Commencal’s new FCB Gravel bike build highlights the versatility of their affordable alloy do-it-all bike, and the endless possibilities when you head directly to their frame shop. First imagined as a fast commuter bike that could do double duty on dirt & gravel on the weekend, one of Commencal’s product designers decided it was time to build his commuter up as a full-fledged gravel bike…

Commencal FCB Gravel project starts with new frame kit option

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, flat bar

Commencal FCB standard flat bar build

When Commencal launched the flat bar FCB as a fast city bike with 50mm 700c tires in summer 202, it was meant to give mountain bikers a runabout for everything from urban cruising to gravel riding.

Now for 2021, they’ve added a VIP Frame Kit option for the FCB, opening up more options for customized builds.

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, Dirt brown frame

An off-road rider across pretty much every dirt discipline, Commencal product designer Thomas Moret spends a lot of time riding gravity bikes, but his FCB Gravel build harkens back to a sense of long rides exploring new landscapes.

He built his frame up for ‘the speed of a road bike’ with ‘off-road mode’ capabilities. He also uses the bike as a bit of a test mule, so it’s got a different fork than the standard alloy one here – in between testing different materials, offsets & even 40mm of suspension travel.

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, drop bar custom

Commencal FCB custom gravel bike drop bar build

Not quite all the way towards bikepacking, Moret’s adventure-ready build uses a mix of SRAM Force & Rival 1×11 mechanical components (with Shimano rotors thrown in for “a smoother feel and more bite”).

His cockpit is a 52cm wide, flared PNW bar on a 70mm stem, and rolling stock gets sorted with DT Swiss CR1400 alloy wheels and WTB 32mm Venture/44mm Byway/44mm Riddler tires depending on the ride at hand. A small saddle bags handles tools & spares, and a mini frame pack hauls snacks & extra goodies on longer rides.

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, Traka 200

c. Commencal, photo by Traka 200

He rode the bike at Girona’s Traka 200 race back in May, with plenty more in his sights.

All images courtesy of Commencal, photos by: Nico Brizin / Thomas Moret / The Traka200

Tech details

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, Heritage green frame

The triple-butted 6061 T4/T6 alloy FCB frame gets modular internal routing through the front triangle, external along the chainstays, a BSA threaded bottom bracket, two sets of bottle cage bosses, 27.2mm seatpost, and a 12mm rear thru-axle with replaceable derailleur hanger.

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, details

The painted-to-match 1.5″ tapered steerer 6061-T6 alloy fork features internal cable routing for the front brake, but sticks with classic QR front dropouts.

Both alloy FCB frame & fork feature flat mount disc brakes, and full rack & fender mounts.

Commencal FCB Gravel Frameset  – Pricing, options & availability

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, frme detail

To build up your own Commencal FCB Gravel, start with the new 2021 Fast City Bike VIP Frame Kit, which sells for just 650€ including the alloy frame & fork, plus the internal Acros headset, alloy Ride Alpha seatpost & post lamp. The frameset is available in four sizes in theory, but only the M & L are currently in stock in either of the Dirt brown or Heritage green color options.

Commencal FCB Gravel project frameset, frame kit option, custom gravel bike build, Traka 200

c. Commencal, photo by Traka 200

Pick up your frame direct from Commencal, then hunt down the best gravel cockpit, set of new gravel wheels, and gravel groupset (or gravel wheels & drivetrain combined?) to build your versatile do-it-all urban gravel commuter bike.

Commencal.com

5 comments

  1. John on

    Can any bike wizards out there tell me if they think this would ride okay for smooth/light trail duty with a Fox 32 27.5 suspension fork? Beyond making sure it’s tapered, I don’t know what to look for when it comes to headtube size / fork compatibility… thanks! Got some old 27.5 crest wheels that I would run.

    Been searching for a mtb hardtail frame for a project build with various 27.5 parts I have lying around. But it seems xc mountain bikes designed for 27.5 with 12×142 spacing are essentially extinct.

    Reply
  2. Trenton on

    I don’t understand a rear TA with a front QR. I get that it makes the fork cheaper to build but why? It seems like they wanted to fork to be a throw away item?

    Reply
    • typevertigo on

      I’ve seen Cannondale do it the other way around (through-axle fork, QR rear) on their CAAD12.

      Realistically though, if done up tight enough, QR skewers deliver clamping loads that are sufficient for disc brake road bikes – and YouTuber Peak Torque has tested this. In real-life experience, my 2014 Giant TCX has QRs front and rear, and brake rotor rub hasn’t really been a problem apart from one or two occasions. Going back to the CAAD12 as an example, brake rub is much less of a concern on the rear wheel, so retaining QR dropouts at the back doesn’t have many disadvantages.

      To me, the real advantage of through-axles is improved repeatability of wheel fitment. With QRs up front, I had to get used to turning them a specific number of times (six, in my case) before operating the cam lever to clear the lawyer lips on the fork. A through-axle takes that thinking out of the equation.

      Reply

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