If you follow this blog, you know that I formerly had a “top of the line” major manufacturer carbon aero road bike, fully kitted out, that I recently sold. You also know that I had a “top of the line” custom manufactured titanium gravel/allroad/CX bike, fully kitted out, that I recently sold.
Heck, if you’ve been around for a while, you know I had a fully built carbon fatbike and a full-custom, top of the line carbon full-suspension mountain bike that I had sold a while ago. And when I sold those two bikes, I replaced them with a Horsethief with two sets of wheels. In a lot of ways, that should tell you what’s going on now.
The Moots and Madone are gone, and in their stead, a Spooky in my shed.
You’re maybe thinking, what’s a Spooky? Click through to find out.
Or maybe you know that they’re handbuilt aluminum frames and you’re thinking…what? He sold a Madone 7 and a Moots to get an aluminum frame?
In a word, yes.
So what’s the rationale? Well, there are a host of reasons.
Let’s start with why there’s a change. I find myself no longer wanting to support Trek or Shimano. Both of my bikes had Shimano DI2 drivetrains. I’m finding that I set up my drop bar bikes with nearly identical dimensions over time…so the functional difference becomes tire size. I have a road bike with skinnies, and a “gravel” bike with wider tires. And I end up maintaining twice as many components, charging twice as many batteries, buying twice as many consumables, and spending a lot more time maintaining.
So why not keep the Moots and throw some road tires on it?
Well, as much as I loved the Moots: 1) it was a smidge small; and, 2) it only fit 35c tires in the rear. Yes, you can get a Routt 45 that will fit 45s in the rear, but the chain stays grow an inch. So you either get draggy chain stays, or minimal tire clearance. I didn’t want to compromise.
I’m not a fan of carbon frames for gravel bikes. I’ve seen them get ruined in a single ride, with mud rubbing on the stays. I’m not a fan of steel (I’m not quite that retro). I’m worried it will rust, and I know that it’s heavier, strength to strength. I wasn’t ready to drop the coin on another custom titanium frame (and candidly, couldn’t find exactly what I wanted). So I was looking for a corrosion resistant, non-carbon frame that was reasonably priced, had short chain stays, predictable geometry, a riding position that could excel for road and for long days in the saddle, and tire clearance for bigger tires–in the 38-40c range. I wanted to be able to run a mid-size double crank and 11 speed rear end, because I’ve found that in group rides and prolonged slogs, I like having tighter spacing between my gearing than a wide-range 1×11 speed setup offers. I wanted disc brakes front and rear because frankly, they’re better technology and don’t have downsides for my riding. I wanted thru-axles, because they’re stiffer, stronger, and they make disc brake alignment more consistent. I wanted a frame that could be built with the best components, and cover all duties.
Enter the Dune.
(Photos courtesy of the Spooky website).
It checks all of the boxes. When it’s all built up, I’ll provide more details on component spec and such, but there’s a lot more to my decision than just checking objective criteria. I’m pretty up front on here: I recognize that as a consumer, I spend money on products and I can choose what companies I support. Literally. Given a choice, I’d rather support an awesome company. If I have to pick between excellent product and excellent company, I tend to keep looking until I can find both.
With Spooky, I’m happy with what I’m supporting. If you haven’t met Brandon, the guy behind the rebirth of Spooky, you should get to know him. He’s a cyclist in the best possible way. That means that he’s a father and husband first, and a cyclist when he can be, but the fact that he lives a real life doesn’t dilute his passion for riding and enjoying bikes. He’s got an eye for design that I don’t have. And he came up with a design and geometry that…well, it checks my boxes.
And then there’s the order process. Ever order a custom Trek? You can do it on their website. Dream bike by drop-down menu. It’s disheartening. With Spooky, it was talking back and forth with the company owner. He’d put in a call to the master fabricator/welder who was going to build this particular frame. He’d provide direct responses. He’d make recommendations on spec, and he’d communicate by GIF.
Yes. He had me at GIFs.
You order a bike most places, and you don’t hear much about what happens between swiping the card and getting a box with a bike in it. With Spooky, I’ve had the sense that Brandon is as excited as I am.
There were all of the messages back and forth with little updates.
There was the time that he was stalking FedEx drivers, waiting to get the frame from the welder.
The time when he sent me a picture of my frame, with some of its siblings, in the car en route to the anodizer.
And the “here’s the shop door that your frame is going into in order to be dipped…”
I can keep going. Trust me. I haven’t even started with the gifs.
In short, Brandon is the kind of guy that you want to do business with. Spooky is the kind of design that you want to ride. And when you see it…droolz.
Click through to read the full Spooky Series:
Spooky Dune in Pictures
Spooky Dune: The Build
Spooky Dune: Gravel Bike Review
Spooky Dune: Road Bike Review