Ratio Rides: Kevin’s Curve GXR (Kevin Of Steel)
My name is Kev, cycling nerd, from midwest Germany.
For me, muscle-powered two-wheelers are very special. I’ve been riding bikes since childhood, so let’s say for the last 25 years. This was enough time to try out all kinds of bikes. Conclusion: I don’t have a favourite riding style or genre. I use all different varieties of bikes to manage daily life and in my free time: mountain, road, touring, folding, cargo bikes. Love them all. I don’t take these bike categories too seriously though; for me a bicycle first becomes specific when the rider begins their adventure and is in their element: for example, if you take your road bike onto the mountain trails, you’re a mountain biker.
I just love being outside, especially to the more untouched and rougher sides of the planet. In that sense, my cycling roots are really in mountain bikes – you will discover MTB-influenced designs and parts throughout my bike builds.
Riding bikes is my daily routine and I always try to connect cycling with my other activities. Whether it’s climbing, swimming, meeting friends or shopping for organic food, I always travel by bike.
Subconsciously, I realised early that the bicycle could be the solution to many problems. Bicycles can give us the freedom to decide where and how to move in space; resource-efficient mobility; contact with external environmental conditions. Yes, it sounds trivial but this mindful perception is the key. You can easily experience this on a bike, every day.
My passion for cycling and my personal experience have lead, over the years, to the fact that I prefer to install components that exactly suit my habits and intentions. I assembled the whole bike by myself. For this I wanted a versatile, fast but comfortable do-anything setup. Some might call it an all-road rig, some a gravel machine or just Kevin Of Steel.
There are some second hand and older bike components I used. The brakes, bags, mounts, bottles, saddle, seatpost, stem, bars, pedals are from other bikes or second hand. If I don’t have the right part in my own archive, I’m always willing and eager to buy parts on the second-hand market in good condition.
So why did I choose this steel frame from Curve? I would like to summarise some main reasons:
Geometry: I need a bike (position) that is suitable for me and my riding style/adventures. Of course, this is quite subjective and over the years you learn what you want. There are some good online tools to help you compare frame sizes, dimensions and construction details to find your desired frame. Some general info about your body dimensions and bike-fitting data is always helpful here. The Curve GXR fits my idea of dimensions very well.
Material/build quality: In many ways, steel is the original bike-building material. I love it. There are always pros and cons but for me it’s pure, not as energy consuming as titanium in production, recyclable (compared to carbon), easy to fix…
The carbon fork expands the concept very nicely. Lightweight construction, agility, bikepacking mounts and a bit of modern look.
The frame features a higher T47 bottom bracket and has longer seat and top tubes to maximise space for frame bags and water bottles. This all helps solve the problem of how to cram all your stuff inside the main triangle when loading up for a bikepacking trip.
The Curve has mounting points on the frame for equipment, external cable routing for ease of use and repair, and tire clearance for multiple wheelsets.
Look and Feel: I love the aesthetics/haptic feedback of steel tubes. The fresh color scheme grabs attention without being too exaggerated, and obviously name on the frame is ideal (haha!).
For the sake of completeness I have to say I like dealing with the passionate and nerdy small Australian team at Curve Cycling. They have a great cycling and bikepacking culture.
The wheelset is really important to me. I configured my own wheels using Stayer allroad carbon rims in 700C laced up with 24 of the finest Sapim spokes to mechanical engineered hubs by SON and Hope. They’re fast and wide enough to fit tires between 30 and 50 mm. As you remember I love being in the woods and have that MTB background. Bigger tires, run tubeless, work out for me as a neat suspension system; comfortable, but fast too if you want.
To handle these wheels nicely I’ve gone for a short stem with decent stack height to get my desired position. Wide bars with shorter reach and lower drop give me optimal handling.
Braking power comes from a mechanical Rival-TRP combination. To speed up again I usually kick flat pedals. That’s mostly for reasons of comfort and flexibility, but also because I’m used to it from mountain biking.
My technical ethos and desire for simplicity meant the build had to run a 1x drivetrain. For most rides near my home I use a 42 teeth Garbaruk chainring paired with a GX derailleur/cassette. In order to achieve the best possible match to my physiology I run a shorter Force carbon crank.
My aim was to stick to 100% mechanical technology for self-sufficiency when I’m out on adventures. That means cable-operated disc brakes and mechanical shifting.
To have light at night I use the SON dynamo hub to push some electrons through the Edelux front and tiny Mü rear light. I ride my bike all year round, so a hub dynamo is a must for me. I also love riding in the dark with good lights. Here again my concept of great independence comes into play. I don’t want to be dependent on a socket or additional battery systems.
For trips and travelling I fit all sorts of storage including frame and saddle bags, downtube and fork cages and a lil’ front rack. Here and there I sometimes make minor changes to components depending on the adventure.
I use the 1×12 Wide Upgrade Kit (Forward Cable Exit) for my external cable routing system. These extra options for gears and range are just what I was looking for for my all-day all-road machine. The smart, simple, budget-friendly construction allows me to build my dream 1x drivetrain. For example, I love climbing hills – especially unpaved ones – and with the 52t sprocket in the back it’s so comfortable and fun.
The performance is so good. I can feel no difference to the original SRAM. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a little bit of extra range without paying too much for a complete (electronic) setup.
The Ratio upgrade fits perfectly with my build ethos. I’m particularly keen on the ability to run a simple 1×12 drivetrain with a clean appearance. Thanks to Ratio’s videos the implementation of the Upgrade Kit was easy, at least for someone who’s already building their own bike anyway.
Anyway it’s so cool to feel a bit more independent by using a simple Bowden cable system instead of an electronic one that requires a battery, charging cable/adapter, power source and the perpetual supply and availability of energy. For me saving resources is an attitude to life. So the kit by Ratio helps me to live that life. Thanks for that!
My trips have been all over Germany, to the Alps, Dolomites and other destinations. From short day trips to multi-day camping, from self-support tours to city hopping, I did and do it all. However, I always prefer rides and bikepacking as close to nature as possible, whether it’s route planning or accommodation. I love the diversity of topologies, grounds, seasons, weather and the guaranteed unpredictability that comes along every way and destination. It’s part of the adventure.
If I had to choose, it’s the mountainous and forested places that interest me the most.
My main focus is less on the specifically chosen destination, even though this often seems necessary to plan a trip. For me, it is the low-resource, healthy and efficient movement that allows me to gather many sensory impressions to marvel at the beauty of nature and my surroundings. No matter where. That’s why I spend most of my time on this bike near my home, for example in the Sauerland. It’s not the Alps, but it’s varied and beautiful all the same. I can ride easy laps there, but also difficult trails to get me out and about.
All my rides have the same basis: Have a good time and enjoy the ride, nature, surrounding, humans. With a bare minimum of luggage. Lightweight is fun while collecting miles. It saves energy or, to put that better, it’s energy you can use to keep your legs fit, eyes open and mind clear.
Do not forget: Ride. Today.
Thanks so much Kev! If you have a build and a story to share, just contact us.