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Ratio Rides: Hideyuki’s Prova

It’s no exaggeration to say that this could be our most highly anticipated Ratio Ride yet. We were blown away when we first saw photos of Hideyuki’s custom Prova so, naturally, we got in touch to see whether Hideyuki would be interested in sharing his story. Unsurprisingly for a man with a new bike, he was out on a bikepacking trip! The wait is now over and we’re pleased to introduce Hideyuki:

Hello, I am Hideyuki. I live in a mountainous area of Tokyo and enjoy gravel riding, hiking, and trail running every day. My bike history started about eight years ago with a classic road racer with 23mm tires, but now all my bikes have tires over 40mm. In short, I love riding off the beaten track (same as you, in all likelihood!).

The frame was built by Mark Hester of PROVA Cycles, an Australian frame builder. It’s a stainless steel frame built with Columbus XCr with fully custom geometry. The geometry sits in a gradation between a stable gravel bike and a high speed road racer, which is optimized for enjoying the Japanese terrain. Also, the high rigidity and corrosion resistance of stainless steel were what I most wanted. The color scheme is based on Chris King‘s bourbon collection, and the paint pattern is sampled from a favorite textile named “Free way”. The overall concept of the bike is “go anywhere”, symbolized by its aggressive geometry, dropper post and big tires.

I definitely wanted to use the SRAM Eagle 12 speed kit for this new machine. In order to travel the terrain of Japan with large elevation differences by bike packing, I need a granny gear ratio that is big enough to get me teased by racers. On the other hand, on flat ground, I also need small enough cogs that can give me some more speed. The combination of an Eagle cassette which has a range of 10-52T and a budget GX Eagle rear derailleur was just right for these requirements. 

Another requirement was “full acoustic wiring”. The reason is that I’m a little worried about using wireless and electric technologies when considering maintainability during long trips. And I ran into a problem at this stage; how do I drive a 12 speed with a drop bar shifter?

Ratio provided the answer to that question. The savior appeared when I wandered around Instagram with a serious expression while lying in bed! I immediately ordered the 1×12 Wide Upgrade Kit, and then the Rear Exit Cable Stop.

The modifying of the levers was completed smoothly. The installation video guide they prepared was very helpful. However, I had some problems when modifying the rear derailleur. The GX appeared in their video guide as an example, but replacing its cable stop requires a destructive operation to remove the rivet. Not only did they not mention it in their guides, but they even wrote that they were incompatible, and the GX rear derailleur in the video is misleading*. Anyway, I will report here that the modification was successful and working properly.

I had a bit of trouble with the shape of the metal part of the cable fin that holds the cable (I have no idea what to call it…). The original fin has a protrusion, which serves to secure the cable. On the other hand, the Ratio’s one doesn’t have it, and I’ve run into the problem that the cable doesn’t secure and spins. I dealt with this by increasing the frictional resistance by roughening the surfaces of the upper and lower metal parts with a little file. I think it will be the best product if these problems are improved*.

When asked if I would recommend it to a friend, of course YES! Unless SRAM provides “what we really want,” Ratio will continue to be the only savior. From the perspective of Maker culture, it’s a natural right to modify an off-the-shelf product to get the functionality you want. Warranty? How much does it matter, really?

As soon as the bike was completed, I went on a local trail, gravel, and a few days of bikepacking trips. It’s been about a month, but I haven’t had any trouble so far. It’s undeniable that the shifting feels a bit rough compared to using a genuine SRAM thumb shifter, but it’s a very trivial issue when compared to the benefits this kit brings.

Spring has come here in Japan as well. I’m looking forward to enjoying the steep gravel road in the mountains, which was closed by snow during the winter, with this bike.

Thanks Hideyuki! You can find Hideyuki on Instagram at @hee_said. If you have a build and a story to share, just contact us.

*We’re always working to improve our products: since Hideyuki’s order in November we’ve made some small changes to the Cable Fin design to help secure the cable bolt. Additionally, please note that Hideyuki ordered his first kit before the launch of our Rear Cable Exit kit; unfortunately, this meant that he missed out on the compatibility guidance for the new kit. We’ve checked with Hideyuki, and we’d rather share his honest opinion and the changes we’ve made.