In this episode, we're going to build up a Polyvalent for Claire. She's going to be doing a bunch gravel races, chill tours, and day trips, and she going to need a bike that's up to snuff for all of that. So let's get into the shop and put one together!
The first thing we agreed upon with Claire's build was to go with a 2x drivetrain over a 1x. A double cranks in 2023?! Madness!
Well, it makes a lot of sense for the types of varied terrain she'll be riding through. The East Coast bikepacking has a lot of very quick and steep climbs so having that low-low gear when climbing is really nice. And then, having the cruising gear in the flats and downhills means you aren't spinning out. The chainrings are 36/26 and the rear cassette goes from 11 to 42t.
Gravel and road drop bar drivetrains that can accommodate this gearing AND use cable brakes don't really exist anymore unfortunately. It's just a changing of the times. If you want something that will work, you'll have to go hydro, and that was something she didn't feel comfortable with. Cables and housing is easy to adjust and diagnose out in the field, but hydro fluid can be really messy and complicated, especially if you don't have the tools. She also plans to pack the bike up and do some tours overseas, so the not having to worry about kinking a hydro hose while packing/unpacking the bike is just added peace of mind. Naturally, we opted for some Growtac Post Mount Brakes for great stopping power and ease of servicing.
So! We had to go with MTB components because the shifter is separate from the brake levers so we could run a fully mechanical setup.
Crazy Bars up front for excellent control and multiple hand positions. I wrapped the bars to the curve transition so she has the room to clamp any bikepacking bags to the front of the bars.
The tires are a favorite of mine in the mid-size, low knob variety: Schwalbe Thunder Burts in 650b x 2.1". I don't know what it is about them, but they roll really nicely on smooth terrain, but hook up nicely in the dirt. Tubeless'd using Stans sealant and DT Swiss Rim Tape.
Claire maintains a cool Instagram account, so be sure to give her a follow!
Happy Riding, Claire!