Taking delivery of the Penhale Gypsy.

On a drizzly Friday evening in February, Santa came in the form of a Fedex delivery man. Ringing my doorbell was a man with a bike sized box from Penhale. Minutes after signing for the box, I had a beautifully assembled symphony of chromoly tubes and components in the form of a bicycle. When I was told I’d be getting a Penhale Gypsy to test out, I had no idea what to expect. At the time of writing this, there are no build kits available, only what appears to be a very versatile frame. Some of the pictures of the bike feature various build kits so I wasn’t sure if I’d be getting more of a mountain or road oriented bike. Upon first inspection, it appears that I’ve received the perfect middle ground. The Gypsy appears to be a bike designed to take you anywhere and the build kit I was sent reflects that. The 3×10 indexed friction bar end shifters and a 604% spread give you plenty of room to choose between long mountain road descents all the way to steep technical dirt climbs. The headset, bottom bracket, bars, crank, and stem are all FSA components and the wheels are some nice wide American Classics.

A few notes about the frame.

The frame is a beautifully nickel finished chromoly tube assembly featuring some good clean weld porn at the joints. The main triangle, or polygon in the case of the extra large frame, could probably fit an extra bottle cage mount or two on the inside of the fame. There are already three bottle cage mounts in the standard locations with one on the bottom of the downtube. The fork is fitted with fender and rack mounts, or you can add a second set of bottle cages. The rear of the bike has more fender mounts to clear even the largest suggested tire (2.1x 29”) The overall build is fairly light given it’s a steel frame with a 3×10 drivetrain. I do really like how open the frame is for bike bags but that could also be inherent in having an extra large frame. There are no tricky curves that limit your bike bag purchasing options like you occasionally will face with a carbon frame and I’m less concerned with the integrity of the frame after a crash.  Penhale Gypsy First Look-0071

Penhale Gypsy First Look-0077

Penhale Gypsy First Look-0074

Some thoughts after my first ride on the Gypsy.

The geometry makes for a very stable frame and it’s easy to sing “No Handlebars” by Flobots while riding it over gravel. I like the fit on the extra large frame as I’m 6’4”. The reach is short enough to keep pressure off your hands on long rides, but it’s not twitchy. It leans into turns and holds its line very well. The BB7 mechanical disk brakes feel pretty good and are easy to adjust. My rotors got a little wet and noisy on my ride but I think it’s silly to complain about noise as long as your brakes stop you. The learning curve on the friction shifters seems pretty quick, but that has nothing to do with the frame itself. I do really enjoy the FSA Adventure bars for their wide range of grip options with a more natural feel than perfectly vertical bars.Penhale Gypsy First Look-0075
Penhale Gypsy First Look-0084

The beginning of a romance.

I’m looking forward to taking this bike out for some big days, deep into the mountains, and really getting to know this Gypsy. I think it can best be described as an easy to maintain, workhorse of an adventure bike. With less aggressive tires I might call it a touring bike, but it’s made not to just handle smooth gravel roads but real mountain roads and the singletrack that shoots away from said roads. I’ll let you know how we get along in a few months after we’ve shared some sunsets and nights by the campfire together.

2 Comments

  1. Looks similar to the Soma Wolverine though with less complicated dropouts and more bike packing friendly braze-ons. Seems to skew more towards the MTB side whereas the Soma skews a bit more towards the road/cyclocross side. Great to see more options in this space, especially at the more affordable price points!

  2. Can’t see the ressemblance, Chris.

    Haven’t had a look at the specific geometry numbers, but with that long head tube, those straight forks, and that wheel base, it looks much more like a Spec AWOL to me. E.g.:

    http://theradavist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Specialized_AWOL_Review-26.jpg

    Cheers

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