When we were thinking of how to launch Spork 2.o we knew pretty quickly that we wanted to make this about more than just Rodeo bikes. We wanted to have other builders involved. We posted a simple message on Instagram asking builders who’ve used our forks in the past to get in touch if they wanted to work on a special project with us. It was important to me that everyone we collaborated on this project with had previously built with our Spork 1 as a way of keeping the project “in the family”. A number of builders responded, but in one case a test rider for a builder reached out to us instead of the builder. He said:
“My name is Lanier Nichols and I test ride frames for Jay Sandefur, creator/owner/builder/brain/
We don’t do product launches without first telling a story. Rodeo’s products are and will always be a result of our story. So if you came here to see Spork 2.0 I hope you don’t just scroll down to the photos. I hope you stay for the story.
Daniel Schauman is a frame builder hailing from Chicago, Illinois who as history would have it was the first ever builder to buy a Spork 1.0 from us and include it in a bike he build for himself. This was 2015 which to me seems like a million years ago but is in fact not that long ago at all.
How much of a bike’s design and build spec is hype and how much of it is function? Those sorts of questions get discussed endlessly on the internet almost by default every time a new product or specification is launched. “Gravel” is a hot word these days. Is it marketing or is it popular because people are having fun? Is 1x hype? Is 650b hype? Are dropper posts on drop bar bikes an incredibly desperate attempt to sell people new gizmos they don’t need?
It is very personally important to me as the founder of Rodeo that our bikes be grounded in function, not hype. But I’ll never be an impartial voice in the matter because by nature I want to sell bikes therefore I may be biased towards sales and profit. That said I sleep great at night knowing that every bike we sell is built exactly for each customer and that we only recommend how to build our bikes after we’ve had a great conversation with each customer about how they want to ride their bike and what they want it to do. You build a great bike not by telling a customer what they need, you do it by listening to the customer describe who they are, how they ride, and what their goals are for their bike.
Writing the story of Rodeo is about writing a story of constant striving for new challenges and milestones. This year that striving took us back to the Leadville 100, this time with four Traildonkeys in the mix and ambitions to see how quickly we could complete the race aboard them. Taking a gravel bike to a mountain bike race is an arbitrary challenge on paper, but to us it is exactly the sort of challenge that we strive for on an existential level.
You can buy a bike off the shelf, with a brand-complete gruppo and cockpit. Or you can get the bike you want that does what you want it to. That’s the bike we like building and before we suggest mixing and matching parts you can be sure we’ve tried it on our own bikes and ridden it for thousands of miles.
When Jason in Philadelphia asked him to simply build him a well rounded Flaanimal and left the details up to us we knew immediately where we’d end up. We’re huge fans of Shimano Di2 1x setups even though Shimano themselves don’t really promote it in any way. R785 Di2 shifters driving an XT Di2 rear derailleur are flawless. Every shift just clicks on demand. The new Flaanimal 4.0 internal routing kept the build looking super clean as well.
The Praxis Zayante hollow forged crankset and forged 1x chainring functions perfectly with Shimano drivetrains and is one of the stiffest cranks on the market. Our Rodeo 2.0 carbon wheels combined with Schwalbe G-One 35mm tubeless tires keep the rotational weight very low and make the bike feel snappy and quick in all conditions. Ritchey WCS controls are the workhorse of all of our builds providing extremely dependable performance and low weight.
Special shout out to SloHi Bike Co. in Denver who do almost all of our complete builds. Their attention to detail is always incredible. Noticed how they heat shrinked the rear brake and Di2 lines together before they enter the down tube to keep the build clean and to keep the Di2 wire extra protected. It’s all about the details!
I stared up the rusty colored scree field and strained to make out the solitary post just barely peaking above the ridge line that topped it. That was the prize. That was the summit of Imogene pass, the second summit of the day, the crux of the ride. The post was not far as the crow flies, maybe only a couple hundred feet away. It felt much further, infinitely far all things considered. Our progress was painstakingly slow. The fatigue and altitude had quietly stolen away all of our spit and venom all day long leaving us with dry mouths and heavy legs. The 4×4 road surface was generously strewn with wet, coarse rock. We shuffled on our feet.
I swiveled left nervously, my eyes following the ridge line west until they found their target about a mile away. A dark wall of clouds was quickly approaching us. Only ten minutes earlier they had seemed twice as far away. The clouds didn’t move if you stared at them but if you turned away they darted closer at an astonishing pace. Now they were nearly on top of us, thumb and index finger shaped like an O, ready to flick us off the mountain.
A quick mental calculus painted an obvious picture: We weren’t going to make it. We were only a half mile from the summit, a distance that we could cover in a few minutes on a normal ride, but at 12,600 feet with steep gradients ahead of us it would take us more than fifteen minutes to cover the ground.
“What do you think?” I asked Peder, hoping he would contradict what I knew to be true.
“It’s going to hit us.” he said. So much for that. “But I really don’t want to high tail it back down to Telluride.”
A strong gust of wind hit us, a light rain along with it. If we turned around now we would fail to complete our planned loop but if we went for the summit we’d get t-boned by the storm; completely exposed on a ridgeline at 13,114 feet.
Race photos by Kit Hunders
As the end of 2017 arrived, the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships arrived with it.
Cyclocross has changed for me over the years. A half decade ago I was so jazzed about the bike racing discipline that I couldn’t even sleep the night before a race. I would genuinely dream about it. I wanted go fast, I wanted to see if I could win. I had a pretty singular mindset.
Gravel racing is great and all, but in terms of drop bar bikes Cyclocross delivers the quickest, most intense punch in the thrills department.
This 3.0 frameset started life the same way all Flaanimals do: With a full dip of anti-rust coating inside and out. Instead of painting this frame after the dip we set it aside for a special project and its day finally came. We added a layer of matte clear coat over the ED to protect the coating then applied the blue graphics with custom cut vinyl decals. We also took the time to match our 2.0 carbon wheels, putting the decals into the debossed graphics that are molded into the surface of the rim. The end result is an incredibly unique look and build, and if the new owner ever gets bored with his colors he can completely redo the graphics with very little effort. How’s that for flexibility?