A Michigan-made single-speed steel cyclocross bike. What’s not to like about this?
I’d known about 616 Fabrication for a little while, largely due to their fat bike frames and significant Barry Roubaix sponsorship, and was very pleased when one of the owners came into the shop, showed off the product and asked if we’d like to represent their bikes in Kalamazoo.
The timing of all this was just about perfect. I’ve been psyching myself up for a single-speed cyclocross bike, but none of my major manufacturers make anything of the sort. I’d all but decided that I’d have to wait another year or two when the guy from 616 arrived. Will we sell your frames? Yes! Will you also make me a cyclocross bike? Please?
And away we went. This is a stock frame size with single-speed, belt-drive Paragon dropouts that can be converted to multi-speed with a different (included) drive-side hanger. I confess that I’m a curmudgeon and initially asked for cantilever brakes, but no. Caliper brakes were an option, but not cantilever. So I hauled myself into the 2010s and ordered up a disk brake bike. I picked out the color of the bike and the logo color (paint! not a decal) and waited a very reasonable amount of time for the frame.
In the meantime, I had to do something about wheels. After a zero-failure experience with a tubeless setup last year, I figured I’d go that route again. I thought about building a set of wheels with fancy hubs and was driving myself crazy making decisions along that route when I found myself on the HED site. Woah! What is this Ardennes + thing? The Ardennes has been a fantastic wheel for us. It uses the same rim as HED’s Jet series of aero wheels with the same high-quality spokes and excellent hubs. The + refers to increased width, from 23 to 25 mm. It’s also tubeless-ready. Hey, why not?
Brakes are Avid BB7. Tires are Clement MXP. The fork is from Whisky. The crank is some old thing I found in my box of stuff. Same with the seat post and handlebars. Chainring, spacer kit and cog are all Surly.
I put it all together Friday, participated in a crazy foot race on Saturday and raced the new bike on Sunday. Fun! I experienced none of the teething problems one might expect from such a rushed project. The ride is very nice. The wheel/tire combination was really great on the dry, grassy course and provided a ton of grip. It goes where it’s pointed, stops when it should and was in the wrong gear 100% of the time.
This should be fun.