “handmade” in Colorado is the assembly of the Russian made frame into a complete bike. It’s fraudulent to suggest this frame is handbuilt in Boulder when it’s not.

    Why is MTBR always so full of misinformation?

  • Nick Wigston says:

    In response to M.T.Biehr.

    You are confusing Paketa with another company. All Paketa frames are made at our custom shop in Broomfield, which is a Boulder suburb. All materials in every Paketa frame were extruded in denver at a large manufacturer of magnesium material. The custom yokes are CNC machined right here in Boulder, from US made Magnesium material. I can even send you a photo of JP Burow, the owner, building a tandem in the shop. JP builds every frame custom for the customer by hand. You are welcome to come and visit our shop and watch him build a frame if you don’t believe me.

  • Kurt Gensheimer says:

    To M.T.:

    So much for MTBR’s misinformation. Sounds like the only misinformation here is originating from your keyboard. “Handmade” and “assembled” are two different words with two different meanings, and a company could be held liable if they advertise “handmade” when its actually “assembled”. Next time check your facts first before posting.

    Kurt Gensheimer

  • Nick Wigston says:

    and check out the website and you’ll see that you can get any color or paint job you want.

  • max maxxer says:

    Good to see another belt drive offering. I plan on building up my own custom belt drive bike soon.

  • Nick Wigston says:

    the belt is great! I can’t wait till we can run it with a Rohloff hub.

  • Jp Burow says:

    This is JP (owner and frame builder of Pakta Bikes). I would like to reiterate that all tubing is extruded to my specifications, cut and welded by me personally in the Boulder area. These are not the Russian frames of old, this is an all American project. If anyone is interested in seeing the operation or riding a frame, please don’t hesitate to come on by.

    I will admit that I don’t respond to forums all that often, but is interesting to hear what people are saying about my work. BTW, the paint job isn’t my favorite either, but we have other colors to choose from.

    Thank you,

  • Kosmo says:

    What a cool idea for a bike. Sounds almost like achieving a soft tail kind of ride without the complexity.

    As far as the review goes, let’s see, the very flexible, smooth riding 29er climbed slower than the super stiff 26er because it had 29 inch wheels; 29er wheels are no more resistant to pinch flatting than 26er wheels because you got a pinch flat going faster downhill on the 29er hardtail than you do on your Specy 26er dual suspension bike; and an under-tensioned 29er wheel tacoed on you when you crashed because 29er wheels are inferior?

    No wonder 29ers are such a dying breed! :-)

  • Jonathan P says:

    I have been riding a handmade in colorado Paketa road frame froms everal years now and i can’t say enough what an amazing ride the Paketa Magnesium is. I tell all my buddies riding high-end carbon on the road that I will put the Paketa against any carbon any day. Albeit I don’t race and I am a lightweight the Paketa suits me just perfectly. I always imagined a Paketa 29, and under new ownership it is now a reality. When My 401k recovers I will be ordering up a custom Paketa.

    Thank You JP for offering an amazing alternative.

  • sh-wolf says:

    Hey, guys! I`m from Russia!

    Russian “PAKETA” (also “Pakema”) voices [raketa] and means “Rocket”

    Colors of that frame looks like all “post-soviet union” russian design – horrible

    Sorry for my terrrrrrrrible English :)

  • liu says:

    we can supply brand shoes,clothes,handbag,watch and jewely

  • J. Random Psycho says:

    sh-wolf, you sum up what I’ve been thinking the instant I saw this bike:

    “Colors of that frame looks like all “post-soviet union” russian design – horrible”

    By the way, I’m not far from you to the north. Preved from the “E” city! )

  • Natedogz says:

    Interesting bike and I like the paint scheme! :)

  • Natedogz says:

    Would have been better to have an experienced 29er SS rider review this bike.

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