If you were going to build the bike of your dreams, pulling in all the best parts and creating a mashup that could do it all and do it well, what would you make?

This year, I chose gravel, but in the loosest of terms. More like, I wanna be able to ride around town and hit anything that catches my eye. Singletrack? Absolutely. Backroads and alleys? Definitely. Running errands or just getting some ‘cross training in? Yep, that, too. So after what seemed like an actual whole year of waiting on Rodeo Labs’ Trail Donkey 2.0 to get through production and have enough availability that they could spare a frame, the third edition of Bikerumor’s World’s Funnest Bike project build began…

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

In this post I’ll cover the bike, followed by posts on the rolling stock, drivetrain and cockpit. So, why did I keep this project on hold for so long waiting on the Trail Donkey? Because look at it. It’s phenomenal. It’s beautiful. And it promises to be everything I wanted a do-it-all fun bike to be – light, fast, capable and good looking. It’s potential is limitless, which makes me wanna just get out and ride. And isn’t that what any good bike should do?

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

The Trail Donkey has a full carbon frame and comes with their full carbon Spork fork. This V.2 of the model gets thru axles front and rear and flat mount brakes. Both the frame and fork are chock full o’ mounts for bottles, racks, bags and fenders. There’s routing for a dropper post inside the top tube with an exit port just in front of the seatpost.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Replaceable cable guides let you cover unused ports, and the frame ships with removable cable guides to help ease installation of mechanical drivetrains and/or disc brakes.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Framesets come with an alloy seatpost collar and an FSA headset.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

The inner faces of all front triangle tubes are flat, and the front derailleur mount is notched into the frame a bit for proper positioning. It’s removable for cleaner 1x builds.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Dropouts are full carbon with alloy inserts for the derailleur hanger and axle carriers. This allows them (you) to swap between 12×142 or 135mm QR, and parts for both are included with the frame. If you opt for the quick release setup, the skewer threads directly into the driveside insert, so there’s no need for a nut and the connection is more secure.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Third water bottle mounts are under the downtube. Cable routing is made easier with a removable BB shell cap, which hides a bolt-on cable manager. More on that in a minute…

RODEO LABS SPORK 1.1

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

The Spork 1.1 is their full carbon adventure fork to go with the Trail Donkey. It gets a more mountain bike friendly 15mm thru axle at the bottom and full carbon steerer up top.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike frame details

Brake hose routes through the leg. Routing of the hydraulic brake lines through both frame and fork was easy. The fork required no guide, but I did tape the pre-installed cable guides to the brake hose to help pull it to the right holes. Removing the bolt-on cable stops opens the holes up just enough to make it easier to guide the hose in and out of the frame.

Max tire clearance for the fork is 700×56, and 700×52 for the rear. The frame, fork and geometry are all optimized for 700c wheels and tires, but it’ll work with 27.5 wheel and larger tires like the WTB Horizon 47c slicks.

Framesets retail for $2,560 and are available in three colors…this one’s “blue”.

ASSEMBLY NOTES

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

Under the BB shell cover hides integrated cable management. This small black plastic piece is removable and threads into the frame, which is sorta good and bad. Good because you can remove it if you don’t need it. Bad because the bolt protrudes slightly into the BB area:

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

Here’s why that’s bad: If your bottom bracket is a full diameter, full width press- or thread-in piece like those from BBinfinite, Praxis, Wheels Manufacturing, etc., there might be clearance issues.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

For this project, I chose the Wheels Mfg. PF30 Threaded bottom bracket. The two sides thread together to create a solid connection and align the bearings. This model has Enduro angular contact bearings, which should keep things running smooth for years to come. The design means the center shell of the BB is the same diameter as the edges that press into the frame. Because the Trail Donkey’s cable guide bolt protruded into this space by about a millimeter, it scraped and notched the BB as I pressed the driveside into place.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike bottom bracket install technique

Fortunately, the solution was simple: Remove the cable guide. Because this project bike is getting SRAM Red eTap, baby! So, that worked out well for this build. After I filed away the deformed part of the BB and cleaned out the threads, it went together as intended.

I mentioned this issue to the team at Rodeo Labs and they said they hadn’t experienced that problem before. Many bottom brackets, particularly non-threaded pressfit models, won’t have this type of clearance issue. It only became an issue here because of the particular BB I chose to use. Wheels Mfg. also makes non-threaded PFBB models, as do most every other BB manufacturer. Had I needed the cable guide, the other solution would have been to file down or replace that bolt.

ACTUAL WEIGHTS

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 - Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 carbon drop bar adventure gravel road bike actual weights

Claimed frame weights range from 1,250g (54) to 1,450g (58) unpainted. Our test bike is a size 58 and came in at 1,547 fully painted and will all hardware….which counts a lot of bolts, far more than the usual four water bottle bolts. The fork with uncut steerer came in at 664g, and the FSA headset is 123g. Add it all up and it’s a 2,334g frameset.

Worlds Funnest Bike 3 actual weights for complete bike build with Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 2 adventure bike

That translated into a complete bike weight of 19lb 5oz (8.76kg). So, what else is on it and why’d I pick these parts? Stay tuned…

Rodeo-labs.com

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44 COMMENTS

        • I rode a lauf fork, didn’t make my life better. Riding out of the sadde is really annoying with an undamped, non-lockable fork.

          • I agree. If that is something you really want just buy a short travel xc fork. You get so much more control at a reasonable price and the added features make up for the weight penalty. Or take some air out of you’re tires for free!

            • Yes! The Lauf is an unsightly pogo stick. All of the Lauf schills are only talking them up because they got them for free.

    • Love the Lauf. We’ve put a handful on our bikes and it works quite nicely expecially when the terrain gets more intense. What I don’t personally love about the setup is that it weights the bike towards a single use and makes it less adapted towards running it on the road which a lot of us do as well. Is the bike an N-1 or a gravel bike? It comes down to rider preference. There is no wrong answer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq9YhS6nqec

    • I’m a sucker for titanium, this looks like a super nice bike with lots of good ideas built in. I love that it has clearance for proper 29er tires. The current spate of gravel bikes with clearance for 700×40-ish or 650b plus are great for most gravel roads, but for the rocky, steep forest roads I like to ride, I’d prefer the rollover and volume of 29er tires. Thunder Burts would be killer on this bike.

  1. That fork is so sick. And thanks for using the numbers I used in a previous post, the Lithic fork post where you got argumentative with me about the tire clearance and the cable routing.

  2. Not that many will opt for the QR option in the rear, but if you do, “the skewer threads directly into the drive side insert.” How stupid is that? Now it’s not a quick release.

    • i mean qrs suck with discs, so this is like a poor man’s thru-axle, which is not bad if you have wheels that are qr.

          • Yup; I’ve got a QR on my hard tail 29er and getting the brakes to not rub is a chore (luckily I almost never remove the wheels. If you’re riding a disc brake bike on the road thruaxles are almost mandatory I ditched my CAADX because of this. Little bit of rub on the trail is no big deal but for 3 hours on the road it’s maddening.

    • The true rationale for this design was that the bike was probably always going to be more suited to through axle (in terms of stiffness). But if someone is buying a new frameset and currently owned QR wheels that they wanted to continue using, why not engineer in a feature that lets them continue to do so? The cost factor in allowing for QR is minimal but for the few people who take advantage of the QR dropout it makes the frame that much more approachable and keeps their overall build costs down.

  3. So to make it actually work you have to modify the BB probably voiding any warrany that you may have had? That doesn’t seem like a good idea to me……..

    • No, you have to shorten the mounting bolt for cable manager. A couple of minutes with a Dremel or a file and you’re good to go.

      • We made the decision about BB drop entirely in a vaccum. It comes down to where we ride the bike and how we ride the bike. A 65 drop adapts more towards the “trail” end of Donkey than the gravel or road side. Using it didn’t negatively impact our experience when out testing but helps make the bike true to its name. Comparing two dissimliar sets of geometries back to back might give you a sensation that BB drop makes the bike feel a certain way but after hours or a few days getting used to any given we’ve found that our bodies learn the geometry and interact fluidly with it. We ride the bike hard on the road, gravel, and trails and there was no question which drop we preferred across all 3.

  4. Clarification: The max tire we spec on this bike at 700c is a 45mm and the max tire we spec at 650b is 47mm. The opening size does not equal max tire size. All tires flex, some mount unevenly, and many wheels flex. If you don’t leave room for that you up the odds of slowly (or quickly) grinding away your chain or seat stays with your tire. Never assume that tire sizes labeled on sidewalls are accurate. YMMV with rim and tire combos.

    • So are 56 and 52mm the actual widths between the fork blades and (chain?) stays at the diameters Rodeo labs anticipates maximum 700c tire width will be? If not, what do the numbers mean?

  5. Trail donkey was on my shortlist when I recently made a ‘gravel’ bike purchase but I ended up with a Stigmata. Can fit 40c Nanos (in Summer) and it rips on all kinds of terrain… it also jumps, manuals, and wheelies better than any drop bar bike should. It’s like a cross bike and BMX bike had a baby and it is somehow super comfortable.

    I’m pretty sure the Trail Donkey would have made a better bike for long gravel rides, but the grins/mile the Stigmata provides are hard to beat! If TD can touch the Stig on that front, ‘World’s funnest bike’ is a deserving title. If it can’t, well, I’m sure there’s a Santa Cruz dealer near you!

    • A lot of people that come out on our Rallies have Stigmatas. Great bike. Everyone seems to love theirs. World’s Funnest Bike is just a headline. Once you are out there riding bikes with friends there is no sense arguing about who is having more fun, that’s the great thing about bikes across all disciplines. Those sorts of arguments only have oxygen to thrive in comment threads or forums on the internet. Rodeo started on the premise that all bikes are great and we haven’t re-written those core values since we first launched in 2014. Even though we now make bikes we’re proud of the diversity of bikes found on our team and never push our community to homogenize around a single brand or style.

  6. Looks like a great frame.

    I will be interested in the justification for the Etap road gruppo. Surely a 1x drivetrain with a big cassette and a clutch RD would be more fun. At least some adventure gearing on the chainrings…

    • Why does an editor of Bike Rumor need to justify a parts choice on his own bike? 1X is the stupidest thing ever on a gravel bike, road bike or MTB, but great for CX. It only exists because SRAM cannot for the life of them, make a decent front derailleur that actually shifts well. Even eTap has issues because of where the battery is situated. Clearance between a 35 – 40mm tire and it gets really tight.

      Gaps on a big cassette and 1X. Why? Why limit yourself? Want a clutch? Get Shimano’s XT or XTR Di2 in a 2X and you have all of the gears to climb anything your heart desires.

      • “So, what else is on it and why’d I pick these parts? Stay tuned…” This is what I am referencing.

        I am genuinely curious about why Tyler picked these parts. I run a 2×10 Campy drivetrain on my adventure bike and I am loving the 48/30 gearing of my adventure crank. It is super fun and weird, but when it gets really rowdy I wish I had a clutch RD to reduce the chain slap.

        I think Sram’s GX 2×11 and their Apex shifters would be a really fun setup. Not sure if this is possible

      • Um… Isn’t an editor of Bikerumor’s job pretty much to provide justification as to why they spec certain parts on the bikes they’re building?

        And you must bit have ridden much 1x. Dominant in MTB;, loses world championships in CX. I agree though, SRAM front derailleurs are awful.

  7. The end weight makes me feel better about my sub-19 aluminum Jamis Nova Pro. It didn’t cost me several thousand dollars, either.

    • Well as long as you fell better, but it really isn’t about you. Always entertaining hearing insecure comments about people trying to justify their own purchases.

  8. Beauty. I love the Donkey but haven’t ridden one. This type of bike though is endlessly fun. I built up a Cannondale Flash with a similar spec as this and it’s a blast. Love the long wheel base, clearance, and just all around good fun.

  9. I think assembly order is important to avoid interference in the BB. If you remove the guide cover, install the BB, then replace the cover the bolt should sit nicely in the narrower space between the flanges of the shell.

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