Garneau Steeple Elite
The rise in popularity of cyclocross over the past 10 years has been focused around racing, however in recent years, more and more events have opened up the possibility of cyclocross throughout North America. The weapon of choice for recently crowned Canadian Cyclocross National champion Michael van den Ham and his team Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare, the Garneau Steeple Elite has been redesigned and is available as a custom bike from Garneau’s Dreamfactory.
The entire package of a light and laterally stiff carbon frame with thru axles makes the bike handle like a dream, and during the test, I was able to dive in and out of corners with confidence. The RTCC2 carbon frame makes the Steeple Elite both comfortable and light due to the employment of No Void Molding2 technology, a process that reduces the amount of excess material inside of the frame. The geometry of the bike coupled with the laterally stiff frame make you want to rail corners and get accelerated back to speed, putting a wide grin across your face. The bottom-bracket drop is 66mm, which is a nice compromise between a low center of gravity for stability and maintaining the ease to bunny-hop obstacles and keep the power down through twisty corners. As well, ventures off into singletrack were a blast as pedal strikes were less likely.
The 12mm thru axles on the front and rear of the bike stiffen up the steering by reducing the amount of flex induced by steering forces, which allows for more precise control and provides a snappy feel while cornering. The responsive steering made flowing singletrack super-sweet to ride, as the bike felt like it was floating around corners.
The Steeple Elite has an abundance of tire clearance, which makes the bike very versatile. Not everyone will use this bike to exclusively do UCI cyclocross races, where a mandated maximum tire width of 33mm is applied, so the Steeple Elite will accommodate up to a 45mm-wide
tire, which equates to a 1.75” mountain-bike tire, perfect for those off-road adventure rides.
With the custom-paint process of Garneau’s Dreamfactory, initially the frame is literally a blank canvas. With all colour options available and the intuitive and easy-to-use online custom tool, it was effortless to dream up the design I liked the most, and the excitement of waiting to see my creation delivered was met by full satisfaction.
SRAM Force 1 is considered the groupset for cyclocross. With its reliability and sure-footed feel, Force 1 is an excellent choice of drivetrain, and the Steeple Elite spares nothing. Shifters, cranks, derailleur and hydro brakes complete the build, making for a thoroughbred CX racing steed. With the superb stopping power of the SRAM Force 1 flat-mount brakes, braking can be postponed later, enabling you to carry a higher level of speed for longer, gaining a subtle but substantial advantage over the competition. Shifting and braking performance are dialed, so you can leave it all out on the race course.
The Vittoria Cross XG Pro tires hook up with confidence-inspiring grip due to the smartly shaped and spaced knobs, while the beefier TNT sidewalls accommodate a robust tubeless set-up and provide additional protection from sidewalk tears when riding over rougher terrain. In addition, the Easton wheels roll into smooth and carved corners with their light and bombproof set-up. These aluminum wheels weigh in at a respectable 1,560g and are built with Sapim double-butted straight-pull spokes on futureproof Easton M1 6 bolt disc hubs. The 27mm-deep tubeless clincher rim’s internal width is 19.5mm, making it an ideal wheelset for tubeless cyclocross tires. Tested with tubes, a tubeless set-up would lighten the load, plus a lighter racing wheelset would really make this a killer on the CX course.
With a wider 3T bar and shorter stem, the Steeple Elite has a feel of a MTB fit (wide bars, shorter stem), and this position in cyclocross provides the similar benefits of more stability and control when handling the bike.
Like a pure racing steed, the Steeple XC Elite awaits only the start signal to tear it up. The combination of a lightweight carbon frame that’s stable in turns, high-performance disc brakes and a SRAM Force group allows its rider to push his limits lap after lap, knowing he has the right bike for the win, or any off-road riding adventure.
Garneau’s Steeple Elite is lightweight, like a pure racing steed ready for a win or any off-road riding adventure.
The Garneau Steeple Elite handles like a dream.
The build makes for a thoroughbred racing steed.
It was effortless to dream up a design I likedthe most.