Taking on the Tuscan gravel roads of the Strade Bianche would normally call for good brakes, plenty of gears and a sturdy set of tires. So we were curious to see what Red Bull rider Patrick Seabase would bring to Siena.
It definitely was not what we were expecting as Seabase rocked up with a stock 54cm BMC Trackmachine to tackle the dusty roads (although, knowing Seabase, it clearly was to be expected). The machine has pure track geometry, meaning steep angles and a compact frame but he assured us that he was not at all nervous as he took on the 129 km gran fondo route. However, he admitted that it is definitely unusual to use this bike in this sort of scenario. In his words his choice to ride the Tuscan gravel along with thousands of conventional road cyclists was probably “close to nonsense” and “a bit impractical”. Yet given Seabase’s history of fixed-gear Alpine climbs, some might argue that riding such a bike up and over the highest mountain passes is not really the intended use for this bike either.
At the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche Seabase was riding 47-19, which he deemed as ‘way too low for today’s ride.,’ commenting that he ‘should have used a 52/17 for the power and momentum, because I was spinning so much on the flat.’
For wheels Seabase uses DT Swiss custom track/road hybrids, with clincher based on a road rim mixed with an aluminium deep flange track hub. Patrick says that aluminium is a bit paradoxical given the weight, but they’ve got the necessary strength. The wheels are straight laced at the front and 2-cross at the rear for stability and strength when shredding.
Patrick chose Continental Gatorskin hardshell tires, opting for the 25mm version with 6.5 bar at the front and 6 bar at the back. These are exactly the model he would also recommend for gravel, although he admits that the rear tire would only last him a few weeks with this sort of terrain and intensity of riding.
At the front he’s gone for the 3T Ergonova bars. ‘They’re quite shallow,’ he explains, ‘I’d normally go for classic road ones, 44cm wide. Fabric are a long-term sponsor of Seabase, hence his saddle choice.
Words: Phil Gale Photos: Phil Gale, Emmie Collinge