When Rob of Quirk Cycles began designing a frame for the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race he had two choices; a hardtail MTB or to see how far he could push the off-road credentials of his gravel frames. He went with the latter.
What Rob ended up with is an ‘adventure-bike’ at it’s core, designed to move effortlessly over rough terrain.
It gets away from road-influenced gravel bikes by relaxing the geometry with a longer wheelbase and a slacker head angle, keeping the reach compact while increasing stability. The slack angles help soak up bumps while the use of smaller diameter tubes encourages a bit more flex in the frame – a system of passive suspension. Coupled with a less compact design than you would see on my road bikes, the extra length in the tubes means they have more give for comfort while increasing clearance inside the triangle for frame bags and bottles.
What makes a Quirk Cycles Adventure bike?
Rob used a mix of Columbus Life and Zona to strike a balance between the strength needed for the off-road punishment of Kyrgyzstan. It also offered the low-weight that would help with the serious amount of climbing in the race.
One of the key features of the build is the Lauf Grit fork. Perfect for filtering out the road vibrations and offer dampening at a fraction of the weight of standard suspension forks
Rob notes; For me the fork was a revelation; turning punishing 100km gravel rides into a breeze.
SRAM’s 1×11 drivetrain was selected for simplicity and reliability. A 10-42t cassette combined with a 32t chainring offered gearing that could spin up even the most savage of gradients; even with the luggage required for a two-week self supported bikepacking race.
Rob decided on Halo’s new Vapour GXC for his wheel choice. Halo has a strong pedigree when it comes to MTB wheels. Their UK designed hubs are as Rob put’s it ‘fail-proof’. He stuck with 700c over 650b for the more efficient rolling as opposed to the extra comfort from more air volume.
When cycling 1700km a small difference in rolling soon adds up! Although I could have fitted 45c tyres in the frame, I opted for WTB’s reliable Nano 40c. I can’t think of a better gravel tyre on the market, after running them for nearly two years I’m yet to puncture on them. Having a tyre you can trust is better than the extra cush!