Grava Bike Company is located in Lenoir, North Carolina, an area traditionally known for American manufacturing and during the Prohibition Era, moonshine. Grava was born from rides the owners did training for ‘cross on the gravel and dirt roads of the hills surrounding their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near the border with Tennessee. The desire was to produce bikes for the type of riding they loved. Jeff Welch and Shawn Moore’s first bike was named and inspired by a particular 18 mile stretch of twisty, gnarly gravel road call Maple Sally Road, and is a carbon bike. The Revenuer seen here is named for the government agent responsible for chasing down bootleggers in Prohibition days and is stealthy flat black steel with durability and speed in mind.
Grava Bike Co.'s The Revenuer Steel Gravel/CX Frame:
Grava's The Revenuer is Fabricated in Tennessee with a mix of Columbus Zona for the main triangle and Dedacciai Zero tubes for the rear. The dropouts, caliper mounts, derailleur hanger and BB shell are Paragon machine works products. The Revenuer’s dropouts are set for a 142mm X 12mm thru-axle ‘standard’ of present mountain bikes. and is paired with the TRP CX disc fork. Our review bike has the 15mm thru-axle version, again leaning towards the current mountain bike standard, though a 12mm thru-axle version of this fork is available so you can stay current as the ‘cross and road thru-axle standards evolve.
Our size L sample has a 44mm head tube angle set at a 71 degree angle, coupled with a 72 degree seat tube, measurements that stray just a bit towards slack from the typical angles we see in cyclocross bikes. The frame offers 7 centimeters of BB drop and a 56.0 centimeter effective top tube. The chainstays are a claimed 42.6 centimeters, but my measurement indicated they were a tad closer to 43. A 600 millimeter front center yields a 102.7 centimeter wheelbase as we measured it with the included TRP fork that has a 47 millimeters offset.
Adding to the bike's versatility, the bottom bracket shell is PF30, large diameter but 68 millimeters wide, allowing a variety of crank spindle lengths and styles to be used. You could even run an eccentric bottom bracket to make it a singlespeed.
The chainstays offer good tire clearance. Grava Bike claims 1.8" tire clearance, and I don't doubt that claim unless you have really wide rims. Regardless, you've got plenty of mud clearance for cyclocross tires and 40c gravel tires.
The brazed-on guides run the brake hose/housing along the top tube to the seatstay mounted caliper. The slender 16 millimeter seatstay is braced by a truss at the caliper connected to the chainstay. Curiously, the top tube brake line runs at an 8 o’clock position on the non-drive underside, right where you might slip the bike onto your right shoulder. Shawn Moore of Grava Bike mentioned that prototypes of The Revenuer ran the cable along the top of the top tube like old steel bikes of the ‘80’s, but comments from testers (young) pointed out the look as “weird.” “So we moved the cable placement and worked on getting everything situated in such a way that it wouldn't interfere with shouldering the bike,” said Moore.
There are two sets of water bottle cage bosses, but no provisions for fenders or racks. The Revenuer is finished in a matte black powder coat with nice graphics.
Grava Bike Co.'s The Revenuer Test Bike Build
The build kit of our test bike was the most basic of many offered by Grava Bikes. It was primarily Shimano 5800 105 11-speed, including the four-arm crank with 50/34 chainrings, and a GS medium cage rear derailleur to handle the compact crank 16 tooth spread with the included 11-28 cassette. TRP Spyre SLC dual piston mechanical brakes are paired with 160 millimeter rotors on both the front and rear.
The Wheels Manufacturing PF30 outboard bottom bracket is used for the Shimano crank rather than a usual PF30 bottom bracket and spacers. Moore chimes in, “we feel like the Wheels Mfg. bottom brackets are a lot nicer solution for all of our bikes and give the best longevity and performance.” I have to add that the threaded interface of the Wheels Manufacturing PF30 Out is brilliant with the bearing cups threaded together, avoiding the pure friction fit of typical PF 30 cups, allowing easy installation and removal. However this set only works with certain crank types.
The supplied wheelset in the build kit is Boyd Altamont aluminum disc wheels with 24 2x Sapim CXray spokes on the front and 28 2x on the rear, hand-built in Greenville, SC around a 30 millimeter deep and 24 millimeter wide rim with an internal width of 18.5 millimeter. The specs represent a solid choice of a modern width rim that looks great for tubeless use, but in my time with the bike, I did not have a chance to convert the wheels for tubeless.
The overall package is typical for a steel bike, tipping the scales at 21.6 lbs without pedals, and our trademark CXM weight without wheels came in at 15.5 lbs (in case you have some fancy race wheels around).
Grava Bike Co.'s The Revenuer Ride
You'll have to read the full review in our next print issue, but we'll give you a few hints of early impressions. The Revenuer can sweep through courses, tackle tight singletrack switchbacks and climb steep, loose ride-ups without question. It exudes the ride of steel, slightly damped but springy on bumps and assured on acceleration. With generous tire clearance, the Revenue should keep you riding in all seasons and all conditions.
Photo gallery below the specs.
Grava Bike Co.'s The Revenuer Test Bike Specs
MSRP:$1635 frameset, $3110 as tested
Frame:Handmade in Tennessee from a customized blend of Columbus Zona and Dedaccai Zero steel alloy tubing.
Fork: TRP CX Disc, 15mm thru-axle
Shifters: Shimano 105 5800 11-speed STI levers
Crankset: Shimano 105 5800 50/34
Derailleurs: Shimano 105 11-Speed, Front and Rear GS medium cage
Wheels: Boyd Altamont
Tires: Specialized Trigger PRO 700 X 33
Brakes: TRP Spyre SLC
Weight: 21.6 pounds full build, 15.5 pounds without the wheels
Warranty: 2 years against defects to original owner
Country of Origin: USA
More info: gravabike.com