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Bike Check: What We're Riding at SBT GRVL (Steamboat Gravel) 2023

What's the best gravel bike for SBT GRVL? We have a good amount of experience racing Steamboat Gravel, and chose gravel bikes that will (hopefully) help us achieve our goals this year.

Bike Check: What We're Riding at SBT GRVL (Steamboat Gravel) 2023

Written by:Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

This weekend, our team is taking on SBT GRVL (a.k.a. Steamboat Gravel), Colorado’s biggest gravel race. After a rough Unbound Gravel with two DNFs, we’re hoping for better luck at SBT GRVL. While the full Black course is long and tough — 142 miles with 9,200 feet of climbing — the terrain is pretty smooth, so we hopefully won’t have any broken bikes this time around!

We’ll have two SBT BRVL vets doing the Black course this year: our Ecommerce Merchandiser, Adam Vadeboncoeur, and myself, Bruce Lin. This is Adam’s second SBT GRVL and my third. We have a good idea of what to expect and have built our gravel bikes accordingly. Let’s take a closer look at the rigs we’ll be racing at this year’s SBT GRVL.

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Adam’s 2019 Trek Checkpoint SL for SBT GRVL

Before TPC, Adam was a longtime Trek employee, so the American brand has a special place in his heart, as does the Trek Checkpoint gravel bike. He owned one last year, but swapped it for a Cervelo Aspero just before SBT GRVL. However, after a little over 8 hours in the saddle, he missed the cushy IsoSpeed Decoupler the Checkpoint has in the rear. So he picked up a new-to-him, Certified Pre-Owned 2019 Checkpoint SL this year.   

Adam is running 40mm WTB Byway tires, which have a slick center tread and moderate side knobs. This style of tire is perfect for the terrain at SBT GRVL, which features mostly hardpack dirt and gravel and around 40 miles of pavement. Fast-rolling tires are essential if you want to be competitive. His tires are mounted to Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V carbon wheels. These have a 25mm internal rim width which plumps up his tires and supports them nicely, allowing him to run lower pressures for a bit more comfort.

The most interesting thing about Adam’s build is his gearing. Adam uses his Checkpoint for road riding and will occasionally swap in a set of road wheels and tires. Because of this, he uses a chainring and cassette combo that is much more road-oriented. He’ll have no problem holding on to fast groups, but his easiest climbing gear is a 35x28t, which is much harder than many amateur riders want for SBT's long climbs. Why not increase the range? Frugality, mostly. RED AXS chainrings and cassettes are expensive!

I wouldn’t worry about Adam’s ability to climb though. He has a big motor because he’s actually an elite ultra-distance runner. In fact, he was recently selected to represent the US at the World 50K Championships!


Trek Checkpoint SL SBT GRVL Bike CheckFrame: 2019 Trek Checkpoint SL, 56cm
Shifters: SRAM RED AXS
Crankset: SRAM RED AXS, 48/35t, 175mm
Front derailleur: SRAM RED AXS
Rear derailleur: SRAM RED AXS
Cassette: SRAM RED AXS, 10-28t
Chain: SRAM Force AXS
Handlebar: Easton EC70 AX, 42cm
Stem: Bontrager XXX, 90mm
Saddle: Bontrager Ajna Pro Carbon
Wheels: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V
Tires: WTB Byway, 40mm

Bruce’s 2022 Lauf Seigla for SBT GRVL

I will be riding the same 2022 Lauf Seigla I brought to Unbound earlier this year. With a history of wrist and hand injuries, the Lauf Grit fork has helped prevent excessive pain and numbness in my hands during endurance gravel races. After a bad mechanical that took me out of Unbound, I had to quickly rebuild the Lauf this summer to have a bike ready in time for SBT GRVL. Getting it up and running again required a new derailleur hanger, rear derailleur, chain, and rear wheel. I got it all together by mid-July, so I had a few weeks on the new setup before the race.

My 45mm Challenge Getaway XP tires are much beefier than what most would choose for SBT GRVL. I originally bought them for Unbound, and since I only made it 25 miles, they’re still pretty fresh. I’m choosing to run them just because I don’t want to buy new tires. Fortunately, they do roll pretty fast! While they probably won’t be as fast as the 40mm Schwalbe G-One RS tires I used last year, I don’t think I can blame the rubber if I choke this year.

I mounted the tires to a brand-new set of ENVE AG25 carbon wheels. These are ENVE’s “budget” gravel wheelset, and they use a 25mm internal width and ENVE’s “Wide Hookless Bead” which helps prevent pinch flats. That will be a nice bit of extra insurance since I removed my Cushcore tire inserts for SBT GRVL.

The biggest change in my setup compared to last year is my gearing. For the previous two years I ran a 40t chainring. SBT GRVL has a lot of fast flat sections and long descents, and I occasionally got spun out in the 40x10t, making it difficult to stick to some fast groups. This year, I switched from SRAM XPLR to a SRAM Mullet with a bigger Eagle cassette, so I decided to upsize to a 44t chainring to get a bit more top-end. The cool bonus is that my new 44x50t granny gear is also easier than my old 40x44t! To save a few watts, I also switched to a waxed chain. 


Lauf Seigla SBT GRVL bike checkFrame: 2022 Lauf Seigla, Small
Shifters: SRAM Force AXS
Crankset: SRAM Force AXS, 44t, 170mm
Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle AXS
Cassette: SRAM X01 Eagle, 10-50t
Chain: SRAM Force AXS
Brakes: SRAM Force AXS
Handlebar: Lauf Smoothie, 40mm
Stem: Easton EC90 SL, 120mm
Seatpost: Easton EC90 SL ISA
Saddle: Fizik Argo Vento
Wheels: ENVE AG25
Tires: Challenge Getaway XP, 45mm

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