Ne’er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Here’s a special report about the bikes created for the recent Grinduro Scotland event, the World’s Most Interesting Bicycle Race, by The Bicycle Academy alumni.

The Bicycle Academy was approached by Giro when the American sensation that is “Grinduro” first planned a visit to UK shores. With it’s varied timed sections there really is no perfect bike (or rider) for the event, and this is what gives it it’s charm.

There is a certain “run what you brung” feel which everyone loves with bikes this year ranging from fixies to tall fat-bikes! As such it attracts a broad spectrum of riders of all styles to the Isle of Arran, who maybe wouldn’t normally get a chance to ride together.

That is the magic of Grinduro.

With full support from Columbus and SRAM we had the honour of setting four carefully selected builders the challenge of building and racing their perfect Grinduro bike. The freedom that came with the generous sponsorship meant everyone could really let loose and design something focussed on the event itself.

“Design – Build – Race”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Quirk Cycles

Rob from Quirk had the advantage of having ridden the first Grinduro Scotland and as such knew a little bit more than some about what to expect…

“Singletrack, grinding gravel ascents, fast fire-road descents, gnarly forest trails, every type of off-road you can imagine. Liked. For a while, I’d been refining various types of off-road road-bikes but wanted to know how far off-road I could take road geometry. MTBs are good but I’m not finished with road bikes yet!”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Rob chose a mixture of Columbus tubing for his build including the new ‘gravel’ bend chain stays – specially designed to get clearance for cranks, chainrings, disc brakes and large tyres. As most seasoned off-roaders will tell you tyre choice is key!

Not just for grip, but for suspension action too. Rob decided that he wanted to take that second point a little further… “I wanted as large a volume tyre I could get. I wanted to stick to 700c for the better rolling over the rough stuff.

“42s were plenty and the WTB Resolutes were perfect for the job plus only come in tan-wall! The large tyres would help soften the road but more and more I’d been looking into suspension for gravel bikes.

“There was no question about it; it had to be Lauf Grit. These forks are perfect for filtering out road vibrations and unbelievably after eight hours in the saddle, I had not a single ache or pain in my shoulders or hands. The fork performed flawlessly dealing with anything the course could throw at it.”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

August Cycles

Editor’s note: we featured August Cycles’ Grinduro bike last week in a separate post, but here’s TBA’s coverage of it) Gavin has always been ahead of the curve with drop bar road bikes, and for his Grinduro bike he decided a tried and true “gravel bike” would be his weapon of choice.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Deciding to reduce the wheel size from the normal 700c to the ubiquitous 650b and with the clever use of Columbus MTB-bend seat stays, the 42mm WTB tyres have plenty of room around them.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Details such as the flat-capped seat stays and the exquisite detail milled and brazed onto the dropouts are perfect examples of Gavin’s craft and unique style.

With the extra Columbus dove logo brazed onto the seat tube and the unplanned lucky save on the emergency paint job, this bike really stands out.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

BTR Fabrications

“A fun and fast hardtail, capable of taking on any adventure — including Grinduro.” Tam from BTR Fabrications certainly had a solid idea when it came time for him to draw up his Grinduro bike.

MTBs are a perfectly valid choice for this ride and Tam developed the geometry of their Ranger model to better suit the longer distance, steepening the angle of that beautiful Columbus tapered head tube slightly and adding the larger volume rubber.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

“In the ‘Ranger Plus‘ Grinduro bike we wanted to keep as much of the Ranger’s speed and handling characteristics, and use 650B+ tyres to add plenty of grip in any terrain”. When you’re on a long ride you need to carry more stuff — simple!

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

The addition of the frame bag meant Jamie (the rider) could sneak in more snacks – and some all-important Scottish single malt for extra courage on the descents. Jamie had this to say post-ride…

“I immediately found myself making progress within the field through virtue of the plus tyres and relaxed geometry. While others spun out and hooked up on roots and rocks the BTR trundled through without a hiccup or any serious effort.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Sections of descent presented startling bursts of speed; I’m familiar with the [standard] Ranger’s manners descending, but with the extra momentum gained by the plus tyres this fast earned pace was not easily lost.

When the trail pointed down, in places plummeting riders to sea level in only a handful of turns, the bike came truly alive, storming through the tight switchbacks and holding any line I dared to take.”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Field Cycles

Field Cycles are known for building fast and nimble road bikes, but that might be pushing it a little for Grinduro. Tom at Field explains their plan for what the course would throw at them…

“Our Grinduro build was our chance to take our road-going Field Works frameset, keep what makes it so good and add a few tweaks to turn it into a gravel dream machine. Just as capable of eating up miles of gravel as it is tarmac.”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Everything was kept as light as possible and the geometry is aggressive making for pin-sharp handling, aided by the stiff frame tubing.

“Built from some fine steel tubes from our friends at Columbus with a Spirit down tube — crazy light with a .6/.4/.6 mm wall, Spirit HSS tapered top tube and a Columbus Life rear triangle leading into our custom-made dropouts out back for flat mount discs.”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Tom was lucky enough to be the man at the helm for Grinduro this year and it wasn’t the bike that held him back!

“The first outing did not disappoint, this is such a fun bike to ride. Light, fast and stiff with that unmistakable zingy-feel when you put the power down up those gravel section climbs. The only thing lacking was my skill and legs when things got a little more sketchy in the woods – there’s no shame in being passed by a hardtail MTB gapping roots at race speed is there?”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

We always find it hard to select from such a thriving frame building scene in the UK for these projects. Luckily, we managed to sneak a little more sponsorship for a couple of builders keen to get involved with something a little more ‘leftfield’ and playful!

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Mick at Lapsley had this to say about his bike. “The idea behind the bike for Grinduro was to bring a bike based on the thin tubes cyclocross frames of the 70s and 80s.

I wanted to make a classic looking frame that would still hold up to the riding conditions of Grinduro and incorporate some more modern aspects such as disc brakes and a front through axle.”

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

He also managed to incorporate the Grinduro mountain logo into the bridge and stage maps into the paintwork!

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy

Petor from Dear Susan is known for pushing the limits. And as you can see from his build this Grinduro ‘cross bike doesn’t disappoint! It’s not all show and no go though; take note of that adjustable bottom bracket for tensioning the belt!

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Massive thanks to The Bicycle Academy for the words and Elliot Layda for the photography.

Ne'er Cast A Clout: Grinduro Bikes By The Bicycle Academy