Presentation of an unusual cross-country bicycle based on the Gaea carbon frame from Carbonalbike.

Carbonal Gaea frame

The Gaea is the 29er version of the 26er frame of only 1050g, the Modest SL. It underwent some modifications over the past few years to be updated on axles and housings.  This is not the most recent frame. However it makes miracles on the field, being rigid, confortable and agile all at once. This is in fact the frame I already chose to build with a Shimano XT groupset few years ago (with 9mm axle front and rear). So back to the origins, but not only !

Sram GX 1x11v groupset

On the transmission side, no major surprises. We assemble a complete GX groupset. It inherits the Sram Single-plate technology. It works well, and even very well. On top of that. We use a Yaban SFL 101-ti chain, because it needs less maintenance and above all because it’s gold-plated (people don’t change)! It has to be noted that this transmission is quite noisy… The 12speeds generation should fix this problem.

Hope Tech2 X3 brakes

I opted for Hope Tech2 X3 brakes (484g with uncut hoses). Originally, I was thinking about using XT brakes, that a priori the best value for money. But I needed orange parts to match with the color of the hubs, and I am not disappointed ! We find on the lever two adjustement knobs : one for the lever position, one to tune the preload. There is a substantial brake fluid tank (regarding the weight). The hoses are easily cut. The finish is just impressive and the brakes teem with a lot of machining details that we don’t get tired of admiring. The only complaint I might have is that the Torx screw that holds the tank plate seems a bit weak. On the trail, I agree with most people saying that they are very linear, but not the most powerfull, while being quite enough for cross-country. The pistons will move downwards on Ashima Ai2’s, light and affordable, even though they are a bit noisy.

Components

For components : Gub alloy straight seatpost, 55mm FUNN stem and a 78cm carbon Carbonal handlebar ! Let it be said that I used such a wide handlebar because it was gathering dust on a shelf, and I was thinking : if it’s too wide, I just need to cut it. For the moment, it didn’t lose a single centimeter. Let’s start by the disavantages : I would have prefer a flat handlebar because it’s generally lighter, stiffer, more aesthetic, and lower. In fact, it’s so wide, you can feel it flex lightly while standing on pedals. Consequently we directly understand why companies introduce a new standard that use 35mm stems. The bike is less reactive cause it takes time to turn the handlebar from side to side. That being said, the width confers a really comfortable position while standing on pedals, and a crazy stability : with 78cm, there is such a leverage effect that the wheel can’t deviate from his axis.

Cintre relevé carbone de 78cm

Manitou Marvel Pro fork

On the suspension side, I opted for a Manitou Marvel Pro. I was looking for a mat finish fork to match with the frame, and it was impossible to find a Reba at a reasonable price with this finish. I finally ordered this fork on bike24.de at 423€. And that an excellent suprise from all points of view. Weighing 1630g, the fork teems with a lot of machining details, and gives the impression of a high end fork. On the other side, it’s extremely effective on ride. I can only regret that I didn’t build a full suspension bike instead of an hardtail, because the front wheel doesn’t transmit the majority of the bumps, while the rear wheel just shows me what the front wheel hid me. So this is an excellent fork that seconds to nobody.

Fourche Marvel Pro de chez Manitou

 

DRC-Powerway-Mach1 wheels

For the wheels, I chose Powerway M71 hubs with DRC rims, and Mach1 Prime spokes. The whole works perfectly. The wheelset is stiff, light and despite the thinness of the rim walls, no deformation is visible so far. Small disappointment through : anodising of the hubs isn’t exactly the same as the Hope one.  The tires are Hutchinson Cobra, with witch I struggle a bit. Indeed while cornering with low pressure, I feel the rear wheel loose and imprecise… Thus I use high pressure on this tires. The grip is correct and this tires are fast on dry surfaces. Despite this, I am thinking about using Schwalbe Racing Ralph or Rocket Ron latter…

 

Conclusion

A reactive bike at 9,2kg, confortable, stable, and with an original line, competitive and enjoyable, what more could we ask for ? Remains to be fixed the tire problem, and maybe modify the handlebar. However it remains true that this assembly has been for me the opportunity to change my mind on different brands (I was not convinced by their hubs) while confirming the releveance of technical choices. No doubt that this bike will keep running a long time before maybe be replaced by a CLMB01, of which we should talk later on.