I have personally always moved between the different cycling tribes with there varied dress  codes and cliques, and love gravel in that it has brought the road and mountain bike scenes much closer together, with an inclusivity and diversity that is similar to the early days for mountain revolution, with a strong focus on participation and  fun. It also an incredibly particle form of bicycle due to its versatility both on and off road. If I had to decide on one bike, it would be a gravel bike ! I ride out of my door over roads, field tracks, single track without a worry, freedom !

This project was an early test mule for ideas to develop a modern light weight fillet brazed steel gavel frame, light, responsive and comfortable in a high performance package, taking advantage of steels unique ride characteristics. The main frame is a mix of Reynolds 853 and Columbus spirit and life tubes. At the time 40+ tyres on a 700c wheel were the limit, I have further developed the rear triangle in later projects to achieve clearance for a 50mm + tyre on a 700c platform. I know many brands offer models which can accept different wheel sizes, 650b and 700c, personally I am not a big fan as it invariably affects geometry, and prefer to make a clear decision on wheel size then optimise the fit and geometry based on the design brief with the customer. For a fast gravel machine like this one, a 700c with a wide tyre and clearance to match is a flyer. This frame also has a slightly longer front triangle which is now fairly standard practice. Optically I wanted to keep it very clean, matching the flamboyant ruby paint to the Phil wood headset and seat clamp so it looked visually integrated, a look that works well on fillet brazed frames with their organic joints.

 It was also a chance to test the Lauf suspension fork, which I found fascinating as there are no moving parts or service requirements. The first impression is quite disappointing if your expecting a similar sensation to a hydraulic fork. However the longer you ride the more its comfort benefits become apparent as you are less fatigued. It certainly splits opinions, but for a low maintenance performance fork to take the edge off small bumps, it works. 

The second big test was electronic wireless shifting, I was sceptical, after mixed experience with wired electronic shift systems. But wow that is technology that works reliably even in mud and winter weather. Its so simple to install and maintain, and gives a wonderful clean optic as a frame builder. Just don’t forget to charge the batteries !