A week ago, Nick Jensen of Manzanita Cycles in Nevada posted a picture of an interesting mid-tail gravel bike and invented a new category called “Limousine Gravel.” Find photos, a geo chart, the complete build kit, and a detailed explanation of Nick’s Limousine Gravel bike here…

Words and photos by Nick Jensen

As a framebuilder, I have the opportunity to design and build bikes that are a bit out of left field. It’s a great way to experiment with geometry, frame stiffness, and component choices. These experimental bikes help inform how I design more mainstream bikes.

In this case, the goal was to create a dirt touring bike with a long wheelbase. Long wheelbases add stability and potentially a little extra comfort—both excellent attributes for a touring bike. To achieve this, I lengthened the chainstays to 520mm and designed the front end for a 35mm stem and drop bars. As a result, the wheelbase totaled 1190mm. In comparison, my normal gravel bike has a 1075mm wheelbase. That’s a difference of 115mm (4.5 inches). While it may not sound like a significant difference, in the world of bicycle frame design, it’s substantial. For instance, consider the Specialized Diverge. The wheelbase difference between the smallest and largest models is 72mm (2.8 inches). Despite this, the smallest model is designed for someone around 5’0”, while the largest is intended for someone around 6’6” tall.

manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike
  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike
  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike

This bike also features 520mm-wide drop bars by PNW Components. I’ve been hesitant to ride wide drop bars for no particular reason. I placed the bars about 50mm above the saddle in order to ride on the tops and in the drops with equal comfort. I look forward to descending on this bike in the drops. On my normal gravel bike with its low front end, my neck and shoulders get sore on long descents from craning my head up. The more upright position should allow my body to stay more relaxed.

manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike
  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike
  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike

Although the bike world has moved on to hydraulic disc brakes, 1x drivetrains, and electronic shifting, all technologies I fully appreciate, I went in the opposite direction for this bike. It features Paul Klamper mechanical brakes, a 2x Shimano drivetrain, and bare cables running along the downtube. In order to make this happen, I designed and had a three-groove cable guide 3D printed. The less housing you use with cable-actuated systems, the less friction you have to overcome. The rear brake, in particular, feels really smooth to actuate. We’ll see how long this lasts once I get the bike dirty. Dirt has a nasty habit of gumming up cables inside housing once it makes its way in.

  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike
  • manzanita cycles limousine gravel bike

Build Kit

  • Frame: Manzanita Limousine Gravel
  • Fork: Manzanita Unicrown
  • Handlebar: PNW Components Coast 52cm
  • Stem: Manzanita 35/50
  • Headset: White Industries EC34
  • Seatpost: Dajia 27.2 24mm setback
  • Saddle: Ergon SR Pro
  • Seatpost Collar: Salsa Lip Lock 30
  • Grips/Tape: MSW anti-slip gel
  • Pedals: Wolf Tooth Waveform
  • Brakes: Paul Klamper
  • Brake Housing: Jagwire Compressionless
  • Rotors: 160mm front/back
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra R8000 11-Speed
  • Front Derailleur: Ultegra R8000
  • Chain: Shimano Ultegra
  • Cassette: SLX M7000 11s 11-42T
  • Crankset: Rene Herse 171mm
  • Chainrings: Rene Herse 44-28T
  • Bottom Bracket: White Industries Ti square taper 113mm
  • Tires: Rene Herse 29×2.2″ Fleecer Ridge endurance casing
  • Wheels: Astral Outback w/ White Industries 6-bolt hubs

All told, I’m looking forward to spending long days in the saddle on this bike. The plan is to ride the Oregon Outback and a large part of the Tru-Lassen this season. A limousine gravel bike could be the perfect companion for these types of routes. I can’t wait for the experiments to begin!

Keep an eye on what Nick is working on by following Manzanita Cycles on Instagram.

Further Reading

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