Introducing the Bassi Bikes Hog’s Back, a steel all-road touring bike that’s equally happy loaded down with a month’s worth of gear as it is running errands around town. We’ve put together a detailed first look with help from Bassi Bikes’ owner Julian Gammon, including photos and an interview to learn more about his company. Learn more here…

Posted by Miles Arbour

Photos by Jonathan Chhun (@jochhoo), studio shots by Riccardo Cellere (@riccardocellere)

Montreal, Quebec, is known for its rich cultural history and devotion to the arts. Maybe there’s something in the water, because there are so many talented makers and designers helping create some really great products. I was introduced to Bassi Bikes after stumbling upon a photo of their latest offering, the Hog’s Back, which grabbed my attention. The Hog’s Back is a fully rigid all-road touring bike, built with a Columbus Cromor steel frame and fork, clearance for 27.5 x 2.2″ or 700 x 45mm tires, three bottle mounts, and rack / fender bosses. The frame relies on trusted standards like quick-release skewers, an English threaded bottom bracket, and a standard 1-⅛” headtube. Scroll down for some photos and an interview with co-owner Julian Gammon, followed by complete build kits and purchasing options.

Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

Tell us about yourself. How did you end up owning a bike shop?

My history with bikes, as is the case for a lot of us, is all over the place! After a childhood of ripping around my parents’ woods in the Eastern Townships of Quebec near the Vermont border (we call the area Verbec), I spent my teenage years on a bike hiatus, but this all changed when I was 18 and spent a summer in the Netherlands with an uncle refurbishing old Dutch bikes. I brought back my first custom build, an old Fongers Omafiets that I pieced together from the frame up. Since then, I’ve spent my summers working in bike shops in between school and travel.

I actually came to C&L Cycle after my first tour as an employee of my two current partners, Jean-Michel Cauvin and Jean-Daniel Lafleur. We immediately had a good connection and when I decided I needed to make my time in a bike shop a more committed and permanent part of my life, it was a natural fit for me to partner with the two of them. Since that happened in 2015, we’ve opened a second storefront, released three new frame models with our house bike brand, Bassi, and grown the community around the shop with customers who have become friends through group rides and events.

Touring is definitely a focal point in my personal bike history, it informs the direction I want to take the shop in and the types of bikes that interest me. I’ve toured in Scotland, Chile, Argentina, Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont, Cuba, Colombia, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Peru, and Mexico. My favourite things about being on tour, besides riding my bike of course, are spending lots of time with my bike pals, eating weird and fun foods I can’t get at home, and meeting locals living in the places I go.

  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

What does C&L Cycle specialize in, and who are your customers?

Above all, C&L is a neighbourhood shop. We feel proud that we know the names, bikes, and service history of a large number of the customers who walk into our doors. The community surrounding the shop is strong. Beyond that, we specialize in urban mobility. The bikes we sell are practical, functional, and good looking for everyday commuters here in Montreal. More recently, cycle touring, dirt-road riding, and bikepacking have gained huge momentum at the shop, and we’ve become known as a go-to in Montreal for custom builds, panniers and bikepacking bags, dynamo lighting, ride recommendations from our staff, fun events, and all things touring.

How did Bassi Bikes enter the story?

Bassi and C&L have been going hand in hand since day one. We have always had a house brand, and designing our own bikes is an important part of our shop identity. The bikes are inspired by our surroundings and our customers’ needs, hence the place-inspired names for nearly all our models. The Villeneuve frameset is the namesake of our first shop’s street name, the Rachel of our second. Our newest model, the Hog’s Back, is named after a mountain on the Gaspésie Peninsula in the east of Québec, where I like to spend summers on my bike and winters ski touring. We like to think that there’s a geographical connection between the bikes and the places people will be riding them.

Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

How do you go about designing a new bike?

Riding bikes influences bike design! I’m not an engineer, but I am a cyclist who goes out of his way to try as many bikes as possible, old and new, from parts bin budget builds to fancy-pants customs. I like to take different design elements from different bikes and mash them all together into something new. For instance, the new Hog’s Back is a melting pot of three bicycles that I own: a mountain bike that’s as old as I am and that I used on my first tour on the Isle of Skye; a modern Taiwanese chromoly touring bike that I have spent thousands of kilometers on in the Americas and Europe; and a single-speed, fully rigid mountain bike that brings the influence and fun factor of East Coast singletrack riding.

Give our readers a more detailed description of your latest bike, the Hog’s Back.

The Hog’s Back is designed to be your one bike. I don’t think touring bikes are only for touring. I wanted a bike that’s comfortable in the high Andes on multi-month tours, but also an everyday commuter for life in cities, a grocery getter, a playful urban singletrack bike, a salt-and-slush-worthy winter ride, and more. It has slightly shorter chainstays and a higher bottom bracket than classic touring bikes for a bit more shred! Eyelets everywhere, of course.

Tire size is definitely a huge criteria for people choosing this kind of bike, and it made sense to design the frame around a specific size. Through my own experience on tour, my favourite for all-round use is a 2.0” to 2.4” XC tire. Fast rolling on pavement, plenty grippy on 20-degree, loose gravel climbs, and ready to get off the road altogether if there’s a singletrack shortcut to your next campsite! The frames are designed for 26 x 2.2” tires on the two smaller sizes, and 27.5 x 2.2” on the two larger. Riders who don’t see themselves needing that width can opt for larger wheel size and smaller tires: 650B x 42mm on the little bikes and 700C x 38mm on the larger.

It was really important for us to make this an accessible frame for anyone to build up. Thru-axles, tapered headtubes, press-fit bottom brackets, and lots of other modern knick-knacks make a lot of sense from a frame design perspective, and I have a great deal of respect for the brands that are innovating, but we’re still dissuaded by these features being out of reach for a lot of riders’ build budgets. We want the Hog’s Back to be a bike that people will assemble any way they please, whether it be with parts in a bin in the back of their garage, or top-shelf components made in North America. Quick release 135mm rear and 100mm front spacing, an English threaded BB shell, and a standard 1-⅛” headtube are user-friendly and have a huge variety of component options to choose from, used or new.

  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

What kind of riders should take a closer look at the Hog’s Back?

Folks like myself who have come to touring and commuting through steel, rigid mountain bikes built in the 90s could benefit from an upgrade to the Hog’s Back. The bike would provide these riders with features that aren’t on these classic MTBs, like the eyelets and discs, without sacrificing classic good looks and fat-tire fun. Also, people who own classic touring bikes but have issues with the limitations of too-slack, too-comfortable geometry and narrower tires. They’ll love the snappier geo of the Hog’s Back and its off-road abilities.

Any big plans for C&L, Bassi, or yourself this year?

Eventually coming out of the current Covid-19 situation, I believe people are going to reassess their priorities and change some aspects of their lifestyles. For a lot of us, this means rediscovering the city, province, state, or area where we live—our backyards. I see myself focusing on local rides, meeting local food and drink producers, and strengthening the local community of cyclists through C&L. A lot of small businesses that are dear to us are going to face huge challenges through this, and this sort of lifestyle change is hopefully going to contribute to their continuation.

As for Bassi, our first-ever and best-seller frame, the Roma-Tokyo, is due for its fourth reissue. This frame was a hit in the glory days of the track bike ten years ago, but it’s ready for an identity change along with the direction the shop is going in. Expect fat tires, crazy paint, and a definite klunker influence!

Hog’s Back Gravel Build

The pink Hog’s Back Gravel comes with a 1×11 SRAM Apex / NX drivetrain, mechanical BB7 brakes, and 26″ x 2.2″ tires on 47cm and 51cm sizes, 27.5″ x 2.2″ tires on 54cm and 58cm sizes. It appears to be the more sporty build, more suitable for some flowy singletrack and lightly loaded bikepacking. The Hog’s Back Gravel retails for $1,750 CAD (~$1,250 USD). Find the full build kit below, followed by some photos of the Hog’s Back loaded up with some matchy-matchy custom bags from Atwater Atelier (@atwateratelier).

Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

Build Kit

  • Frame / Fork Hog’s Back Pink
  • Headset Tange J-27
  • Brake Levers Avid Speed Dial 7
  • Brakes Avid BB7 MTB
  • Rear Shifter SRAM Apex 1
  • Rear Derailleur SRAM Apex 1
  • Chain SRAM PC-1110
  • Cassette SRAM PG-1130, 11-42T
  • Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP Team
  • Crankset SRAM Apex 1 42T
  • Rims Alexrims MD21
  • Hubs Shimano M525
  • Tires Continental Race King, 26×2.2” / 27.5×2.2
  • Handlebar Bassi Backsweeps
  • Grips ESI Chunky
  • Stem 49N DLX Road Stem
  • Saddle Bassi Rachel
  • Seatpost Forged, Black, 27.2
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

Hog’s Back Back-Road Tourer Build

The green Hog’s Back Road Tourer looks like more of a traditional touring setup with a Shimano 3×9 drivetrain, Jones H-Bar, and 650B x 47mm tires on 47cm and 51cm frames, 700C x 45mm tires on 54cm and 58cm frames. The Hog’s Back Back-Road Tourer build also retails for $1,750 CAD (~$1,250 USD). Find the full build kit below.

Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

Build Kit

  • Frame / Fork Hog’s Back Green
  • Headset Tange J-27
  • Brake Levers Avid Speed Dial 7
  • Brakes Avid BB7 MTB
  • Front Shifter Shimano SL-M2010
  • Rear Shifter Shimano SL-M2010
  • Front Derailleur Shimano FD-M371
  • Rear Derailleur Shimano RD-M2000
  • Chain Shimano CN-HG53
  • Cassette Shimano CS-HG400, 11-34T
  • Bottom Bracket Shimano BB-UN55
  • Crankset Shimano FC-M361-S
  • Rims Alexrims MD21
  • Hubs Shimano M525
  • Tires Continental Contact Plus, 27.5×1.6” / 700×42
  • Handlebar Jones H-Bar SG Loop Aluminium
  • Grips ESI XXL Chunky
  • Stem 49N DLX Road Stem
  • Saddle Bassi Rachel
  • Seatpost Forged, Black, 27.2
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back

Both builds can be purchased through their website www.clcycle.ca and at both of their Montreal stores at 75 Villeneuve Ouest and 978 Rachel Est. The Hog’s Back is also available as a frameset, in four different sizes, for $800 CAD (~$570 USD), in three colourways: Pink, Forest Green, and Bleu Nuit. Find some final studio shots below of both complete builds and the three frame colours, followed by a geometry chart for those interested.

  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
  • Bassi Hogs Back
Bassi Hogs Back Geometry Chart

You can learn more about Bassi Bikes and C&L Cycle on Instagram at @bassi.bikes and @clcycle.

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