The Rambler is heading this way with an ETA of July 2022. In short – 3 sizes (52, 54, 57) big clearance, big brakes, super-capable drop bar machine to lay waste to all those gravelly lightweights
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This is where we talk about the Rambler, the most honking stonking drop-bar dirt-bike this side of wherever. It’s a machine for all occasions, and in honour of the most well-worn cycling cliché of all time, it’s a bike that does it all. There, I said it and I can’t take it back. But seriously, it’s a bit of a ripper.
But I bet you have questions! So here are some answers to the obvious ones to help you make an informed choice.
Q – What size should I buy?
The Rambler isn’t sized like regular drop bar bikes. The best way to choose a size is to look at the ETT length and compare it to your current drop bar steed. The 52cm has a 560mm top tube, 54cm has 580mm, and the 57cm has 610mm. Pick a size that will allow you to run a 50-60mm stem and take it from there. I’m 5’11 on the 54 with a 55mm stem and big wide bars and the fit is perfecto. On the same note someone much taller than me could run this size with an 80mm stem and the fit will be cool.
In a nutshell: up to 5’9 consider a 52. Up to 6’1 go 54. 6’2 and over for the 57.
Q – How should I set it up?
The Rambler is designed to be run short and tall, so plenty of headset spacers, short stem and wide drops. You can also run it with all manner of cool flat, swept or riser bars and its suddenly a retro style MTB with modern geo and all the features.
Q – MTB standards! What gives?
First off, flat mount brakes are rubbish for this type of bike! They’re designed for carbon road bikes, not stonking go anywhere fully loaded dirt tourers. So the MTB standards on this are the brake mounts, axle standards (albeit the old type, at 142×12 and 100×15) and tyre clearance (27.5 x 2.5 rear, 27.5 x 2.8 front). You’re not going to be able to buy a groupset from Chain Reaction for this and bolt it on, but really, where would the fun be in that? Instead buy some Halo Vapour 35s or Hope Fortus 30s or the like and start from there. Go for big rotors and BB7s or TRP Spykes. If you want to run Brifters you can, and the 68mm BB allows the use of something like a GRX single ring chainset, but personally I’d recommend an MTB crank with a 36t ring.
Q – Really, no GRX?
Okay, so you could, but you’d need to change the brake calipers for MTB ones.
Here’s my idea of the perfect groupo build – Shimano 1 x 11 MTB with Microshift 11 speed MTB bar end shifter and Tektro V brake drop bar levers with mechanical disc brakes (BB7, TRP Spyke, Shimano, Klampers if you’re feeling flush) You can also use short pull Tektro levers with TRP Spyres, BB7 Road, or any of the Shimano road calipers) You can run hydros if you really want, but you’ll need to do your homework on that. The truth is out there, somewhere. Think Sram, or GRX shifters with Deore calipers or the like. Shimano RS785 calipers will also do the job.
But the basic idea of the Rambler is bombproof durability in frame and parts, kit that won’t fail and cause you massive headaches on that mammoth trip to the pub on the other side of the mountain.
Q – 27.5” wheels you say? Surely that must be a typo?
27.5” wheels rock for drop bar bikes, the handling is insanely good, you can fit bigger rubber in a smaller space, the Rambler just WORKS with this wheel size. Sure, you can run 700c with something like a 45c tyre, and if you plan on building this up as a tourer with a lot of road miles then why not, but for proper off-road shenanigans stick with the 27.5″. On mine i have a 2.2 on the back and a 2.6 on the front, there’s massive amounts of mud clearance and plenty of room for full guards.
Q – Can I run a road double up front?
I’m afraid not. Strictly speaking this is a 1X frame, meaning there are no cable stops or guides for a front mech. The eagle-eyed amongst you will shout ‘foul’ having noticed I run a front mech on mine, which brings me to….. if you want to run a front mech use an MTB Double chainset (26/36 or 28/38) and use a Shimano sidepull front mech, running the cable under the downtube with the others. Works a treat and gives you more gear ratios than you’ll ever need. Result!
Damn, I guess that’ll have to do, my arm aches and this may just be the most tedious thing you’ve read. Any questions just fire them my way. I’m happy to help. Here’s some spec figures, just so you know….
Headset – 1 1/8th AKA EC34. IS brake mounts for use with post mount calipers and adapters, 203 max front rotor size, 180 rear. Axle spacing – 142×12 and 100×15, allen-key thru-axles included. 27.2 seapost with internal dropper routing. 29.8 seatclamp included. Full rack and mudguard eyelets. 68mm threaded BS bottom bracket.