Rough Road Racer Prototype

The is a bike that I have been thinking about building for some time now. In the end it all happened in something of a blur and the whole thing was built and painted in a day, if you look closely you can see the bits that were resurrected from the scrap bin to get it together!  

Beyond the rushed production there is a bit more detail to the design though! I am not going to call is a gravel bike; the rapid rise in popularity of that 'genre' of bike has led to a plethora of designs that don't quite know what they are apart from having big tyre clearance.  This bike is designed first and foremost as a road racing bike. It has a low bottom bracket, as short a chainstay as possible (an runs 650b rims to allow that) and wheelbase much more akin to a road racing bike. The steering geometry is set up to be almost identical to my preferred road race setup with the trail adjusted slightly to account for the use of (much) wider tyres.  If you are a mountain biker at heart you would probably call this a road bike and if you are a roadie then this is probably as close to an MTB as you are comfortable with! The point being that I didn't actually want to produce a 'versatile' do anything machine.  I love road riding and I wanted a bike that was as exciting as a road bike to ride but more comfortable on rough (and un paved) roads and capable of getting me to work and back without having to battle with cars at rush hour.

The huge 650*48b tubeless tyres give a similar outer circumference to a moderately large 700c tyre but only need about 35psi.  They roll really fast and are surprisingly quick on smooth tarmac (much more so than I expected and if you increase the pressure some more they feel nearly identical to a more traditional road tyre) and completely flatten out all put the biggest potholes.  Where I've had the most fun on this though is on canal paths and really rough roads, much like a racing bike the faster you go the better it gets and where 33Kph felt fast on a 'cross bike I have found myself blasting along at 40.

There are a few things that I would change for a future iteration but most of these are based on not rushing the production: different head tube standard, different forks and probably some different chain-stays and dropouts. I would also get some better photos (will do that at some point!!).  I hope to build some more of these so that more people can enjoy the thrill of a proper rough road racing bike!

BicyclesTom Sturdy