The Rasta Mouse project
Jason Boness’ Salsa commuter bike
Jason Boness, product manager at Raleigh, explains how his Rasta Mouse project started and why he equipped his Salsa Warbird commuter bike with SRAM 1x.
For years my commute to work in in Nottingham, UK, involved lots of motorway miles, 30,000+ to be exact, then 18 months ago I moved much closer so my ‘cycling to work’ dream could become a reality. The new route is only 7 miles (11,30km), but ¾ of it is off road, so not only was it going to be a great fitness option, but also there was a chance to have fun and get dirty.
Currently my stable consists of a 160mm enduro bike equipped with SRAM XO 1x11, a road bike with RED mechanical, and a BMX bike. None were really ideal for the daily commute. So I started looking at building a dedicated commuter gravel bike and project “Rasta Mouse” was born.
If I’m honest, from the start, the build got totally out of hand for what was to be a daily workhorse. The basis of the build is a carbon Salsa Warbird frame/fork, the finish of the frame is beautiful, and so the kit to dress it up couldn’t be anything other than Zipp / SRAM.
I remember seeing the Zipp 30 Course wheels when they were first launched. At that point I’d already started to think about what bike I could use them on, so that part of the bike was a no brainer, the order was placed. As a massive fan of SRAM 1x11 on the enduro bike, I made the obvious choice to go this route again, with SRAM’s Rival 1 groupset, a well-priced set up with performance in mind. For the brakes, I opted to upgrade the Rotors to the new two-piece Centerline X version, not only are they lighter & cooler looking than standard rotors, but they also come with titanium hardware for added lightness! Initially I’d ordered a crankset with a 44t chainring, but the commute involves a fair bit of climbing, about 1,000ft +/-, so this was changed for a 42t SRAM Force aftermarket chainring, which looks pretty rad with its diamond cut finish.
Knowing the route is fairly rough, I had no plans to run a skinny tyre. Most gravel bikes are running 35mm wide tyres and after fitting a pair, it just looked wrong. Enter the new WTB 700x45c “Riddler”, the ideal tyre. Its low profile centre tread with chunky shoulders for cornering delivered a stance that made the bike look like a monster truck.
The first time I rode the bike was amazing, super-fast on the flat, and on the off road descents, it’s equally fast. Even the uphill climbs seemed easier thanks to the Zipp 30 Course wheels. I also opted to use ZIPP Service course bar tape, not only is this super comfortable on the rough stuff; its finish is super grippy, ideal in the UK summer rain.
My original plan was to build a machine to do a job and get me to work, but the gravel/adventure bug has bitten. These type of bikes are the jack of all trades, you can go out for a road ride, see a trail/path which you couldn’t ride on 25c tyres, and off exploring you go. I even ride it on my local MTB trails, chasing down MTB’ers on it. My favorite riding spots include Sherwood Pines and Cannock Chase. These two places are relatively well know trail centers. I’m enjoying the bike so much that I’m riding it in the 200km 2017 Dirty Reiver gravel event in April. I can’t think of a better tool for the job than my Rasta Mouse!