Simon Richardson’s Gravel Bike – Trek Crockett With SRAM 1X

Simon Richardson’s Gravel Bike – Trek Crockett With SRAM 1X


– Global Mountain Bike Network presenter Neil Donoghue and I have just raced the Dolomiti Superbike
mountain bike marathon. (invigorating music) It was brilliant. Really tough, but cracking good fun. However, despite it being a mountain bike marathon, someone thought that with
me being a GCN presenter, I shouldn’t ride a mountain bike, and instead, I should ride this, which is my cyclocross-come-gravel bike. Now, you can find out
exactly how we got on, and, in fact, whether I
managed to salvage any honour at all for GCN, by
checking out the full video over on GMBN. But I thought,
that given how hot a topic gravel bikes are right
now, in our little world, That you might wanna know a
little bit more about my bike, complete with a thick layer
of dolomite dust on it, the components that I’ve chosen, and how it’s all fared. Okay, so the frame is a
Trek aluminium Crockett, and it’s got a full carbon fork on there. Very much a cyclocross bike. However, given how versatile cross bikes are, Trek have made just a couple of tweaks to take this well beyond the confines of just a cyclocross course. So the clearance is boosted
for tyres up to 40mm wide, and then, the other really neat feature is over on the dropouts over there. So, they’re adjustable,
which means that you could, if you wish, run it as a single-speed. But then, it also means that you can tweak the geometry of the bike,
so you can turn it from a really agile machine to
something a lot more laid-back, relaxed and a true gravel-grinder. The main question for me,
though, was the gearing. So, the Dolomiti Superbike has
3300 metres of climbing in it over the course of 113km. And
you might get the impression, given our location, which is actually the top of the final climb,
that it probably wasn’t easy. So, I went for a SRAM Force 1 bike, which as you can see, has just a single chain ring up front. I
went for a 38-tooth option. And that’s paired with this
10-42 cassette out the back, which is, frankly, a bit of a monster. But, 38-42 gives me a
really, really easy low gear. And I could actually,
comfortably turn the pedals right down to 6km per hour,
without feeling the temptation to get off and walk. At least everyone around me’s walking. All right, okay, so I did
walk for one little bit, but so were all the
mountain bikers around me, so I didn’t feel too bad. At the other end of the spectrum, then, We’ve got that tiny
little 10 tooth sprocket, which is actually so small, it won’t fit on a normal cassette body. You need SRAM’s special
XD driver for that. And a 38-10 works out roughly
as equivalent to 50-13. And so, you can comfortably
turn the pedals again at about 50km per hour this time. And admittedly, with a
large cassette like that, you do have slightly bigger
jumps between the gears, but when you’re riding off-road, and you are going that bit slower, you don’t actually notice it. And then when you are on the road, and you’re further down on the cassette, the jumps between the
cogs are that bit smaller. And I must say, that when I
was building this bike up, I didn’t think I would need
a 42 tooth cassette on there. I put it on there for emergencies, but actually, on the brutal middle climb, I was in an emergency
state for quite some time, and actually, I did use
that sprocket a lot. Now, if you’re not familiar
with SRAM’s 1x technology, then I’d probably better
explain how it works. ‘Cause if you were to just
remove your front derailleur and a chainring, then
your chain would fall off about every 30 seconds. And I know that first-hand
because I did it. Back in 1998. So, what SRAM did,
firstly on mountain bikes, before they migrated
their technology across to drop bar bikes, is to
launch a two-pronged attack. So, firstly, the rear derailleur has what’s called a clutch in it. And effectively, that just
holds your chain extra-tight, to stop it bouncing off.
But it is much, much tighter because actually, as a
brilliant side-benefit, you don’t get any chain slap anymore, so you have a completely silent bike. Then secondly, the chainring
is also really quite different. So it’s called a Narrow-Wide
Chainring, and that’s because the teeth alternate between
being a narrow profile and a wide profile to
fit much more tightly with the correspondingly
narrow, and then wide, links on your chain. It
is, I think you’ll agree, a pleasingly simple system,
and it looks super clean, particularly when you get
rid of your front derailleur, your chainring and all
the associated clutter that goes with it, like chain catcher, and also front derailleur mount. Naturally, I’ve gone with disc brakes. They are a complete no-brainer
when you’re riding off-road, given how often you
encounter crappy conditions. But it also meant I was able to use these beautiful, new Zipp
303 disc-specific wheels. They’ve got a slightly
wider rim bed, so 21mm. And that’s able to then really support the larger tyres
that I was running, and they’re also
tubeless-compatible, as well. I did, however, choose to run
continental cyclocross tyres, rather than a wider gravel-specific tyre. And they’re not tubeless-specific, so I did put inner tubes in them. But I only punctured twice, which I think’s pretty good
going, given the conditions that were out on the course. With the benefit of hindsight, though, I probably would have
spent a little bit of time trying to see whether they
could be made to work tubeless. So, effectively bodge
them, just so you can then make the most of the wheels. Other bits I thought you
might be interested in, so the Fizik Cyrano handlebar, I went for their compact, “bull” option. I always choose a compact bar when I can, ’cause I like not having
much of a difference between all the hand positions,
particularly when off-road. And these are also slightly wider than I tend to run normally. These are 44cm, as opposed to 42cm wide. Just ’cause you get that
little bit more control when you are running wider handlebars. Now, the other thing, I’ve got to say a big thank you to Fizik, ’cause they color-matched
this Tundra saddle to match the bike. Which is quite a treat,
I think you’ll agree. So how did I get on, then? Well, you definitely need
to check out the full video over on GMBN, but I did get round. It’s not a gravel bike race,
it is a mountain bike race, and so there were a few, more than a few, really quite sketchy moments. Like, for example, quite
near the beginning, where I actually found myself right near the front of the bike race,
after the first climb. Then we hit this really quite sketchy steep and slippery descent, where I had to pick my way
down really very carefully. And so I found then, ten
angry Italian mountain bikers all trying to squeeze past,
’cause they were still very much racing. So I was on the limit
for a good few sections. And I think, for me,
that’s because gravel bikes don’t really like big rocks. You’d need to run at least 45,
even 55mm wide tyres on there to have lower pressures,
for a bit more comfort, and not run the risk of pinch flats. Take for example the last descent, which was really rocky, really rutty, it should have been mega-fast, but it was like absolute torture. And we checked the stats
afterwards, and it actually turns out that Neil literally went down it twice as fast as I did. And while the upside, though,
is that this may have been like holding onto a pneumatic drill, it was at least a quiet pneumatic drill. Because that one bar rear
mech, with its clutch system, did stop any chain slap. So there we go, a small mercy. Climbing, for the most part,
was an absolute joy on this. Particularly any section
where I had enough traction to be able to get out the saddle, and for it to actually
feel like a road bike. And there was also one really
beautiful, joyous section of 20km of flat gravel,
where I was finally able to get my head down,
and take some time back on those pesky mountain bikers. And that, for me, kind of
summed up the day, really. Definitely gravel bikes
are not as enjoyable as mountain bikes, on
mountain bike trails. Surprise, surprise. But what they do do,
is make simpler trails way, way more fun. And
that was absolutely great.

About the Author: Michael Flood

100 Comments

  1. Would the extra chain tension affect the efficiency of asymmetric chainrings? Bit pedantic i know, but the extra force of pulling the mech in twice per pedal rev would add up over a days ride. Think I'll stick to record mechanical on my Cipollini road bike and the Saint/ XT set up with an MRP Lopes chain device on the SC Jackal trail bike, but nice Trek so cheers Si.

  2. Roadies getting hammered with mtb tech lol disc brakes, compliance, fat tyres, tubeless. They'll be fixing your shit geometries next.

  3. How do you guys film these videos when you're hurtling down descents at top speeds but the camera is perfectly still and focused on the rider?
    Same with the other GCN vids, how are those filmed? Do the camera men sit in the back of a truck or a car or are they on a moped or something else?

  4. Nice bike but poor tires! Conti doesn't make supple but durable tires. Change to Clement or WTB or even Challenge.

  5. Simon, what tire pressures did you use? I would guess something like 50 psi would avoid pinch flats, minimize rolling resistance and give some compliance and traction on the rough stuff.

  6. Curious why Si didn't choose to use a flared bar, given that they seem pretty popular on gravel bikes. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of a flared bar? #torqueback

  7. when Si said 38/42 was an easy gear my legs started to hurt, i use a 32 N/W with an 11-42 on my 27.5 hardtail and i could probably still use a 46 in the back, then again it's not near as light as Si's CX bike

  8. Hey Si completely unrelated to this video, but I only just joined Zwift and this was your latest video. How about a video where you guys compare Zwift Box Hill vs the real Box Hill Segment? One could race it virtually while another does it for real? Or simply compare data for a few runs up each?

  9. In my opinion there are not many difference between a 29er with a stiff carbon fork. With a 29er frame you can run wider tires, also with more sloped frame and a longer seat-post you get with a carbon seat-post more comfort by the flex in the seatpost. So when you want to run 40/50mm tires a carbon mtb frame with rigid fork, carbon wide wheels is a light and flexible choice.

  10. Si, the base price of your model Crockett is $3000. How much extra did you put into it????….$1500?, $2000??..(or did you already have those wheels??)….It's still half the price of most the bikes you show.

  11. Not that I'm the grammar police or anything, you said, What they do do ?? Surely it's just what they do ? What add another do ?? Ha

  12. Very cool video! It shows Si is talking about his own machine. Nice to see a 'wrong' bike off road. My kinda riding 🙂 Head down, eyes shut, hope for the best! Heheh…

  13. That cassette isn't more tightly spaced at the high gears. Tooth jumps are smaller, but the ratio jumps are just as big.

  14. I've seen a lot of Lauf Grit forks this year on gravel rides, and it would have probably made a huge difference in the singletrack descents along with some 700×40 tires. I'm not sure it could have been mounted on the Trek since it has a tapered steerer, but they look quite nice on a Salsa Warbird.

  15. Awesome build Simon, I like that you went alloy. I agree that you should've tried to run the tires tubeless, but you still did very well even with 2 flats. Impressive indeed!

  16. Thanks Sy! I recently aquired a one sram rival to commute and bike camp. Dig it. Any tips about the shifitng? My rear mec seems to have a mindof its own. Those 20Ks are great.

  17. Cool 😀
    I have this same bike but mine has Shimano 105 mechanics on it, I want to use it for my first triathlon race next week, I am thinking of buying some thinner tires on it, maybe 25mm because I have 24mm wheels on the bike. Do you consider this a good idea?

  18. They can't be made tubeless. I've tried.

  19. Question: How fast can you go on normal tarmac with this single chain ring up front? Would you need to switch to a bigger one in order to commute to work on a daily basis?

  20. as far as I can see, you used a medium cage gear with a 42 cassette. As far as I know, sram is suggesting to use the long cage, as the max allow for medium cage is 36, pls conf

  21. Mountain biker here. You don’t need tubeless specific tires to go tubeless. Any tire will work. Non tubeless specific tires are kind of a mesh to save weight. Tubeless sealant should plug all the little holes in a normal tire.

  22. The 10-42 cassette looks intriguing, but how many road wheelsets can actually be equipped with a XD-driver?

  23. should try it on a checkpoint, they fit up to 45's on them, Got mine when it was launched a few months ago and was a great bike until a car pulled straight out in front of me and sent me over the hood cracking both the down and top tubes. Will grab another as soon as the insurance goes through and get stuck in once more.

  24. I'd be interested to know the width on those Continental Cyclocross tyres as I try to decide on my own tyre width?

  25. Simon – Thanks for the super video on your Trek Crockett ! I've been considering options for a gravel bike upgrade as I tool along on our US Kansas gravel byways (seriously). I'll need to watch this several times to absorb all the great tips you included. Keep up the fab work GCN – look forward to every one of your videos 🙂 🙂

  26. cant understand this new hype, its like taking a Porsche 911 and go offroad driving. Next Time he will go Surfing on a MTB and tell us this is the Future XD

  27. YES YES and YES..i saw the video and was excited about the bike….i share it to a friend, who bought nearly instandly the frameset and start to build it up. 3 week ago, i checked the local bike discounter to do a test ride, yesterday i rode it and it was great and the price was reduced at 300€..what should i say..i check my money nad today i bought it….christmas in the beginnig of october, thanks GCN. XD

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