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The Mountain Biker’s Road Bike

I have been riding the Stigmata since its return in 2015 to the Santa Cruz lineup and have it used as both a road bike for training and a gravel bike for exploring the endless logging roads of Squamish over the years. It was the perfect training tool, though I did find the CX tires and 700cc wheels did not gel as well on the chunky logging roads as they did for CX racing.

Fast forward to 2020 and we have seen the gravel adventure market really take off. The Stigmata has evolved with a few geometry tweaks and most notably, a frame that can now take 27.5 wheels, allowing for wider tires and a more comfortable ride on the chunkiest of fire roads. Companies like Shimano and Enve now have gravel specific lines of components that can handle more technical and rough terrain, creating better bike handling and all around riding experience.

With these new advancements, I have built up a Stigmata with the aim of making a bike that will be well-equipped for gravel adventures, but with the flip of a wheel set can become a capable road bike as well. This new build is the mountain biker’s road bike and I have spent the last month breaking this bike in on the extensive gravel trail network around Squamish. Hopefully when this current situation passes, I will be able to get out on some bigger adventures in the summer months.

Let’s start off with the frame. I’m 6’1″, so I went with the size 58 carbon cc frame. The Stigmata currently comes in two colours: olive green and mustard. I was pretty set on olive green, but I was drawn in by the brighter colours of the mustard and in the end it’s what prevailed. Check the frames and bike builds from Santa Cruz Bicycles here – https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-CA/stigmata

The drivetrain is Shimano’s new GRX line of components made for gravel specific adventure. I was pretty keen on a simple 1×11 setup, but went with 2×11 so I have a bigger gear range if I decide to switch wheelsets and use it for road riding also.

It consists of a Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette with a GRX 11 speed rear derailleur with on and off chain tensioner. This derailleur has really eliminated any chain slap and I have not yet engaged the chain tensionser lockout. I’m also running the GRX 2×11 speed cranks with a 41-38 tooth setup.

You can see the full Shimano GRX gravel component line here – https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/product/component/grx.html

The pedals are bomb proof Shimano XTR SPDs most commonly used on XC mountain bikes. The front and rear rotors are 6 bolt, 160mm Shimano.

Enjoying the morning views along the Squamish spit

The brakes are powered by Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brake dual control levers. The cockpit consists of a 100mm Enve road stem with Enve’s G series bars that are nice and wide, offering plenty of comfort and control.

You can see all Enve’s G series components here – https://www.enve.com/en/product-discipline/gravel/?fwp_product-categories=components

I wrapped the bars with Enve’s 3mm handlebar tape, which provides comfort and a clean finish to the cockpit.

Gliding through the endless singletrack along the Squamish River

Wheels are rolling on R45 Chris King 24 hole hubs in matte jet. You really can’t beat the made-in-house bearings that run in all Chris King hubs.

You can check out Chris Kings hubs here – https://chrisking.com/collections/r45d-centerlock

Wheels are built on 27.5 Enve G series rims made for higher volume tires to handle rougher and technical terrain. The tires are Maxxis Race TT 27.5x 2.0, which are a fast-rolling XC race tire tightly packed with ramped square knobs. For road riding, I will keep my exisitng wheelset, which consists of Enve’s SES 4.5 AR discs with 28mm slick tires.

Check out Enve’s gravel wheel options here – https://www.enve.com/en/product-discipline/gravel/?fwp_product-categories=wheels

Ergon SM3 saddle mounted on Enve’s 400mm carbon seatpost. The headset is an integrated Chris King Dropset 3 in a matte jet finish, matching the hubs.

Check out Ergons new saddles here – https://www.ergonbike.com/en/product.html?a=saettel

Light and shadows on the morning ride

This bike is another great tool for exploring the outdoors and taking you to places beyond where you would normally venture on a mountain bike.

Trail Preview with Remy Metailler

Riding with Remy Metailler for his youtube trail preview series on Rigs in Zen and Pleasure Trail. I first started riding and racing against Remy a few years back living in Whistler. He was always a very calcuated and meticulous racer. It impressed me how Remy formed a solid bike career by riding the Whistler Bike Park displaying new lines and incredible riding. You can find him now living in Squamish spending his time riding trail bikes, working on his youtube channel and attending freeride events and urban dh races around the world.

Chilcotin Day Trip – Ridge-o-Rama

The South Chilcotins is an incredible place to adventure on two wheels. I have experienced the Chilcotins in many different ways over the years from float plane drops, multi day bike packing trips and basing myself out of the Tyax lodge or one of chalets on Tyaughton lake for out and back multi day adventures. For this trip we headed out for just the day from Squamish. With an early start we tackled the burly Hurley road and made our way to Tyax and headed out on one of my favourite alpine single track loops. The tail is Ridge-O-Rama and it has some of the most spectacular views and technical riding. The final descent is one of the best in the area as the single track dramatically drops off the end of the ridge and back into the valley below.

On The Mountain Under A Full Moon

In the middle of the biggest and busiest mountain bike festivals in the world in Whistler, Canada I found myself at the top of WORCAS most popular alpine trail taking in an incredible show by mother nature without another group of riders around for miles. 

The festival I am talking about is Crankworx which is one of the biggest international celebrations of all things mountain biking. A week long schedule of racing and events that attract some the best athletes and biggest bike fans in the world. The week is always incredibly fun but it’s also nice to escape the craziness if only for a moment.

In a last minute plan I convinced my friend Ben that it was a good idea to ride Whistlers most popular alpine trail Lord Of the Squirrels starting at 5pm in the evening. Lord Of The Squirrels is part of an 18 km alpine loop that shoots you up on to Sprout Mountain with a nice 1400m of climbing followed by an incredible descent back down into the Whistler valley.

Why would we leave on a 3-8 hour backcountry loop at 5pm you might ask? After seeing the moon not far off full earlier in the week I thought it could be an incredible sight to watch the sunset and the full moon rise all with in a few minutes of each other. It seemed like a great idea to enhance our trail experience and make good use of the 360 views that Mt Sprout had to offer. 

To make things exciting we packed night lights for the descent back down so we could take in the full moon from the top of the mountain. The weather turned out perfect and from the photos I hope you can see this will be a backyard adventure I won’t be forgetting about anytime soon!