Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First ride: Singular Gryphon...

I had nearly forgotten how much I like riding singlespeed mountain bikes, but the recent build-up of a new Singular Gryphon reminded me how much fun singlespeeding can be. In fact, I've been enjoying it so much, it's got me thinking about which 2013 events I might be able to ride on a singlespeed.

Classic steel lines, drop-bars and a clean singlespeed setup = a good looking bike!
First introduced in 2009, the Gryphon frameset bears a striking resemblance in profile to the Salsa Fargo (a bike that itself is very close to my heart for a number of reasons). And while it's true there are some similarities in geometry and fit, the ride quality of each frame is determined largely by its intended use. For while the Fargo is designed to be used for long-haul bike packing, the Gryphon is designed as more of a standard mountain bike. So, while the current version of the frame does include a rear rack mount, it's not designed as a bikepacking rig. As such, the tube diameters and wall thicknesses have not been beefed up to accommodate the increased load of a cyclist plus a week's worth of gear.
Color coodination... When the parts are here to make it work, why not?
This manifests itself as a distinctly smoother, faster, more compliant ride on the Gryphon frame, when compared head-to-head with a steel Fargo. When you ride a steel Fargo, you are constantly reminded of the "bigness" of the bike. You never get the feeling that the bike is particularly fast, but you do feel like it can take whatever you can give it, in terms of terrain or load. Conversely, the Gryphon feels like a light, fast, lively frame that just so happens to be able to accommodate fat tires. The difference between the two frames can be felt in first five pedal strokes. It's that distinct.
A fantastic fork... Reynolds 520 steel fork blades deliver a ride quality that must be ridden to be believed. Carbon? Pfffffttt...
The fork is a specific area where the Gryphon positively shines. It is perhaps one of the finest riding chromoly forks I've ridden. It simultaneously tracks accurately and offers a fantastic ride quality -- notably smoother than a Fargo fork.

I built my Gryphon using a mix of parts including the wheelset and saddle/seatpost from my old Salsa Vaya, some TruVativ downhill cranks, some Avid BB7s and an old Salsa bar/stem I had in the parts bin. It all went together super smoothly, and the cool Phil Wood-style EBB made achieving perfect tension on the chain very easy. Cool...
Comfortable cockpit -- Long days in the saddle will be spent here.
Long-story-short, my new Gryphon is a keeper -- one I intend to ride and enjoy for a long time to-come. Of course, I'll be posting updates on the bike down the road as I get more miles on it, and will let you know how the relationship progresses. Also, keep your eyes peeled for 'first ride' reviews of my new Singular Kite cyclocross/gravel bike, and my Singular Swift 29-inch hardtail.

Thanks to Marty Larson at The Prairie Peddler and Sam Alison at Singular Cycles Ltd. Marty is the U.S. importer of Singular Cycles and is my 2013 bicycle sponsor. Visit the Prairie Peddler site or e-mail Marty for more information, pricing or availability of Singular framesets.

Thanks for reading! Now get out and ride!!


Shane said...

Hey MG - weren't you planning to do an all fattie year in 2013? Is Singular building one, or did plans change?

MG said...

Hey Shane -- Singular is building one and I'm going to be giving Sam feedback on one of the prototypes. The catch, as it were, is I don't know exactly when I'll have the frameset, and honestly, it's not a big deal anyway. I like to ride and race all of my bikes, so if 2013 isn't an "all fattie" year, it's not a big deal... at least as far as I'm concerned.

I was never going to do TransIowa on a fatbike. Though I kicked it around, I never seriously thought it'd happen... So 2013 never really would have been "all fattie".

Fret not however, I'll still be rockin' the fatbike plenty... You don't have to worry about that. My enthusiasm for the fatties is unabated.

Cheers bro,

Ari said...

Can you tell us what size that Singular is and how it compares to the Fargo. I am just curious as to what you think.

MG said...

Hi Ari -- Great questions. I'm on a large Gryphon, which, compared to a large Fargo, has a slightly shorter seat tube, and a slightly longer top tube. The primary fit difference, for me, was to go to a 90mm stem on the Gryphon, from the 100mm stem I was running on the Fargo. The head tube is about 15mm shorter as well, so that needs to be factored in as well.

It is a fantastic riding bicycle though... Much more lively and quick feeling than a Fargo, simply because it's tubing is a step less beefed-up, as it's not designed as a loaded touring bike. It's a very well designed drop-bar mountain bike. I love it!

Ari said...

thanks MG. That is what I was wondering. I love my fargo but sometimes I think it is like riding an empty 1 ton van. It needs to get loaded to really shine. I was also wondering if the Prairie Peddler has moved. I know they used to be in Wisconsin along the big river.

MG said...

Hey Ari -- I believe they did move, and Marty is actually preparing to close the shop's doors in February, believe it or not. He just took a new position in MN, but he will be keeping Singular and has taken on a couple of new dealers that will be stocking & selling Singular frames. One of these is Ben Witt at Milltown Cycles, who is the dealer I'd recommend striking up a long-term relationship with. He's top-notch.

But you should definitely get a hold of Marty, and get a demo ride on a Gryphon. I bet you'd love it.


MG said...

Here is Marty's post from Facebook:

"Dear Friends of The Prairie Peddler – THANK YOU for being a great base of customers for the past FIVE years! You have been a great group of people to ride with, and it has been a blast sharing our love of riding in the Driftless area!
We do have a couple of announcements to make:

1: Marty has accepted a position that he simply can’t refuse. It’s within an hour of both our families and Marty will be team leader in a new bagel sandwich shop with friends in Northfield, Minnesota.

2: As a direct result, we will be having a HUGE SALE coming in the next two weeks, starting at 40% off of everything! Prices will be slashed again the following week, but the selection may not be as good!

3: The bike shop will be closing on February 16th. We will gladly do any new bike tune-ups on the spot. Special repairs will also be available if needed. Please don’t be shy! Just call and ask! We want to see you awesome customers, before our shop fades into the great beyond. You, Loyal customers, deserve great deals anyhow, so please come by and get some of those accessories you had on your list!

Again, thank you-- thank you and thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for the past fantastic five years. It’s been a great run, and if not for this new chapter, we’d be celebrating five years and looking forward to another great season with you! We will truly miss our Great Driftless Area and our riding pals, for the friendship, laughter and free-flowing route tips.

Sale hours will be held: Wed Feb 6th through Sat the 9th and
Wed Feb 13th through Sat the 16th.
Hours are:
Wednesday 10-6
Thursday 10-6
Friday 10-6
Saturday 9-4
***We also offer appointments during this time—call 608-412-2786

4: We will continue to do be the official US distributors of the entire Singular line. We are offering products in two great store locations so far. They both have talented folks who love riding just as much as we do!
Hiawatha Bikes 4301 East 54th St, Minneapolis, MN 612-727-2565
Mill City Bikes 311 Central Ave N, Faribault, MN 55021 507- 331-2636"

Steve Fuller said...

Your and Ari's comments about the Fargo are spot on. I love mine, but it has a certain sluggishness about it, even in it's Gen 2 guise. The Gen 2 Fargo is tons better in the liveliness department than my Gen 1 Fargo.

Nothing beats a ride in a properly built and tuned steel frame IMO.

MG said...

I have to agree, Steve. Even Ti lacks the fantastic "spring" of well-tuned steel. I love Ti for its weight, but in terms of stiffness, ride quality, handling and feel, steel is right on-top for me as well.

Te neat thing about the Gryphon is it has the handling and geometry I loved about the Gen 1 Fargo (with short chainstays too, bonus), with a livelier, better riding (for my 160lbs) tubeset. It adds up to a winner in my book!

Anonymous said...


Very informative comparison of the two bikes.

I am also looking to build a geared fargo or Gryphon, able to handle both technical mountain biking and off-road touring (if possible!). I am attracted by the agility of the Gryphon but still seek the comfort and loading options of the fargo.

You praise the agility of the Gryphon but I am wondering whether the fargo frame would handle better my 210 pounds in unloaded mountain biking and added weight when touring.

I have ridden the fargo and it felt a bit dead as well. Unfortunately, I know of no bike shop that offers to test ride the Gryphon in London.

I am leaning towards a fargo but the singular fork may be a deal breaker.

Many thanks,

shmunn said...

I notice you sell your bikes at the end of the season- do you plan on selling the Gryphon in the future?


shmunn said...

Email for interested sale to previous post

Thanks again