If you like the idea of a bike that can zoom down fire roads, fly through swooping singletrack, and handle a grocery store run, you’re gonna love the Hudski Doggler. Specifically the 29er gravel build, and even more specifically, the current second-gen Doggler, upgraded from the first edition with a slacker, more modern geo, which has made a terrific bike terrific-er.
I bought the Doggler when it was first released in 2020. I fell in love with the playful versatility and the surprising capability, then literally fell off it a year later, destroying my shoulder and keeping me off gravel for the next year and a half. In the meantime, Hudksi released the second-gen Doggler, in which they slackened the head tube angle to 67.5º, a 2º difference from the original, and lowered the bottom bracket by 21mm—that’s a lot.
A couple months ago, after finally feeling comfortable going fast on gravel again, I sold my first-gen and picked up the new one. This time, Hudski is offering the Doggler in two builds, a cheaper Deore-specced version with a rigid seatpost, and an SLX-powered one with a PNW dropper. Both are 1x12 with a 10-51t cassette. I opted to save a hundred bucks to go with the Deore build. Deore is a perfectly fine drivetrain and I had an extra PNW dropper lying around anyway. I would have happily ridden it without a dropper if I didn’t already have one, though. It's a nice to have, not a must have on this rig. At $1,600 (on sale for $1,280 as this is published), it’s a great value.
The MMWD headset cap is a replica of the Marin Municipal Water District water pipe covers you see on roads throughout the county, a nice little touch for the Marin County-based brand.
This is adventure-ready platform. Plenty of threaded mounts for racks, bottle cages, you name it. Everything rolls on 700 x 50c Maxxis Rambler EXO tires, that are plenty grippy. Build quality is great. These are unique bikes and they have wonderful touches like custom headset caps and head badges and a beautiful 16º sweep handlebar set they call “Longhorn.” The frame is alloy and the fork is carbon, the complete bike weighs about 25 pounds. And it freakin rips.
Lowering the bottom bracket and slackening the geo transformed how this bike feels. The first-gen was a bike you sat on top of. This one has a much more satisfying in-the-bike feeling. I find it easier to hump it over broken up rock gardens too. The connection is more secure, the bike feels more planted. That helps a lot when bombing down sweeping curves on gravel. It has plenty of frame mounts and is a willing participant in bikepacking too. It’s just a flat-out fun bike to ride in the dirt.
Same on the pavement. Makes store runs a joy if you have some twisty stuff to work with on the way there. It would make a fantastic all-weather commuter.
My takeaway from the first version of the Doggler was it reminded me of bikes when I was a kid. It’s…just a bike. Flat bars, no suspension, happy in the dirt, happy jumping curbs in a parking lot, eager and simple town transportation.
When the first bike was released there was some groaning about a $2,000 alloy gravel bike, but ask anyone who bought one, it was worth every penny. This new Deore build is probably more what the folks who thought it too expensive had in mind. Perfectly good but unflashy components, and an old-school rigid seatpost, for about $1,500. That you get all that with the personal touches of a boutique bike brand is a steal. Check 'em out, here.
Words by Justin Housman