Word of mouth can be a powerful thing. I first learned of Mike Varley and his shop and bicycle label Black Mountain Cycles through Guitar Ted. GT raved about the ride, the tire clearance and the affordability of his "BMC" gravel machine. I'm a big fan of steel in any case so it wasn't hard for me to be convinced of the appeal of framesets that Black Mountain Cycles offered. So, now that I've purchased a monster cross frame of my own, it's only fair that I continue the word of mouth for these fantastic bikes.
Once my interest for Black Mountain Cycles was piqued, I began reading Varley's blog and loved what I read. It was practical, showed huge experience and most of all, great passion for cycling, its past, present and future. Both Varley's road and cross frames are made overseas in small batches. When I first checked his site there were a couple in my size available, but none in a color that won me over. When Varley announced that one of his new batch colors would be a bright pink seen in years past on bikes with an "S" label, I was stoked. When he added that the new run would also have a Pacenti PBP fork crown, a third bottle cage mount and slightly tweaked geometry, I was sold! I emailed him and put my name on the waitlist.
I had many of the parts on hand to build the bike. That was half the beauty of the project; it would cost me a frameset. After several hundred miles on the bike, I'm still playing with setups but I absolutely love how the bike handles and how well it tackles pavement, gravel, dirt and singletrack. I typically run 40mm gravel tires, but have also mounted 35mm Compass Bon Jon Pass tires for road rides.
For Dirty Kanza, in two weeks time, I'll be aboard the BMC. I'm running a 1x11 drivetrain with a 44-tooth Salsa singlespeed ring and a Shimano 11-40 cassette. Shifting is accomplished by a 105 5800 shifter, an XT M8000 rear derailleur and a Lindarets Tanpan converter (making the incompatible pull ratios of the road and mountain 11-speed components work). Brakes are Paul Minimoto. Brake cables and housings are Jagwire Road Elite Link in what I think is a very fetching blue. Teravail Cannonball tires are tubeless and measure 41.5 millimeters wide on HED Ardennes+ rims. A Moots titanium seatpost holds a much-loved Selle SMP Dynamic saddle. A 13cm Thomson stem connects a World Bicycle Relief limited edition Cane Creek stainless steel headset to a Salsa Cowbell (44cm) that is double wrapped. PRO Missile Alloy aerobars take pressure off of my hands over the long miles. A Garmin eTrex 30 will help with navigation and is mounted to a carbon computer mount I fashioned out of a cut-off 1 1/8" steerer tube. A Paul Gino light mount on the mid-fork mount holds a Cateye Volt 800 headlight. Cateye Rapid X rear blinky is on the non-driveside seatstay. Other accessories include two Salsa Nickless cages, an XLab Gorilla cage, Revelate Gas Tank, PRO Team CNC pump and a Jandd Mini Mountain Wedge that holds two tubes, some patches, a singlespeed cog, multitool, tire lever, chain lube, CO2/inflator and various other small bits I like to carry.