The new Adventure Disc is the product of years of careful thought, design and testing. In the first of a new blog series, Matt takes us through the design process and explains his decisions for each aspect of the bike.
Background and Research
As a team of experienced cyclists, we’ve all ridden many different bikes, and keep a careful eye on the cycling world, on what styles are trending, and on what tech is trickling through and merging between disciplines.
Although all the bikes we make are versatile by nature, and our customers use them for all sorts of riding, we wanted to create a bicycle that was specifically designed to take you anywhere, exploring places you wouldn't usually consider and transporting you and your kit to many far flung places. We also recognised a lot of our customers asking for a bike along these lines.
There’s been an gradual emergence of steel framed, drop-bar ‘do it all’ bikes, and we see them being ridden everyday for commuting, touring and day rides. We wanted to develop a bike to match this growing style of riding, as we knew we could bring an incredible bike to the field.
A common term to refer to this type of bike is a gravel bike or adventure bike. It needs to have large tyre clearances, disc brakes, plenty of mounting points for mudguards and racks, and a rugged design that’s able to handle rough terrain.
From our research, we came up with this brief:
- Strong frame, made from heat treated steel
- 700c wheel size, with the capacity to be used with 650b wheel size
- Large tyre clearance (up to 45mm)
- Tough yet lightweight wheels
- Disc brakes for superior stopping power in adverse conditions
- Mounting points for mudguards, racks and bottle cages
- Futureproof - no new axle standards or spacings
Design Phase and Testing
We started by culminating all our knowledge about bike geometry, sizing, handling and material selection. Initially we made sketches and notes, followed by drawing up the prototype frame designs on CAD software. Once these have been confirmed, we got the initial prototype frame fabricated by our frame manufacturing partner. The frame was then built up into the prototype test bike.
This is when the painstaking process starts of deciding what works, what doesn’t, what angles need changing and what materials offer the best properties. There are hundreds of small decisions to be made too, such as ‘how thick should the top tube be?’ or ‘how long should the chainstays be for a responsive yet stable ride?’. This leads to many different prototypes, constantly tweaking and trialling new things to finally work out the winning combination of characteristics.
We then commit to a design and get three frames made. One is used to put through laboratory impact and loading tests to make sure it complies with manufacturing standards and that it will cope with the potential forces it may be exposed to through its lifetime. The remaining two are built up for the best bit: long-term, real-world testing (which took just under a year and around 3000 miles altogether).
We rode our prototypes as much as we could, making multiple trips to Cornwall, the Brecon Beacons, the Mendips and North Wales. Much of our testing was carried out in the autumn and winter, allowing us to put the bike through its paces in the worst weather conditions and over properly muddy terrain. One trip involved camping overnight in the Welsh mountains, simulating a typical use case for the Adventure Disc and highlighting aspects that would be most important on this kind of trip.
This final testing helped us to clarify our components choices for the finished bike, so we then placed orders with Shimano and other suppliers. A few months of impatient waiting later, and we’re now ready to start building.
The Finished Thing
And here it is. The Adventure Disc, photographed on the Exmoor coast in a new colour, Peat Grey (It’s a dark grey with slight hints of brown and green mixed in very subtly). You will noticed a stray away from our more classic styling found on our other bikes, but we have kept true to our roots, using polished silver components and a dash of brown leather. We maintained a simple frame shape, and proportionally, we’re very happy with the appearance of the bike.
Frame and Geometry
The material used to build a bike’s frame can make or break the final riding experience, so we decided to upgrade to Reynolds 725 steel for the Adventure Disc. This is a heat treated steel, to obtain maximum strength and durability, while still creating a lovely feeling and spritely frame. Steel is also repairable in the field should the need ever arise, unlike the aluminium and carbon fibre used on many other adventure bikes.
We’ve spent the last 2 years honing the frame design for the Adventure Disc. The result is a beautifully balanced bike which responds well to you when ridden without any extra bags or racks, but still feels stiff and stable when loaded with your luggage. Click here for geometry charts.
The geometry is a mix between a road and a cyclocross bike, with some extra characteristics such as a longer wheelbase and chainstays for more stability when touring. The head angle is slacker than on your typical cyclocross bike, and it’s designed to be run with a slightly shorter stem. We’ve also built in an extra long headtube to achieve a decent handlebar height without using a load of spacers.
The Adventure Disc is designed around a standard 700c wheel, which is universal in almost every part of the world today, but you could also set it up with 650b wheel. We’ve given some generous tyre clearance on this thing, for when you really want to ride on some rough terrain. You can fit up to 45mm tyres front and rear, which is plenty to tackle even the most rugged tracks.
There’s 3 bottle cage mounts, rear rack mounts, mudguard eyelets and front rack mounts, so the Adventure Disc is ready for whatever you care to throw at it.
We work with a painting specialist in Cardiff (just over the estuary from Bristol) to powdercoat all of our frames. Each frame is ‘e-coated’ at first in a big vat of solution with a current passing through it, meaning every part of the steel tube, inside and out, gets a protective layer. They’re then powder coated in one of our pastel colours and cured in an oven at 200 degrees celsius. The end result is a tough yet lustrous finish which will last for decades.
For the best stopping power in all conditions, it had to be disc brakes for our go-anywhere adventure bike. Mechanical disc brakes are very strong but don’t have any potentially unreliable hydraulics to worry about, which means easy maintenance and easy repair anywhere. The TRP Spyre is a long-proven design, and brake pads are widely available.
Shimano 105 gearing comes from road bike world but has a robustness that comes from years of Shimano design. The integrated brake/shift levers allow smooth shifting and reliable braking in all conditions.
If you’ve ever ridden a set of handbuilt wheels, you will know how incredible they feel. Handbuilt wheels are inherently stronger than machine made wheels as they’re made with much higher precision and with perfectly even tension in each spoke. Each set is made in Bristol to a 0.025mm tolerance by our manufacturing partner, RyanBuildsWheels, who worked with us on the design and production of these wheels. We also worked directly with Kinlin, which makes rims for many large brands and is known for the quality and strength of its products. Bitex hubs are lightweight and have sealed bearings for longevity, plus they have quicker engagement than many competitors, we also get RyanBuildsWheels to weatherproof each hub to improve their longevity. We use Sapim Race spokes, which are double butted for strength but still make for a lightweight wheel.
Schwalbe G One tyres are part of a new breed of gravel-specific tyres. These are fast on road but with plenty of grip for off-road riding. They’re also puncture resistant and durable, whilst being noticeably lightweight.
Brooks still make their leather saddles in Birmingham, and their B17 design has been renowned by cyclists of all disciplines for over 100 years. The B17 is comfortable, it shapes to your form and can last decades with a bit of care. Think of it like a pair of beautiful leather shoes: it might not be the newest, lightweight running trainer, but it’ll be yours for life.
The handlebars we use on the Adventure Disc are based around a classic drop for long rides, thanks to its multiple positions, but with a noticeable flare for extra leverage off-road.
The Adventure Disc represents what Temple Cycles is about. Cyclists developing beautiful and enduring products with a clear functional value and considered design.
We’re very excited to start seeing riders using the adventure disc, and are looking forward to the photos coming in from far flung places all over the world.
You can find out more here or feel free to get in touch directly if you have more questions.