Variety is the spice of gravel life, and we’ve seen all manner of bike variations in recent years, but Bobby Julich’s Pinarello Grevil+ had a first for us: O-Symetric chainrings. We had a chat with the Olympic medalist and Paris-Nice winner about his transition from being a hater to a believer – both of the rings and gravel bikes. See the captions below for the story. Julich will be racing the Spirit World 100 this weekend with his Put Your Socks On podcast cohost Gus Morton.
Julich rides Pinarello road bikes, so getting a Grevil+ was a good fit – after he was converted to gravel. “I hated gravel,” Julich said. “I thought it was totally stupid. Can’t you just use a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike?” But after a couple organized rides with friends on a borrowed bike, he was hooked.
Similar to gravel bikes, Julich was initially skeptical of O-Symetric rings. But after trying them in 2003 towards the end of his racing career, he was sold – although team sponsors were not. He raced the 2004 Tour de France with a sponsor-correct FSA outer ring but an O-Symetric inner ring. Then after doing the 2004 Olympics — where riders can use whatever gear they like – he went O-Symetric all the time.
Julich rides gravel mostly around his home in Greenville, South Carolina, with his friends George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde. He says the 50/38 rings are adequate for even steep gravel climbing as the design eliminates the dead spot in the pedal stroke, preventing the rear tire from losing traction. “It’s like a 4×4; I can get up anything,” Julich said.
The rear cassette is a road-standard 11-28 – certainly smaller than many gravel bikes use. “But it’s all I need,” Julich said. “The rings make all the difference.”
A 110mm stem from Pinarello’s house-brand MOST sits atop matching spacers.
MOST is on the flared-out bandwagon.
The Knog bell is mostly used to antagonize Hincapie. “When George is going too slow I give him a little ding,” Julich said.
The Hammerhead Karoo is a large, Android-based cycling computer.
650b wheels are paired with WTB Resolute tires, which Julich said feel “fine on pavement, not much slower really than a road tire.”
With 650b, the Grevail has all kinds of clearance.
MOST also makes saddles, like this short-nose model that looks awfully similar to Specialized’s popular Power model.
If a storied road brand and a straight-laced road racer can do gravel, then we all can.
Shimano XT pedals. Because they just work and work and work.
Tucking the front brake caliper behind a ‘Forkflap’ might not improve performance on gravel, but it can’t hurt.
“This bike is just fun!” Julich said. “I am a total newbie. My definition of gravel is what we have done around Greenville. I’m anxious to see what this race looks like Saturday. I am a Cat 5 gravel rider.” Check the results at the end of the weekend from the Spirit World 100 to see how Julich and his PYSO cohost Morton went.