Friday, July 2, 2010
Gravel Grinder Gear: Singular Cycles Gryphon
Before I go any further, let's cover what this bike is, and what it isn't. First of all, this bike was conceived of as a drop bar specific bike. That isn't to say that you couldn't put some alt bar or a flat bar on it, but it isn't purposed for those handle bars. Secondly, this bike was designed with off roading in mind, so it might be a tad on the heavy side for all out gravel racing. That said, the Gryphon would certainly hold its own in a race on gravel and does make a great platform for gravel riding in general. Okay, let's dig into this rig!
Comparisons to Salsa Cycles Fargo are unavoidable, but for as many attributes as it shares with that bike, the Gryphon is distinguished by some pretty significant differences from the Fargo. Probably most notable is that the Gryphon can be set up as a true single speed by way of the pinch bolt eccentric shell that houses a shiny Phil Wood eccentric unit, which is supplied with the frame and fork upon purchase. The other being the lack of all the braze ons that the Fargo has. The Gryphon is set up with the traditional two water bottle mounts, and some cable mounts for the brake and braze ons to accommodate a geared set up. Finally, the Gryphon is built from lighter, smaller diameter tubing with shorter chain stays than the Fargo has.
Similarities in the rest of the package are angles, offset of the fork, a non-suspension corrected set up, and of course, the drop bar-centric control idea both bikes share. The ride of the Gryphon is different though. It is definitely more smooth than a Fargo is, especially if your Fargo is unloaded. The Gryphon really isn't meant to carry a load, although frame bags could easily be utilized to do that. The Gryphon's main calling card is a sweet, smooth riding performance with a low, in between the wheels feel. It really borders on the feel of some higher end steel rigs I have ridden on.
I had zero issue with the set up for my preferred drop bars and saddle to handle bar drop. The Gryphon, like the Fargo, has an extended head tube, but a lot of that "extension" is taking up space where suspension correction would normally be. In other words, the head tube may be really long, but most of it is extended downwards. Still, I have about an inch and a half of spacers under my Thomson stem, which isn't really much. This allows about a two and a half inch drop to the grip area of my Woodchippers. That's a nice, comfortable drop, and of course, it could be more aggressive for racing purposes easily. By the way, I'm 6'1" and this is a Large size frame.
Conclusions: The Singular Cycles Gryphon is a great rig for back road and gravel road explorations and fun. It isn't a touring/load carrying mule, like the Fargo, so if you are looking at an expedition, the Fargo may work better here. What the Gryphon does do well is to ride sweetly like a decent steel frame should. It can be a single speed, or geared, which makes it versatile, and it can carry big tires, or skinnier tires well. The "drop bar mtb" thing might throw a few people for a loop, but it shouldn't. Think of it as a more capable cross bike, if you must. You'll be rewarded with a bike that can do the gravel century one week, and turn around and do an all day trail ride on single track the next. It isn't what I would term as an "all out race rig". No- cyclo-cross bikes are better at that, but it could do a race with no issues, and with the right rider, it could win. I would still put it into more of an "adventuring" category though, as far as gravel/back roads are concerned. And a darned good one at that!
For more information, see Singular Cycles website, or contact The Prairie Peddaler.
Note: This frame and fork were provided at no cost for review by Singular Cycles. I did buy the frame and fork after the final review on Twenty Nine Inches was completed. I was not paid, nor bribed for this review. I always strive to give my honest opinions and thoughts throughout.