On Rule #12: Graveur Robber

Veloforma's Velominati <a href=
Graveur in the Seattle Strade Biache." src="http://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Velominati-Graveur-291-620x464.jpg" width="620" height="464" srcset="https://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Velominati-Graveur-291-620x464.jpg 620w, https://www.velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Velominati-Graveur-291-1024x767.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 620px) 100vw, 620px" /> Veloforma’s Velominati Graveur in the Seattle Strade Biache.

I find it interesting to observe the chasm between parties engaged in a conversation, particularly in response to questions being asked. I’m thinking, at present, of the question, “How many bikes do you have?” My feelings in response are nothing short of complex and maybe a bit confused; reservation that I feel I should have a more well-rounded stable, love as I picture each machine, longing as I immediately then also imagine riding it, some regret at the realization that I’m not riding it at that moment, and a touch of consternation as to whether I should include in my count the partially-built machines hanging in the basement. Their feeling, in contrast, is composed of one-dimensional and unveiled shock.

Several years ago, the VMH and I got lost while out Mountain biking north of Cle Elum and spent the better part of four hours riding our mountain bikes on gravel roads. It was one of the best days we’ve had on a bike, and as a result I’ve been increasingly obsessed with the notion of hitting the gravel mountain roads in the North Cascades on a bike tuned for gravé. These small roads liter the mountainsides and offer access to parts of the world where a road bike can’t go, but provide a range that would be untenable on fat-tired bikes.

A Graveur differs from a road bike in the sense that it has cantilever brakes and wide tires. It differs from a Cyclocross bike in the sense that the rider’s position is tuned to fast riding over relatively smooth terrain. A friend who I met at the Portland Cogal turned me onto a small Portland frame builder, Veloforma. Apart from building fantastic frames and having a great reputation locally, the owner is similarly obsessed with fast gravel riding as he lives in the boonies beyond the reaches of asphalt. A few chats with him and his infectious passion for his bikes, and I was sold completely. It goes without mention that I couldn’t resist the option to have the frame painted in Velominati colors.

I placed the order for a Veloforma Team CCX in November and immediately set about collecting the bits I would need to build it. A few weeks later, the owner sent me a mockup of the proposed paint scheme. It immediately became my desktop wallpaper and hardly a day has passed since then that I haven’t contemplated at length the various flavors of Awesome that were sure to pass beneath the tires of this machine as we explore the bounties of the Cascades. The VMH obviously also required a Graveur and her will was quickly done.

For those of you wondering how I’m preparing for my Hour Ride this weekend, it includes generous amounts of “natural interval training” on the CCX Graveur in the local park. There is zero flex in the tapered steer tube (my first), and VF’s proprietary BB66 bottom bracket is absurdly stiff; I can’t flex this thing for shit, which means more of my V winds up on the road instead of in the tubes where it does nothing productive. And paired to the Café Roubaix Arenbergs with Dugast 32m file tread tires, I practically need to tie it down to keep it from floating off.

As far as specs go, I’m riding the XL with a 14cm 17 degree stem, which gives me precisely the same position as on my road bikes. The fizik Cyrano Carbon seat pin holds up a custom black and orange Arione CX. I went with a 50T outer ring (it’s only a BIG RING when its over 52T) paired to a 38T inner ring on a 130BCD spider. The 50T will get more use than would a 53T given the increased drag, and the 38T shortens the gear just enough to keep the legs turning over on long gravé climbs. For CX racing, I’ll glue on some nobbies, go to a 10 degree stem to lift the bars up a touch, and drop the outer ring to a 44T or 42T.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Graveur Robber/”/]

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173 Replies to “On Rule #12: Graveur Robber”

  1. @Cyclops We’ll have to decide what to do with the Nederaap; either have you tune the frame fit or I’ll have you build me a Deacon from scratch. Possibly with couplings. The Nederaap would fill a much-needed hole as a commuter/city bike; the fit would be ideal for that.

  2. @frank

    Tell you what I see. The only other Blue that I know about besides tri bikes in Ironman. And that’s a beautiful thing.

  3. @frank

    Cheers mate.

    I think Souleur meant the cable stop on the bridge leading to seatstays.I was on about the top tube stops left and right.

    I think the left stop would lead perfectly to the rear brake and the right one down towards FD.

    I’d also get Sram if I was to build CX or Graveur so obvious good call here.

    As far as FD goes small in-line adjuster will always do the job while still looking decent so no harm here. Sram requires higher cable tension for FD than other systems that is why many have problems with a proper set-up.I use cable stretcher for Sram FD set-up and shift up and down many times to get cable pre-stretched.Then shift to a big ring and leave it overnight.Use the cable stretcher again the next day and then FD should stay adjusted.You couldn’t use Sram FD, why?

    @Gianni

    Thanks.Offended with what? Man,too busy with lots of things to even have time to get offended.Life gets in the way chico!

  4. @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    Cheers mate.

    I think Souleur meant the cable stop on the bridge leading to seatstays.I was on about the top tube stops left and right.

    I think the left stop would lead perfectly to the rear brake and the right one down towards FD.

    I’d also get Sram if I was to build CX or Graveur so obvious good call here.

    As far as FD goes small in-line adjuster will always do the job while still looking decent so no harm here. Sram requires higher cable tension for FD than other systems that is why many have problems with a proper set-up.I use cable stretcher for Sram FD set-up and shift up and down many times to get cable pre-stretched.Then shift to a big ring and leave it overnight.Use the cable stretcher again the next day and then FD should stay adjusted.You couldn’t use Sram FD, why?

    @Gianni

    Thanks.Offended with what? Man,too busy with lots of things to even have time to get offended.Life gets in the way chico!

    That tol is the bomb diggity. I need to get me one. The shop I wrenched at had a couple. Saves a ton of work when stringing cable.

  5. And how come no matter how many slick bikes I have myself, I’m still lusting after other bikes?

    What is this illness that plagues me?

  6. @Ron

    And how come no matter how many slick bikes I have myself, I’m still lusting after other bikes?

    What is this illness that plagues me?

    Rule #12 and #4

  7. @scaler911

    @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    Cheers mate.

    I think Souleur meant the cable stop on the bridge leading to seatstays.I was on about the top tube stops left and right.

    I think the left stop would lead perfectly to the rear brake and the right one down towards FD.

    I’d also get Sram if I was to build CX or Graveur so obvious good call here.

    As far as FD goes small in-line adjuster will always do the job while still looking decent so no harm here. Sram requires higher cable tension for FD than other systems that is why many have problems with a proper set-up.I use cable stretcher for Sram FD set-up and shift up and down many times to get cable pre-stretched.Then shift to a big ring and leave it overnight.Use the cable stretcher again the next day and then FD should stay adjusted.You couldn’t use Sram FD, why?

    @Gianni

    Thanks.Offended with what? Man,too busy with lots of things to even have time to get offended.Life gets in the way chico!

    That tol is the bomb diggity. I need to get me one. The shop I wrenched at had a couple. Saves a ton of work when stringing cable.

    Does that thing pull cables while you tighten the bolts?  What does it do?

  8. @DerHoggz

    @scaler911

    @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    Cheers mate.

    I think Souleur meant the cable stop on the bridge leading to seatstays.I was on about the top tube stops left and right.

    I think the left stop would lead perfectly to the rear brake and the right one down towards FD.

    I’d also get Sram if I was to build CX or Graveur so obvious good call here.

    As far as FD goes small in-line adjuster will always do the job while still looking decent so no harm here. Sram requires higher cable tension for FD than other systems that is why many have problems with a proper set-up.I use cable stretcher for Sram FD set-up and shift up and down many times to get cable pre-stretched.Then shift to a big ring and leave it overnight.Use the cable stretcher again the next day and then FD should stay adjusted.You couldn’t use Sram FD, why?

    @Gianni

    Thanks.Offended with what? Man,too busy with lots of things to even have time to get offended.Life gets in the way chico!

    That tol is the bomb diggity. I need to get me one. The shop I wrenched at had a couple. Saves a ton of work when stringing cable.

    Does that thing pull cables while you tighten the bolts? What does it do?

    Pretty much.  It pulls the cable tight, and the small serrated teeth hold the cable just where you want it, hands free, while you tighten the fixing bolt.

  9. @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    Cheers mate.

    I think Souleur meant the cable stop on the bridge leading to seatstays.I was on about the top tube stops left and right.

    Ah, in that case, the mini-v’s don’t use a stop. I checked with the owner and designer of the frame, and I do have the cables routed correctly. The stop on the seat tube is also angled a bit to the left to receive the cable.

    You couldn’t use Sram FD, why?

    I could, and it shifted just fine; the only thing was that the pulley caused some extra friction and since I had a top pull sitting around anyway, I grabbed it and the shifting is indeed quite a bit lighter.

    Other than that, the performance is the same.

    The third hand! I love that tool! Somehow, mine has gone missing from my tool box – time to replace it as I’d forgotten how handy they can be! Thanks for the reminder.

    @RedRanger

    @Ron

    And how come no matter how many slick bikes I have myself, I’m still lusting after other bikes?

    What is this illness that plagues me?

    Rule #12 and #4

    Well done, pedalwan.

    @scaler911

    That Blue looks awesome. Showing some good post there, too. Nicely done.

  10. I was out doing some cross riding last night and got to thinking. I like the firm, sure click-in of my Force stuff, but sending the chain in when out of the saddle is not easy. I have strong hands, but my fingers aren’t that long. Maybe this is the reason? And my FD has always been a challenge to get back onto the big ring. I have a 42/38 setup, so not a big jump.

    I don’t think twice about sending the chain in at the rear on any of my Shimano or Campa equipped bikes when I’m out of the saddle, but I realized I don’t even consider this on my SRAM-equipped cx bike because the shift movement is stiff and the push in is long (RD, of course).

    Do I need to adjust things or have I uncovered a drawback of SRAM? I love the positive, sure click when upshifting on SRAM, but downshifting has always been a bit finicky for me. Far more half shifts that clatter than I’ve ever had on Campa or Shimano.

    Am I just a shitty shifty shifter, is something in need of some fine-tuning, or is SRAM just a bit less slick in this area? (I can’t imagine PROs in the Classics would put up with that, half-shifts on the Koppenburg? And I’m doubting its just that I don’t have Red.)

  11. Very, very nice bike, Frank – Hat. Graveur robber, eh? I assume you have baptized this lovely machine ‘Lara’, then?

  12. @patrasananias

    Cool bike, like the colours. Weirdly, (as I just read this piece today) this is what BikeSnobNYC has to say today (tues, july 30) of “gravel bikes”….kinda agree with him, I have to say.

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com.au/2013_07_01_archive.html

    There is never any justification for NOT buying another bike. It runs completely counter to Rule #12. Of course you need a gravel bike!  That said, he totally has a point as to what constitutes a gravel bike.  Any bike with enough clearance for wide tires can work.  Bikes like the Salsa Warbird and the like are essentially American-style cyclocross bikes with more BB drop and slightly longer wheelbases for stability (and disc brakes).  That doesn’t mean you can’t ride your Ridley X-Night on gravel though (except that you won’t have water bottle mounts).  My gravel bike pulls double duty as my cross bike even though it weighs a fucking ton (metric of course) – I just lose the bottle cages and put on some Grifos.  Its definitely better on gravel or dirt roads as opposed to a tight cross course though.

  13. They even have a date inside: Aout 2012.

    So they are about a year old. How long are tubulars supposed to be aged for?

  14. @G’rilla

    They even have a date inside: Aout 2012.

    So they are about a year old. How long are tubulars supposed to be aged for?

    I always hear 6-12 months.  The point is to let the tread harden due to the natural rubber aging, for puncture resistance.  Seems like less of an issue with knobby cross tires than thin-cased road tires, but it probably doesn’t hurt.

  15. @VeloVita

    @patrasananias

    Cool bike, like the colours. Weirdly, (as I just read this piece today) this is what BikeSnobNYC has to say today (tues, july 30) of “gravel bikes”….kinda agree with him, I have to say.

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com.au/2013_07_01_archive.html

    There is never any justification for NOT buying another bike. It runs completely counter to Rule #12. Of course you need a gravel bike! That said, he totally has a point as to what constitutes a gravel bike. Any bike with enough clearance for wide tires can work. Bikes like the Salsa Warbird and the like are essentially American-style cyclocross bikes with more BB drop and slightly longer wheelbases for stability (and disc brakes). That doesn’t mean you can’t ride your Ridley X-Night on gravel though (except that you won’t have water bottle mounts). My gravel bike pulls double duty as my cross bike even though it weighs a fucking ton (metric of course) – I just lose the bottle cages and put on some Grifos. Its definitely better on gravel or dirt roads as opposed to a tight cross course though.

    Aw, BikeSnob is a hater because something cool is coming out of the Midwest. I agree that having a gravel bike AND a cross bike is a little silly, and it was pretty hilarious to read two separate article saying opposite things about what an ideal gravel bike is within a week or so. Go out and race, if you want something different, go build it.  There are plenty of people who do what @Frank is doing, build up a road bike with clearance, there are people who ride touring rigs complete with fenders, monstercross, fatbikes, American- and European-style cross bikes, tandems, etc. Plus, Rule #12.  I like having a quick-handling cross bike for rough b-roads, and the tandem kills the smoother stuff.  There are always guys on the side of the road digging mud out of repurposed roadies, and the really aggressive position (see @Frank’s) will ya over 100-200 miles racing.

  16. @G’rilla

    IIRC Francois ages the rubber for at least a year before a tire is made out of it so your set is very good.A piece of advice-since I can see u’re becoming a pretty serious cat when it comes to cx so try getting tubulars a year ahead of the season.So now you should get tubulars for next year.Good luck with races.

  17. @Balexander

    There are always guys on the side of the road digging mud out of repurposed roadies, and the really aggressive position (see @Frank’s) will ya over 100-200 miles racing.

    My favorite thing in the world is people who ascertain the aggressiveness of a rider’s position by looking at the bike only, not having seen the rider on the bike.

    Did 14 hours on the Graveur a week ago, no worries.

    @TommyTubolare

    @G’rilla

    IIRC Francois ages the rubber for at least a year before a tire is made out of it so your set is very good.A piece of advice-since I can see u’re becoming a pretty serious cat when it comes to cx so try getting tubulars a year ahead of the season.So now you should get tubulars for next year.Good luck with races.

    I’ve got my eyes on a set of their Sprint tires in 34. Loving the wideness and the relative smooth tread.

    http://www.fmbtires.com/fmb_cotton_Sprint.htm

  18. @frank Nice! The owner of my LBS sets up his gravel rig (including GW tandem rig) the same way, and I roll my eyes at him every time I see the ridiculously long stems he digs out.  Don’t take it personally. My roadie is set up similarly, but the CX/gravel rig has a high headtube that precludes too much drop, so it might just be jealousy on my part that your Graveur is so amazingly well-suited.

  19. @Balexander

    I always like someone who can take a sharp remark strongly. But please stop talking about tandems. I’m super cereal.

    But maybe that’s my jealousy analog to your bar drop jealousy speaking, seeing as riding a tandem with me and the VMH would be instant separation.

    Seriously, though, a Graveur should be tuned to your normal road position, whatever that is, and not a CX position; that’s the only real difference between a Graveur and CX rig. Tire clearance, width etc are all secondary factors.

    For what its worth, I’ll switch from my 17 degree stem to a 10 degree when I race it offroad (although I’ve been perfectly happy riding it on my usual CX route as-is, but I’d like to be able to unweight the front tire just a bit more for CX.)

  20. @Nate

    Yes although there’s no science to back it up really.Just personal experience.

    If you are to install a 3 year old tire and ride over a large glass it will simply puncture so some automatically assume that ageing was a nonsense however I noticed that aged tubulars suffer much less from little cuts and nicks simply because small flints,stones or gravel do not stick  to aged rubber in the same way as to the ‘fresh’one.

    Unless it’s something large-broken glass for example-most punctures in bicycle tires are created  by small, sharp objects that stick to the outer tread and then get pushed in, till they reach the inner tube so If I can prevent it a bit more by ageing why not.

    Current tubular production leaves you with only few brands worth ageing anyway so not many bothers any more.

  21. I guess they don’t offer them anymore, and mine are long gone to a friend. Seems they only offered them for a short while (I got the 8.4s the week they were released)

    I’ve only found a tiny picture of them to. 

  22. Tomorrow at 10am the early season hopes of hundreds of Seattle-area cyclocrossers will be crushed when I show up on the course.

    I would be glad to provide that same service to Frank if he can get out of bed by then.

  23. @G’rilla

    Tomorrow at 10am the early season hopes of hundreds of Seattle-area cyclocrossers will be crushed when I show up on the course.

    I would be glad to provide that same service to Frank if he can get out of bed by then.

    We started yesterday. Actually last weekend. I’m guessing that Seattlites rolled down to PDX to see how you set up a course. If you and @Frank have enough V, maybe you’ll actually come down fro a Cross Crusade race this year.

  24. @G’rilla

    Tomorrow at 10am the early season hopes of hundreds of Seattle-area cyclocrossers will be crushed when I show up on the course.

    Poor bastards.

    Note to others:  a wide slection of barely-used cross bikes should appear on Seattle Craigslist this week.

  25. @frank See, when I think “gravel bike”, I think DK200 or Gravel Worlds, where the road is freakin’ crazy, and I want to have as much bunny-hopping, line changing, fishtailing ability as possible.  I’m with that interview with Dan Hughes: the best gravel rig is a CX rig.  For some of the lighter stuff that might sneak into a road ride, 23s on A23s on the road bike are perfectly good enough.

    Obviously, none of that mess matters on the Burley express train. :)

  26. Glad this thread is still open.  Been thinking of a gravel bike for some time.  Planning out budgets now.  So my question is if I can get away with 35-40mm cross tires (clinchers) on Open Pro rims (which I already have) or if I’m going to have to go with a new wheelset. Intended terrain is more fire road than gravel road.  Thoughts?

  27. @scaler911

    @G’rilla

    Tomorrow at 10am the early season hopes of hundreds of Seattle-area cyclocrossers will be crushed when I show up on the course.

    I would be glad to provide that same service to Frank if he can get out of bed by then.

    We started yesterday. Actually last weekend. I’m guessing that Seattlites rolled down to PDX to see how you set up a course. If you and @Frank have enough V, maybe you’ll actually come down fro a Cross Crusade race this year.

    “We”? Do you have a CXing mouse in your pocket? Or is @mouse in your pocket?

    You talk awful tough for a guy with no CX bike.

  28. @Skip

    Glad this thread is still open. Been thinking of a gravel bike for some time. Planning out budgets now. So my question is if I can get away with 35-40mm cross tires (clinchers) on Open Pro rims (which I already have) or if I’m going to have to go with a new wheelset. Intended terrain is more fire road than gravel road. Thoughts?

    I had 35mm CX tires on Open Pros on the original Nederaap build – no worries. 40mm seems wide, but probably would also work.

  29. @frank

    @scaler911

    @G’rilla

    Tomorrow at 10am the early season hopes of hundreds of Seattle-area cyclocrossers will be crushed when I show up on the course.

    I would be glad to provide that same service to Frank if he can get out of bed by then.

    We started yesterday. Actually last weekend. I’m guessing that Seattlites rolled down to PDX to see how you set up a course. If you and @Frank have enough V, maybe you’ll actually come down fro a Cross Crusade race this year.

    “We”? Do you have a CXing mouse in your pocket? Or is @mouse in your pocket?

    You talk awful tough for a guy with no CX bike.

    True, I don’t have a ‘cross rig as of yet (it’s in the works). That said it’s easy to talk tough when you guys don’t actually race ‘cross up there. Real ‘cross happens in 3 places: Belgium, Portland and Louisville Ky.

  30. It looks like the Dutch Monkey Oranje livery is growing in popularity off the tarmac.

    Photo from velonews (Interbike).  This is not my bike.

  31. @Nate

    The original Graveur? What a badass.

    Yup, Johnny T. Absolutely. Total stud, and so fucking cool he put Campa brake levers on that thing because everyone knows those old Campa brake levers are the sexiest shit ever.

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