What Makes A Grinduro Bike?
When chatting with builders about their ideal Grinduro bike, a common theme emerged: Nobody at Grinduro thinks they’re on the right bike. A race inside a ride inside a festival—covering pavement, long gravel climbs and tricky descents—the ideal bike seems to sit right between established genres. Drop bars or flat? MTB or road gearing? Suspension and a dropper or no? Each section of the 63 mile (100 k) course affects a builder’s decisions in a different way.
Eight different framebuilders used SRAM drivetrains to build their perfect Grinduro bike, and each one came up with something different. Some were rigid; some used suspension. Flat bars and drop bars were both represented. Here are some of the most outstanding builds we encountered.
Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes created a true hybrid of MTB and road technologies. With 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) of climbing and descending, he wanted a comfortable MTB handlebar, but the light weight of a rigid fork. Road wheels with a nice in-between 50mm tire width. The 500 percent range of a SRAM XX1 Eagle® drivetrain, but a big 46T chainring on a Force 1 crank to roll on the flats. The result is a perfect combination of road and mountain parts, something right in the middle.
John Caletti created what is in many ways the mirror image of the Sklar hybrid. Rather than the Eagle cassette and drivetrain, John used an 11 speed Force 1 flatbar drivetrain with a 10-42 cassette. He wanted a 40T chainring, which exists in SRAM’s road and mountain lines, but his desire to move the chainstays outboard necessitated a crank with a wide Q-factor. Thus, a road drivetrain with an XX1 Eagle DUB crank.
Speedvagen’s Rugged Road build was raced by top gravel racer (and individual pursuit world record holder!) Ashton Lambie. Ashton’s world-class power means he can push a more road-oriented gear spread, and he opted for a 52-36 chainring combo with an 11-32 cassette on his SRAM RED® HRD group. While everyone has their own take, Ashton’s build reflects what most riders chose for the course: drop handlebars and 700x40 tires to slay the fire road and paved sections, with enough tread to hang on for the technical singletrack.
Brad Hodges of WH Bradford Designs went in an MTB direction as he tried to build a Sierra Triple Crown slayer. A nimble hardtail “that I can climb like a race bike and rip down Mount Hough like a big BMX bike” was his goal, a popular build for those who want an advantage on the tricky descents. The 120mm RockShox Pike is custom painted to match the surfboard-inspired look, while X01 Eagle with a 32T ring and a Reverb Stealth complete the package.