Last month we built a new Vogel GF-001 and kitted with a Shimano GRX drive train and our hottest carbon rimmed wheels. Then we topped her off with our very own and very comfortable carbon road bars. Add in a rack and a set of mudguards and this gives her a bit of an understated but yet purposeful demeanor.
This would be my first opportunity to get some quality time on our new GF-001 and I was very much so looking forward to a couple of weeks of intimacy. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the last hours of getting ready for summer vacation, there was all too much to do in the workshop and she got put together a bit on the fly. Trials probably consisted of less than 5 minutes of riding and then she was off on her way to Oslo.
(Get the full story of that trip over at Coh&Co)
They are all great, but my decision was quickly sobered by the springtime Corona supply chain chaos. After a bit of deliberation, I settled on the Shimano GRX600 with 2X 11/42 groupset for the drive train configuration. GRX is Shimano’s gravel bike-specific range of products and should be an ideal rugged offering for gravel rides, touring and adventure cycling. The perfect complement to our Vogel GF-001.
I didn’t have much personal experience with the GRX range and this seemed like an ideal opportunity to get better acquainted. As it would have it, Shimano was fresh out of GRX 2X stock. This meant I had an excuse to go barebones and build her up with a single chainring.
I loved it! And I must say that, although I would have missed the power curve nuances of a multiple chainring on a flat-out road bike ride, this configuration was simple and elegant and I didn’t miss anything.
Before leaving I had been concerned if the power range would be too narrow for climbing and descending, but despite being under 400% it worked out fine with the 40 tooth chainring in the front.
Flip Flop pedals with PDS on one side and platform pedals on the “B” side. This meant I could click in when I wanted to spin, but it still afforded me to ride without being clicked in on really steep and gravely terrain or very trafficked road sections where I felt insecure.
Given that I had made myself a handlebar bag and it obstructed the traditional forward mount of the Wahoo Element, I reversed it and mounted it behind the bars. This worked out fine and gave me a great cockpit. I did, however, knock the Wahoo with my left knee a couple of times when out of the saddle and leaning forward on a steep climb or two…
I have always gravitated to the bomb-proof nature of the steel Tubus rear pannier racks, but this time I decided to gamble a bit on using an aluminum rack from XLC. I must say that I believe it did a fine job. This was a two and a half week trip and I did not have any front panniers. I know that many people like to spread out the load but I feel fine with a rack in the back and a bar bag in the front. This arrangement also keeps me light because I know that if I had another 30+ liters of storage, I’d probably have another 10 + kilos of STUFF.
I am not going to include a complete packing list here – there are plenty of those on the internet. But I will point out that having started out with two families, I had two primus camp stoves and a full-sized fryingpan not to mention a coffee press and a three-man tent. Together with my own personals and the everything else that ends up crawling on board, I had a bit over 25 kilos + water and eats.
Another great piece of kit was my brand new Sea to Summit sleeping bag. This bag compressed down into nothing and kept me cozy despite a couple of chilly Scandinavian nights. It is a down sleeping bag and it has a loft rating of 850 and the down is responsibly sourced – both of these were pivotal in my choice of bag.
I also bought a pair of Bergans super lightweight hiking pants. They were also a joy to climb into in the evenings after hours in my cycling shorts.
She was a great companion – lighthearted and agile when the going got tough. Stout and stable enough to give me plenty of confidence on demanding descents, and she worked out really well with the hardware package at hand. I do look forward to the next ride and am already dreaming of the road to Stockholm… Maybe by way of the towing paths along the Göta canal. The GF-001 would be a prime candidate for that!