One of the most interesting aspects of
Grinduro is the opportunity offered to a selection of custom frame builders to create their vision of the ideal bike for the event, which traverses a variety of terrain. For the 2019 California Grinduro, Peter Olivetti concocted what seems to be the perfect drop-bar mountain bike.
The California edition packed around 7,500ft of climbing into a sixty-mile course of smooth pavement, gravel and hard-packed dirt through the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains and, as a consequence, also featured some spectacular descents — including a pretty technical section of singletrail.
Sure, there’s a plethora of production bikes available off-the-peg at your local bike shop that answers the current call for simultaneous gravel and road capability, but for an event as specific as Grinduro, you really want a bike that’s a specialist in gnarly trail riding with the comfort offered by drop bars.
Most ‘drop-bar MTBs’ are basically early 2000s-era 29ers with a changed-out handlebar setup. And while there are plenty of short-travel gravel forks available from FOX and other brands, Peter decided to go all out and make the bike more MTB than a mashup.
Olivetti took these considerations and designed a bike with the relatively-aggressive geometry of a modern XC bike and a drop-bar cockpit — fronted by a pair of Rock Shox
SID Ultimate forks with 100mm of travel. This also made the successful use of SRAM’s cross-platform compatibility.
The wireless component combination of RED eTap drop bar shifters and an Eagle AXS drivetrain have finally made this type of setup a quite literal seamless reality.
What’s more, thanks to the competitive nature of its geometry, only a small amount of mechanical competence is required to swap the handlebars for a flat bar and standard shifters — should you have them lying around.
Peter extolls the versatility of his new build, it’s been the ‘go-to’ in his quiver since he got back from Grinduro. He’s even swapped the tires out from the Maxxis Pace 2.1 pair you see here for a beefier pair of WTB Rangers — 2.25 in the rear and 2.4 in the front.
The DropKicker, as Peter is calling it, is TIG-welded from double-butted True Temper OX Platinum tubing stock that Peter had on hand, which might not be the lightest available, but sure is solid. Which the right tubing selection would definitely bring it into a more respectable range for a steel MTB.
The reason we appreciate custom builders, and why Grinduro approaches them to design bikes for their events, is because of their ability to create highly finessed bikes specific to purpose or terrain — and this Olivetti is the perfect example of it. Especially with personalized flourishes like the brazed-on silver coin.
Massive thanks to
The Radavist‘s John Watson for the photography.