Dirty Cache I want you | Knolly enters the gravel market with lustworthy Ti frame

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We know Knolly for its “all the linkages” full suspension mountain bike designs, but the Canadian brand has got in touch to let us know about its new model, and we reckon you can probably guess what kind of bike it is…

Why not?

Over to Knolly to explain why it has decided to go down the gravel route – we’ve quoted the company directly as we like its honesty. We can’t think of a better reason to build a bike than “we wanted one for ourselves, so went ahead and built it”. (Minus one internet point for describing a collection of bikes a quiver though).

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A mountain biker’s gravel bike? Knolly thinks so

“The Knolly crew have been riding for a long time. In fact some of us started riding when mountain bikes were just a twinkle in the founder’s eye (we won’t get into the argument over who it was – we don’t care – but a huge thanks to those who started this crazy ride). Through our riding and personal careers one thing has always been constant, we are happiest when we are on two wheels. So with an entire lineup of new full suspension models designed and heading into the production phase, we focused on a new type of Knolly, one that we wanted to build just for the hell of it (and a sign of things to come).

“OK, let’s be honest, we wanted to add a bike to our personal quiver. But that’s the best part of being a bike company isn’t it? We build cool stuff and ride it. And when we have something new to bring to market, we get excited!”

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Knolly uses custom titanium tubing and hardware throughout the Cache

Building a gravel bike from a mountain bikers perspective

Knolly CEO and Head Engineer, Noel Buckley, wanted a gravel bike that would deliver a ride experience similar to its mountain bikes. He wanted a bike that could go harder and farther, while also immediately feeling “right”, with minimum adaption time for those who are more used to flat bars. Noel designed a titanium bike with a longer front centre, designed to be combined with a shorter stem (this is something that we are seeing quite a few gravel bike designs adopting – Kona and Canyon being the first that came to mind but certainly not the only ones out there). The Cache has a relatively long wheelbase and compact rear triangle with tight chainstays.

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Big clearances

Knolly chose titanium for its gravel bike, because it felt it would deliver the best overall performance and comfort for gravel riders. But off the shelf Ti tubing would not provide the ride experience it was looking for so Knolly built the Cache with custom tubes and a fair old bit of tube manipulation.

All in the details

Knolly has clearly put a fair bit of thought into the details of the Cache. It has a threaded BB shell, custom right side chainstay yoke, custom cable ports, custom tubing throughout, full mud guard mounts and some clever joining of the down tube and seat tube to accommodate a fully internally routed dropper.

Machined headtube

There’s plenty of clearance for high volume tyres (700x45c or 27.5” x 2.1) and there’s still room for full guards. Good news for a full UK-friendly gravel bike, that is as likely to see mud and slop as it is dust.

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Dropper compatible

We were also impressed that Knolly’s custom cable ports also feature a rubber wedge to minimise cable rattle.

Fork versatility

Knolly developed a carbon gravel fork to work with the frame, but designed it with some versatility in mind. The frame is available to buy with the Fox 32 Step cast AX or the MRP Baxter Adventure fork; both offering a 40mm suspension option. 

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We have mixed feelings about suspension forks on gravel bikes, but this looks right.

The fully carbon (Toray UD) gravel fork is a clean-looking straight blade fork designed specifically for multi-surface and gravel riding and weighs an impressive 465g including axle. Featuring a DT Swiss RWS 12mm thru-axle and flat mount brake standard, it is a one piece steerer/crown/leg assembly.

Other fork features include hidden fender mounts, piped internal brake routing and there is the same ample clearance for 700c x 45mm and 27.5 x 2.1” tyres plus guards.

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The carbon fork isn’t ugly either though.

Plenty of build options

Knolly openly says that it knows 90% of its riders won’t run a dropper post on this frame, but “isn’t it rad that you can”. We are inclined to agree – we’ve yet to ride a gravel bike which we felt is enhanced by fitting a dropper, but that’s not to say others won’t enjoy the option.

Internal and external cable routing have been designed into the Cache frame. The internal cable routing allows the housing to be run quickly and each end cap is designed to properly hold all standard size housing including Di2.

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Custom designed cable ports

The Cache is 1x and 2x compatible and has three water bottle mounts. There are seven frame sizes and is available as frame only, frame and fork, or complete bike with multiple build kit options. The Cache carbon fork is also available separately.

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Those dropouts share the same pattern as Knolly’s mountain bikes. Handy if you already own one.

We are currently checking up on UK availability, but prices start at $2,763.00 for the frame only and $2,999.00 with the carbon fork. More info is available from Knolly

 

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