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Atop new Trail Donkey 2.0, Rodeo Labs packs in cyclocross, gravel… & MTB?

rodeo labs trail donkey gravel road adventure bike
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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rodeo-Labs.com

 

 

 

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36 Comments
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elvis
elvis
8 years ago

Love these guys

mach3
mach3
8 years ago

Spork may be a trademark issue with the camping/outdoor Spork tool…

crackedframe
crackedframe
8 years ago

Great bike. Horrible Name.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  crackedframe

We’re very intentional about not being serious with our names. Context for the name: The Grand Canyon guide donkeys.comment image

Bikemark
Bikemark
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Those beasts appear to be mules. (Nothing against donkeys.)

Allan
Allan
8 years ago

Cool paint jobs, and I like the square tube shapes.

Craig
Craig
8 years ago

They have just created my perfect carbon frame. This literally has everything I want in a frame & fork. Cool design and paint job, great tire clearance, sensible geometry, rack and fender mounts, 3 bottle bosses. These guys have obviously been listening to the market. Now just to save up and buy one!

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Craig

Cheers. The bike started originally out of our own curiosity, before this segment had really started becoming as defined as it is now, but a really cool part of the development process was showing people the entire process from start to finish via our site and social media. The third bottle boss came when someone said “but does it have three bosses?”. Right then and there we changed the spec from 2 to 3.

Burton
Burton
8 years ago

Adjustable drop outs? Just a matter of time until they creak or the bolts seize.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Burton

They are functionally very similar to dropouts that have been in use for years. A replaceable derailleur hangar for instance is almost the same as what we’ve done here, we’ve just made it possible to change from 135 to 142 while you are at it. In thousands upon thousands of miles of testing and abuse we haven’t had squeaks yet. We didn’t just print this bike from a CAD drawing, we rode it hard all over the world, revised, tweaked, and made it better until we felt that it was done… which is why it took a year longer than we thought it would to complete. We re-designed and tested the dropouts three times until they were just right.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Burton

This is how the dropouts work.
https://instagram.com/p/BFwWQY8wFMI/

Daniel
Daniel
8 years ago

What are those wheels? Look interesting.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Daniel

Unlike our frames and fork which we’ve done from scratch, our wheels are sourced from different manufacturers to compliment the needs of the bike. We didn’t feel like the wheel needed reinventing (sorry) to meet our goals, it just needed to be light, extremely durable, built by an expert, and made up of great individual components. So, these aren’t ENVE, but functionally they are killer and we are very happy with the package. We are also happy that we can spec them on so many builds without blowing the cost out of the water. If people want to go higher zoot they can customize hubs and spokes to their taste and riding style or, yes, we could change to something like ENVE or people are free to bring their own wheels to a build.

Someguyonabike
Someguyonabike
8 years ago

$2500 for a no name frame ? That’s a bit steep, $3,000 buys the open frame. $2,300 gets a Santa Cruz stigmata.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Someguyonabike

It has a name on it. Right there in pain site, molded into the downtube. It also has two years of proven miles, adventures, racing and history already behind. The Stigmata is a great frame and the OPEN is fantastic. Both good options, both at different price points above and below this one. None of these three framesets are identical in specification or features though. Nuanced buyers have so many great options these days for sure, and this bike is one of them.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
8 years ago

When can we expect a review?

Steve
8 years ago

We will start getting bikes out for review this spring and summer. We went way into overtime getting this bike out the door so the first priority is getting it to people that have been waiting following it’s progress for two years, then we’ll circle back. For those lucky enough to be close to Denver we’re starting to lend demo bikes out to people so that they can try before buying. Later we hope to do the same with regional bike shop partnerships. We’re starting small and building steam.

i
i
8 years ago

I agree, this ticks a lot of the right boxes, too bad they aren’t offering it in adult sizes.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  i

We want to offer more sizes and 61cm is next on the menu, but we have to build some momentum before we get there. Carbon bike tooling requires a significant investment for each frame size, especially for a company and young as we are. The tallest members of our own team won’t stop giving us grief for not having that 5th size yet.

Mayhem
Mayhem
8 years ago

Looking good. Can’t find any photos of the fork from the front though… Does it have a hole on the front of the fork crown suitable for mounting a light? That’s my main issue with pretty much every gravel/cross bike I’m looking at for commuter/touring duties, nearly none have anywhere to mount a headlight. Not a fan of mounting lights on the handlebar as it doesn’t work well with a computer out-front mount.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Mayhem

In the fork crown? Yes it does have a hole there (typically for fenders and racks). Would that work? Here’s another angle:

https://instagram.com/p/BF4-kx8QFKk/

Mayhem
Mayhem
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Yes, that seems perfect! Most forks with fender mounts typically have a threaded hole on the back of the crown only, which obviously doesn’t help much when it comes to lights.

Overall I’d say this bike looks exactly like what I am after right now. The only issue is of course cost, both frame and a build to do it justice would end up way too expensive for me to dare leave it unsupervised no matter how heavy-duty the lock…

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Mayhem

We should have forks on the market at about the time the first batch of frames land, so that’s always an option if they play well with an existing frame of yours. Targeting around $380 on those…

pedaltrash
8 years ago

Wow. That’s a pretty complete package. Very impressed.

bikemike
8 years ago

It is awesome to see companies building bikes like these. Too many bike shops and so called experts want people to ride “race bikes” Most people would benefit from this bike as it is so adaptable and can go everywhere. Cannondale Slate is the same idea. Go out and ride anywhere and have fun!

ascarlarkinyar
ascarlarkinyar
8 years ago

Been down this route. Do all bike, ok at everything, good at nothing. Only apeal if you live in a small apt. And can only have one bike…

Sincerely though good luck. It will be good for some people.

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

Sort of agree. Best at nothing is more accurate. A well engineered bike can be good or very good at many different things, but of course nothing beats a pure road bike on the road or a pure Mtb on the trails or even a pure CX on the race course. We’ve actually raced this bike and either won or podiumed in road, cx, gravel, and yes even a 60 mile MTB race. Is it the best at anything? Doubtful, unless you count ignoring categories and riding for fun as something to be good at. It’s pretty good at fun.

xxx
xxx
8 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

best at nothing makes a great bike imo.
if you’re a criterium, cx, road, etc. racer (participate in actual races), of course, you don’t use this bike.
if you’re biking the forest or bike parks all day, of course, you don’t use this bike.

but, if you just like biking, you don’t need the lightest and fastest, because really you just like biking and you just want one that works well, this seems like a great bike. I suspect its a LOT of us. It’s basically what they’d market as “gravel bike” these days…

Heck i bet it’d win some races anyway.

Dinger
Dinger
8 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

” Only apeal if you live in a small apt. And can only have one bike…”

That is a massive chunk of our population, especially younger people.

Chris
Chris
8 years ago
Reply to  Dinger

I’m always on the lookout for a do it all bike to strap to the back of the Sprinter van. A far better option than bringing all my bikes for all possible riding situations. May not be the best at a certain condition but it would be best for bringing on a road trip in your camper.

Steve
8 years ago

A point of clarification: our clearance measurements are accurate but we are not listing 2.2″ 29er clearance as a specification of this bike. It isn’t just an issue of tire width it’s also an issue of diameter.

You also have the issue of the elements. Cramming in max rubber with no room for dirt, mud, rocks, or snow would mean that you’d chew up your stays. Not ideal. Leaving a safe margin of tire clearance beyond the rubber is essential.

The biggest tire we’ve felt good about running is a 1.8″ Specialized Renegade 29er tire. It may be possible do more by using a 650b wheel, which fits great. We plan onto digging into that more soon.

At some point we had to define our max tire goal for the bike and 2.2″ was beyond our needs. Open has done it brilliantly with the UP, but there was a point that we would have to start getting unconventional with the design and geometry and we didn’t want to lose that bit of elegance in the trade off for clearance.

Adam
8 years ago

More like Swamp Donkey! I like the look.

Bicyclego
Bicyclego
8 years ago

I have been looking at this bike, and the Flaanimal, for months waiting for it them to hit the streets. I like the concept as I wanted something that could
be a bit of a utility bike. Sadly, the cost is just a bit much for the TD. Maybe the Flaanimal will slot lower. Too bad too, because the Trail Donkey looks great.

Good luck guys!

Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Bicyclego

The Flaanimal will slot lower for sure. If we had the resources to launch both bikes simultaneously we would, but until we have a few more miles under the belt the Flaanimal will have to wait until more or less early 2017.

nick_outdoors
nick_outdoors
8 years ago

Great to hear T47 BB has potiential!

RodeoguywhoisnotSteve
RodeoguywhoisnotSteve
8 years ago

In case you missed it, Steve rode his Trail Donkey to a 5th place finish at this year’s Dirty Kanza. That’s 5th overall, not in his age group (which he won). I’ll just leave it there.

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