It’s been a month since we shared our First Look at the Framed Drop Bar 29r Marquette. You can read all of the spec’s along with the plan to center the review around getting ready for and competing in a gravel race called the Bear100 – https://fat-bike.com/2019/04/first-look-framed-marquette-carbon-drop-bar-adventure/. I’m coming back after some minor surgery that kept me off of the bike for six weeks and subscribing to a very non-scientific training schedule that basically had me riding a little bit further every day. That means riding even on cold grey rainy days and keeping track of mileage, which is something that I rarely do because you really can’t measure how much fun that you’re having by measuring the distance travelled. However, counting miles can perhaps help train my old bones into some modicum of fitness and saddle tolerance so I can enjoy the Bear100. I should explain that all of this fuss is about the Baby Bear thirty-one mile race but you have to start somewhere. I’m fortunate enough to have a Framed Marquette adventure bike to help me get back into the groove.
In the ‘first look’ I mentioned that we’d be swapping the stock 42cm wide drop bars for a wider setup. I pinged our amigo Davis Carver and ordered a set of the Carver Bikes Breitbar 50cm Drop Handlebars and that helped make the width of the rider cockpit more comfortable. During the bar swap, I also added another 20 mm spacer under the stem to raise the bars as far as possible with the steer tube that was available. The Marquette is a 29r mountain bike. So the trick to get drop bars to work well is to use a really short stem that can also help raise the bars to a comfortable riding position. The steer tube and stem that came on the Marquette was just tall enough to get the cockpit dialled (for me).
The only other fiddling that I did with bike set-up was with the seat. I tried the original Framed saddle and then a Fatback saddle that I’d ridden and liked, but for most of the test and the race, I ran a Brooks Swift saddle. All of that “princess and the pea” fidgeting could have been due to my being off of the bike for six weeks or perhaps a case where I just need to adhere closer to Rule #5.
With the bars and the seat sorted, I started to pile up some miles to get ready for the Honey Bear. I opened a Map My Ride account and then a Ride with GPS account so I could get the Little Bear Racecourse on my phone. I went on “Road Rides” in the Kettle Moraine where I rode right past the closed (due to rain) mountain bike trails. I did hill repeats at the end of rides to get my legs back. Anyone that knows me, knows that this is not normal behaviour. A couple of weeks before the race, I started to ride twice a day where I’d do a little ride in the morning on one of my fat/plus/mtb/klunker/cross bikes and then go do a training ride on the Marquette later in the day. I started to get my groove back and I started to really like this bike.
The questions that most of you probably want answered revolve around the Lauf Fork. Everyone that saw this bike asked about the Lauf fork and how it rides. The fork definitely takes the edge off of bumpy or chunky gravel. The Lauf is a little noisy. It makes a ‘poing poing’ sort of sound when it encounters bumps. My friend Kris Ruckle and I went for a ride together one afternoon so he could give the Marquette a try. He gave the Carver 50cm wide drops the thumbs up, but he asked me “what’s that noise coming from?” It was the Lauf Fork. The other thing that required a short learning curve was standing while climbing with the Lauf. I couldn’t just stand up and honk on the bars and pedals without the fork misbehaving a bit. It takes a little more disciplined approach but with a little practice, I learned how to get’r done. The Lauf was perfect for the rough and varied terrain that the Honey Bear 31 race course presented. Ruts, muddy ruts and washouts were no problem. The bike handles really well at speed. I bombed down every hill, during the race, staying off of the brakes with confidence…(I’d probably do that with a rigid fork as well). One other consideration is that the Lauf doesn’t have cargo zits for fork cages and bags. I asked Wolftooth if we could try to use their B-Rad Strap base to attach a cage to the fork and they said they wouldn’t recommend it. The bottom line is the Lauf does take the edge off of small bumps with a totally maintenance free bit of front suspension.
From the initial build, all the way through the 6 week test period the Marquette frame and the build kit performed flawlessly. The Sram double tap shifting and the mechanical discs made the stopping and going smooth as silk. The Pub Carbon Wheels with the DT Swiss Hubs help the Marquette tip the scales at just 23 pounds and stayed true through the test period. The Continental Race King Tires roll fast and never let me down when I needed them to take a bite of traction during testing. The week before the Bear100, I converted them over to tubeless and all of that went swimmingly.
After a couple of hundred miles of preparation, the day came to go up to Laona, Wisconsin for the Bear 100 to see what this new whip and my old bones could do on the gravel roads of the Nicolette National Forest. My goal was to have fun and finish. I had the old familiar (and foolish) nervousness on the way to the start on the morning of the race, but once we all got lined up and started riding all of the tension disappeared. I started very near the back of the pack and after the slow roll out on the bike-path things widened out onto forest roads. There was asphalt, gravel and mud. Mud that had lots of people walking. The Marquette handled it extremely well. I was able to ride almost all of the mud bogs. (except for the one in the foto below)
I was running 35psi tubeless in the 2.2 Continental Race King tires during the race. The thought crossed my mind several times during the race, that the Marquette was the perfect combination of a mountain bike and gravel/cross/road bike for what the race course was handing us on that beautiful blue bird of a day. This is what my computer revealed about my race stats – Average Speed -11.5 mph – Maximum Speed – 28.6 mph – Distance – 31 miles – Ride Time – 2:42:34 – Actual Time 2:54. Looking at the results, it looks like I came in 23rd. I was 46 minutes behind the winner, Ryan Metzner. I managed to somehow accomplish both of my goals and the bike came through with flying colors.
The race went so well, that I went out and rode the Bearskin Trail the day after and enjoyed another blue bird day in the Northwoods. The picture above shows the bag setup that I ran during the race. If you look at all of the pictures in the review, you’ll see that I experimented with a variety of bags starting with a Backcountry Stitch Works frame bag. The race day setup includes two Revelate Design’s Mountain Feedbags and a new Revelate Egress™ Pocket.
My definition of an adventure bike includes the ability to ride loaded. Stay out all night and make yourself a nice strong cup of pour-over coffee the next morning. My normal bikepacking gear distribution includes two fork bags so I had to figure out where to pack some of that gear. The new Revelate Designs 14L Terrapin® System Seat Pack helped absorb some of that cargo on the Marquette. The bike above is set up for a sub-24 hour overnight.
The Framed Marquette earns 4 ½ out of 5 Gnomes and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for an alternative to the Big Name = Big Money carbon bikes out there.
For more information about Framed Bikes visit framedbikes.com