We are proud to introduce the new Curve Cycling Grovel Monster... otherwise known as the Titanium GMX.
I’ve stayed up way too late too many times reading about the exploits of the crazy long-distance cyclists who rode across and around Australia between 1890 and 1920. These guys were known as the "Overlanders" and they were celebrities back in the heyday of long distance cycling.
Caption: Francis Birtles: one of the original overland cyclists (can't find the original source, sorry!)
Names like Francis Birtles, Ted Ryko and Jerome Murif aren't known in the cycling world. Their pioneering adventures have been forgotten and I find that a real shame. In the 1890s the bike was the fastest way to cover long distances over land. Cars weren’t around yet in a mass market sense and bikes were more reliable than horses. Adventurous folks with an appetite for adventure quickly set about trying to ride various routes across Australia. These guys were the original bike-packers. They travelled light and slept rough, riding on fixies in the early days.
Caption: Jack Fahey resting on the gibber plains north of Oodnadatta in 1914. Looks super rough! Jack had a nasty fall not long after this and abandoned his ride. His mate Ted Ryko continued on alone finishing his ride from Adelaide to Darwin in 28 days and 7 mins, breaking the previous record by just over 15 hrs. He commented that he might have spent a bit too long taking pictures.
Their journeys took place on rough tracks (at best), without communications, reliable maps or passing traffic, not knowing where their next water or food would come from. Their adventures were supported by early bike and tyre companies eager to prove that their goods were better than their competitors'.
It got me thinking. What would the heroes from this era ride on these adventures if they were around today? What would Francis Birtles, Jerome Murif or Ted Ryko choose to ride on an adventure where the terrain could be anything from singletrack to sandy desert track? That’s how we came up with the Grovel Monster or Grovel Monstercross, affectionately known as the GMX.
Why would the Overlanders choose a titanium GMX? They'd want something that could deal with all terrain and all conditions. I think they'd want to roll with super robust MTB tyres with plenty of sealant. That would eliminate pinch flats and issues with thorns in the desert. Drop bars would work well, giving them plenty of hand positions and allowing them to get down low in the wind. The large frame triangle would allow them to carry plenty of gear. The titanium frame would be perfect for the Overlanders; nice and light to help with climbing, compliant enough to smooth out rough surfaces and strong enough to survive some serious abuse!
We're super excited about the GMX and proud to see it out in the wild. We've worked through an extensive (and expensive!) GMX prototyping stage to make sure the geometry, handling and clearance works the way we want it to. We're looking forward to seeing a few them out on the Race to the Rock! Here are a few features that we've built in:
- CX Geometry + 29er MTB Fork: We wanted CX geometry but built around a standard 29er MTB fork. We've had plenty of experience jamming fat tyres onto CX bikes. Sure, it almost works but we've all had our issues! Mud can be problematic with limited tyre clearance and toe rub on the front tyre around anything but the mellowest turn really pisses us off! With MTB forks, GMX does not have this issue and there's plenty of clearance for a standard MTB tyre at the rear/
- Large Main Triangle: We also wanted the aesthetic of a CX bike with a top tube that's close to horizontal. We just think a steeply angled top tube looks terrible with drop bars for some reason. A more or less horizontal top tube means the frame has a large usable main frame triangle. Why is that important? Well, it's handy for carrying large bidons or using large frame bags popular amongst the bikepacking crew.
- Fat 29" Tyres: We wanted the GMX to fit genuine 29" MTB tyres. Not 26". Not 27.5". We're hooked on 29ers for MTBing and they are probably the most widely available MTB tyre these days. We wanted to transfer the traction of a 29er MTB over to a CX bike.
- Drive Train Versatility: Different riders want different drive trains. We wanted the GMX to be super versatile in this respect. We've built the GMX around a standard road bottom bracket. That means you can run a compact road drive train or a 1x11 MTB setup (even with a 44t chainring up front). A word of warning though... Tyre / derailleur clearance might be a little tight with a 2x11 compact road set up and 2.4" wide tyres. We'd suggest a 2.2" tyre for that crankset option.
So there you have it, a quick run down on the Curve Cycling GMX. It's the perfect bike to get lost on!