Emily’s All-City Super Professional + First Campout
Fresh off a chilly overnighter to Texada Island, British Columbia, we take a closer look at Emily’s first new bike, a gorgeous All-City Super Professional. Find the complete build kit, her initial thoughts on the bike, and photos from our recent trip here…
Although a little late to the party, I can’t say I’m surprised Emily finally caught the gravel bug. After all, unless the terrain calls for front suspension and big tires, zipping along on something faster and lighter is a real delight. Plus, gravel bikes make excellent rigs for running errands, getting to and from work, or in Emily’s case, sneaking quick afternoon rides in between Zoom meetings.
Like most people who decided they wanted a new bike in 2021, her options were limited. As any good flat-bar lover would, I politely nudged Emily in the direction of flat-bar gravel bikes, suspecting they’d provide the most natural step into the gravel world without taking away the riding position she’s grown accustomed to over the last few years. As luck would have it, our friends Nathan and Patrick at Dismount Bike Shop (@dismount_to) in Toronto had a 49cm All-City Super Professional in stock and ready to ship, so Emily jumped on the opportunity. This was Emily’s first new bike purchase, and although a pre-purchase test ride would have been advisable, you’ve gotta act fast these days.
Emily was pretty set on the aesthetics offered by a steel bike, leaning towards options from Surly and All-City. Bikes like these are wonderfully versatile, usually providing enough clearance for 40-50mm tires, are specced and priced reasonably well, and work great for a lot of things. All-City labels the Super Professional as an “urban cross machine” or “elegant super commuter,” which are both spot-on in my opinion. It has some thoughtful additions like sliding dropouts, stealth dropper post routing, and All-City’s signature frame details that aren’t common on a production frameset. The frame features fender and rack mounts, reinforced bottle bosses, and sparkly liquid paint/E.D. coated finish that looks far from budget-level.
Her main reason for getting the Super Professional was to have an option for riding solo without feeling restricted to mountain bike trails. Riding in British Columbia usually means there is a chance of running into all sorts of different wildlife, and that’s unnerving for many of us, especially when riding on tight, more confined singletrack. Toss in the added complexity of limited cell service, and a gravel bike starts to make a lot of sense for those looking to link in-town roads with some out-of-town gravel. Sure, you could ride all of the above on a single bike, but Emily works hard and felt like treating herself, so here we are.
After Justin at TAWS Bike Garage (@tawsbikegarage) here in Powell River had it built up (on the same day it arrived, I might add), I was already searching through my parts bin and looking for ways to satisfy my gear nerd obsessions. First to go on was the HUNT SuperDura Dynamo wheelset, providing a reliable platform for slightly larger than stock tires and the eventual addition of a front dynamo light. In my eyes, a bike like this is perfect for a dynamo-powered light system since most rides will be fast enough to keep things lit up, and it’s the sort of bike you’ll jump on last-minute for a rip and won’t be bothered with charging lights or changing batteries.
I had an extra gold Cable Cherry from Forager Cycles on my workbench, which blends in nicely with the Super Professional’s Flash Basil paint job. Emily picked up a polished copper Crane EN-E bell from Dismount when she bought the bike, and I swapped on some used Ergon GA3 grips—as requested by Emily. The day before we took off with our friend Natalie to Texada Island for a quick overnighter, an old carbon Salsa Rustler bar from Neil arrived, which I’m hoping will offset some of the harshness of the straight blade fork. The cherry on top is my pre-production Jack the rack, which can be used as a standalone rack for cargo, for a basket setup, or for supporting a larger handlebar bag above the front tire. A soon-to-be-released updated Better Half frame bag from Bags by Bird was the final piece of the puzzle, tucking inside the frame nicely while leaving room for a large bottle against the seat tube.
The stock Apex build is already pretty well-rounded, and we could have easily left it as is. The SRAM Apex 1×11 drivetrain is underrated and has been working great, Tektro hydraulic brakes are perfected suited for the bike, and besides swapping out the touchpoints (saddle, grips, and pedals), it was pretty much ready to go right out of the box. Having never owned or ridden an All-City before, I’ve been impressed with the frame’s quality and attention to detail. It’s a good-looking bike and the little touches such as the seatpost clamp and elegant sliding dropouts are great to see.
After her first few weeks of riding, including an overnighter to Texada Island last weekend, it’s clear that the gearing is a touch too hard for loaded climbs, but that can be easily addressed with a smaller chainring or by upgrading the drivetrain down the road.
- Frame 612 Select Chromoly Steel
- Fork All-City Super Professional Signature Fork
- Seatpost Clamp All-City Signature Brazed-on Seat Collar
- Crankset FSA Omega MegaExo 44t
- Bottom Bracket FSA MegaExo, BSA 68mm
- Rear Derailleur SRAM APEX 11-speed Long Cage
- Cassette SunRace 11-42t
- Chain SRAM PC-1110
- Headset Cane Creek 40 Series
- Brakes Tektro HD-R280, Hydro Flat Mount
- Brake Levers Tektro HD-R280, Hydro Flat Bar
- Brake Rotors 160mm Front and Rear
- Shifter SRAM APEX 11-speed Flat Bar
- Stem AL6061, 3D forged, 4-bolt stem, 31.8mm, ±7°
- Handlebar Salsa Rustler Carbon
- Grips Ergon GA3, Small
- Wheelset HUNT SuperDura Dynamo Disc
- Front Hub SONdelux Dynamo, 12x100mm
- Rear Hub Hunt 4Season Disc, 12x142mm
- Tires WTB Raddler, 700 x 44mm, Tubeless
- Saddle WTB
- Seatpost Alloy 27.2mm
- Pedals SimWorks/MKS Bubbly
- Front Rack Jack the Rack
- Frame Bag Bags by Bird Better Half Framebag
- Bottle Cage Salsa Nickless Cage
- Bell Cane E-NE Bell
By Emily Heron
The idea of a new bike had been percolating for a while. After finding a new love for biking over the past year, mostly because I’ve met some amazing women to ride with in Powell River, I somehow managed to conjure up a reason for a second bike. I never pictured myself as a two-bike kind of girl, but more women riding gravel locally, endless logging roads, and less risk of sneaking up on a hungry bear solidified my plans.
I’ve been able to get out on a few rides since the bike arrived—around town, on some cross country trails, and an overnighter to Texada Island. I was immediately aware of two things: this bike is much faster than my mountain bike, and I run out of gears quickly. It’s fast on pavement, nimble enough to tackle rooty trails (regardless of my initial fears), and keeps me in a comfortable riding position with the flat bars. Coming from only riding mountain bikes with front suspension, I made a few swaps to prioritize comfort, such as adding Ergon grips and carbon bars (thanks, Neil!). These simple changes helped solve some wrist discomfort I experienced during my first few rides. The much-anticipated swap is easier gearing. I prefer to stay on my seat during climbs, and quickly realized that I would have to stand up on the All-City in order to get up steeper grades. Powering up climbs is not a preferred activity.
So far, this bike has fulfilled some budding hopes I had when I started looking for a gravel rig. I’ve been comfortable and quick on a mixed-terrain bike trip, I’ve met and ridden with some inspiring women who crush it, and even managed to sneak in a solo urban cruise to watch the sun set over the ocean. The wildest thing of all? I wear all the same clothing that I wear mountain biking (helmet included).
Fall Campout on Texada Island
For our recent campout, we followed a modified version of our Texada Ridge Runner route. A short ferry ride from Powell River is all it takes to access the bear-free island of Texada, making for one of the most accessible gravel overnighters in the area. The complete route climbs over 9,000 feet in just 144 kilometers, and can be quite the handful for those not expecting it. With limited daylight and near-freezing nighttime temperatures, our trio opted to cut the loop short by taking Shelter Point Road down to Shelter Point campground for the night. The campground is open year round, with discounted rates in the off-season, and their seemingly never-ending supply of dry firewood makes it a safe bet for when things get chilly.
We spent the night huddled around a fire, listening to stories from Natalie’s father—a life-long Texada Islander—who joined us for a few hours with some friends. We ate burritos, drank kiwi-pear cider that Natalie’s father brewed himself, and were glad to be outside, even if we all froze a little that night. After a short morning fire to warm up, we met back up with the Texada Ridge Runner route for our return journey back to Blubber Bay and the ferry to Powell River. Our trip ended with a tradition that Natalie and I have unintentionally created: a stop at Costa del Sol in Powell River for lunch.
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