Living in a town like Portland, Oregon means driving to ride single track. Not wanting to drive to ride a bicycle means enduring long stretches of pavement for short patches of trail with minimal payoff, so its no surprise multi-purpose drop bar bikes are popular.
I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Kona Raijin hardtail but decided it was time to build up a full-on “Portland-bike”. The bike that chose me: the Kona Rove.
Kona offers the Rove platform in a range of materials in their take on the modern multi-surface drop bar bike. Is it a cross bike with clearance for decent sized treads? Or is it a touring or bike packing bike? The Rove varies slightly depending on the material, but all the iterations have one thing in common: versatility and utility.
It was this do-it-all aspect paired with the magic of the titanium option drew me to it. Titanium won’t rust and the lack of paint means it’ll look great forever. As expected with a modern bike designed for pavement, it’s disc brake specific. Unlike a dedicated race machine, it features a number of mounts for racks and fenders that allow it to be repurposed for a wide range applications with a few part swaps. What I saw was the potential to transform into anything I needed it to be.
So what does the build of the ultimate PDX machine look like? I imagine it varies some, but here’s the direction I chose:
- Titanium Kona Rove Frame
- Gevenalle 1×10 drive train
- Sun Ringle Black Flag Pro SL Wheelset
- SDG Allure ti Saddle
- King Headset
- King Steel Cages
- Shimano Dura Ace Crankset & Shimano XT pedals
- Race Face Narrow Wide Ring
- Salsa flared drop bars
- Cable-actuated disc brakes
The heart of the build is the Gevenalle drivetrain, which is the most easy to maintain and durable option out there. It doesn’t hurt that we know someone. ;^)
When assembling my ultimate build, I started with a Shimano cassette and chain paired with a Gevenalle 10 speed shifter and Burd derailleur. Not only are we extremely fond of the crew at Gevenalle, but their stuff is intended for the crappiest riding conditions possible, but most importantly, easily rebuildable and easy to maintain. A full tear down is planned in the spring which is to be expected of any bike commuted on year round in PDX. The 1×10 drive train was chosen over 11 as I wanted to keep things simple as possible.
I’ve been saving the Dura Ace cranks for a long time and they add some bling factor along with the King headset and cages.
The Salsa bars are nice and shallow; I run them level with the seat for a commute friendly upright position on the hoods, and use the drops often. (My commute home often turns into a hammer session) I find that many casual riders run their bars far too low and rarely use the drops — which defeats the purpose.
Durability and maintenance also led to the choice in brakes. Gevenalle offers a hydraulic compatible shifter set, but I chose the mechanicals do the job as they are easy to maintain. Plus they were readily available at the time. I’m currently running Avid calipers which aren’t my first choice but they were inexpensive and in stock. I’m reserving the option to upgrade later when opportunity presents itself.
Sun Ringle Black Flag wheels are designated as my performance wheel set, but with the rainy season upon us, I’m running a heavier set of wheels. Sun Inferno Rims have a 27mm internal diameter which eat up road chatter, which I’ve paired with budget hybrid tires that simply won’t die. I find it fascinating hybrid tires have essentially been reinvented as gravel tires.. but am enjoying all the options. Though I still have yet to decide on what I’ll be running come spring, I imagine it will feature a good amount of air volume that rolls quickly on pavement while allowing me to explore off road terrain.
The rear Shimano Deore rear hub is inexpensive and one of the easiest hubs to maintain and though the wheels feel sluggish, I consider winter time commuting more of a participation event than a Strava race.
I’m also still dialing in my reach. For the moment I’m running a stem on the short side.
I only had white SIS housing at the time, so I reused some white bar tape to match it and borrowed Inga’s SDG ti-alloy Allure saddle in white. Although it’s their women’s specific offering, the 143mm width and shape have really grown on me, and I may have to try it on my other bikes. Tyler at SDG has been extremely supportive of the site and our coaching efforts with Bikeskills.com and we’re big fans of the line.
Check out the Kona Rove at KonaWorld.com