This is Raoul’s second bike from us. He delivered his brief for the build in the shape of a single Bontrager 3.0” Chupacarbra tyre and the news that he was going to commission a front rack duffle bag from Dan at Envelope Bagworks and to expect a phone call.
With fat tyres the chainring size and clearance is usually the first practical consideration for a build. Either the chainring is small or the chainstay is long or the chainstay is crimped or the BB is Boost. Or you use a yoke. In this case I had been looking for an opportunity to work with a yoke made by Antti of Konga Bicycles in Finland. Antti is a bit of a bicycle wizard who along with some pretty great bicycle frames makes stems, racks, forks (oh hang on that’s bicycles too) and some frame building components that others, such as myself, can build into their bikes.
The Konga 3” yoke is a pretty serious piece of laser cut steel tech that is about as simple and as elegant as bicycle design gets in my mind and I am pretty damn pleased to have been able to include it in this build. It gives ample clearance for a 3” tyre and can be cut to size to accommodate a range of chainring sizes. The three piece construction is simple and straightforward and gives a lot of room for the builder to decide how to work with it. It’s a piece of metal! And I should stop going on about it, but seriously it does exactly what it looks like it does and is made in exactly the way that it looks like it was made. How great is that.
The next consideration for me was the fork and rack. We decided not to go low trail – or at least not full on – as the front end weight was going to be limited to lightweight stuff. Even though this is a bike very capable of long off road tours it will be used mostly around the forest and for day trips, overnighters etc rather than packing for zombie apocalypse or a week in the Catskills. I was very pleased to be able to make the fork out of the new version Columbus unicrown fork blades partially because I feel that for the most part a unicrown fork is stiffer than a segmented fork for this size of tyre but also because it is simpler to make and I like the outline; when it comes to making things I prefer it to happen in as few steps as possible. Mostly however I was into using these fork blades because the resulting fork is spot on spit for a Kona Project 2, nuff said.
Raoul is very into the look of big hooded dropouts. We used Paragon Machine Works 1 ½” rear QR dropouts on his last build from us and asked for them again on this. The fork was for sure asking for something similar in style and as I am always looking for an opportunity to work with my good friend Mads Hulsroy (bike/furniture builder extraordinaire) on special projects I asked if he could design and machine something gargantuan for the fork that would be QR and work with a disc brake. I am really pleased to have some of his work on this bike. The resulting dropouts are simply designed to make the most of the hood and avoid any squash to the fork blade to make them fit. There is also enough hood for a little secret compartment which may or may not be there and could fit a tubeless tyre repair kit or a pen and a piece of paper for keeping birding notes or marking off the odd letterbox (Devon) or similar.
The Bag from Dan at Envelope Bagworks was commissioned to fit a Raoul’s essentials and a few other bits. Dan used a fidlock magnet system to attach the bag to the rack so my job with the rack was to provide the support and mounting points for the bag, i.e. a place for the fidlocks to locate and attach to. I made the rack in as straightforward a way as possible, in a pizza rack style, to be strong and discrete and do its job. It attaches to mid fork M5 bosses all in stainless steel to fit and hold the bag in a good place to be accessed but out of the way of Raoul’s hands while he is on the bike.
Component wise Raoul went for a rather cool set of Stayer 29’er rims on DT 350 hubs which are nice and wide for those tyres and super strong and light for easy maneuvering and trail riding. A White Industries Crankset because they are great. Paul Klamper mechanical disc brake calipers and QR’s (which actually work) and Shimano Ultegra rear mech – probably just until the GRX is available – and 11spd bar end shifter. The Thomson dropper and Brooks saddle are a pretty nice way to finish things off operated with a smart little bar end dropper lever from Wolf Tooth. Teravail tan walls and TRP brake levers and some nice Brooks bar tape and all is well.
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