Spooky Dune: The Build

The Dune is the first bike that I’ve ever built up, by myself, from the ground up.  I’ve done all of the individual components on bikes before, but never built one up from the ground.  It was a straightforward process, and incredibly rewarding.  It gave me detailed knowledge of every millimeter of the bike, and the confidence of knowing that no one had hidden Justin Bieber pictures inside the frame anywhere.  (Trust me, don’t ask).  Every fastener was appropriately lubed, anti-seized, pasted or loctite’d, every thread was perfectly started, every adjustment was meticulously made, every option was fully contemplated.  My decisions are not those that others would have necessarily made, but I’m thrilled with them.  With no further adieu, the build:

  • Spooky Dune in 56cm.
  • Chris King headset, spacers, bottom bracket (and road wheel hubs) in turquoise.
  • ENVE seatpost, 110mm stem, bottle cages (two) and 44cm compact drop handlebars.
  • ENVE thru-axle fork with custom paint.
  • Brooks Carbon Cambium C13 saddle.
  • Fizïk Endurance Soft Touch bar tape.
  • SRAM Red 22 hydro drivetrain with 52/36 cranks.
  • I have a Bontrager RXL bottle cage in the third position for right now.
  • Gravel Setup:
    • Crank Brothers Candy 3 pedals.  (Though now that I see the pink Candy 7s, hmmm…)
    • Zipp 202 disc brake wheels, converted to thru-axle.
    • Avid HSX 140mm rotors, front and rear.
    • Maxxis Rambler 40c tires, tubeless, with Stan’s sealant.
    • Shimano Dura-Ace 11-28 cassette (or Ultegra 11-32 cassette for climbing missions).
  • Road Setup:
    •  ENVE SES 3.4 Disc Clincher wheels, laced to Chris King hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes.
    • Continental GP4000SII 28c tires.
    • SRAM Red 11-25 cassette.
    • Avid HSX 140mm rotors, front and rear.
    • Time iClic carbon pedals.


The ENVE fork has generous clearance for 40c tires.  Also note in this picture that I ran front and rear shifting cables around the non-drive-side (detailed pictures below).  The Maxxis Ramblers set up with a floor pump and held air without sealant (overnight).  With sealant, they’ve been flawless thus far.

I don’t have a crown race driver, so I went to a local bike shop to have that part installed.  The came out with a mini-sledge and a hacked off piece of a bike frame, and explained that they’d never installed a tapered fork before.  I backed away slowly and reconsidered my options.


The Spooky has exposed cable runs from just behind the head tube back to the front/rear derailleur.  SRAM Red shifting set up incredibly easily.  I shortened both the front and rear hydro brake lines at home with minimal fuss, and bled the brakes with a SRAM Pro Brake bleed kit, without incident.  Steerer mounted bottle opener is a necessity.

I made an initial cut on the steerer tube, but left lots of room for adjustment.  Until I get more time on the bike, I’m leaving it as-is for now.  I anticipate either staying where it’s at, or dropping the stem down and just using a 5mm spacer above the headset.  ENVE stem and bars because, well, ENVE.  In seriousness, I’ve used many aluminum and carbon bars, including ridiculously stiff ENVE SES Smart bars.  The ENVE 44cm compact road bars are my favorite bars–they offer a great, comfy shape, are incredibly durable, and they offer genuine vibration dampening that stiffer bars do not.

I’ve never used Fizïk bar tape before, but man is this stuff nice.IMG_5633

Rear isn’t as tight as this photo looks.  Great clearance for 40s, and likely clearance for 42s.  45s would not fit, however.  SRAM Red Yaw derailleur is clamp-mounted.  I found that in order to accommodate  the 3 different cassette sizes I wanted to use, I had to mount the front derailleur just a smidge higher than ordinarily recommended, or I’d get rub in extreme combos.

I wanted a non-corrosive aluminum frame (i.e. ti or aluminum) largely because of the chain stays.  I’ve seen carbon bikes get destroyed in a single race, from gravel/mud eating away the stays, and I’ve seen too many steel frames show extensive rust in this area.  (In fact, a steel frame died at the Night Bison this year from hidden corrosion in the downtube).IMG_5635

ENVE bottle cages.  These were on the Madone and are perfect.  I have a set of King ti cages that I’d contemplate using, but these fit and look so nice.

I ordered mine with a custom 3rd bottle cage on the downtube, anticipating longer-range missions.  Spooky was happy to accommodate ,and the spacing allows drivetrain clearance while still fitting a bottle in without running into the front wheel.  On some previous bikes I’ve had, the third bottle cage was useless as there wasn’t front tire clearance to actually use a bottle.

Also shown in this picture are the Crank Brothers candy’s that I’ve now had on 4 different “gravel” bikes.  I can’t begin to count how many miles are on them at this point–well into 5 figures.  They do get rebuilt once a year, and serviced as needed.  At some point, they’ll get replaced with Candy 7s in pink.


I haven’t written about the Zipps in a while, but many, they are spectacularly nice wheels. I’ve been nothing but impressed by them.  The Ramblers roll fast and are a perfect tire for this part of the country.


The top tube is high on the bike.  I have adequate standover clearance, but only just.  If I had 1″ less, I’d be in trouble in road shoes.  That said, it does provide huge room in the triangle which makes for easier shouldering (particularly with the flattened top tube) and leaves lots of room for frame bags and luggage.


I was worried about the width of the C13 carbon Cambium saddle.  To date, a few hundred miles in, it’s been fantastic.  I loved the regular Cambium C15 I had on the Moots, but was interested in the carbon because it is lighter, offers the potential for better vibration dampening and better durability/corrosion resistance.  Plus it looks dreamy. IMG_5641

Again looking at the large main triangle, there’s not much seatpost showing.  I went ENVE because ENVE…and for carbon’s vibration dampening.  With this little seatpost, however, I don’t think it’s contributing a ton to the ride.  For reference, I’m typically 76.5cm from center of crank to top of saddle.

Spooky has the anodizing done by the same shop that does King anodizing.  Damn, Daniel, rocking the blue anno again. It’s spectacular in all conditions and all light.  I’m particularly thrilled that it’s anodized and not painted, as the anodizing will be more durable and scratch resistant, and also easier to care for.

The aluminum frame is made by Frank the Welder and is a thing to behold.  I had asked Spooky for rack mounts on the seat stays, and they indicated that the stays are designed to offer an amazing ride with multiple butting, and are too delicate for rack mounts.  Accordingly, the bike now has a Salsa seatpost clamp (not pictured) with integrated rack mount.  I don’t rack often, but it’s nice to have the flexibility (and the bike does have fender/rack mounts on the dropouts, chainstay bridge and seat stay bridge).  The ride is nothing short of amazing (details to come), but I wonder what it would be like without the seat stay bridge, for a lighter rider like me.



Here it is in road configuration (albeit still with Candys).  The ENVE SES 3.4 Clinchers were, at the time of my order, the best road clinchers available on the market, and are built up with the best parts available…King hubs and CX-Ray spokes.  I loooooooove them.

It was my intention to run Continental GP4000Sii 28c tires (which I did).  They too were picked because in my experience, they’re the best road slicks on the market.  I’ve run 23 and 25c tires before, and with this bike’s generous clearance, I wanted to run 28s.

To my chagrin, the day that my bike was delivered was the day that ENVE announced their new disc clincher wheelset designed specifically to be more aerodynamic with 28c clinchers or 30c tubulars.  So ENVE, if you’re listening and would like to upgrade your humble servant…

IMG_5653 IMG_5656


Here’s the detail on the cable routing.  I tried every way I could, and ended up liking this the best.  I do have an inline adjuster on the front derailleur.  The rear derailleur has an adjuster right at the derailleur.

IMG_5662 IMG_5663


Ahhhh…carbon.  Did I mention it’s carbon?

Because of the thickness of the carbon rails on the Cambium, I did run the alternate seatpost clamp that comes stock with the ENVE seatpost, and it works perfectly.IMG_5665

I wrote a few years ago that thru axles were overkill for road/gravel.  That’s still true in the sense that I’ve never broken a skewer on a road/gravel bike.  But what advantages do thru-axles have?  Well, there’s not really a weight penalty.  They are undoubtedly more durable. They are super easy to install/remove and do offer greater rigidity.  That latter point has proven itself out with the Spooky.  If you recall, I had posted a while back with the Moots that under high-traction, high lateral force conditions (e.g. fast turns on pavement), I’d get weird brake rotor rub with the Zipp wheels, no matter how well the brakes were adjusted.  That condition’s completely gone with thru-axles, and I think it’s because of the greater rigidity at the hub/frame that they provide.

Deal points for me included a bike with a large head tube and tapered fork, because there are more forks available (and forks with greater clearance).  Point to Spooky.

Deal points also included a standard english threaded bb.  I’ve chased creaks on press fit BBs and didn’t have a desire to do so on my all-the-time bike.  That, and a King bb will last forever.

After my recent posts,  I think the SRAM/Shimano choice is pretty clear, but in this case, there was more to it than just brand preference.  At one point, I was maintaining 2 fancy bikes with Shimano Di2 setups on them.  Frankly, I didn’t want to have to mind batteries any more.  Mechanical setups are shifting just as good as electronic these days, and never are out of juice.  I’d have considered running eTap (candidly) because of the convenience of setup, but SRAM doesn’t have WiFli eTap available yet, and I’d want WiFli hydro eTap, as I’m not giving up on my ability to run a 32t cassette in the rear.

How’s the shifting?  Perfect.  The single-trigger shifting means that even when it’s cold out and I’m wearing mittens, I won’t have to hunt for a shifter.

Are hydro brakes needed on a road bike?  No–not a deal killer for me.  But they do allow lighter wheels, more consistent braking, and easy replacement of wear parts (instead of wearing down your rims).  So that was a bonus but not a requirement.  Having consistent braking in all conditions, wet or dry, has proven to be a nice improvement thus far.

I went with a mid-compact crank (52/36).  I’ve run both standard (53/39) and compact (50/34).  For that matter, I’ve run CX cranks (46/38).  The midsize crank offers near standard big ring and near compact small ring.  I think I’ll be just fine with 36/32 on the bottom on my climbing adventures…and with 52/11 on the top, that also offers plenty of gearing.  Candidly, I have had times when I’ve been “geared out” with 50/11.  Before you crunch the numbers and start telling me I’m full of it because I’d be riding at some ridiculous speed, you’re right–I’m not geared out in the sense of riding at 120rpm in top gear.  I was geared out in the sense that I was pedaling that gear as hard/fast as I could under those conditions, and if I had a slightly higher gear, I could have maintained a similar cadence and had a higher speed.  Admittedly, that’s not the textbook definition of geared out, but it is a functional limit.  For a cross road/gravel bike, the midsize cranks are perfect.

I’ve spent a lot of time on a lot of different bikes and components, both mine and borrowed, and have developed some very well-conceived notions about what I do and do not like.  This bike is the culmination of the things that I’ve come to love and look forward to using.  So this is the “what”.  Next, will come the review.

Click through to read the full Spooky Series:

Spooky Cycles

Spooky Dune in Pictures

Spooky Dune: The Build

Spooky Dune: Gravel Bike Review

Spooky Dune: Road Bike Review


2 thoughts on “Spooky Dune: The Build

    • I’ve had some pretty fantastic bikes in my day. I think this is a better use of resources to have one bike that’s awesome at a lot of things, than to have really narrowly purposed bikes.

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