Gravel bike for Matt S.

While I have nothing against carbon forks, I was happy when Reno local Matt S. asked me to make him a gravel bike with a segmented steel fork.

Baby blue gravel bike

The slender blades of a steel fork are a nice visual match with a steel frame. It doesn't hurt that the steel fork will also offer a little more compliance on the rough dirt tracks around Reno compared to the stout blades of a carbon fork.

About two years ago, I worked with several other framebuilders to have a batch of fork blades made similar to the once popular True Temper FB-4. These round blades start with a 1-inch diameter and taper as they meet the dropouts. They're a great option to have on hand for the right build.

Matt had a clear idea of what parts he wanted to dress the bike with, all of which are spot on for this kind of build. We're talking best of the best here. I'm jealous of this build. It's a stunning sight in person.

Let's start with the wheels. He already had a great wheelset: a pair of White Industries hubs laced to Velocity Blunt SS rims. He chose the fantastic Rene Herse 700x48 knobbies for comfort and performance.

For the drivetrain he went with a White Industries crankset and the Sram AXS wireless shifters and rear derailleur. The Force rear derailleur was modified with a Garbaruk cage and pulleys to accomodate a 10-50t 12s Garbaruk cassette. The AXS shifters will eventually be able to control his AXS XPLR dropper post once it's available.

To slow him down on the steep descents, he chose Paul Klamper brakes. I know what you're thinking, but these aren't anything like your old BB7s or the popular Spyres. The Klampers are in a league of their own. I was skeptical when I bought a pair for my own adventure gravel bike. They seem identical in function to the BB7. One piston pushes the rotor into the other fixed piston. But their performance is so much better. They're definitely worth every penny.

For this bike and many other gravel bikes I've made, we went with a 70mm Paul Boxcar stem. The shorter stem allows me to design the bike with a longer front end without relying on making the head tube angle really slack. This allows the rider to use a relatively normal width handlebar, in this case the comfy Enve 46cm Gravel bar, without fighting excessive wheel flop in the steering. The longer front end prevents toe overlap with large tires and gives the rider more descending confidence, especially when combined with a dropper post.

If you'd like me to build you a similar bike, don't hesitate to give me a buzz.

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