May Two Four Gravel Build

The Victoria Day long weekend is upon us in Canada. Colloquially known in parts of Canada as the “May Two-Four”, it is a time for us to plant our gardens only to have them crushed by spring frost, fire up the barbeque for family get-together that can’t happen right now in this cursed year (but hopefully soon), and freeze to death camping, bicycle racing or on an epic expedition ride as it inevitably rains, sleets, snow or all three at the same time at some point on this weekend. Again this year the weather has been crap leading up to and into the weekend as expected so I got off my duff and put together a low-trail “gravel-grinder” build. As some of you may recall we played with some 931 stainless steel tubed prototypes a few year ago which I really regret not putting into production as gravel grinding exploded (oh well) but I went the other way with a “budget” build this time which would retail for about $1300 USD. We didn’t receive the all parts we ordered for this year like many other small operations due to supply chain disruptions in the bike business so I did the build with what I could gather from our inventory and sourcing locally from friendly shops. 

I set it up as a 1X10 with a microSHIFT Rear Derailleur Long Cage XLE RD-M61L and a microSHIFT XLE Xpress SL-M850  Rear Derailleur shifter mounted to the stem coupled with a 36T front chain ring. A little unconventional but it worked. A Soma Condor 2 “alternative drop bar” that combines the features of a compact drop bar with those of a riser bar bolted up to a Factory Five F5 Titan 1″ Quill Ste. I found a NOS Diacompe ENE mini-rack a customer changed their mind on that bolted up to the brake posts for my front bag and put on some old Gipiemme track pedals with new NOS straps and toe clips (remember those?) .

I went with some Panaracer Gravel King SK 27.5X1.9 (48mm wide) tires which I ran at about 35psi.

As you can see they fit with ok tire clearance.

Weight with pedals/straps, rack, bottle cage etc. as pictured is about 11.2 kilograms. For the weight weenies, a lighter seat, pedals, no rack etc could easily take another 400-600 grams off the weight to around 10.5kg (23.3Ilb). I have only taken it for few short-ish dirt path and pavement rides so far. The Soma Condor 2 bars did not take long to get used to and the stem mounted shifter, while I did have to move my right hand for of the bars to shift, worked fine. On my second ride, I had no trouble keeping up with my buddies on their “state-of-art”, $7-12k carbon fiber gravel grinders but all us are middle-aged+ dads hauling some pandemic winter weight around so YMMV! The Panaracers were a bit porkier than the 35-40mm tires on the other bikes and the odd side knobs did not inspire great cornering confidence but the extra volume gave a stable and much more cushy ride on the few sketchier, rockier downhills which I really appreciated.

Cheers, Evan.

BTW we have a decent stock of frames (except our 51cm small size which is sold out), 650B wheels sets, Luxe cranksets, Pacenti 38mm 650B white and black tires (but no inner tubes), Tektro long reach side pull brakes (but no Dia-Compe centre pulls), etc. The shuffling of our stock since Angus moved to London UK has been sorted out and our website stock should be up to date; Laurielle and Mike can help you out with your questions or if you are in Calgary, Vitasport stocks our parts and has some full bike builds in stock.