Inside: Guerrilla Gravity - The Colorado-Based Bike Company That Is Making Moves
Here at Vital, we love seeing grassroots companies making big strides, which is why we first heard of the Colorado-based Guerrilla Gravity crew we were eager to see what they were cooking up. It takes a lot of ambition, passion, skill, know-how to get things moving in today's downhill market - not an easy task. Following several months of testing and development, they're charging hard, well into production, and will soon be rolling out the all-new GG/DH downhill frame.
The crew has put thousands of hours of hard work into the launch of their first bike, and we're stoked to see them get off the ground. Curious how things have progressed over the past year, we hit up "el Presidente" Will Montague for a closer look inside the company and at the GG/DH frame...
First up, how'd you guys get started and what drove you to create a new bike company?
We’ve all been riding mountain bikes for the majority of our lives and it’s where our passion lies. Matt Giaraffa, our engineer, grew up in his dad’s machine shop, building things, working with his hands. I grew up being around my dad’s small business and have always geeked out on startups and entrepreneurialism. “They” tell you that you’re supposed to follow your passion, so that’s what we’re doing.
As far as getting started, we’re always looking at everything in the marketplace and brainstorming on how it can be better. Given that we’re always around bikes, we saw an opportunity to create a unique model and improve upon existing bike designs and manufacturing processes. After kicking the idea around for a while, we were able to talk a couple friends into putting up some initial funding to build a few prototypes. It’s been one foot in front of the other since.
The last time we checked in you were in the process of sending out GG/DH Beta frame prototypes to test riders. What was some of the feedback you received? Did you end up changing anything for production?
The feedback has been awesome, better than we could have hoped for. Every one of the Beta riders has been having a great time aboard their new bike. The primary feedback has been that the bike is extremely easy to get comfortable on quickly, it’s easy to dial in the suspension settings you like with the straightforward leverage curve used, it’s one of the easiest bikes to own, maintain, and tune, and it’s just an overall fun, playful gravity rig. Here’s an in-depth review that one of the riders submitted that covers his parts swap and tune finding, as well as the GG/DH frame’s ride characteristics.
The only thing we’re changing for production is adding 2.5 mm of chainstay length to allow for a little more tire clearance.
That's pretty awesome. It sounds like you guys nailed it the first go, which is hard to do. Diving into the frame details a little more, give us the run down of the geometry options. Is it adjustable?
We started the GG/DH design with basic requirements for the everyday rider from novice to pro racer for park riding and DH racing - long, low and slack, of course, but not so much that you have to ride like Gee Atherton to get the thing to turn. We also wanted two geo settings, but we wanted to make them both usable. Most frames with adjustable geo that we've seen, people put them in the low/slack setting and never touch the adjustment again. From that, we came up with the 63.5-degree head angle/13.6-inch bottom bracket height as the low/slack setting, and created an equally usable 64.2-degree head angle/14.1-inch bottom bracket setting.
While figuring out the front and rear center lengths, we decided to include two chainstay settings for two reasons: allow the balance of the ride to be maintained between Short and Long front triangles, and also allow for rider preferences. As I'm sure you guys know full well, a short vs long chainstay makes quite a noticeable change in ride characteristic. We wanted to allow both.
How about the rear end? Why a single pivot, and what does the suspension leverage curve look like?
We wanted a smooth progression in the rear suspension, but not something that ramped up so much where you can't get full travel. Pivot location was placed for a balance of square edge absorption, chain growth, efficient pedaling and a lively ride. And, of course, lateral & torsional frame stiffness were a must. We won't ride a flexy frame and don't expect anybody else to, either.
We took those requirements and made numerous sketches of frame layouts and started experimenting with suspension designs. To make a long story short, our engineering philosophy is to meet the design requirements while removing all unnecessary complications, which tends to produce reliable, low maintenance, cost effective and lightweight designs. A part that doesn't exist doesn't weigh anything, doesn't cost anything and never breaks. With a lot of time spent with suspension design software and CAD to construct a well tuned leverage rate curve and well-chosen pivot point location, we were able to meet our objectives with a refined non-linkage-driven single pivot frame layout, so that's what we went with. The leverage rate curve is optimized for a coil, but is still mild enough where an air shock works for those looking to save some weight.
GG/DH Frame Details
- 8-inches of rear travel
- Frames are fabricated, machined, welded, assembled and tested in Denver, CO
- 7005 aluminum, TIG welded by hand
- Toptube and downtube have CNC mandrel bends
- "Shock box plates" are CNC machined from a solid block with 3D contoured surfaces
- Chainstay and shock mount eccentrics have angular contact surfaces to ensure there is no freeplay when bolted together
- Standard 83mm BB
- 12x150 rear hub
- 1.5-inch head tube (49mm SHIS), Cane Creek Angleset compatible
- 31.6mm seatpost
- 9.5x3-inch shock with 8x22mm hardware
- Two high-quality Enduro dual-lip sealed ABEC-3 bearings
- Non-drive side pivot hardware access
- Rear derailleur cable routing goes through the chainstay
- Single rear brake mount position that works for both chainstay settings
- Seat tube has Poke Yoke tabs at the bottom to prevent lowering the post too far
- Short or Long size options
- Weighs 7.9-pounds (size Long with all hardware, sans shock)
- $1825 for frame only; $1995 for frame with Fox Vanilla RC shock
It's a big battle out there. What kind of guerrilla warfare tactics do you have planned?
Guerrilla uprisings have always been driven from within the community and manned by the people of the community. Focusing on involving, growing, and driving the company from the community is the foundation of our model. For that reason, we’re rider-direct and make our bikes right here in Colorado.
By being rider-direct we are a big step closer to our riders and are able to talk to them one-on-one to find out what they want out of their bikes and how we can best serve them and the community. Our bikes will always be made for the everyday rider—the rider who rides every day—and include superior refinement, ease of ownership, and versatility.
By making our bikes in Colorado, we’re able to not only support the local business and manufacturing communities, but also be much more flexible in the customization options available for riders. Further, by manufacturing here, we are able to maintain tight quality controls and develop lean fabrication processes that help us keep the prices of our frames away from the level of ridiculousness that is trending.
Are there any other frames in the works or are you just focusing on production?
We have just started to design an aggressive trail bike that we’re real excited about. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll have a couple alpha prototypes by the end of the year. More details will be revealed in the next couple months.
So what's the deal with build kits? As a small company, we bet you're able to offer some pretty custom part specs, yeah?
Yup, we can put together whatever a rider wants. People have preferences - Shimano vs. SRAM, Fox vs. Manitou, etc - and we’re able to accommodate this. We can also add or delete components from a build kit. If a rider already has a fork and a wheelset they like, no problem, we can just delete those from the build and give them an updated price.
There are also some solid baseline build kits, two Park builds with single crown forks and two Race builds with dual crown forks. We carried over our philosophy of high performance, yet easy to maintain to these build kits. Also, instead of opting for the standard high-end and low-end build kits, we went with two middle-of-the-road builds that we hope better aligns with riders’ budgets and expectations of quality. We’re exceptionally excited about the Park 1 and Race 1 builds and encourage folks to check ‘em out.
Now for the kicker... Everyone has a preference when it comes to colors, and you'd like the Vital readers to have their say. What options are in the running? Does it come in Root Beer?
That's right. The riders will be able to choose the final five production colors (that's you!). We have some pretty sweet options: Bag of Boosh #64, a rich green with some crystallized sparkle, to commemorate our recently passed “party” law in Colorado, Mach Yellow, a bright neon yellow, that’s guaranteed to make you faster, and Gnar Gnar Gun, a gun metal grey, for those that like to fly under the radar a little more, plus seven more equally rad options - one of which is indeed Root Beer.
So when will these bad boys be available to the public?
Pre-order is up and running for the spring batch. The deposit is only 295 bucks and frames start at $1995 with a shock. If you want your GG/DH in time for chair lift season, there are only 15 left for this batch. Delivery will start in April and continue through May. The order in which we receive deposits is the order we will deliver the frames.
Wow, that's a great price for a hand built frame. Where can people demo the bikes or get more info?
We’ll be out at the ProGRT race at Bootleg Canyon with a few demo bikes for folks to take for a run. Stop in and say hi, we don't bite. You can also get in touch with Guerrilla Gravity by visiting our website or Facebook page.
See you at the races, and don't forget to vote!