I tell people frequently that there’s merit to choosing a bike that you like the look of. I have purchased bikes for the fit, the specs, and the brand. These days I find myself ordering frame sets and building them to the spec I’m after. The first time I did that it became clear that colorway choices became brighter. As a connoisseur of stupidly colorful items, I found my niche in this industry. This time I had my eyes set on a wonderfully dumb gravel adventure bike.
I ordered an All City Electric Queen frame set. Her name is Fiona. She is a little bit ogre and a little bit princess, very much like her Dreamworks namesake. I ordered the frame set in “blue/lime/splatter” for 2 reasons: First, the rigid fork, and second, the paint job. The blue is closer to periwinkle, so the combo of almost-purple and green got my attention. The surprise of metallic fleck when I opened the box made it love-at-first-irl-sight. I built it up with a xx1 eagle crank (gxp, not dub; I’m a bargain shopper!) with a 32t chainring; the max tooth count on this all mountain machine. From there I tried to force her into a gravel mold with a cow chipper bar, 700x44 WTB Byway tan walls, and a SRAM rival (11speed; rollerbearing clutch) rear derailleur. Even with a 50mm whiskey stem, though, I’ve found the reach and handling aren’t what they could be. I couldn’t ask for a more plush and stable ride quality, but the added reach of the drop bar robs Fiona of her all mountain playfulness.
I know most people will think “it’s just a bike”, but, for me, every build is a lesson. While I wait for a Salsa Bend Bar and a Sram Apex shifter, I’ll mull over this build’s lesson: You can’t force a bike to be something it isn’t, but that doesn’t dull the sparkle. I really wanted a fully rigid mountain bike, anyway.