The folks at Rodeo Adventure Labs are serious about gravel and adventure cycling. We’ve featured their capable TrailDonkey before, which received a 2017 face lift that swapped to a threaded T47 bottom bracket and 27.2mm seat post diameter. We also featured the 2.0 version in our World’s Funnest Bike 2017 series, detailed in Part 1 (overview), Part 2 (wheels and tires), Part 3 (cockpit), and Part 4 (drivetrain). Overall, it’s a bike aimed at killing your expanding quiver – or giving you the capability for big miles on a wide variety of surfaces.
For 2019, the TrailDonkey received a much more involved series of updates, officially introducing the TD 3.0. What was the overall goal of the project? According to Rodeo Adventure Labs,
While we wanted to create a more capable bike, we did [not] want to turn Traildonkey into an overbuilt, drop bar mountain bike. We wanted to stay true to the original principles of the bike which required that it feel at home in the intensity of a competitive road group ride, a 200 mile gravel race, a winding ribbon of singletrack, or a multi-day bikepacking trip.
That doesn’t sound like an easy task, so let’s see how they set out to tackle it.
Larger tire clearance was a top priority for the updated TrailDonkey. The entire rear triangle is new, and features an asymmetric design.
Overall tire clearance now sits at 650b x 2.25” (57mm) or 700c x 2.0” (50mm). These inflated tire sizes assume internal clincher rim widths of 24.5mm and 24mm, respectively.
In addition to the improved tire clearance, the new rear triangle has other benefits: “We [took] the opportunity to refine and simplify the dropout design, brake housing routing, flat mount brake mounts, and derailleur housing routing. When wireless eTap shifting is used on TD3, no residual housing protrusions are seen on the frame.”
The TD 3.0 receives an all-new Spork 2.0 fork. It has a claimed weight of 620 grams, with a 396mm axle-to-crown and 45mm rake. The steerer tube is only available in tapered 1.5 to 1 1/8″, and it uses the flat mount brake standard.
The Spork 2.0 offers the same tire clearance as the frame with the graphic below showing the actual internal width of the fork legs (tire clearance plus at least 5mm of space between the fork and the tire).
The new fork also gets an updated and refined version of their dropout system that allows for either 15mm or 12mm front thru axles. Have an older wheel with quick release skewers? Rodeo has you covered: “In addition to 15mm and 12mm axles we will soon make available an optional 9mm ‘Through QR’ set of axle endcaps which allow the use of legacy hubs such as older QR dynamo hubs that people may already own.”
Like the previous version, the 2.0 supports a dynamo hub, headlight, and USB stem cap.
It also features mid-leg eyelets for additional storage and dropout axle eyelets for fender mounting.
INCREASED MOUNTING OPTIONS
If you need to carry bags, bottles, and more, the TD 3.0 has some crazy capability. According to Rodeo Labs, “On the rear triangle we include eyelets on the upper stays and just above the rear through axle dropouts. On the main triangle, the frame features two bottle mounts on the main triangle as well as one mount beneath the lower down tube. The top tube includes two mounting points for top tube bags or a standard water bottle cage.”
GEOMETRY AND GENERAL UPDATES
Perhaps the most noticeable change is that the quoted weight of the 58cm frame has increased by 100 grams (to 1,350g for an unpainted frame). What gives? According to Rodeo Adventure Labs:
TD3 doesn’t pay lip service to strength and durability. When we upped the technical capabilities of the bike we were careful to also increase strength in critically stressed areas. In both lab and real-world testing TD3 is leaps and bounds stronger than any previous Traildonkey frameset. So many modern bikes are engineered with a disproportionate emphasis on light weight. We believe that the arms race to shave grams has resulted in a reputation for carbon framesets as fragile, almost disposable. With TD3 we have created a frameset that will reliably serve its owner over the long term and we back it with a lifetime warranty*. Our engineering culture is to integrate an excess of strength into the frameset; to create a frameset that will stand the test of time on road, gravel, and trail.
The frame set costs $2,650 and is available for pre-order now (shipments begin in February 2019). You can also order a custom-built complete bike with a dizzying array of options in wheel sizes, drivetrain options, and brake systems.