Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Time For A Concept Bike! Part IV

Well......way back when, like last NovemberI floated an idea for a bike specifically built for gravel grinding. I was at that time being teased along the lines of a such a bike by a small brand that had asked my opinions, and then promptly dropped all my considerations and went an entirely different direction.

Then I struck out on a "get by" plan, and ended up with the BMC #42 Monster Cross model I dubbed "Orange Crush"

It's a good un!
While I've been putting in lots of mileage on this bike, I've been keeping the "project bike' in the back of my mind all along. Little nits, and good things filed away for the time when I was ready to get the custom rig under way.

I think the fit and some other major considerations are really close with this bike. The handling is very close. Ol' Orange Crush does a lot of things very, very well for me.

Then there are a couple of things I am wanting to tweak, and one thing I really want to do that I've started to notice more and more of on smartly built gravel specific rigs.

  • First, I want to slacken the head angle about a half degree with a similar fork off set to the BMC. This should provide the skosch  more stability I am craving. The BMC is oh-so-close. 
  • I want to lower the bottom bracket a bit. Not a lot, but definitely I want more bottom bracket drop than the BMC has. This will also lend a more stable feel. It also will have the effect of setting me a hair more "into" the bike. 
  • The big thing, which I am starting to notice guys doing, is to have a track end type drop out with a derailleur hangar, like this. I might not need that much throw, but to be able to single speed the bike in an emergency seems to be an important thing in gravel grinding, and I don't need "swift rear wheel changes", so if it is a bit fiddly, I wouldn't mind. Truth is, I've had a bicycle with similar drop outs in a Klein Attitude, circa 1992. 
So, with these basic ideas, and my other parameters like 42mm tires with clearance, maybe rack mounts out back, and fender mounts, (Yes Ben, fender mounts!), I am going to look at getting the ball rolling here this fall, or early winter. Depends on how things shake out.

A casual conversation at the shop one day led to a connection I had in the past which has developed into a verbal agreement to have a local builder help put this dream into reality. In fact, I may end up actually doing some of the work! 

Scary, I know!

So, stay tuned later this year for little updates to what I hope will become my gravel grinder project.

6 comments:

Mr. S. said...

That is a unique drop-out. What about sliding vertical drop-outs with a derailleur hanger? Best of all possible worlds.

mw said...

my new projects dropout are similar to those, but paragon. with my rational being SS most of the time and gears every once in a while.

Guitar Ted said...

@Mr.S.: I definitely want to stay away from sliders. The idea will be to use the track end as a "fail safe" for derailleur snap offs. Those happen more often than you might think on gravel grinders.

Also, I've seen too many slider set ups that look (a) funky or (b) were not installed symmetrically in the vertical plane. I don't want to make this harder than it might be, since I will be involved in the build process.

@mw: I'm excited for you! Can't wait to see how yours comes out.

Tim said...

Nice derailleur hanger track ends picture. That bike looks really familiar! :)

john said...

what about an internal hub? after watching mud and gunk rip off many a deraileur in all of the big gravel races this year, and now with drop bar shifters it seems like it could be option.

Guitar Ted said...

@john: Sure, an internal hub, like a Rohloff, would be very do-able. The concept was proven to me on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational late last month by a rider who had such a set up on a custom Curt Goodrich bicycle.

The thing is, Rohloffs are very expensive, and Alfine 11's aren't as expensive, but they are not cheap either. (Plus Alfine 11 doesn't quite have the full range of gearing either)Finally, either choice greatly complicates rear wheel removal in cases of flat tires.

Ideally, if I did that set up, it would be Center Track driven as well. May as well get all the "maintenance free" you can while you are at it, eh?