Several things have been happening in the bike world, the popularity of road bike disc brakes and a general trend towards bikes more real-world practical bikes have increasing converged to bring forth many more different types of bikes. This has spawned the current bike genre of the moment: what the industry calls Gravel or Adventure bikes. Disc brakes allowed bikes to be designed for larger tyres without any compromise in braking performance, these larger tyres allowed riding to go beyond what cyclocross and touring previously defined.
This is all great, and I've had a great few years riding my Croix de fer, it's taken me to The Alps up and down mountain passes and gravel tracks, it's gone up Wrynose pass in The Lake District up and also around forests in Surrey Hills. However over time, I have started to feel that there could be several things that could be better.
What am I trying to achieve? Originally when I built Phil I also looked at frames which had more clearance, although I didn't think I needed all that much, however that's changed as I have recently become more interested in off-road riding. Secondly, I originally chose a steel frame as I wanted maximum flexibility for luggage, however I have rarely carried panniers on the bike and usually make do with a backpack. I have never been much of a weight weenie but I figure if I can drop a few Kg with not much compromise, why not?
The next stepThis led to where I am now, I had entertained the idea of a carbon fibre bike for a while. I had my eye on several bikes and wanted to swap just the frame. Eventually I was browsing Planet X's website and saw they had the Bish Bash Bosh frameset on sale for just under £400... This is about the same price as the Genesis frameset was originally. However the next day the special vanished and I let it linger at the back of my mind for the next few weeks. Luckily the same special popped up again suddenly and I pulled the trigger. There was a choice of three colours: anthracite, green and orange. I liked the bright colours however the logos were a bit too garish on them, so I went with the anthracite which was the most subdued.
The frame was pretty well packed with plenty of foam and a sturdy box. Despite the box having a dent in it, the frame was nice and sound. First thing to do of course is weigh everything!
The weight was less than I thought it would be, this looks like it could be a very light bike. The frame is advertised as 1,250g for a medium size and I have a small. Weights are as follows:
Missing in actionNo bike build can happen without missing bits or the occasional mishap. Mine was a missing part, and as I wasn't familiar with thru-axles I had to do a bit of research and have learnt a bit in the process.
After unboxing everything I put thru axles into the frame as I had never had a bike with them and was curious at how they worked. I wondered though why the drive side dropout was not threaded like the fork one... Turns out that the wrong axle was packaged with the frame and that it should have included a nut insert that sits in the dropout held in place by the grub screw you can see above.
After a few emails with planetx.co.uk they sent me a correct axle and I was able to insert the nut into the dropout and thread the axle in properly. Despite that I had heard Planet X has poor customer service, I experienced the opposite. They were helpful and kept track of my case and in the end I got what I wanted. Thanks!
The frame is made from Toray 800 carbon fibre, the headtube/steerer is designed for a 1.12"/1.5" tapered steerer, the headset is integrated so the bearings fit directly into the frame without cups. I was a bit cynical about this previously however after some more googling I didn't really hear of too many horror stories with integrated headsets ruining frames.
Although I am now more convinced about integrated headsets, I'm yet to be convinced by press fit bottom brackets. The bottom bracket is a standard threaded unit on this frame which is a good thing. Ironically the latest trend in bottom bracket standards takes the dimensions of press fit bottom brackets but adds threaded cups which prevents the common creaking associated with press fit bottom brackets.
The seatstays give plenty of clearance, it's a touch tighter around the chainstays though as it needs to fit a standard road double crankset. Going by measurements, it looks like you can fit about a 700 x 42c or a 650b x 47c You can see here that all the cable routing is internal which is a nice touch as it makes the bike look a whole lot cleaner. Also the threaded bosses on the rear of the dropouts are actually the mudguard attachment points which require an eyelet to be screwed into it which are quite stealthy.
Although it doesn't state that racks can be fitted to the frame it looks like there are some bosses on the seatstay for them... Note the hidden boss for the mudguard mount, very neat!
The head tube is bare carbon to fit the integrated headset bearings. The head tube is a fair bit taller than the Genesis at about 140mm.
That's it for now. I'm quite happy with this frame, given that I was able to buy it for at the same price (or cheaper) than many steel or alloy frames it was an absolute bargain. The plan now is to swap over most of the parts from Phil, however I'll need to build a new set of wheels and I would like to tweak the cockpit slightly with wider, possibly flared drop bars which give more control on dirt.
Continued in Part 2...