The adventue bike segment is getting bigger, exploding. The offerings are more vast with each passing week.
You know how they say that the universe isn’t just expanding, but that the rate of expansion is accelerating? Well, that’s “Adventure” bikes too.
When we build Traildonkey 1.0 in 2014 the pickings were slim, and in our opinion nobody had really nailed the sweet spot for a multi surface, multi terrain bike capable of properly ignoring traditional bike categories – which is why we decided to go for it ourselves. Now almost four years later the industry has caught up. Almost every major brand (with a few notable exceptions) has a super legit gravel adventure bike. And here’s the thing: They are pretty much all great bikes. I can’t think of a single company that has made something awful and my money says that the genre is going to keep getting more interesting, more capable, and more fun.
Instead of sending a stock frame build over Rodeo designed and painted this one-off graphics scheme to compliment the Rapha aesthetic while at the same time trying to keep it “us” as well. We worked within the Rapha palette and hinted at shapes in play in their collections, but we also included distinctly Rodeo queues such as the trees from our 4.0 kits and 2.0 wheels as well as our Ride / Explore / Create iconography. The Flaanimal and Rodeo Spork logos also got unique treatments in the overall design.
It’s a really cool opportunity and an honor to be asked by a respected brand like Rapha to show what we do in their space. We had our own little Monster Garage, jammed on it almost non-stop for 3 days, and finished with zero time to spare.
We decided to keep the build functional, not stratospheric so our parts selection was intentional. Sram Rival 1 is a perfect gravel / brevet grouppo to work with, having a huge gear range and simplified shifting. Brooks C13 saddle and matching rubber bar tape provide ultra durable and compliant contact points. Clement Xplor MSO tubeless tires mounted on our proprietary 2.0 carbon wheels offer versatile, strong, and light rotational performance. Fizik Cryano controls match the aesthetic of the build. A Chris King i7 headset will provide endless performance up front and the Praxis Zayante hollow forged 1x crankset will due likewise in the propulsion department. This build is balanced, functional, dependable, and attainable and those are Rodeo qualities.
This build will be on display at Rapha’s Boulder Clubhouse in the coming weeks and can always be seen in our Flickr gallery. For purchase inquiries please shoot us an email. This Flaanimal is a size 58cm. For inquiries on custom paint and custom builds on any of our bikes always feel free to get in touch.
Every once in a while we complete a Traildonkey build that ticks all of the boxes. These bikes tend to be unique and nuanced in their build spec and it’s a great opportunity to showcase just how creative our build collaborations can get.
We promised we’d do this on January 31st, so it is time to spill the beans on the production spec Flaanimal 3.0 adaptable frameset.
Let’s start with an overview and recap. The Flaanimal adventure bike project has always been a bit of a younger sibling project to the Traildonkey. Insomuch as we never intended to release a carbon adventure bike, and then we did, we also never intended to release a steel adventure bike, but now we are.
A lot has happened at Rodeo Labs since my first review of the Trail Donkey 2.0, but most notably for me is that I now have a Donkey of my own (and only have to borrow one from Stephen when I visit him in Denver). This week my Donkey crossed it’s 1,000 mile milestone so figured I’d give an update on how things have been going. The TL;DR version is I couldn’t be happier.
Today is almost exactly the three year anniversary of when we started Rodeo Labs in 2014. On that day Peder Horner and myself had some beer and ate some pie at Denver Bike Cafe while dreaming up the beginnings of this circus. We scribbled some names on some paper and laughed a lot as we considered the possibilities that starting from scratch allowed us.
The 2016 Dirty Kanza was probably my favorite ever achievement on a bike. The significance of the event was profound for me on many different levels. To land on the podium was almost inconceivable. Racing against such a talented and fast group of riders was hugely intimidating and also an honor. Overcoming the setbacks of flats, dehydration, heat, and headwinds with a never-say-die mindset was deeply satisfying.
Fact: Every Traildonkey that we build can be specced exactly to the rider’s preferences. Many people are happy to go with our standard builds which are well thought out, but sometimes someone comes along and wants to put together something extra special.
This build is one such Donkey and we’re excited to send it out to it’s new home!
Phil: Brian and I have been riding bikes together for the last 10 years. Our escapades have included week long stage races in banana republics with more stray dogs and chickens on the road than actual pavement, big mountain rides in the pacific northwest, and week long training camps among the towering redwood trees and wineries of Santa Rosa, CA. Ever since moving to the front range area, I was excited about the opportunity to show him some of the roads in my new found backyard. Loose plans formulated early this summer for him to come out and suffer through the thin air, which Brian has historically not done very well with, in order to do some touring. With the promise of the unknown and adventure, Nik was also very interested in joining us for what was sure to be a great three-day trip in the high country.
Nik: Little did I know what was in store for me, it was a day full of emotions, the one that occupied most of my attention was how I felt like I bonked when the ride just begun; definitely not the best way to start a three-day tour.
Words and photos by Rod Hart. Washington State, USA.
A summer spent riding a Donkey and relearning that where the pavement ends, fun and adventure usually begins!
Donkeys, aka Asses, are very versatile, loyal, stubborn, and long living animals. In Animal Farm, Benjamin, the donkey, refuses to join the rebellion knowing the one type of tyranny will ultimately be replaced by another. My donkey, aptly named Donkey, has been extremely loyal, versatile, and stubborn…qualities I possess, making us great companions.
My adventures on Donkey began at the Dirty Kanza 200. I had yet to see my donkey, but I knew that we would be fast friends and lifelong companions. As soon as Donkey was unboxed and assembled I was in love, and ready to challenge myself at DK200. Unbeknownst to me, Donkey knew quite a bit about me. Donkey knew that I had been injured all spring and unable to train, Donkey knew that I was going to be stubborn, and Donkey knew that I was ill prepared for the challenge ahead…Donkey was also willing to push the limits to help me try and achieve glory. Sadly, through a series of misfortunes, Donkey and I were unable to finish DK200. We did give the good fight, and managed to ride nearly 60 miles without a rear derailleur.
Over the course of my DK60, Donkey carried me across the Flint Hills of Kansas. The hills consisted of mud, hard pack, dirt, gravel, dry riverbed crossings, and actual river crossings. Donkey was able to swiftly carry me up the steep gravel grades, and with stability and agility down ludicrously fast gravel descents. Hitting a 1-2 foot deep, dried gravel creek bed, at 35 mph could normally be a recipe for disaster, but not for Donkey…Trail Donkeys are designed for tough conditions, conditions that others would wither and crack in, conditions that make others want to curl up into a ball and cry. Donkey not only passed the test multiple times, Donkey kept jumping at the challenges and passing each one. Sadly finishing all 200 miles was not meant to be, but I learned quickly that Donkey was up for any challenge.
Once back in Washington, Donkey and I have continued to forge our relationship. We travel deep into the mountains on steep paved roads. We travel through small towns looking for adventure. We travel deep into the windswept Columbia River Gorge exploring gravel roads with steep ascents and descents. All of these are prime riding locations for Donkey, and Donkey has successfully conquered each of the conditions. I have yet to find something Donkey does not excel at:
Descending roads at 50+ mph, check.
Climbing switchback after switchback looking for the next corner of scenery, check.
Climbing and descending horrible washboard that makes your insides want to come out, check.
Being a pack mule so I can travel the gorge without fear of where I will find a water stop, check.
It has only been one summer, which isn’t even over yet, and I already know that I am in love. I am always excited when I see Donkey ready to go each morning, ready for some adventure that I am ill prepared for, and knowing that whatever conditions lie ahead I will surely come home safe with a good story and a picture (or 1000).
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