Ah, the adventure road bike. A metamorphosis of long-distance comfort, gravel road capability, on-road stiffness, urban commuting and so, so much more. These bikes are all the rage these days, and after seeing one too many blog posts recapping otherworldly cycling adventures, I had to get in the game–starting with the Trek Crockett.
Of course, a great deal of decision making goes into building a new bike, especially when you need it to perform well across multiple disciplines and weather conditions. Still, questions such as, can I afford it? Is this the best bike for me? Do I have too many bikes already? And will my wife forgive me continue to haunt the pre-purchase mindset. This is what I went through when strategizing my approach towards building the 2018 Trek Crockett to my quiver of bikes.
The Bike-Build Strategy
Prior to deciding on the Trek Crockett frame, I did some homework to ensure I would be checking the right boxes. I knew this bike in particular wouldn’t be entering any competitive races, would require frequent tire swapping (gravel and road) and would need to be comfortable enough for long days in the saddle. Oh yeah, and most importantly, it couldn’t break the bank. (I say this every time–it always break the bank.)
My goals for the Trek Crockett
The objective of this build was to craft a unique adventure road bike that provided just enough on-road performance features for speed and efficiency, adequate adaptability for both gravel and cross and above average comfort, making it a pleasure to ride whether that’s to the coffee shop or on a fast group adventure.
Details also important to this project bike, I wanted to incorporate the new parts I already owned from past builds. As a bike enthusiast above all else (you know you can relate), I acquire parts left and right. Every year, brands release their new designs making that year-old wheelset or crank something of the past. Because to this, it’s easy to assume that what you have isn’t as good as what’s available in shops. However true or false this may be, it was important that I at least try to ride what I had in my parts bin. Just maybe, it would end up being everything I needed.
Additionally, I have always been intrigued by the online parts availability from the likes of Chain Reaction Cycles, Merlin and Jenson USA. With deals coming at me from every direction, I thought to myself, If we jump on the biggest discounts, can I still build a bike I’m proud of and enjoy riding? So, although remaining in control of the project cost was vital to the plan, I wanted to emphasize that a large percentage of last years “once new” gear remained available in the market, waiting to be consumed by an eager rider looking for some upgrades. As I suspected, If you’re willing to search for them, there are great deals to be discovered..
Adventure Road Bike: The Build
After considering all of my riding needs and desire to build an adventure road bike, I landed on a 56cm Trek Crockett Disc frame (Trek black, to be specific). Why this the frame, you ask? Well, no matter how concerned with price I was, my experiences have taught me to never cut costs on the core of the bike–the frame.
Known for some of the most innovative designs across the industry, Trek’s 300 Series Alpha Aluminum is engineered and tested to be a true do-it-all bike–from racing to weekend touring. You may have noticed the comeback that aluminum has been making over the past two years, a movement influenced by Trek engineers and riders. As I mentioned, investing in a premium frame was a decision made from square one, which was reaffirmed when learning more about Trek’s modern approach to a material:
Aluminum frames and components have been commonplace throughout the cycling industry for much of its history, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t extraordinary opportunities for advancement and perfection. With Alpha Aluminum, Trek has applied the most sophisticated concepts of metallurgy and stretched them to the absolute maximum—building frames that are strong, light, and provide a ride quality that rivals that of many of their carbon counterparts.
As you can see, the Trek Crockett frame is the focal point of this adventure road bike. Championing high quality aluminum, it’s one of the most comfortable road frames I have ridden in the past few years and looks incredibly clean from weld to dropout. Trek’s advanced Alpha Aluminum Invisible Weld Technology is another value driver for choosing the Crockett frame over other options. In building this bike for personal use, achieving the right aesthetics was key, I wanted to smile every time I laid eyes on it (a reminder that my money was well spent). Providing weight relief in the front-end, Trek seamlessly paired their IsoSpeed Cross full carbon disc fork with E2 steerer, flat mount disc brakes and 12mm thru axle, crafting an uber-modern frame weighing in at 4.9lbs (size 56cm).
Other frame features to keep in mind for your build: E2 tapered head tube, BB86.5, flat mount disc brakes, Stranglehold dropouts, 12mm thru axle, Control Freak, internal control routing, and 3S chain keeper.
New Parts from Previous Projects
We all have our N+1 bikes. Some just have more than others. Often times, the parts I have on-hand are the inspiration for my next build. In this case, a set of Gevenalle shifters and derailleurs were my muse for the adventure road Crockett. Re-using what I have is an important habit to learn, especially when we live in a world with plenty. As the Trek Crockett frame rested in the stand, I took inventory of what I already had and what I would need to purchase. My previous builds and part purchases (the deals were to good to ignore) left me with the following items:
Gevenalle CX Shifters
(What does BURD mean? BURD = Blatantly Upgraded Rebranded Derailleur.
Shimano compatible derailleurs optimized for the mud and abuse of Cyclocross. Solid and proven mechanism with 25% higher chain tension to better hold chain in place for off road riding. Assembled with Phil Wood Grease and offered in three pulley options:
Good: Ultegra, Good quality benchmark performance.
Better: FSA Ceramic, Smoother running and a good step up.
Best: CX Pulleys, KOGEL Advanced CX Bearing Seals
(We went with best on this one… It’s the small details that make your bike special.)
A front cyclocross derailleur is built up from Microshift’s top of the line unit but instead of the aluminum and carbon road cage, they build with one that is perfectly suited for the muddy job at hand. It’s smaller to match the required chainrings and steel to make it super super stiff. Shifting is sure and fast and noticeably quicker than a bigger more flexible road cage, and you will likely find yourself shifting between your two front rings more.
Are you curious to know more about Gevenalle? Check out our gravel bike project featuring their GX shifters, which are compatible with Shimano Dyna-Sys MTB rear derailleurs.
When asked, “why did you choose Gevenalle parts” by fellow riders or curious shop employees, I respond with these simple words: resilient; light; strong; fast–just like that. Every time I build a bike, I try to integrate their parts into the final result.
Imagine picking up a new car and immediately installing the utility accessories needed for your lifestyle–this is what Gevenalle offers to cyclists. Affordable upgrades, the index shifting never lets me down and is super easy to install and service. Especially valuable for this Trek Crockett build, these parts increase comfort, ease of use and reliability on the road or dirt. They are everything I needed without the excess. Although I’m not a brand ambassador, please let my enthusiasm represent my pleasant experience riding Gevenalle parts.
An XC/all mountain wheel, this isn’t your traditional choice for an adventure road or gravel bike, but it absolutely gets the job done. Last year I upgraded to a Foundry Firetower hardtail and swapped these out for a wheelset with wide rims; being brand new, having polished silver hubs and recognized for their sturdy build, I couldn’t resist the temptation. At about 1620g they add unnecessary bulk in comparison to road wheels, but I now have the luxury to tackle gravel or dirt roads without concern. NOTE: this wheel choice resulted in a true weight-weenie move as the M1700s saved me about 100 grams over their cross specific alternative. Additionally, I can mount 40c or 42c tires on these and not experience any wheel-flex whatsoever. My plan worked–I must admit, the silver hubs are the icing on the cake.
The Salsa Cowbell 2 handlebars are another small detail on this bike that’s made a big difference. The 12 degree flare and 115mm drop make them so comfortable on all my rides and provide more than enough leverage when I leave the pavement. I felt fortunate to have these laying around, but there are some killer deals across the web since they are considered an older model by Salsa. At first feel, they flex a bit and feel too light for a gravel style bar, however when wrapped with some quality tape they perform beyond expectation– remember, comfort first! Salsa offers the Cowbell in 38-46 cm, so, naturally I went with the widest possible option on the Crockett–grip it and rip it!
Bike Parts Sourced Online
You have probably noticed that online retail makes shopping a bit too easy these days. Well, from way too many personal experiences I can confirm this is true for the bike industry. Now, I’m not telling you to forgo your local bike shop in search of the BEST deal, but sites such as Jenson USA, Chain Reaction Cycles and Merlin make building a bike from the couch a realistic luxury. And for others who can relate, it’s a welcomed challenge to surf the web looking for the right part at the right price. With that said, here’s what I found for my Trek Crockett build:
Chain Reaction Cycles
Merlin Cycles Limited
NOTE: for many flat mount frames, you WILL need this flat mount brake adapter from TRP.
And finally, from Velo Orange
Although this curation of parts and accessories may appear random, there was method to the madness. Yes, each and every one of these parts had been tested and reviewed by the online masses to be reliable, comfortable and provide above average performance, but more importantly their price point offered exceptional value to riders such as myself who want a quality bike with minor personal touches at a reasonable price.
Analyzing these parts–frame to brakes–this Trek Crockett remains true to what an adventure road bike should be: versatile and comfortable. The details should never be overlooked and thanks to the depth of parts online retailers provide, riders can curate a killer bike from a wide variety of components.
When building a similar bike of your own, look to what you have prior to ordering something new; often, what you have laying around could be useful for your N+1 bike. With that point, try to curate parts that will make riding enjoyable and comfortable. Yes, speed and performance are always a worthy factor to consider, but they don’t always translate into the right build or best option for your riding. If you have established a budget, plan to locate the best possible frame, leaving just enough for your parts build– your won’t regret it. It’s easier to upgrade parts than a frame. As my adventure bike project displays, the Trek Crockett was a perfect match for my requirements and has surpassed all expectations.
Ready to get started on your own adventure road bike build started? We can help you get rolling!