Back in April, we received a brand new Framed Basswood carbon gravel bike with Pub carbon wheels for review. I penned a first look with all of the spec’s and some initial thoughts (Here). This Spring, I’ve been putting the Basswood through its paces and according to Strava I’ve ridden the basswood 525 miles. Like many of you that are reading this, I had big gravel rides planned and I really looked forward to early season gravel events like the Heywood. However, the Covid 19 pandemic has created a situation where we’ll have to wait to enjoy big organized events until it’s deemed safe to participate in group activities again. The pandemic didn’t stop me from riding solo and I have to say that I really put my quads into my riding this spring. “Every Day is Leg Day, Schmelts!” (I’ve also started watching Letter Kenny)
Perhaps the first thing that we should talk about is sort of the elephant in the room with the way that I set the Basswood up with lots of spacers on the steer tube. I prefer a higher hand position than someone that might be coming to the gravel game from a road bike, where their normal hand position is often lower than the saddle. I’m looking to put my hands just above the saddle on the tops of the handlebars and just below the seat level in the drops. I associate that preference with the fact that I’m coming to the gravel game from the world of mountain bikes.
There are a few ways to get your hand position sorted out and the spacers were the least expensive alternative to position my hands where I like them during testing. I could have also used a different stem to achieve the same hand position. I simply requested that the test bike come with the steer tube untrimmed, so I could tune the hand position with spacers.
I’ve had the opportunity to ride and compare four gravel bikes this spring. I rode a Kona Libre for a long weekend before sending up to Dustin Marsh for him to review. The Libre achieves my preferred higher hand position with a taller head tube. I speed dated a Salsa Cutthroat in May and that bike achieves it’s pitch perfect hand position with its (taller axle to crown) suspension corrected fork. The fourth groadie that I’ve been riding as my rain bike this Spring is a Surly Crosscheck with Planet Bike Fenders. I’m in the middle of writing a story about the third reincarnation of that bike that’ll include all of the details of how to get comfortable access to the drops. My goal was to put the bars where I’d be spending at least 50% of the time with my hands in the drops.
Having comfortable access to the drops means that my hands are in a much better position to modulate the brake levers. The drops also help gain a mile and a half an hour with the same wattage pedaling into the wind. When you start to spend hours in the saddle, you start to experience long pulls into the wind. I’ve come to appreciate the drops more now that they’re within comfortable reach. If you come from a road bike background and you already have muscle memory (flexibility?) hard wired into your brain you might hate the kind of higher hand position that I’ve been talking about. If that’s the case….just don’t run as many spacers.
Starting in January, I’ve also had the privilege of listening to some of the best minds in the gravel bike sphere talk about everything from events to equipment, thanks to my brother from another mother, Adam Blake’s Pneu Podcast interviews with Ben Witt, Joe Meisner, Bobby Jindal, Jim Cummings, Pete Koski, Mike Reimer, and Lelan Danes. My constant sounding board for all things gravel bikes is Adam Blake. I regularly call or text him with pop-quizzes and riddle me this type of question. I’m pretty sure that I’m starting to drive him a little crazy. I come to this review as a long time mountain biker that’s always ridden gravel as well and I’ve been a long-time Surly Crosscheck owner.
I got the Basswood set up with the bar height that I prefer, my favorite Brooks Swift Saddle, and a pair of SPD pedals and started to ride the hell out of the thing. The reality of being a mountain biker in Wisconsin is that the trails are closed during rainy periods and if you want to ride every day, gravel and/or road riding has to be part of your cycling lifestyle. This is especially true during the springtime. The Basswood is light and stiff. It rides and feels like a carbon bike. That’s not a bad thing. I’d describe the carbon bike feeling as solid with a slightly hollow feeling and light, especially when compared to my steel Surly Crosscheck.
The Basswood is versatile. During the last few weeks, I’ve strapped an arsenal of bikepacking bags onto it along with a rear rack and the full complement of camping and packrafting gear. The basswood handled it all quite easily. The only thing that I might add to the B-Wood is fork braze-ons for cargo cages.
The other thing that has to be mentioned is the fact that Framed hasn’t scrimped on the components that are included with their complete build. Other companies (like Surly & Salsa) include heavy generic ‘house brand’ bars, stems, seatposts, etc. that pad their profit margins and eventually end up in somebody’s parts bin, when they upgrade to the more refined, higher quality and lighter weight components. The kind of components that come standard on the B-Wood.
This last weekend I rode a gravel metric century on a perfectly beautiful 68° sunny Saturday. It was the longest ride that I’ve done since last fall and it actually felt pretty easy thanks to the Basswood!
I’d recommend the Basswood to anyone looking to get into the Gravel Bike scene. The bike as tested is listed for $2,199 with the carbon wheels or $1,699 with alloy wheels. I think that that’s an incredible amount of value packed into this great looking, great riding, gravel bike.
The Framed Basswood earn 4.5 out of 5 Flaming Gnomes
For more information about Framed Bikes visit – https://www.framedbikes.com/