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/”/]

Related Posts

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

  1. @scaler911

    @frank

    dude. (in a tone not conveyable in text). That’s a beautiful whip. And I’m saying it again. If there’s room, you should bring it with you this weekend, just so I can have it in the shop.

    @chipomarc

    Been riding over 35 years now, a bike is nothing more than a tool. One black bike is the same as another black bike.

    Good for you. You must have no soul if you think your bike is nothing more than just a “tool”.

    @Robert

    +1 on the fit. That has to be the worst set-up ever.

    I’m looking for a bike fitter, ’cause I must know fuck all about it since I also ride bikes that are “too small for me”. What do you charge?

    @chipomarc great tools are fuckin awesome… and yes I took the bait, but if you have no appreciation for your ride then…

  2. @frank

    @sthilzy

    Where’s the kickstand to hold it up on the gravel shot? Or do you do a ghosty on it and catch a well timed snap shot?

    A perfectly selected stick stuck in the BB. Then photoshopped out on the angle shot because it was wicked obvs.

    except you forgot to shop out the shadow on the gravel…tbh I expected better from you.

  3. That bike looks super fast Frank, capable of smoothing out any gravel road surface. The trick to grave is to keep your speed high just like on the pave and then you can blast over any corrugations caused by other vehicles. The motto ride the crest definitely won’t work for grave, more like ride the valley as the loose stones will be piled on top. Our local club race on gravel has a 90deg bend at an intersection which causes many riders to eat dirt usually due to a timid approach- best to hold some speed and stay centred on the bike to ride it out. I enjoy a grave ride when it comes in secteurs interspersed with smooth tarmac as a juxtaposition. You have just educated me in the use of those fizik rubber rings – they go around the seat post to stop crap going the tube ! I was wearing it as a ring

  4. That is one seriously beautiful bicycle!  I know this has been mentioned over and over again, but every time I see one of Frank’s bikes I can’t get over that seatpost length.   Are you the fucking Wicked Witch of the West riding on that broomstick?

  5. Apologies Frank, just read post #32 – please backdate my previous post to December 31, 2009.

  6. As soon as I opened the site today I thought “that’s a Frank bike”! I wish I was as flexible and able to ride pain free.

  7. @G’rilla

    If you’re amazed by his position on the bike, you should see his office chair to keyboard drop when he’s writing articles for this site.

    Low keyboard for road articles, higher for CX race reports?

  8. Frank: that bike is simply righteous

    i threw mine together completely opposite than you did, obviously, as you contemplated every single thing, I just took left over parts and put it on a specific cheap ass frame i stole from boulder, a rocky mtn aluminum cross frame.  i assumed I would trash the crap out of her, ding the under tube/bb area and didn’t want to feel bad at all rouling down the road at 40k+. 

    Here’s the kicker, f***ing Dugast on a gravel road rig? are you just insane, or are you on powder up there in washington, as everyone here in the midwest..aka, the recent weeekend dirty danza, roule out on 40mm tyres, no tubies, some even on 29r rims/tyres.  Please let me know how you sleep at night with these babies mounted on this rig.

    and, why didn’t you use the nipple on the seattube for your brake?   I mounted one to mine and thought it was perfect

    again, a righteous ride man, over the top

  9. @frank

    Nice bike Frank and well taken photos.

    I don’t understand your choice of cable stops for FD and rear brake cables on the top tube.Any particular reason?

  10. Joli vélo!
    “gravé” isn’t a word in french, perhaps you meant “gravier”
    Good luck on your hour-long challenge !

  11. @Emile

    Joli Vélo!
    “gravé” isn’t a word in french, perhaps you meant “gravier”
    Good luck on your hour-long challenge !

    I think it is our “clever” play on the word, pavé. We make things up here, a lot. But thank you, correct word usage is important to us, unless we are making up things.

    @TommyTubolare

    Welcome back. I was afraid we had offended another good velominati.

  12. @ Frank   AS mentioned above she is beautiful, i especially took notice of the way the carbon weave plays through out. Even the tire tread has a similar look.  It’s all in the detail , by the sound of some of the post you better get the gps chip installed. Oh and you even left room for the name badge?

  13. @frank

    @Tugman

    Beautiful machine @frank! Love the seat tube/stays/ top tube orange scheme! Although if I may offer a suggestion, what about some white cufflinks to bust up the black in the cockpit and deliver a bit of subtle “pop”.

    Good idea, matey. I was also contemplating orange bar tape (exactly the same as the saddle orange to which the frame was matched). Went black as a (subtle) nod to Pantani’s machine in 1998. I hadn’t thought of white V-cufflinks, I may have to try it.

    Maybe stay black with orange hoods to break up the black?

  14. @frank

    @DerHoggz

    @frank

    How do you keep your sidewalls clean? I just soap them up, with less than satisfactory results.

    Those handmade tires just stay clean, no idea how. Even in mud.

    Are those newer Dugasts?  Seems they started sealing the sidewalls.  Anyone seal road sidewalls?   Any crossers with experience with this?

  15. Franktard! That is simply an outstanding ride! I am twisted between proud peacock and humble tortoise in the range of emotions. That you choose to grace the drop-outs with my wheels is, well humbling but exciting. VF is truly a stunner and not surprisingly has been appropriately decked out.

    I love that the Arenbergs have made the jump to gravel. Graveur extraordinary, Marko, is busy portaging across the wilds of Ontario and Manitoba, missing this great article!

    this I just awesome

  16. @Mikael Liddy

    First gravel shot, no photoshopping – that’s virgin. Second shot, stick PS’d out, no shadow. I took care of it, mate. Even the teeth on the chain wheels are perfectly tuned post-photoshop. Go ahead, zoom way in. You’ll see.

    @Mike_P

    As soon as I opened the site today I thought “that’s a Frank bike”! I wish I was as flexible and able to ride pain free.

    Not so much a case of flexibility (though I am) but more a question of arm/leg length paired to a pygmy’s torso. Riding, it looks normal, the bike alone looks insane. This is why people should never look at a bike and make assumptions about the rider or the fit. More than height, fit has to do with limb/leg length and the rider’s various proportions. I suffered from intense back pain until I went against everyone’s advice and went low on the bars. Pain gone – who can argue with that?

  17. @Emile

    Joli Vélo!
    “gravé” isn’t a word in french, perhaps you meant “gravier”
    Good luck on your hour-long challenge !

    Thank you. Gravé is made up; it is a play on Pavé, which is a French word, and Gravel which is an English word and lacks any class whatsoever. Thus, we have arrived (via Brett) at Gravé.

    @Bianchi Denti

    @G’rilla

    If you’re amazed by his position on the bike, you should see his office chair to keyboard drop when he’s writing articles for this site.

    Low keyboard for road articles, higher for CX race reports?

    Higher board for programming, lower for writing. In order to enhance breathing for all that thinking, and for writing all you need to do is get the alcohol into the brain. Low keyboards are great for that.

  18. @TommyTubolare

    @frank

    Nice bike Frank and well taken photos.

    I don’t understand your choice of cable stops for FD and rear brake cables on the top tube.Any particular reason?

    Great to see you again, mate. I think @Souleur has the same question. The curve from the rider’s left cable exit gave a very smooth curve to the FD stop…and for the rear brake, it seemed longer but very smooth as well. It might be wrong and I might change it later, but the performance of both doesn’t inspire much question. I meant to ask Mark (owner of Veloforma) if I did it right but felt I’d pestered him enough at the time – I will speak to him tomorrow, I will ask and let you know.

    I did add a barrel adjuster (you’ll see that in the later photos from the gravel) in order to get the FD trimming perfect. It was back and forth – rub on the 38×27 or rub on the 50×12. With the adjuster, I can get it perfect without also going insane. I think you can adjust it for me without it, but you are very far away and the adjuster (which, in computing we call a Kludge) is more convenient.

  19. @Souleur

    Frank: that bike is simply righteous

    i threw mine together completely opposite than you did, obviously, as you contemplated every single thing, I just took left over parts and put it on a specific cheap ass frame i stole from boulder, a rocky mtn aluminum cross frame. i assumed I would trash the crap out of her, ding the under tube/bb area and didn’t want to feel bad at all rouling down the road at 40k+.

    Here’s the kicker, f***ing Dugast on a gravel road rig? are you just insane, or are you on powder up there in washington, as everyone here in the midwest..aka, the recent weeekend dirty danza, roule out on 40mm tyres, no tubies, some even on 29r rims/tyres. Please let me know how you sleep at night with these babies mounted on this rig.

    and, why didn’t you use the nipple on the seattube for your brake? I mounted one to mine and thought it was perfect

    again, a righteous ride man, over the top

    Two equally great approaches to find the same love. Power fuckin’ to ya. Thats how I hit the Nederaap and that could possibly be the most cherished bike I own.

    I have a strip of protection (basically a DT condom) that I may stick on there…but ultimately a bike is happiest when its ridden. This thing is so stunning, I’m almost scared to scratch it, which makes me want to crash it just to get it over with.

    As for the tires, we’ll see. My experience in Belgium and France indicates that the rougher the roads, the more supple the tire in order to deal with it. The tires we get the most punctures on during Keepers Tour is the “bullet proof” gatorskin. Only Musseeuw’s kid was able to flat my FMB by riding it through a hole big enough to swallow him whole without him so much as unweighting his ass on the saddle.

    Ultimately, I have found I just love riding great tires. If I flat too much, I’ll change, but the dugasts ride like a dream and if they flat, I’ll change to FMB’s. If those flat, then I’ll consider something else.

    No stress. We’ll see. Exploration is the fun part of all this.

  20. @Russ

    @ Frank AS mentioned above she is beautiful, i especially took notice of the way the carbon weave plays through out. Even the tire tread has a similar look. It’s all in the detail , by the sound of some of the post you better get the gps chip installed. Oh and you even left room for the name badge?

    The design carefully left room for symbol packs and name badges – not yet applied. I was tempted to go nuts with all that stuff but decided I love eating my own dogfood and wanted to keep the fun of putting those babies on there! Good eye, mate.

    @sthilzy

    @frank

    @Tugman

    Beautiful machine @frank! Love the seat tube/stays/ top tube orange scheme! Although if I may offer a suggestion, what about some white cufflinks to bust up the black in the cockpit and deliver a bit of subtle “pop”.

    Good idea, matey. I was also contemplating orange bar tape (exactly the same as the saddle orange to which the frame was matched). Went black as a (subtle) nod to Pantani’s machine in 1998. I hadn’t thought of white V-cufflinks, I may have to try it.

    Maybe stay black with orange hoods to break up the black?

    DO THEY MAKE ORANGE HOODS? IF SO I WANT. I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT. Wait, can you MAKE THEM? You’ve made Awesome before, history suggests you can make Awesome again…

  21. @Dan_R

    @G’rilla Exactamondo! Although, I just stock the FMBs. They win P-R and are the best tubbies in the world.

    I still can’t get over the Graveur

    Marko is the founder of the Graveur class of bike (informally formally) to be fair. He had a CX rig that just wasn’t doing it on the gravel rides, so he upgraded. I lost my shit.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2013.06.12.04.04.06/1/”/]

    @Dan_R

    @G’rilla Exactamondo! Although, I just stock the FMBs. They win P-R and are the best tubbies in the world.

    I still can’t get over the Graveur

    I am with you on FMB; next stop if I have issues. These Dugasts are lovely, but my Roubaix FMBs are beyond amazing. I have 5 of them. Well…had…now I’m down to 4. If I hav an issue with these, I will be knocking on his door, that’s for sure.

  22. @frank

    DO THEY MAKE ORANGE HOODS? IF SO I WANT. I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT. Wait, can you MAKE THEM? You’ve made Awesome before, history suggests you can make Awesome again…

    I’ve seen Hudz do orange from this article here;

    The orange tape looks overkill. Orange hoods would add that subtle splash.

    Another round of awesome? V-hoods? Change that hudz logo to a V-cog logo? Hmmmmm……..

  23. @frank

    @frank

    @Russ

    @ Frank AS mentioned above she is beautiful, i especially took notice of the way the carbon weave plays through out. Even the tire tread has a similar look. It’s all in the detail , by the sound of some of the post you better get the gps chip installed. Oh and you even left room for the name badge?

    The design carefully left room for symbol packs and name badges – not yet applied. I was tempted to go nuts with all that stuff but decided I love eating my own dogfood and wanted to keep the fun of putting those babies on there! Good eye, mate.

    @sthilzy

    @frank

    @Tugman

    Beautiful machine @frank! Love the seat tube/stays/ top tube orange scheme! Although if I may offer a suggestion, what about some white cufflinks to bust up the black in the cockpit and deliver a bit of subtle “pop”.

    Good idea, matey. I was also contemplating orange bar tape (exactly the same as the saddle orange to which the frame was matched). Went black as a (subtle) nod to Pantani’s machine in 1998. I hadn’t thought of white V-cufflinks, I may have to try it.

    Maybe stay black with orange hoods to break up the black?

    DO THEY MAKE ORANGE HOODS? IF SO I WANT. I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT. Wait, can you MAKE THEM? You’ve made Awesome before, history suggests you can make Awesome again…

    I think that this seals it. Welcome to my madness. MUHAHAHAHA!! http://cdn.media.cyclingnews.com/2009/11/01/2/chris_jones_focus_mares_team_hudz_600.jpg

  24. @sthilzy

    You beat me to it! LOL The orange on orange is overkill, but the orange hoods on black tape is pretty nice. Or orange tape on black hoods.

  25. @frank Nice work on the bidon cage selection. Arundel makes some very sexy stuff. Are you gonna do proper gravel rides with 2 cages?

    also for future builds consider these

  26. this bike is fucking beautiful! the only thing that is bugging me the thing(in aviation it might be called a standoff) for the canti brakes. was that intentional?

  27. @frank Thanks for attaching the photo.

    Yours is a very classy rig – should have said that earlier. 

    Did you have any say on the setup of the headtube angle – comparing the photos, mine is much steeper (but the frame is a 58), and the tyre clearance much less. How would the difference in angle affect handling/ steering?

  28. @frank, this article is not helping me wait patiently for my new rig, which also was inspired by the notion of being gravel-ready.  Fuck, only another week, or month, or thereabouts.

  29. SA-WEEEET!!!

    Congratulations. Enjoy the ride. See you in Emporia, Kansas next May 31. Registration opens Saturday, January 11, 2014.

    http://www.dirtykanza200.com/

    As to fit, it’s your fucking bike, right? Feels good? No pain? Good. Enjoy the ride.

    Sorry, I mean enjoy your tool.

  30. She’s a beaut, Frank! (Still wondering if those are technically MTB pedals).

    Just built up an 80s Merckx for gravel, hard pack and chip seal; nothing so spectacular, just wide-ish gearing and 25mm diamond tread tubulars on 32 spoke box rims. It’s a blast.

    Hear you on position. I’m about half your height and twice your age but decades on track bikes kept me limber. When I finally built another road bike I went with a 6° stem and 3cm less drop, thinking it would be more comfortable. Instant lower back pain, which disappeared once I got the bars low enough.

  31. @G’rilla Winthrop area is so pretty, IMO. I keep driving through it on my way to the Pasayten Wilderness, and I keep wanting to plan a long summer weekend of riding there. Gotta add 2 more hours of driving from the Oly Pen, though.

    Looks like a killer ride. Lotta miles, els, and solar energy in the summer. Wouldn’t want to do it on a dual-sus mtb.  @Frank’s new ride? Yes, please.

  32. @frank

    @all

    SRAM gets such a bad wrap for the front shifting, but the shifting performance on the front is probably better than any I’ve had anywhere?

    I had a Force FD for about 16000km’s.. the first 3/4 of that gave me glorious front shifting.  then all it wanted to do was throw chains on an upshift.  even after a new cable, I fiddled with it for hours, convinced that some simple tension/alignment setting had to be off *just so*. changing to an Ultegra FD fixed the problem for about $40 and ten minutes time. been shifting gloriously ever since. I’ve seen it posited about the interwebs that the tension of the springs SRAM uses is lesser than that of Shimano, and that their FD’s therefore degrade much quicker.  whether that’s true or not…

    gorgeous bike, btw. i think my favorite part is how the white stripes perfectly align with the rim’s edge on the chainstay, and then stay semi-equidistant radially about the seat tube/seat post.  a subtle rotational-momentum suggestion on a machine guided by rotations.  love it.  i do prefer the smaller “obey the rules” decals on your haleakala wheels, however.

  33. Now that’s what I call a bike  i was thinking of trying some gravel on my domane which has 25 mm tyres on it just now. So what would be a good clincher for that sort of job? Also what are those things that you use to protect your frame from the cables as trek have done a fantastic job of putting the cables in such a place to rub the frame! Grrrrrrr

  34. Great lead photo, beautiful bike, nice build up. I really dig it and don’t know if I’d change a thing. NICE!

    Ha, a pal was over last weekend for a party. He has one bike that he rides to graduate school. I have five bikes in the house, plus others off-site. He started giving me a hard time about how many I own. He just doesn’t get it.

    And goddamn, a guy I know is selling his pit CX bike. Full carbon with Zipp Firecrests, Red, FSA SLK. He’s asking probably 1/3 of what it would cost to put it together. Argh, I have a Van Dessel that is a great bike, but of course I’m doing the mental calculus of selling it, using the money to put towards this bike. I’m also trying to convince myself that I’d be nervous racing full carbon for cross. Must resist the temptation.

  35. Note to self: quit looking at bikes online and get outside and ride!

    Also, is it wrong to put gumwalls on all my bikes? This photo is helping me think the answer is no.

  36. @PeakInTwoYears I’ve taken vacation in Mazama every August for the past seven years.

    Amazing biking of all kinds: road, gravel, mountain. The Angel’s Staircase trail ejected me 1/3 of the way through, but I’m going to try it again this year.

  37. @Ron

    Note to self: quit looking at bikes online and get outside and ride!

    Also, is it wrong to put gumwalls on all my bikes? This photo is helping me think the answer is no.

    ah ha I adrag an advantage here, off the bike for a few weeks until I sort out a blood clot (booooooo) but I get to ogle all these cool bikes (yeeeahhhhh)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.