November 2, 2012

Gravel Bike - Part 10

Part 9
The only thing left now is saddle and tires.

My original plan was to use the saddle from my road bike for gravel bike.  It is a Selle Italia Gel Flow with a cut-out.  I put a lot of time on that saddle this summer during Ironman training, and it never felt 'just-right'.  It was useable and I done a TON of miles on it, but I decided to spend some money on a new saddle for gravel bike.  I'm planning some long-long rides and a saddle is not a place to save money and compromise.  After reading endless reviews and talking to several people (Thanks Bob and Fred!) that have them, I decided on an old-school leather Brooks.  When my new B17 Imperial arrived via UPS, I stole the seat-post from my Specialized road bike and put it in the frame with the saddle on top.  I read how using the Brooks Proofride helps break in the saddle and protect it during use, so I smeared it with a good greasy coat.  I also stole the underseat bag from my road bike.


Odd shaped cut-out, seems to remind me of something, just can't place it.

ROCK Racing has a great partnership deal with Schwalbe tires, so I talked to their tech guy and told him about gravel bike and my plans for it.  He didn't hesitate when he said the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial was the tire I wanted.  He also told me that the tire was not tubeless ready.  I already planned for tubeless, so I guess its a little bit of a risk on how they will perform.  I ordered two sets 35c and 40c.  Hoping the bigger 40's would fit in my frame rails.  Well they didn't.  Even the 35's are a lot tighter than I like in between the rear chainstays. 

I have a previous post about setting up tubeless tires so I'm only going to add that these Marathons were so incredibly easy to set up I almost can't believe it.  The tires installed with no levers, just fingers.  I was able to get the beads to set on the first try only using a hand pump.  And they haven't leaked down one time since then.  The tread pattern looks perfect for what I want and the sidewalls have this indestructible feeling.  Another thing I didn't expect was one of those 'glowey-don't-run-me-over' strips around the diameter of the tire.  You have to see them in the dark to believe how brightly they reflect light.  They are amazing, I can't wait to get some miles on them and find out if they ride as well as they install and look.  

You probably noticed by now that all the pictures used in this post were taken outside on a gravel road instead of in my basement on the workstand.  

That's because ITS DONE!!!!

Well maybe not completely done. Are they ever? Next post will be a first ride report and how well I like or dislike the parts I used for the build, and what changes I need to make.


  1. Replies
    1. They probably would, but a certain spouse also wants a gravel bike now...

  2. Love it! Thank you for taking us on this build with you. Looks great! Like Kate I am also jealous.