Staff rides: Erin’s flatbar Knolly steel Cache

A gravel bike that goes off-road, with room for snacks

May 21st, 2020 by | Posted in Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

When the Cache line was introduced by Knolly, it looked a little different than your average mountain bike. While the gravel market is wide open and ever-evolving, the initial titanium frame gravel frame had a distinctly west coast feel.

Now the Cache comes in steel, it is an option for a wider range of riders as well as a wide range of terrains. Eager to see how the folks at Knolly were building up their own bikes, we checked in with Erin Carolan and her far-from-standard flat-bar Cache build.

Knolly Cache steel
Exploring the “gravel” trails in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Photo: Nicholas Kupiak

Part of gravel bike’s appeal is the ability to be many different bikes at the same time. This is a feature Carolan fully takes advantage of with the Cache. “It’s the bike I default to when I’m not quite sure where my day will take me,” she says. This could include everything from commuting to Knolly HQ in Burnaby, gravel group rides and endurance events and even light mountain bike trails and bike packing.

Knolly Cache steel
Photo: Nicholas Kupiak

To handle such a wide range of riding, Carolan’s steel Cache is set up a little differently than the standard drop-bar gravel build. Flat bars from Chromag and a Turbine R dropper post from Race Face – matched to a “miscellaneous jimmy-rigged lever from the office” make it comfortable on trails. FSA AGX gravel wheels and 40c Maxxis rubber keep it well within the bounds of a gravel bike, and capable of covering miles efficiently. A Jandd X Golden Saddle Cyclery bar bag holds enough snacks for long rides or alternative hydration for a casual ride around town.

Knolly Cache steel
Photo: Nicholas Kupiak

The drivetrain is a mix of Shimano road and mountain bike parts, working around the flat bar/gravel frame combo and making use of what Carolan had available in the parts bin. Shimano XT 11-speed shifters/derailleur matches with an Ultegra cassette and shiny White Industries G30 crankset and 40-tooth chainring.

Brakes are a combo of Shimano XTR mountain bike levers, controlling one Ultegra caliper and one 105 caliper. Pedals are “cult favorite” 1990s Time ATAC clipless pedals that Carolan has dragged into a new decade and a new century.

Knolly Cache steel
Knolly’s own carbon fibre fork comes on both the Cache Steel and the original titanium Cache model. Photo: Nicholas Kupiak

Erin Carolan’s Knolly Cache Steel

Frame/Fork: Knolly Cache steel (49.5cm) Knolly carbon fibre fork.
Headset: White Industries

Wheels: FSA AGX
Tires: Maxxis: Ravager front, Rambler rear (both 40c)

Shifter/Derailleur: Shimano XT 11-speed
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-36
Brakes: Shimano XTR levers – one Ultegra caliper, one 105 caliper
Crankset/chainring: White industries G30 40t crankset
Pedals: Cult favourite 1990s Time ATAC pedals
BB: White Industries

Knolly Cache steel
Photoshoots fuelled by snacks. Photo: Nicholas Kupiak

Bar/stem: Chromag Cutlass 700mm 31.8 bars / Chromag Ranger V2 60mm chrome stem
Grips: ESI Chunky
Bar bag: Jandd x Golden Saddle Cyclery
Water bottle cages: Blackburn Chicane

Seatpost: RaceFace Turbine R 125mm dropper post
Seat Clamp: Chromag Chrome
Saddle: Specialized Power Saddle

Head over to the Knolly blog for extra details on fit and a slightly different build variation of Erin’s ever-evolving Cache steel flatbar gravel bike.