Gravel bike v3
Over the years I've made two gravel bikes for myself.
The first gravel bike used 650b wheels, a dropper post, and a long front center. I liked it but I wished it had clearance for tires wider than 42mm. Around Reno the dirt roads can get pretty rough. Using wide tires and low air pressures really smoothes out the ride.
My second gravel bike was designed more for racing bikepacking events. It used a mountain bike drivetrain and 700x55 tires. But this time I left out clearance for a dropper post to keep the front triangle as large as possible for a high volume frame bag. I used it during the Smoke N' Fire 400 and some short bikepacking trips close to home.
Based on my experiences riding the first two gravel bikes, I wanted to combine the best aspects of each. I wanted the dropper post from v1 and the wide tire clearance from v2. And I wanted to use as many parts from those two bikes on the new bike to keep costs down.
Like all of my designs I started first with the wheels and the fork. I brought the 650b gravel wheels from v1 but planned to use some Rene Herse 55mm-wide tires. The steel fork I had already made as a prototype to test the feasability of making a fork for flat mount brakes. I machined the brake mounts to be as small as possible to avoid cutting out a lot of the fork blade. Cutting holes in fork blades isn't the best thing to do. There's a lot of force that goes into the fork. The last thing you want is a fork failure. The fork had been sitting on a shelf unridden for at least a year. It was time to put it to the test.
The used Chris King headset was a gift from an old bike shop coworker. It had been sitting in a box for maybe 10 years. I liked that it included a gold top cap with black cups. I decided to buy a new Paul Boxcar stem to match the theme.
The Sram AXS mullet setup came from v2. Mechanical disc brakes and wireless shifting. It's an odd couple but I love the simplicity and feel of the Paul Klampers just as I appreciate the simplicity and feel of the AXS system. Many of you are likely turned off by battery-operated drivetrains. They're expensive and they require managing batteries. I absolutely love how well it shifts every time, how little effort I have to put into making a shift, and how easy it is to move from bike to bike. For me, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The Enve gravel bars are also from v2. They're the most comfortable drop bars I've ever used. The wide section along the tops combined with the tight bend before the hoods creates a very comfortable perch. My hands rarely get numb using these bars. That's a big improvement over most the other drop bars I've used.