Let us begin with a bit of backstory on the Olivetti Thunder Pig. Leading up to the 2018 NAHBS event, (that’s the North American Handmade Bicycle Show for those of you not hip to the acronym) I scoured the list of builders looking for people to interview in the run-up to the show. On the list, I came across the name Peter Olivetti, a name I did not recognize among the veteran frame builders. I clicked the link to his website, and there it was: the Thunder Pig. The name itself is comical and triumphant in an industry where lighter is better and steel is considered a boutique material. The Thunder Pig’s swooping lines and double top tube recall the glory days of beach cruiser klunkers. Adorned in bright yellow paint and orange Chris King bits, it is as handsome as it is wild.
At the show, Olivetti and I found time to chat about his bikes and the builder community in and around Boulder, Colorado. We discovered we had a mutual friend living and riding in Pittsburgh and by the end of the weekend, it felt like I always knew the guy. Bikes have a funny way of bringing people together that way.
Fast forward a good 10 months or so later and Olivetti messages me to ask if I would like to ride the Thunder Pig for a little while; the answer was a clear yes.
The Thunder Pig arrived in two boxes: one to accommodate the frame and components and another for the wheels and alternate rigid fork. The Thunder Pig was built to be a versatile machine and Olivetti’s personal bike for riding the trails in the Rocky Mountains. With sliding dropouts, it can be ridden singlespeed or geared. The rigid fork is painted to match the frame in a classic-looking segmented design, and the frame is suspension-corrected for 120 mm of travel. For my time with the ‘Pig, I ran it geared with the Fox Factory 34 120 mm fork. The drivetrain is XT in a single chainring configuration with a White Industries M30 crankset in conjunction with a Chris King bottom bracket.
The frame itself was built from straight gauge 4130 aircraft-grade steel tubing. As Olivetti notes, “While it’s not the lightest, this bike is all fun.” I personally enjoyed the use of the T47 bottom bracket shell that allowed for the use of a 30 mm spindle crankset, stiffening up the area on the bike most prone to flex. The Thunder Pig was finished off with a Fox Transfer dropper post and a pair of wheels built with Chris King hubs and Stan’s NoTubes Baron rims dressed in 29×2.6 Schwalbe Nobby Nics. As Olivetti is a custom frame maker, adjustments to accommodate preferred tire size is an option.
It should be noted that I am a fan of steel bikes; I own and have owned a fair amount of steel bikes over the years. There is a feeling that steel transmits from the wheels into the frame and into the body that is unlike other frame materials. Smooth, buttery — whatever your preferred adjective, steel is all that and then some. Once on the trail, the Thunder Pig felt right at home on the first section of flat and rooty singletrack. Stable was the overwhelming sensation from the Thunder Pig as I rumbled through the woods. With a headtube angle of 67.5°, it’s not quite the fun-duro hardtail we are seeing from other builders, and that’s OK because that is not the Thunder Pig’s intention. The Thunder Pig is the perfect complement to the all-day rider and adventure seeker. With geometry that is not overly aggressive, the Pig feels great on flowy singletrack as well as on long doubletrack climbs.
If you are the type of rider who likes to scoot out at the end of the work week and disappear into the mountains or wilderness for a weekend of singletrack and camping, meet your new best friend: the Thunder Pig. This bike is no slouch on the climbs and easily rolls over technical terrain like rocks and downed logs, while still being comfy for the long haul. While I was on Peter Olivetti’s personal bike, the Thunder Pig is available for custom builds. If you’re looking for something a little special that can handle a plethora of mountain biking tasks, the Thunder Pig may be the answer you’re looking for.
Olivetti Bicycles Thunder Pig
Price: $1,450 (frame only)
Sizes: Custom L/XL sizing
Tester: Brett Rothmeyer
Weight: 170 lbs.
Height: 6’ 1”
Top Tube: 25.9”
Head Tube: 67.5°
Seat Tube: 74.3°
BB Height: 13.1”