Interbike 2014 Day 2 – Dirt & Gravel Goodies

Greetings from Interbike 2014, day two.  During today’s downtime, I photographed several bikes and parts of interest.  Enjoy!

Bikes

The Litespeed T5G (Gravel) Adventure bike is a nice machine, but lacking a little in the tire clearance department.  40mm of clearance is nice, but why not allow for 50mm?  In my experience, a nice 29’er tire that is two inches (or 50mm wide if you prefer) wide is my preferred choice for chunky gravel roads, particularly when steep descents feature on the parcours.  Wider is better for control AND safety.  Titanium is the perfect frame material for this sort of cycling.

Louis Garneau Steeple-XC Elite is marketed as a carbon cross bike, but could be a great machine for dirt and gravel roads.  There aren’t a lot of details available on this machine, and LG’s website has nothing about the bike.  But, look at that tire clearance!  Specifications for the bike state 40mm of clearance, but I’d wager a 1.8″ 29’er / 45mm tire would fit into this bike.  Tires fitting the bike in the photos were marked as 32mm in width.

Ritchey’s Swiss Cross bike now has a disc brake option.  I own the Ritchey Breakaway equivalent of this bike, albeit with Cantilever brakes.  This bike accepts 40mm tires with room to spare.  If the ride quality of the Swiss Cross is as good as it’s Breakway cousin, I highly recommend this lovely steel frame bike.

The Jamis entry into the Adventure bike / gravel market is an all carbon affair.  As with most of the bikes I’ve mentioned, clearance for 40mm tires is the norm, although I would love to see 50mm.  This “Elite” variant of the machine features a Shimano Ultegra mechanical / hydro build kit and American Classic Argent wheels.  The “Expert” variant features a Shimano 105 11-speed kit with TRP hydro brakes and Alex tubeless wheels.  Frame / Fork only sales will not be available in the 2015 year.  The frame supports electronic shifting and internal seatpost batteries.

Wheels

American Classic has some great dirt and gravel road wheel options.  All of the wheels barring the 350 Tubeless Road are intended for MTB usage, but make fantastic dirt and gravel road wheels.

The Carbonator 29’er wheelset (700c) is the company’s first foray into carbon rims for MTB usage.  Not the lightest of their 29’er options, it’s perfect for those who are looking for the ride of carbon.  $1000 cheaper than many of their competitors and 26mm wide inside, it’s a wheelset worth checking out.  40mm gravel tires will be fantastic on this wheelset.

American Classic Wide Lightning is 29.3mm wide inside!  This wheelset is now a year old, but has been raced in CX competition by AC’s CX team featuring Robert Marion and Co.  Another fantastic wheelset for gravel tires.

The American Classic Race 29’er wheelset is one I have used personally for over a year, at many Ultra CX and endurance CX races.  The wheelset is as true as the day I bought it, and is the lightest of AC’s 29’er wheel options.  I will post a detailed review of this wheelset in the near future.

Finally, the company’s venerable 350 wheelset has been improved for 2015 with the addition of tubeless rims.  Inside, they measure 19.5mm wide.  I’ve been kicking around several pairs of 350 wheels circa 2003 on a couple of my road bikes, so I am looking forward to checking these latest models out.  I’d wager they will make great wheels for 28mm tubeless road tires, on fast gravel gravel courses (Dirty 40).

Brakes

TRP produces great brakes.  All of the brakes pictured have been in production for well over a year.  The Spyre dual piston mechanical is one I use on my Monster CX machine – absolutely love it.  The SLC variant of this brake features Ti bolts and a carbon actuator arm, and shaves a few grams.  The simplicity, ease of setup along with plenty of power is why I love these brakes.  In future, I may punch out a review of the Spyres.

I cannot speak for the HY/RD version of these brakes (mechanical -> hydro), but online reviews have been positive.  However, I understand proper setup is more critical vs a mechanical disc brake.  I should give these brakes a whirl in the future.

Finally, the RevoX brake, which proves that Canti’s are far from dead.

Tires (Tyres)

Schwalbe’s Thunder Burt was used by many of the front runners at the 2014 Dirty Kanza.  I’m a big fan of Schwalbe’s Furious Fred tire, but this model seems to offer better puncture protection, while retaining low rolling resistance on dirt and gravel surfaces.  Not a tire I have ridden, but worthy of comparing to the Furious Freds.

Schwalbe One – Schwalbe’s entry into the road market.  Not a lot of specifications were available on these, but there are three widths available – 23, 25 and 28mm.  From the recollection of my discussion with one of the Schwalbe representatives, the 28mm is weighty at around 380 grams.  I do not recall if the tire features a puncture protection strip, but at that weight, it is likely.  Considering most cyclists are running tubeless tires with sealant, I think the protection strip could be ditched, and some weight saved.

Power Meters

I don’t own a power meter, never have, and don’t really have plans to.  The Brim Brothers model in the photos is ONLY for Speedplay road pedals.   I’ve ridden Speedplay pedals on the road since 1996, including silly rides aboard road bikes on dirt roads.  Speedplays are completely fine unless you clip out into sand.  These points aside with Speedplay, a power meter that is based around a cleat measurement device is AWESOME.  No hub, crank or other bike specific measurement device relegating the device to one bike!  I’m going to keep an eye on Brim Brother’s development of the product.  This IS a product I would consider trying out.   Delivery of the 2,500 back orders is expected to begin around October of 2014.

Thanks for reading!

2 comments on “Interbike 2014 Day 2 – Dirt & Gravel Goodies

  1. I’m feeling uninspired by those bikes – the seat and chainstays all look pretty straight and single bore. The intersection point of the seatstays on the Jamis looks both fragile and like it will contribute to a wicked floppy seat tube.

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