FROM THE FRAME UP
SOURPATCH’S COMMENCAL ABSOLUT BUILD
Words and Photos by Sourpatch
There are few things that are as rewarding as building up a frame only project. Between selecting the frame to methodically making the list of parts for which you hope to use, there is no shortage of fun. Sometimes, going the frame only option is a way to save money over a complete build, other times it could be because one doesn’t like the spec on completes by the brand of their choice. Whatever the reason may be, it’s always gratifying to get that first pedal in on whatever it is you just built up.
When we got our Loam Lander Air Bag, I decided it was time to get another dirt jumper on order. At the time, I was planning on ordering a Propain Trickshot as it had a simple yet solid spec, but the ETA would be months out. So, instead I decided I was going to build a dirt jumper from the frame up. I happened to be in the Denver area when I had the spur of the moment thought, so I headed over to the Commencal USA HQ to pick up an Absolut frame. It was actually a pretty cool process, the employee up front had me select the frame color and size on their A La Carte menu, I added on a SRAM DUB BB, GX 32t Crankset and a Cane Creek Headset and swiped my credit card. A few minutes later, the boxes landed in their mechanics area and they slapped those few pieces in for me and away I went.
Having gotten the frame back to our office, it was time to compile the parts list. Dirt jumpers are one of the simplest and most fun frames to build up…in fact, this is my third DJ build, and fourth frame up build, since I got into the bike industry. The first DJ being a Deity Cryptkeeper followed by an ultra-light and uber expensive Giant STP, a build I was pretty proud of. Despite DJ’s being so simple to build, there were still a number of headaches that came along with it.
There were a handful of parts I was set on running before I picked up the frame. I wanted a red Marzocchi DJ fork, as I am a big fan of Marzocchi’s simplicity and aesthetics. A Race Face cockpit, comprised of a stealth Chester 35 handlebar, red Turbine R stem, gum Grippler grips and a Chester seatpost. Schwalbe’s Billy Bonkers in a Bronze Sidewall were the remaining piece I was set on. The remaining build list was a complete toss-up and one where the headache really started to begin.
A complete wheelset was by far the hardest part of the puzzle to track down, it is astonishing how little there are available now-a-days, in stock or otherwise. After racking my brain and contemplating just hand building another set of DJ wheels, I remembered Novatec and thankfully they still offer a couple complete 26” wheels. One being the single speed ready Crisp wheels, I reached out to my contact over there to make sure they were in stock and slapped down my card yet again. From there, I scoured some of our parts bins in the office and found a new TRP Slate rear to slap on. Race Face was also nice enough to send over there, at the time, newly released Aeffect flat pedals.
With few parts left, I visited Worldwidecyclery.com to track down the remaining components. I ended up ordering a gold KMC 9-speed chain, a beautiful 16t absoluteBLACK singles-peed COG and a black Wolftooth seat post clamp. The only part missing was a saddle, and I found the perfect one on Chromag’s website, unfortunately the limited-edition Overture saddle was out of stock…BUMMER. Thankfully, I was able to find a brand new one on eBay of all places and another order was placed.
As mentioned above, dirt jumpers are extremely simple to build and take very little time to slap together. Having had Commencal slap the BB and Headset in saved me a bit of install time. I ended up putting most of it together in the driveway. Fork steerer was cut to length, greased up and sinched into the Race Face Turbine R stem. At 780mm, the Chester 35 handlebars came in the perfect width just needing to be mounted into the stem. The rather grippy, Grippler grips tied the front end together. I don’t know why, but I decided to go tubeless with the wheel/tire combo. Throwing in a pair of Reserve Fillmore valve stems and filling the wire bead Billy Bonkers with Schwalbe sealant. The Chromag Overture saddle really helped class up the build and installed easily on the uncut Chester seatpost. Everything was going smoothly until I ran into a small problem that delayed completion a little further. I didn’t realize I looked at the wrong specs when comparing the front hub to the axle on the Bomber DJ fork. The standard 20×110 axle was too big for the Novatec hubs and Marzocchi’s 15mm axle conversion got ordered up.
The hardest part of the whole build was running the brake cable through the frame, having spent half an hour trying to fish it through I had given up. The Absolut frame only allows for internal cable routing, I ended up taking it to the local bike shop where they were more equipped to handle the task yet even they struggled…minus points there Commencal.
By the time I had secured and received all the parts from my orders, it had been months. I could have bought that Propain Trickshot I originally looked at and been riding much sooner…and saved a bit of money, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as gratifying. I may still do a hand-built wheelset in the future for it, but the cost is something that just isn’t justifiable right now. Overall, I am stoked with how the build turned out, it takes the top spot out of all my dirt jumper builds. I couldn’t of made this build happen without the support from Marzocchi/RaceFace and Schwalbe Tires, they’re the real MVPs.
Price as Built: $2,855 (ish)