A little over a year ago, we reviewed the steel Grimes cyclocross bike designed by Franco Bicycles and built to spec by Zen Bicycle Fabrication.
A lot happens in a year. Zen Bicycle Fabrication is no longer around and Franco Bicycles has redesigned and modernized the Grimes. We spied a prototype Franco Grimes V2 at the Sea Otter Classic 2017, and in true Franco fashion, it’s understated and elegant.
It’s still made of steel with similar specs regarding gauge and butting, but the tubes are from Nova instead of True Temper, who stopped producing bicycle tubing last year. Hector Rodriguez, the man behind Franco Bicycles, told us that the geometry of the Grimes will remain generally the same, still with a 44mm straight headtube and post mount brakes, with the rear IS mount sharing the load between the seatstay and the dropout.
Rack and fender mounts are still included in addition to the dual bottle bosses. Paragon Machine Works Polydrops are no longer specified. Because according to Rodriguez, 98% of orders over the past year came in for thru-axle, making the complication of convertible dropouts unnecessary. Now the Grimes is 12mm X 142mm thru-axle. The Grimes had a wet paint job before and it will now be powder coated for better durability.
The biggest difference is tire clearance has been increased significantly. The new Grimes is designed around fitting a 650B X 52mm (27.5 X 2.1”) knobby tire. That was accomplished easily by Franco’s new build partner, Ventana USA, while still using a 68mm BSA threaded bottom bracket.
The chainstays bow from their junction with the bottom bracket and the right chainstay is indented on the outer side for chainring clearance. It looks like they’ve been successful, as we observed copious tire clearance at the chainstays with a WTB Horizon 47mm tire on board. The included Enve CX fork easily handles the same width.
The prototype viewed at the Sea Otter Classic also has minimum 160mm rotors, but Rodriguez says production will be 140mm minimum. Control lines run externally along the down tube. Aside from the rotor size, final production will likely only vary slightly. You can pre-order now for delivery after June 2017 - Rodriguez expects that production and inventory should make the Grimes available for by then.
The prototype on display was equipped with SRAM Force 1 with TRP Spyre brakes and the new HED Eroica wheelset built with a new aluminum extrusion that has a 30mm outside width. The rims are laced to HED’s new 545 hubset (5 pawl, 45 teeth), Centerlock rotors mounts with a either Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette body or an XD driver.
The previous frameset retailed for $1499, and pricing is expected to be similar.
More info: Francobicycles.com
See our ever-growing stream of new cyclocross and gravel-oriented bikes, wheels, tires, components and cycling gear from 2017 Sea Otter here.