"Whoa that's weird. But everything makes sense." That's what Adrian said when I first unveiled my completed Pass Hunter. I knew I wanted a lightweight bike, and this Pass Hunter would be the perfect testbed for such a rig featuring some major carbon components. It will be my road bike (I know, bad word today), credit card tourer, I'm-late-for-work commuter, and fast all-roader. Needless to say, as long as I have the legs, it'll be very speedy and fun. Now let's dig in.
One of the design intentions of the Pass Hunter was to ensure carbon fork compatibility, hence the tapered (1 1/8" to 1 1/2" ) headtube. We selected the Whisky RD9+ fork for a variety of reasons including: axle to crown and rake similar to the steel fork, nice fender mounting, easily obtained, and consistently stocked. I'm very pleased with the ride quality of the front end. It feels light when you throw it into a corner or around obstacles, confident on descents, and planted for long days in the saddle.
The wheels feature VO prototype thru-axle hubs laced to Nextie "gravel" 45mm deep-section carbon rims. Tommy of Cutlass Velo in Baltimore laced them up with Pillar PDB1416 spokes and brass nipples. He reported that they tensioned up well. He tubeless'ed them up with Rene Herse Babyshoe Pass in their Extralight carcass-way.
While the benefits of carbon rims are limited mostly to light and stiff, my real 'want' was the sound. That is, when you put the hammer down the hollow whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound the wheels generate is really intoxicating.
The wheels are all wrapped up with our Noir 58mm Wavy Fenders. The rounded details of the bike's tubes and bends pairs nicely with the flowy design of the fenders.
The bike features Campagnolo Athena 11sp inter-grifters, dangler, and pusher. This group, in my opinion, is the last generation of the beautiful and elegant shifting components. I really hope they bring a fully polished silver group back in the future, as I find the ergonomics of their inter-grifters are superior to other offerings.
The crankset is our 50.4 with 46/30 rings and the rear features a corn-cob of 11-25. I would have chosen an 11-29, but I already had the cassette from another build.
The cockpit features our Nouveau Randonneur Bars, Comfy Cotton Tape wrapped in our Leather Tape, and Alloy Bar Plugs.
A Mini-Rando Bag paired with a vintage Trek Bomber Saddle Bag is the perfect capacity for a moderate amount of stuff.
The perch features two VO prototypes. One is a medium setback post, and the other is a saddle with a cutout. The seatpost is good. The saddle will take more time to evaluate. Adrian is testing a different one with a cutout that has already become her saddle of choice.
While this build isn't for everyone, we (VO) must try new technologies and designs to see what they're about and how we actually feel about them. Dying on a hill without even giving something a chance stifles our growth as people and as a company. Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to deviate from what you've grown accustomed to, and that's normal.
For example, I wrote a blog post nearly three years ago about tubeless rims and tires. I wrote it after a bad experience with a certain setup and frustration with the lack of standards. But then I gave it another shot with a new setup and with new prototype rims we had been developing. And you know what? Tubeless is pretty awesome and suggest it for most applications.
From a personal and business perspective, I've always been one to have a positive attitude with regards to different styles of bikes and builds. I'm happy to give my opinions on things, though. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say.
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