Raptor: the Ultimate Aero Gravel Rig
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 8, 2020
Ok, we're on page three of this review, and we've barely acknowledged the elephant in the room. As mentioned previously, the whole goal of this bike was to put a tri cockpit on an otherwise gravel-oriented rig. So Raptor has a full-on TriRig front end, including the majority of what we make! The part list breaks down as follows:
Alpha One aerobars complete with Gamma 115 alloy extensions and Open-Back Scoops arm cups, plus a custom-cut Delta front cover to hide the cabling and Monopost. No brake of course, since this bike uses disc brakes. But as mentioned, the Delta does a lovely job of hiding the cables for those disc brakes.
Phew! That's a lot of gear, with a collective retail value almost triple that of the frameset! Is it worth the price? Absolutely. First of all, finding the right position on any bike is tricky, much less a novelty like this one, which isn't meant to be quite like any other bike in the stable. A little trigonometry helped get us into the ballpark of what the position should be, but the real world will teach you things that the math simply can't reveal. That's where Alpha One and the Scoops come in handy. REALLY handy. It's a matter of just a couple bolts, and a few seconds, to dramatically change where everything is, and how it works together. From initial build to final revised position was literally a couple of minutes, most of which was taken up by test ride time. And there is SO much room to refine over time if the mood ever strikes.
Settings + Routings
The Dragonfly was set at about 12 degrees, and I added a custom 10-degree spacer underneath it. So the overall arm angle would be about 22 degrees, with a hand angle of about 42 degrees (Gamma 115 is 30-degrees, plus the 12 degrees of the Dragonfly). Right behind Alpha One is a TorHans BentoX, my favorite small-item storage box. This frame did have top-tube bosses, but they were too far back. So I added another boss in a more forward position, using the same method that I've shown in the past. That let me snug the BentoX right up against the Alpha One, so that the cables could remain completely hidden, and the wind would find a nice smooth path from the front to the back of the bike.
But that's not where the cable routing job ended. The standard routing for this bike involves external housing that enters the frame on the rear surface of the down tube. I wanted everything hidden and internal. So I added a small triangular-shaped hole in the top tube, just behind the head tube, and only large enough to accommodate the two sets of housing I planned to run through it (rear brake, and rear derailleur). There's enough room for both housing runs to arc gracefully and without kinks. Or said differently, the cables are totally hidden, but everything still works. The aforementioned TorHans BentoX covers the housing as it exits Alpha One, and the Delta up front hides the front brake cable and the Monopost. The Delta was custom cut to fit really nicely on the R119 frame, and looks awesome. At the end of the day, every cable on the bike is hidden. It's as slick as you can get, yet without any tricky or irreversible customizations.
Finally, we get to the components themselves. Some of these we've discussed already. I opted for a 1x drivetrain for simplicity. Although 1x is in vogue now, I've been working with 1x rigs for almost the entire history of TriRig. And I opted to go mechanical for this build. No batteries, no wires, just man and machine. The keen observer will notice that although there's no front derailleur, I kept the front shifter in place. That's just for ergonomic reasons. I really like how the shifter pods feel in hand, so I left the front shifter in place, but without housing or cable.
As mentioned on the previous page, drivetrain consists of a Quarq Prime with 48t X-SYNC ring, and a SRAM 11-36t cassette. These are mounted to 700c wheels with 36c tires. An old Adamo Attack saddle takes care of seating duties, and standard Shimano pedals provide the final contact point.
And that's ... pretty much all there is to show! The build is simple, functional, and simply beautiful.