It's finished! My latest collaboration with Donard, my own bike, is here and I couldn't be happier with it. The bike began life while Owen and I worked on his award-winning bikes for Bespoked 2017. I had just hacked together a low-geared, big-tyred, 1x set-up on my ‘cross frame for the Dirty Reiver and really started to love the simplicity and freedom this type of bike and riding brought.
Ideas for a new frame developed into something fast enough to throw round ‘cross courses from September to December, but comfortable and adaptable enough for long rides, over-nighters and aimless fun, on and off-road, for the rest of the year. You can read more about the development of the bike in part I and part II.
The result is the Donard x Victory Chimp Gairbhéal Bike. A bike for all the rocky farm tracks, peat bogs, forestry roads and singletrack that an Irish ‘gravel’ ride can throw at you. The frame is constructed from a Reynolds 853 main triangle and Columbus stays, with a 142×12 thru-axle at the rear and traditional threaded bottom bracket. The hooded dropouts and flat mount disc mounts are from Bear Frame Supplies.
The curved stays allow for a dual wheel size with up to 700cx45mm or 27.5"x2.1" tyres. A 44mm head tube, using a Chris King headset, takes a tapered 1.5" carbon fork - also with 12mm thru-axle and flat-mount disc brakes. The top tube is ovalised for comfortable shouldering during CX run-ups or hike-a-bike moments, and a forward-facing seatpost binder keeps the muck out of the seat tube. All cables and hoses are internally routed through stainless steel guide tubes, keeping both cabling and the frame lines clean. The flexibility continues into the smaller frame parts, with Owen adding braze-ons for a third bottle cage, full mudguards and rack mounts.
The paintwork is inspired by Ogham, a Primitive Irish alphabet consisting of a series of horizontal and diagonal strokes inscribed along the edge of standing stones. I regularly pass the Aghascrebagh Ogham Stone and other megalithic monuments on rides in the Sperrin Mountains and wanted to incorporate these features into the bike.
Since I find a lot of the inspiration for Victory Chimp, as well as the most joy on the bike, up in the Sperrins, I took the words for all the kinds of terrain covered there, translating them first into Irish and back into Ogham script. Words like forest (foraois), mountain (sliabh) and bog (portach) were assigned to the centre of each tube, wrapping around each side as they would on a monolith.
Owen applied the design in a two-tone stone grey colour scheme with a stunning polished finish. The frame is finished with a laser cut, polished stainless steel Donard headbadge, numberplate and Victory Chimp cable entry point - an additional surprise for me when I came to pick up the frame.
Joe at Velo Café Magasin took care of the final build, completing the bike with a SRAM Force 1 Hydro groupset, Hope Retainer 38t chainring and a 10-42 cassette. Joe also handbuilt the smaller wheelset to used on the bike, with Hope RS4 hubs laced to DT Swiss x392 27.5" rims.
The bike is finished with a matching Hope threaded BB, Pro finishing kit, Fabric Scoop saddle, Lizard Skins DSP 3.2mm bar tape and King Cage Iris stainless steel cages. Tyres are WTB Nano 27.5x2.1, and I'll use the 700x40mm versions on the larger wheelset option.
Reynolds 853 main triangle with a 44mm head tube
Columbus rear triangle
BSA threaded bottom bracket
Flat mount discs and 12x142 thru-axle dropouts from Bear Frame supplies
Forward mounted seatpost binder to keep the dirt out
Polished stainless steel headbadge, numberplate and chimp logo
Cabling internally guided through the frame in stainless steel guide tubes
Braze-ons for three bottle cages, mudguards and rack mounts
SRAM Force 1 Hydro
Hope Retainer 38t chainring
Chris King Headset
Hope threaded BB
DT Swiss x392 27.5" rims
Hope RS4 hubs
WTB Nano 27.5x2.1 tyres
Finishing kit / Contact points
Pro finishing kit
Fabric Scoop saddle
Lizard Skins DSP 3.2mm black camo bar tape
King Cage Iris bottle cages w/ Victory Chimp Banana Camo Bidons
Shimano XTR pedals
All photos: Ryan O’Reilly / Victory Chimp