Perhaps its fitting that this year’s Best Road Bike award went to a gravel bike. There’s simply no denying the category’s growth, with most builders not only showing one or more models but also saying that a significant chunk of customer bikes going out the door are designed for riding the rough stuff.Rob English is known not just for making some very light bikes out of steel, but also for making some very interesting frames, too. The bike above may look normal, but it’s got a few treats worth seeing. And the rest of his bikes just keep turning things up, notch after notch…
A carbon fiber headtube gets sleeved inside a custom cut steel tube. Note the extremely clean cable entry for the rear brake and the molded one-piece bar and stem. This one’s his own Gravel Race Bike and is made specifically for SRAM eTAP.
A bent seat tube lets the larger 700×35 tires tuck in tight, and thin seatstays smooth the ride.
There’s ample clearance top and bottom, leaving room for fenders. But where are the mounts?
Oh, there they are! Note the tiny holes on the seat tube, seatstay bridge and rear dropout. Remove the plug screws and you’ve got threaded fender mounts that are all but invisible when not in use.
No wire or cable holes, stops or guides continue the ultra tidy appearance.
Thru axles and flat mount disc brake front and rear.
Over in Campagnolo’s booth was this entry for Best Campy Bike.
Maybe it didn’t win because of the chain? Maybe, but worth it.
This Obree Tribute bike is made for one thing: Speed.
It may look odd, but it’s designed to get the rider in a very specific position. It also shows off the amazingly detailed, thoughtful work coming from English.
The bolts are to hold the eccentric BB in place, allowing for chain tension adjustments since the dropouts don’t:
His Travel Triathlon Bike reduces the headaches of traveling with a tri bike by making it fit inside a large suitcase.
Detach the seat stays from the seat tube and the rear end folds and pivots up against the bike…
…rotating around the bottom bracket shell.
The Stainless Ultralight comes in at just 9.9lbs with this build, which is admittedly over the top. The pedals are no longer available, and, like many of the bikes shown here, is for Rob himself. Being a smaller guy, he can get away with a lot, but it’s 100% rideable.
The cable stops are removable, so it’s eTAP ready.
The Right 29 is a single-sided bike that puts everything on the driveside. A singlespeed, belt drive setup keeps it simple, and it is indeed a very simple bike, which makes it all the more amazing.
The front brake hose enters through the stem and pops out of the fork leg, completely hidden from view.. The rear brake enters just behind the head tube and runs all the way back to the caliper inside the frame.
The hubs are custom for English.
An eccentric BB gets the belt’s tension set.
This electric blue commuter bike had the most amazing, deep blue with just the right amount of metallic.
Note the front fender mount under the fork’s crown.