The Gryphon is a bike very close to my heart, it's what I personally like riding most of the time. It's a 29” wheeled mountain bike for use with drop bars and a rigid fork. It can run singlespeed thanks to the EBB or also has guides for a full run of cable to use bar mounted gear levers. It’s not really for racing, not for jumping, not specifically for touring or commuting – though you could do any of those things. What it’s really for is just riding – whether a quick spin in the woods or a week long gravel road epic it will be fun on a Gryphon.
Inspired by some of the classic drop-bar mountain bikes of old like those designed by Charlie Cunningham, this is a modern take on a classic, if idiosyncratic, style. It's shorter in the top tube than a Swift, and employs a longer head tube. The ideal off-road drop bar riding set-up will put your hands in a similar position when in the drops to what they would be using a flat or riser bar. The Gryphon allows you to do that without resorting to an excessively short or high rise stem. As to why you might want to ride off-road with drop handlebars, there are a number of good reasons;
- A more natural angle and position of the hands, allows you secure purchase on the bars without needing a death grip.
- A more secure feeling on the bars, no tendency to slide off the front. In rough terrain the hands are simply forced further into the hooks.
- Variety of hand positions. Riding long distances with the hands in one position can cause them to become numb. Drops allow you to sit up and ride on the hoods or the tops to rest both hands and body.
As drop bars on a mountain bike run against the grain of current convention, there are a couple of things to be wary of when building a Gryphon. There are only a couple of options with brakes. Cable actuated disc calipers which are designed for the pull of a road brake lever are required. Conversely, there are some levers which pull the cable required for a mountain bike disc caliper.
When I say 'drop-bars' in this sense, I don't mean quite the same shape of bars as you might use on a road bike (unless it's a more 'cross oriented build), you need an off-road specific drop bar such as those seen in the pictures you can find in the gallery. These are much wider than a standard road handlebar, as well as being shallower and having an outward flare to them for more comfort and control when riding in the drops. I like the On-One Midge and the Ragley Luxy. If you have any questions about building a Gryphon I'm always happy to help.
The Gryphon is undergoing a revision for the next batch which will be available from late October. The ride and intent will remain the same, but a few features to improve practicality and ride!
Aside from these changes other key features are as below.