Rodeo Labs as a company is a bit hard to pin down. It seems like it started more of a riding club, and has grown into something much more. Along the way the folks who made up Rodeo spread around the world as a club team and developed riding kits to declare their unity. But they also realized that many of the members where looking for one bike to ride it all. The goal wasn’t really to make a better road bike, a better cyclocross bike, and a better mountain bike all rolled into one, but rather to build a bike that could stand up to riding on any road or trail surface. That bike was born as the first generation Trail Monkey, which was essentially a slightly altered open-mold carbon frame, but they’ve come a long way since then.
Over the last two years (and through a sliding dropout steel bike along the way – the Flaanimal) Rodeo Labs has devoted a lot of time and design effort into developing their own unique bike, that took everything that they learned on that first project and turned it up a notch. The newest iteration, the Trail Donkey 2.0, picks up where they left off with a all-new frame and custom fork truly designed from scratch to take on any surface. The new bike is available for pre-order now with deliveries happening very soon. Rope in the details after the jump…
The bike isn’t supposed to just be a cyclocross bike, but that is really where its geometry took roots. Rodeo does go a way from CX conventions in several place though to get the feel they wanted. First is probably the sloping geometry, which they say was to make it easier to whip around on the trails. That also leaves a lot of 31.6mm seatpost which will let the rider tune a bit of stiffness or flex depending on what post they choose. It also means that there is plenty of extension for including a dropper post, which can add a bit of trail fun. The bikes geometry has pretty stretched out 435mm chainstays to fit big tires, but also a long-ish front center to keep rad handling stable and eliminate toe overlap.
In order for the Donkey 2 to really be an all-surface animal it needed to deal with bigger tires. The new bike now has clearance for 56mm tires front and rear. That was pretty much pushing the limit to run normal road cranks, but they made it fit. But while they weren’t trying to build a real monster crosser drop bar mountain bike, that is a 2.2″ width, so a lot of 29er XC mountain tires are going to fit, just not with a lot of room to spare.
The Donkey gets thru-axles front and rear, but actually incorporates a nicely though out modular rear dropout system that means you won’t be stuck with one axle standard. (Eds.: Isn’t it really is nice to see this feature on more bikes these days?) The frame will do 135mm QR or 12×142 thru-axle. The fork is an either-or proposition, so pick what works for you: 15mm thru-axle or QR. Rodeo says they’ll also offer single speed hardware for the frame soon and get rid of the pesky derailleur hanger for those so inclined.
The fork itself is a bit unique. There aren’t too many full carbon forks out there to run such big tires, so Rodeo made their own dubbed the Spork. At 480g, the Spork has heavy-duty low rider rack and fender mounts to handle any manner of bikepacking, touring or commuting (as does the frame.)
The Taiwanese-made frame and fork get flat mount disc brakes, and all routing is done internally. Routing gets modular plugs that can adapt to any drivetrain or brake setup, as well as stealth dropper routing. The front derailleur mount is even removable for clean 1x and SS setups. The bottom bracket is a Press Fit PF30 for now, with a T47 BB option apparently on the way in a future iteration.
The frames weigh around 1250g for the 54cm and 1450 for the 58cm raw, and will add a bit for the simple graphics. Frame and forks are both compatible with either 140 or 160mm rotors, and frames gets 3 water bottle mounts across all sizes.
Rodeo Labs is pretty hard set on not categorizing the bike as either cyclocross, gravel grinder, road, or even mountain bike. Their feeling is that it is a bike frame and fork that you can build however you want to do whatever kind of riding floats your boat. At the same time the recognize that it isn’t going to be the raciest of any of those disciplines, but rather a fun bike to ride no matter what.
The bike is available for preorder now with frame and fork selling for $2560, including a seat collar, Ritchey headset, and thru-axles, plus a QR. The first deliveries will happen mid-July 2016 for 54 & 58cm frames, with 52 & 56s coming in a second batch by mid August. To lock in one of these first bikes in either of two color schemes you need to give them a 50% deposit down, with the rest before the bike ships to you. A few complete builds are also possible with a 105/CX77 mechanical setup from $3250 complete to a Force1 HydroR complete for $5000, and even the option to do some custom spec’ing.