I'd been mulling a sport touring type frame for a couple of years and waffled between various good options out there in the bicycling world. I knew I wanted to be able to fit a slightly fatter tire in the frame but still retain a sense of the sprightliness of a good road bike. I also was dreaming about creating an ultra-light touring rig for some summer adventures.
On the higher end I had looked at the DeSalvo road/dirt bike that I had lusted over at last year's North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento. A beautiful bike to be sure and I liked the utilitarianess of the tig welded frame. I'd also considered something closer to home in trying to persuade Roland Della Santa to create a sport touring styled bike (something I know he has done for others) but felt like his natural niche is a classic road bike which I already have and love.
I also mulled some less expensive and sturdier options that would have served this purpose well. Soma and Surly would have been obvious places to look. I also seriously considered the Black Mountain Cycles road option which I took a good look at when I was in Pt. Reyes this past summer. Ultimately I was swayed in part by the desire to support a company building bikes in the U.S. and I also have such great experiences with my Gunnar Crosshairs for trail riding that it wasn't long before I found myself looking at the Gunnar Sport geometry charts on their website.
It took me months to pull the trigger but the wait for a beautiful American made steel bike was worth it. I love the versatility inherent in this design because even though I longed for a plush riding road bike built to carry a light load, I know I could pretty easily trade out a few parts and have a fastish road bike. I intend to use this bike for cruising the neighborhood, commuting to work, credit card touring, and even throwing a 20-25 pound load with a rear rack on the back and heading out for some unsupported ultralight touring in the years ahead. Judging from my initial short rides it would handle all of this with ease.
I ordered the frame through my local bike shop, College Cyclery, and had a fitting that persuaded me to opt for a custom option so the headtube would be slightly longer to get the bars higher without an excess of spacers. I also chose the flat fork crown option just because I have a thing for flat fork crowns.
The recent color of the month option of a English Blue Metallic with White Panels was perfect. It reminds me a bit of those first Rivendell Road Standards and the signature blue they used. I've never been thrilled with the Gunnar typeface on the downtube but the panel squishes the font and improves the look a lot. Being a dog lover it makes me happy that this "bargain" line from Waterford is named after their labrador.
I had it built up with mostly some odds and ends I had sitting in my basement except for a few special things like the campagnolo 10 speed bar end shifters, the TRP "drillium" brake levers, and the Tektro brakes. Parts spec:
Record hubs/DT rims
10 speed campy cassette
Chorus rear derailleur med cage/Chorus front der.
SRAM Rival Crank
Nitto Noodle Bar
MKS pedals/Soma cages/Christophe straps
Jack Brown 33.3 Tires
Stainless Steel chainguard (a sweet little detail to complete the look)
Old School Italian aluminum tool "bag" from Buzz Bomb Bicycles
Ultimately I feel like the Gunnar philosophy hits that sweet spot between strictly utilitarian and overly boutiquey bikes while still being made in the U.S. Granted, the build I opted for brings out the boutiqueness but at heart it's a practical machine ready for some hard use. Here is a gallery of photos. Ride photos to come I'm sure....
|Not quite sure yet what to put in this thing...snacks or bourbon?|
|Hard to see but the two black spacers mimic the two black stripes bookmarking the panel.|
|Old Style College Cyclery sticker|
|A slightly broader range cassette might be in order at some point.|
|Gunnar says it'll fit 32s but these are 33.3 and still have a good amount of space.|
|"It rides like buttah"...the first words out of Chad's (bike mechanic extraordinaire) mouth when I went to pick up the bike.|