Inspiration for your next bike can come from a myriad of places. For some its the sweet rig your friend on the group ride has, for others it's that really positive review you read, and for some, maybe it's what your local dealer gives you the best deal on. For Matt Allen of Minneapolis, inspiration came from a bit of a different source.
"I found it as an abandoned bike with a bunch of broken stuff on it," he said about the re-built Medici Gran Turismo he rode at the Almanzo 100 gravel race. "I eyed it for a long time sitting outside for a couple months, and then eventually I decided no one's coming for this bike."
Someone else's abandoned bike loss was Allen's gain, after some work. "I had to take it apart, find a few parts, find the SunTour derailleurs and a few things to make it more my own. It's a fun bike." To his credit, Allen took on the project before reading our DIY steel gravel bike story, but it's proof that the concept works and can survive a major gravel race.
Despite its very Italian name, Medici was a California bike manufacturer founded in 1978 as a spin-off of Masi bikes. The company made steel road bikes into the 1990s when the company brand again changed to Simonetti. According to an archived 1984 catalog, the company's bikes were made from double butted Columbus steel and included Campagnolo Super Record components as an homage to its Italian name.
Allen's project started with finding front and rear SunTour derailleurs to keep the bike properly retro. SunTour has not made bicycle components for two-plus decades now, so Allen had to do some work to find the proper parts.
For gearing, Allen ran an Avocet Touring crankset, which is a triple model, with 47/41t chain rings and a heavy dose of drillium. In the rear, he had a six-speed SunTour cassette with the SunTour derailleur he hunted down.
Allen found the bike could have used a bit lower gear for the 6,000 feet of climbing on the Almanzo course. "It wasn't very good for the hills," he said. "41/24 is my climbing gear ratio. It's not really enough, but it's what I had. This originally had a triple, but I took it off because I didn't have a bottom bracket to fit a super-bailout 24 on the inside, which probably would have been good as much as I don't want a triple."
The brake levers on Allen's bike were from Italian brand Modolo with gum hoods and the shifters were bar-end barcons. Brakes on his bike were road calipers from the Italian company as well.
We have been covering the do-it-all monster cross platform a bit this year, and while Allen's bike might not fit Severson's Monster Cross definition, it truly is a do-it-all bike for him, at least right now. "It's my every-bike right now," he said about his setup. "I'm a courier, so it's my work bike right now. It's my commuting bike, it's my gravel grinding bike. It's a bit of everything right now. All my other bikes are in the stable and kind of broken."
Do-it-all? Yep, all of it. "I did line up for one cyclocross race last year on this because I broke a lever on my ’cross bike. It was muddy, bad idea, didn't work."
For tires, Allen joined Women's race winner Dee Dee Winfield in running a clincher with tubes, albeit with even less tread than Winfield had with her Grifo XS treads. "The tires were good," he said. "A lot of that gravel you sort of float through. It's like sand in a 'cross race, you just kind of float it. That's the Soma something. I don't know treads that well."
Allen's treads were the Soma Vitesse smooth "tubular casing" gravel tires in what appears to be 28mm width. They were one of the most modern parts of his setup, especially given the recent trend toward tan sidewalls.
Allen's also added some features to help with his day job—and his gravel hobby. Front and rear fenders protect him from spray, and at Almanzo, they helped protect him and his riding mates from the loose rocks sent airborne in many parts of the course. Allen also had a dyno light mounted on the front—which might have come in handy at Trans Iowa—but he did not need it on the sunny Saturday in Minnesota.
"It's hanging out now," he said about the light. "I have a dyno wheel at home. It rolls like crap. This wheel is about a thousand times smoother. It makes a huge difference."
Allen completed his gravel rig with a saddle bag and two water bottle mounts on the down tube, one of which had a zip tie to help keep it secure.
For more on Allen's Almanzo 100 Medici Gran Turismo, see the specs and photo gallery below.
Matt Allen's Almanzo 100 Medici Gran Turismo Specifications
Frame: Medici Gran Turismo, steel
Fork: Medici, steel
Brake Levers: Modolo, gum hoods
Shifters: SunTour, bar-end
Brakes: Modolo road calipers
Front Derailleur: SunTour
Rear Derailleur: SunTour, six-speed
Crankset: Avocet Touring, 47/41t chain rings
Tires: Soma Vitesse