At Sea Otter 2015, Franco Bicycles showed off its new gravel bike, which it calls the Grimes. The model is West Coast built through and through: Designed in California, manufactured in Portland, painted and assembled in California—appropriate for a bike named after a local Southern California ride of the Grimes Canyon.
The manufacturer, Zen Bicycle Fabrication, is a familiar face of the cyclocross world as it also builds the frames of Van Dessel's Aloominator Cyclocross Bike, as well as the cyclocross and gravel frames from its sister consumer brand, Zen Bike Co.
The Grimes is equipped with disc brakes, with thru axle availability in the front and rear. With 43cm chainstays and a 68mm bottom bracket drop, the model can certainly feel at home on a cyclocross course as much as it does on gravel roads.
The company also describes the Grimes as a backcounrty bike, capable of doing multi-day trips, which is benefited by a rear tire clearance of 42c.
The Paragon Machine Works Polydrops, used by Franco, are dropouts that allow owners the ability to run a thru axle or quick release setup.
Both models Franco displayed at Sea Otter 2015 revealed the versatility of the Grimes, with one looking more than the part of a gravel or cyclocross racing machine, while the other hearkened back to earlier days with a classic look and wooden fenders. Don't confuse classic with ancient, however. The Grimes still has all the new goodies up its sleeve, with internal Di2 wiring options, a True Temper 4130 steel frame, and a carbon fork (15mm thru axle, but not the TRP model shown below.)
Framesets and carbon forks are priced at $1485, with the full SRAM Force 1 build, as shown below, priced at $4800.
More info: francobicycles.com
See all the latest cyclocross and gravel gear from Sea Otter 2015 here.