Garneau Steeple Elite

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Mike Sar­necki

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.

PHOTOS: MIKE SAR­NECKI

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.

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