The rider’s ride
Fiftyone Assassin, £3,299 frameset; £3,999 as pictured, fiftyonebikes.com
From the bespoke-built, custom-painted framebuilder comes the Assassin, Fiftyone’s latest gravel bike. Unlike previous tubeto-tube offerings, however, the Assassin is a monocoque frame, allowing Fiftyone to play around with tube profiles to hit modern marks in geometry and clearance. Thus the dropped driveside chainstay affords a compact rear end plus room for 48mm tyres, while ‘flip-chips’ offer variable geometry.
You may have seen flip-chips in forks before – alloy inserts in dropouts that can be repositioned to change fork trail – but there are few bikes that use flip-chips at the rear too. Thus a front fork ‘flip’ sees a change from a well-mannered, cargo-carrying 87mm trail to a faster handling 76mm, while a rear flip changes chainstay length across three positions, from 420 to 425 to 430mm (the longer, the more stable). It’s a neat idea, expertly executed, and the result is a seriously adept gravel machine.