Not everyone has the budget or the need for a custom bike.
A simple, well chosen build often allows a tasteful bike that suits our needs.
Londoner Ed explains his.
What led you to build this gravel bike?
I came back in June 2017 from riding the Transnevada route in Andalusia. My hardtail 29er had felt heavy and slow in Spain. So I wanted a bike that would be fun to ride up and down paved mountain roads as well as the tracks surrounding them. My CX bike didn’t have much tyre clearance and no disk brakes.
The Mason wasn’t a bike that i needed – but it was an idea for a new bike and I like building up bikes so…
So you wanted a gravel bike. Why this Mason Bokeh?
I ended up with the Mason because I’d lusted over a Kinesis Tripster ATR for ages – I’ve long loved Kinesis frames and have owned a ton of them over the years – they just make really good quality, practical and affordable alloy frames.
The tripster was Ti though and I couldn’t afford it. The guy behind Mason bikes used to work with Kinesis and I heard he was making his own frames so checked them out and found the Mason Bokeh. It looks great, offered what I wanted and I could afford it, so…
Can you tell us more about your choices for this custom build?
The wheels are 650B Hunt / Mason collab. I was looking for a lightweight alloy disk wheelset and these were surprisingly good value. I had never heard of Hunt wheels before but all my pals knew of them…
They have lasted and performed really well.
I have run various different tyres on them – the best so far are WTB Byways – not so good in the British winter when our “gravel” returns to its natural clay/mud state – but in dry conditions they are perfect for what I built this bike for.
I built the bike around a wide range road drivetrain as I wanted to be able to cover decent road miles as well as get up and over the rough stuff.
The chainset is a Praxis Alba M30 48/32, so slightly smaller than a standard compact. Again these cranks seemed a good option regarding weight and cost. They also have the awesome feature that the 110 BCD spider is removable and you can install a direct mount chain ring and go as low a tooth count as you want with a 1x setup.
The Alba cranks have an overisze 30mm spindle though which turned out to be a massive PITA as the Bokeh has internal cabling running through the BB shell… Hydraulic brake cables are not the most flexible and I read loads of horror stories about cable housing eventually cutting through crank spindles and people having horrible crashes.
So a BB sleeve was an imperative…
…BUT, trying to find a BSA threaded BB30 bottom bracket, for a 67m BB shell, with a sleeve caused me a massive headache. I actually ended up making a sleeve myself. Even then, getting it all to fit with the hydro brake cable inside the BB shell was not easy.
It works fine though, so it was worth the sweat and tears.
We all have once been disappointed by finding energy food wrappers in the most remote places.
Not only does it remind us we are not the first to get there, but a natural reaction is to loose faith in humanity a little more, as it is incapable of disposing its garbage properly.
Still, not everyone dumps them on purpose. Some may simply have been lost, slipped out from a pocket when taking one’s camera out…
A little organization can help !
Dedicate a food-pouch to trash only, it will be your trash-pouch!
Or arrange your jersey pockets: for example, mobile phone on the right, money on the left, trash in the middle. We will empty it in the first village while refilling water bottles.
Some brands offer biodegradable or compostable wrappers, which is a good thing. However, their decomposition would takes several months in the wild.
Let’s lead by example
Take our trash down to the bins in the valley, and collect those left behind !
Ed's custom built Mason Bokeh
- Frame: Mason Bokeh
- Wheels: Hunt x Mason 27.5
- Tires: WTB Byway
- Rear derailleur: Shimano 105 11s
- Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
- Crankset: Praxis Alba M30 48/32t
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra Disc
- Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Hydro 11s
- Saddle: Fizik Antares
- Seatpost: Raleigh Special Products
- Stem: S-Works
- Handlebars: Ritchey Venture Max
- Frame bag : Blackburn Outpost
- Saddle bag: Alpkit Koala
What is your best memory on this bike?
Favourite memory on this bike has to be its first trip : last year’s Torino-Nice Rally, towards the end when my legs were feeling good enough to really enjoy the bike. Sailed up the Col de Tende, cruised over the Via del Sale, then flew down to Nice.
Fast, comfortable and stable even when loaded with bags is pretty awesome!
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