Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Project Gravel Bus: The Arrival

I mentioned a few days back in the last "Project Gravel Bus" update that this frame and fork should be arriving soon. That ended up being Monday. It's here! I am pretty happy with the outcome as well. Obviously, it will be a bit before I get this built up and rideable, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you all my first impressions.

The Color: I have been making fun of the choice to describe this yellow colored frame and fork made by Twin Six by dubbing the project and bike, "The Gravel Bus". But, I had never laid eyes on an actual frame and you know, I could have been way off on the color, which would have been a bit embarrassing. However; once the wrappings had been removed, and I sat the frame on the counter, both Andy and I said, "That's definitely School Bus Yellow!", almost in unison. So, there is no doubt in my mind that I have dubbed this bike correctly, for myself. If you want to call your Twin Six Standard Rando v2 which is the same color as this, "Saffron", well - you be you! Call yours whatever ya like, this one is "The Gravel Bus" without any doubt now.

The name will be, for somewhat obvious reasons, ironic since this is a one passenger 'bus' with one gear. But it will be plying the very same roads that our rural school buses run, and I think that ties in with the color and name well enough. This also dictates the accessory color as either black or something close to school bus yellow. No purple ano here, as one poster on Instagram suggested on an image I posted there.

On the down tube above the bottom bracket.
The Frame: I remember when I reviewed the first Standard Rando five years ago that many readers wanted to know, "What steel is that made from?" Well, when I asked Twin Six about that I got radio silence. I never did find out anything specific about the frame's steel butting, tubing diameters, or other esoteric details one might want to go down a rabbit hole on if they are a "cork sniffer" of steel frames.

So, it came as no surprise at all to me when I pulled off the wrappings and looked at the traditional place where you'd find a frame sticker that there was some cleverly worded scribing rendered in a nice font that, among other things, said "Built From T6 STANDARD Steel Tubing. Meets RIDE & SMILE spec." Yep.......typical Twin Six right there! I love it! Take that you frame tubing snobs!

But seriously, this tubing, in all likelihood, is double butted and it is swaged and slightly manipulated in various areas. The bottom bracket shell is reinforced, and there are some nice, but not spectacular, welds going on here. That bottom bracket is a PF30 bore, and I know some of you are rolling your eyes at that, but this allows me to use the Wheels Manufacturing PF30 Eccentric insert for a single speed tensioning system. Going geared? Just get the same company's thread together PF30 bottom bracket.

That 44mm head tube is also reinforced. Note the pump peg. (Hooray!)
 The head tube is fairly tall and the seat tube is long on this frame as Twin Six goes for a traditional, "level" top tube look with clean lines. I certainly will not have a lot of seat post exposed on this build! I already measured that out and verified that. I will be using a Shimano PRO Carbon post on this, by the way.

I've mentioned the frame geometry several times here, but in case you are new- The head angle is 72° and the bottom bracket drop is 75mm. Chain stays are 435mm, and the fork offset is 45mm. All pretty "in the ball park" numbers for me. Maybe not for you, but I like it.

Tire clearance is listed as 700 X 43mm and 650B X 48mm max. I have seen 650B X 47mm+ in this bike, (Andy of Andy's Bike Shop has a black one with 650's), and the clearances are good. I suspect I won't get anything larger than a true 45mm in this in 700c, but I am okay with that. I have other, 'big clearance' bikes from which to choose.

The frame also has rack mounts, which I'll likely never make use of, but who knows? The frame can also take full coverage fenders as well. Again- something I'll likely not do, but the mounts are there none the less. There is a pump peg! Love that! Also, on this size 57cm, Twin Six has added an additional water cage mount to the underside and one on the upper end of the down tube, inside the main triangle, for a total of four bottle mounts on the frame. That's double the amount that the original T-6 Standard Rando had.

The painted to match, full carbon constructed fork.
The Fork: As I have stated earlier, I could have gone with the steel fork, but I opted for the carbon fork, which is stem to stern carbon- No aluminum steer tube here!

I did this to save weight, not giving up anything to ride quality, according to insiders at T-6. I was a bit worried that the steel fork would have been better riding, but they did change that to a tapered steer tube steel fork, and that generally makes the fork far stiffer. I think a lot of people forget how much the steer tube is what is forgiving toward the rider on choppy terrain when discussing smooth riding, straight steer tube forks. That taper in the steer tube really stiffens a fork up.

So, despite the fact that the fork legs on the carbon fork are massive, I feel the insider at T-6 was correct, it wouldn't matter, in terms of ride quality, which fork I got. Steel rode just about as harshly as carbon, is what I was told. May as well opt for weight savings and choose the carbon fork, is what I thought. So that's why I opted for the carbon fork.

When the fork came out of the box, I handed it to Andy and he just said, "oh my!" and his look of envy was apparent. Yes, the carbon fork saves a fair amount of weight. Typically, in my estimation having swapped a bunch of forks out in my day, you'll save about 500 grams or so going with a carbon fork over the same geometry steel one. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but that's a ball park figure only. We never weighed the steel fork.

The nice thing here is you get the Triple Boss mounts on each leg, and interestingly, they are canted slightly back toward the rider. Not dramatically so, but it is noticeable. Of course, I'll use this for two more water bottle cages. That will bring up the possible total for water carrying capacity to six bottles of water versus two on the old T-6 Standard Rando.

There are the through axles here as well, and like the one on the frame, the fork is a 'through-bolt', technically speaking, with a hex head wrench compatibility for installation and removal. You can also mount fenders to the carbon fork if you so desire. Finally, the brake hose is partially internally routed through the fork crown and exiting on the inside of the left fork leg.

The whole kit-and-caboodle. Plus a bonus pair of bottles, some Molten Chain Wax, and two bar ends. (I have no idea what that's about!)
So, that's about it. However; if you have questions feel free to hit me up. Or go to Twin Six's Standard Rando page here.

Miscellaneous: When I opened the box I found two Twin Six "Category 6" bottles and a Park Tool tensionometer box which looked a bit beaten up. I'm a mechanic, remember that, so my first impression was "Why is there a tensionometer in here? I never thought this might just be a box, and what was inside could be totally unrelated to tools. Well, what was inside was a bag of Molten Chain Wax and two, beat-to-hell Titec stubby bar ends. Yeah.....bar ends! I've no idea what's up with the bar ends. But I can somewhat see the chain wax as I do a lot of testing of lubes for gravel travel. Maybe that's a hint for a check on the Molten Chain Wax? Most likely.

If you are sharp-eyed you'll also see a Surly cog spacer kit for single speed and that blue and white box, which is a box of handle bar tape from Marque Cycling. These are things I have gathered ahead of time. The spacer kit is something Andy was going to use and the bar tape I received on trial. Something new Marque Cycling has out, in black, of course. The rest of the parts are back at the Lab already.

Stay tuned for more soon.......


Rydn9ers said...

Looks like a nice rig, can't wait to see it all built up. Really wanted to like that last picture but, come on, peppermint Altoids is where it's at man, peppermint.

NY Roll said...

I really do enjoy their bikes and that color. What a great combo. Enjoy.

Daniel said...

I think I'm going to name mine the "Magic School Bus". I got my frame a couple weeks ago and am slowly getting the parts for it. I went with the steel fork because I think it looks better then the carbon one.

teamdarb said...

Maybe not bar ends, but ultra light compact aero bars.