Handmade American quality, exceptional versatility and silky smooth performance; all with an affordable price tag that simply VerHauens the competition.

At only $1,049 for the frameset, the Vassago VerHauen is a standout American-made value.

Singlespeeding is about simplicity. Stripping away all the unnecessary in the name of economy. No shifters. No derailleurs. No thinking. Just riding. And suffering. Lots of it. As simple as singlespeeding can be, there are still hassles to deal with; namely a suspension fork. Setting air pressure, replacing seals and rebuilding dampers can be a big pain in the ass for the most hardcore of Luddites.

The simple solution is to just slap a rigid fork on the bike and go ride. Sure, you might rattle the molars out of your skull, but you'll rarely - if ever - have to spend any time maintaining it. An occasional spray with the garden hose, some chain lube and maybe some refreshed Stan's sealant every now and again is all that's needed. A perfect solution for those short on time and money willing to subject themselves to unreasonable amounts of physical abuse.

At 4.6 lbs for the frame and 21 lbs built as tested, the VerHauen is svelte for a steel 29er.

But with the advent of carbon fiber, lightweight steel and big fat tubeless 29-inch tires, riding a rigid mountain bike isn't nearly as abusive as it used to be. Take for instance the Vassago VerHauen, a versatile hardtail 29er (equipped as a rigid singlespeed for our testing) built right here in the US and A with 100-percent True Temper OX Platinum tubing and outfitted with a Whisky Parts Co. carbon fork, FSA carbon bits and Stan's NoTubes wheels.

VerHauen means "to slap" in German, and it's aptly named, because when it comes to overall value, this bike ***** VerHauens virtually every other bike in its price range thanks to handmade American craftsmanship without the handmade American price tag.

The reborn Vassago brand is about offering handmade American quality without the exorbitant price tag.

After briefly shutting down operations in 2011, Vassago has experienced resurgence thanks to new owner Tom Ament, who is committed to reestablishing the cult following Vassago created when the company started in 2005. Ament's focus with the new Vassago is to feature a line of affordable, fun and high-performance bikes to fit the everyman's budget.

Paragon Machine Works sliding dropouts allow for multiple rear hub configurations and 434 to 456mm chainstay lengths.

The VerHauen is the first product of the reborn Vassago brand, offering an American handmade steel frameset with custom build features including stainless steel seat tube inserts to prevent rusty post syndrome, S-bend stays for exceptional mud clearance, a 44mm head tube to fit a tapered rigid or 80-100mm suspension fork and Paragon Machine Works sliding dropouts for multiple rear wheel and thru-axle options; all at a surprisingly affordable price point of $1,049.

And because of its extremely versatile nature, the VerHauen is a perfect bike for those looking to grow into a frameset. Whether singlespeed, 142mm thru-axle or traditional quick release, virtually any 29er wheelset you have can be used on the Paragon sliding dropouts of the VerHauen.

Carbon FSA components, Whisky Parts Co. fork and Stan's NoTubes wheels help soak up trail chatter.

Beyond the build quality, the VerHauen - with its lively steel characteristics, blend of carbon fiber components and big fat 2.35-inch Maxxis Ikon front tire and clearance for a 2.35 out back - rides incredibly smooth, even on trails typically reserved for full-suspension. The VerHauen is also quick and nimble thanks to its FastCat Geometry featuring a 71-degree head tube angle and tight rear chainstay length.

The Paragon sliding dropouts can adjust rear chainstay length between 434 and 456mm, giving the VerHauen has uncanny cornering agility and flickability reminiscent of the all-but dead 26er hardtails of yore. Unlike most hardtail 29ers I've ridden in the past, the VerHauen is actually fun to throw into a corner, requiring minimal body English to get it to turn. And thanks to the big 29-inch wheels, the VerHauen rolls downhill with speed and authority.


Translucent gun metal finish shows off brazing discolorations for a blend of rawness and color.

The VerHauen has no shortage of character, both in its riding dynamics and its appearance. For those who like the raw frame finish look, the VerHauen is especially pleasing. Our test bike came with a gun metal translucent finish, blending color from a distance with the up-close unfinished appeal of a frame that just came out of a builder's jig; slight brazing discoloration marks and all. And no classy American-made steel frameset would be complete without a stylin' head badge.

Left: Classy Vassago head badge rounds out the fit and finish of the VerHauen. Right: 750mm wide FSA SL-K carbon bars absorb vibrations and help handle the big 2.35-inch Maxxis Ikon front tire.

Blending True Temper steel with carbon fiber is like pairing a bacon cheeseburger with your favorite IPA; by themselves they are great, but put them together and the result is magical. Carbo bits like the FSA SL-K 27.2 seatpost and super-wide 750mm riser bars comfortably absorbed trail chatter, while the Whisky Parts Co. carbon fork delivered sharp cornering with plush performance. However, with such a big front wheel, a 15mm thru axle setup would have made the VerHauen carve corners even better.

The VerHauen amidst aspens in full bloom on Thomas Creek in Reno.
Although it's made of steel, the VerHauen is still quite svelte in weight. Tipping the scale at 4.6 lbs with all hardware (disc mount ISO dropouts, hardware, post clamp and bottom bracket cable guide), the VerHauen strikes an ideal balance between comfort and performance. Fully built with pedals, our rigid singlespeed test bike weighed in at 21 lbs. With a little extra dough for lighter components, the VerHauen can easily go below the 20 lb. mark. Quite impressive for a steel 29er.

Perhaps the most significant observation I made while enjoying every minute on the VerHauen was that its rigid singlespeed guise made me a better rider. It forced me to pick clean lines, attack climbs and be effortlessly smooth like water down a rocky streambed. A rigid singlespeed like the VerHauen is a true skill-building tool that doesn't clobber you over the head senselessly. With the ability to run the massive tubeless Maxxis Ikon tires as low as 15 psi, there's plenty of hidden suspension to be had with the VerHauen.

In summary, the VerHauen is a quintessential soul rider's bike. Although it's light, nimble and fast enough for racing duties, where this bike truly shines is on all-day jaunts where time and schedules do not exist. This bike begs you to put a whiskey flask and holster on it; it's that kind of bike looking for that kind of rider.

The VerHauen is comfortable, stylish, full of character and above all, a high-performance machine that's surprisingly affordable. A rigid singlespeed VerHauen is a whip that every rider serious about building skills should have in their fleet of bikes. Not only will it make you a better rider, but you'll also have an ear-to-ear grin flowing effortlessly down your favorite singletrack while leaving your full-suspension buddies in dust and disbelief.

The stripped-down simplicity of a rigid singlespeed VerHauen is a true skill-building tool.

Get more info on the VerHauen and buy the frameset online now for only $999 at https://www.vassagocycles.com.

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