Nev Cragg’s Niner BSB 9 RDO with Lauf Grit shock.
Co-owner of Cape Town-based bike shop Bike Mob, in Tokai, Neville Cragg rides at 4am four times a week – even in the depths of winter. When he’s not on the road, he rips it up on his unique Niner BSB with Lauf fork. INSTAGRAM @ NINER_ SA
Frame and fork Heavy (But Light) Mettle
‘ My Bike’ is usually all about the frame; but this month, it centres on Nev Cragg’s rather eccentric gravel-specific Lauf Grit suspension fork. This super- lightweight, maintenancefree, sci-fi- looking contraption uses leaf-spring technology, offering 30mm of progressive travel to iron out the bumps. The springs on the Grit are constructed from S2 glass fibre, which is impact- resistant and offers unidirectional flex – meaning it only moves in the direction of travel.
The Grit is fitted to Niner’s gravel speedster, the BSB 9 RDO – ‘ BSB RDO’ standing for ‘ Blood, Sweat and Beers’ and ‘ Race Day Optimised’. Cragg finds the Grit improves his front-wheel grip off- road, and helps to keep his arms and upper body fresh after hours of pounding the BSB on Cape Town’s gravel roads and through the Constantia green belt.
Wheels and Tyres Wheels of Fortitude
Given the Cape’s sharp rocks and rough roads, Cragg rides a set of Stan’s NoTubes Crest mountain- bike rims laced to a pair of the company’s 3.30 hubs. Up front the Lauf Grit accepts a larger tyre than a standard rigid fork would, allowing a 29x1.9 Bontrager XR Team Issue mountain- bike tyre to take care of business. A 700x40C Maxxis Rambler with SilkShield sidewall protection endures the abuse at the rear.
Cragg’s Niner is the perfect example of adapting your gravel bike to local conditions – though he does add that running tubeless is non- negotiable. For smoother terrain, his tyre of choice is the Schwalbe G- One 38c tubeless.
Groupset Force & Determination
Cragg runs a pair of SRAM Red Hydro levers built for the road and intended for 2x11. With a 1x set- up, the left- hand shifter is essentially a ghost; but Cragg says it would be a serious mission to remove the disconnected shift paddle.
His gearing sees a 40T Wolftooth front ring bolted to a 130BCD Quarq power meter; while at the rear, a SRAM Force CX1 rear mech with medium cage (and critically, a clutch) shifts the length of a 10- 42 XO1 cassette.
A pair of SRAM Red Hydro R brake callipers provide Cragg’s stopping power, biting on 160mm front and 140mm rear Formula rotors.
Parts Dutch Courage
Celebrating his favourite beer, Cragg runs a Niner YAWYD (You Are What You Drink) headset top- cap, with a proud Stellenbrau bottle cap fitted to it. A complete Zipp cockpit and finishing kit suits the BSB’s racy pedigree, with its handlebar, stem, seat post and bottle cages all hailing from the American brand’s stable.
Cragg sits atop a Specialized Romin saddle, with a spare tube and tyre lever taped to the saddle’s rails in the event of puncture. Secured to the handlebar is a light clamp, for dawn patrols, as well as a self- engineered race numberboard holder that keeps it ‘out front’, so that Cragg can hold onto the tops of his drop bars.
Look S-Track MTB pedals make portaging sections easier, as Cragg wears MTB shoes.
BY OLI MUNNIK PHOTO BY JAMES GARAGHTY