Steel, Geometry & Fit

SUPERIOR CUSTOM STEEL: Our framesets feature exclusive, custom-drawn Rawland Staal, a super-premium, triple-butted 4130 chromoly with .8/.5/.8/1 gauge profiles in the main triangle. As with similar high-end tubing from the world’s top manufacturers, our Staal is painstakingly produced. We maximize grain-structure density, resilient strength, and controlled flex by butting tubes four times during manufacture—versus twice for most butted 4130—as well as by annealing, aging, and stress-relieving. We also selectively heat-treat certain tubes for increased strength, depending on the bike model. (See specs.) Our Staal tubes give the frames both lightweight strength and a forgiving ride, as well as that much-coveted lively feel—unlike the vast majority of production steel bikes, which are usually overbuilt and often feel heavy and unresponsive. Best of all, making our own steel means that you’re not paying for us to buy, say, Reynolds 853; instead, you get great performance at a much more affordable price. ¶ Our framesets are not only thoroughly performance-tested by the Rawland crew but are also certified to meet or exceed the stringent ISO 4210 international safety standard. Paired with their fatter tires, they have plenty of natural suspension built in.

PROGRESSIVE GEOMETRY: Our geometry is rare in the world of production bicycles, featuring proven low-trail forks that, while optimized for front loads, handle beautifully unloaded as well. It’s a French vs. Italian thing. The French pioneered long-haul adventure cycling, meticulously refining bike geometry over decades, pitting the best custom builders’ bikes against one another in epic trials that saw riders racing over mountains on rough roads with everything they needed: food, water, layers, tools, lights. Intuitive handling and enhanced control were of the utmost importance. The Italians’ high-trail geometry increases the caster effect, limiting maneuverability, something particularly noticeable on fast descents. Riders slalom by shifting weight rather than just steering, which makes it much more difficult to avoid obstacles and easier to crash. With French low-trail geometry, there’s still plenty of caster effect, and you feel no less stable on fast descents, but you can whip the bike around potentially ride-ending obstacles with ease. When first experienced, this enhanced control is fairly astonishing. It has been known to cause some folks, accustomed to the predominant Italian geometry, to call the handling “twitchy.” We grew up riding bikes with Italian geometry, but we now find it too sluggish and ill-suited to carrying loads well. Simply put, steering precision and bike maneuverability are significantly enhanced by low-trail geometry. ¶ Even more supernerdy detail for the curious and/or confused: Increasing fork rake reduces geometric trail (thus “low-trail”), shortening the “lever” that acts against steering. It can also eliminate toe overlap, so you don’t hit your tire while pedaling and turning. A longer lever (mid-to-high-trail) is strengthened by wind, terrain, etc., and essentially fights you as you ride. With a shorter lever, handling is more intuitive, course correction is much easier (more hand control, less leaning), and you can bias loads toward the front, for greater control and goes-where-you-point-it steering. (Low-trail bikes handle great with some of the load in back, too; you just want to begin packing up front.) As mentioned above, with the lever reduced, a loaded front end works with you, whereas in bikes with mid to high trail, the longer lever works against loads, requiring more energy to control as the lever gets longer, which wears you out faster. Front-loading with low trail also eliminates the tail-wags-the-dog feeling of a bike carrying all your luggage in back (especially when you’re climbing hills out of the saddle) and reduces the chances of the rear wheel sliding out from under you. Another added benefit is the ability to course-correct with more ergonomically ideal drop handlebars (five hand positions!), meaning that on rougher paths and singletrack you don’t have to run wide, straight bars. You don’t need all that torque to steer. One-dimensional bars can also put you in a less natural position and increase fatigue and hand numbness over longer distances. Narrower drops better mirror shoulder width and also offer those aforementioned five hand positions for greater comfort and control. ¶ After tens of thousands of miles riding all kinds of bikes with all kinds of geometry, we simply design bikes that we love to ride all day, all season, all year, whether stripped down for racing or loaded up for adventure camping.

OPTIMAL FIT: Our bikes are designed to match your true size (French fit), which maximizes comfort over long distances and rough terrain. We believe a bike fits you best when your saddle and bars are roughly at the same level and you don’t feel too upright or bent over when riding.