“It will be mine. Oh yes, It will be mine.”-me. 2019
At this point in my life as a cyclist and bike mechanic, there are very few bikes that truly catch my attention. It really has to be something special, and even then, there’s usually at least one feature that bugs me or that I find missing from the design.
I’m not the type of person to upgrade a bike simply because a newer version is slightly lighter, or has a newer bottom bracket standard. In fact, I’ve been riding the same primary gravel/adventure bike since 2016 and I’ve refused to upgrade because nothing out there has been as versatile.
The 2017 Giant Revolt was a little known bike of its time. Before the carbon version was released in 2019, this no frills alloy frame came with some great features. It had a threaded BB, a tapered steerer and carbon fork with bottle mounts. The frame had three bottle mounts, and all of the housing and hoses were routed beneath the downtube under a removable sleeve. The biggest thing this frame had going for it was the tire clearance: 700×50 or 27.5×2.2 has been pretty much unrivaled until very recently.
It’s still a great bike, and in fact, six years in, the only things I find lacking are the fact that it has post mount brakes and QR axles which at this point, are limiting future upgrades.
“One Bike to rule them all.”-everyone dreaming of one bike that can do everything.
In November of 2019, Rodeo Labs announced the existence of the prototype of the Flaanimal 5.0, their steel adventure/gravel/allroad/whatever-you-want-it-to-be-bike. At the time, I wasn’t really looking to upgrade the Revolt, but the more I read, the more interest I had in it. In fact, it appeared to be one of the most versatile bikes I had seen in recent memory, and the tire clearance launches it into its own category.
The thing I found most interesting about the Flaanimal, is that it is at its root, a road bike. The geometry is much closer to my TCR than it is to the Revolt, and it maintains road bike standards, such as flat mount brakes and the ability to run road cranks with two chainrings up front. Yet, it has the ability to run an absolutely monstrous 27.5×2.4″ tire. A simple wheel swap can drastically change the way the bike feels and where it’s capable of taking you.
*will I ever need a 2.4″ tire? Maybe, maybe not, but I like knowing that I have the option.
Back in December, I contacted the folks at Rodeo Labs to inquire about a frameset for a client (it wasn’t available), and I mentioned that I might be interested in a 54 when one was in stock. To my surprise, there was one 54 still up for grabs in the next shipment.
Happy Valentines Day
I spent January collecting parts to finalize the build that I wanted, and on Valentines Day, my frameset arrived at my front door. In less than a day, I had my new bike complete and ready to ride.
I will say that the quality of the frame and finish are impressive. The welds are minimal and very clean, while the black ED coating is very strong and scratch resistant. There are no odd things about this frame. It takes a regular old 27.2mm seat post and a threaded T47 bottom bracket. Even the headset is pretty standard as far as headsets go on modern bikes.
*The only thing I’d add to this frame is a chain hanger on the seat stay. I know it’s not something that most folks want or use anymore, but I’ve always been a fan.
My build ended up going better than I had thought it would, given the current situation with parts and supplies, and while I couldn’t get ahold of any GRX components, I was able to put a respectable, high quality build together.
I ended up going with a 2×11 Ultegra build. It’s mostly R-8000 with an RX clutched rear derailleur for when things get bumpy. The crankset is a Praxis Zayante carbon with 48/32 chainrings. The cassette depends on which wheelset I’m using, but it’s either an Ultegra 11/30 or an XT 11/40. I used a Whisky no. 7 carbon seat post and my old Redshift Shock Stop stem.
One of the rad features of this frameset is the rear slider. The entire rear dropout and brake mount are able slide fore and aft, allowing you to change how the bike handles, as well as the tire clearance. Want to run 30mm road tires with a tight wheelbase? You can do that. Want to max it out and run 2.4″ tires for rocky, rooty singletrack? you can do that too.
As far as the ride goes, is it as fast as my TCR? Of course not, this isn’t a dedicated race bike, but it’s plenty fast and responsive with road wheels and tires and it’ll keep pace on a group ride. The big T47 bottom bracket shell transfers a surprising amount of power up the climbs, and it’s stiff enough to make you want to corner a little harder, while the steel absorbs just enough to keep you comfy on the rough stuff. Plus, It’ll put up with way more abuse than most bikes while taking you to places that road bikes can only dream of going.
The folks at Rodeo Labs were very helpful along the way, and they happily provided any and all info needed so there were no surprises or let downs once I had my bike. I’m very happy to support a smaller bike company that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
They even let me mix the accent colors on the frame so I could match my Nishiki, which they definitely did not have to do. It’s those little details that really show the care and passion that the folks at Rodeo have for what they do.
In any case, I’m excited to put some miles on this bike and get everything fine-tuned for my 300+ mile trip on the Palouse To Cascades Trail this spring.
Feel free to follow along for the adventure across the state.