I have to admit I like simplicity not only in life but also when I am riding a bike. That’s also why I am a big fan of 1x group sets for gravel bikes. On the other hand, I was not a big fan of electric shifting (especially if you have no front derailleur because that’s where electric really makes a difference). I always said that somebody can convince me to change when electronic shifting becomes wireless.
Then a while ago SRAM came out with their SRAM RED eTAP. But unfortunately the design of the front derailleur battery was done in a way that limited tires sizes. All the good and wide 29/27.5 gravel tires were touching the battery because of lack of side clearance.
Early June 2018, Gerard and myself were invited to see SRAM in San Luis Obispo in sunny California to see something secret. They were working on a new groupset and wanted to get our feedback. We weren't allowed to take any photos of the drivetrain, so this is all the proof we have (notice we snuck a shifter in there). We're always lucky to have the jobs we do, but some days we're extra-lucky!
After the event, SRAM asked us to become part of a select group of launch partner for something that started to make real sense on a gravel bike and gives you everything you want, especially if you use your U.P. or U.P.P.E.R. as a one bike for all, so you need ultimate performance on-road and off. Tire clearance - check, gear range - check, shifting speed - check and simplicity - check.
So were we selected as official launch partner as one of the very few small brands (it's funny when they say "so we'll have Specialized, Trek, Giant, OPEN, ...". To celebrate that, we wanted to create something special. Well actually, WE didn't want to create something special (we’re working hard to stay small by NOT doing things), we wanted SRAM to create something special because this launch is about their product.
So we asked if the same graphic designers who did the design for this new SRAM Red AXS eTAP groupset could make a graphics design for our NEW U.P. frame. It was a long shot, as big companies usually have many layers of decision making to agree to something like this. It was a bit like asking Coca-Cola to design our water bottle. But to our surprise and delight, SRAM cut through the red tape quickly and said yes.
Next problem was they said they needed a month. We said we needed to start the painting process in 2 weeks. They sent some initial designs, and luckily one of them was perfect, so we said "We'll take that one, no changes, let's roll" and two days later the production of the framesets was put in motion.
So here we are today, after 8 months of not being allowed to tell anybody anything. Almost 7 years ago we offered a complete build with our first product the 1.0 hardtail frame. Now we are back with a complete build that is limited to 40 units.
But this time as we had to keep everything secret the limitations are even bigger. We have selected only 4 partners worldwide that have these bikes in stock and ready for demo today, the day that SRAM launches the groupset. That’s pretty unique I think, I don't know if it has ever happened before that actually you can buy/demo a drivetrain the day it is launched. And we feel proud to be part of that as it makes 100% sense that customers don't have to wait 6 months after seeing the new stuff.
For more details check out our intro video here, and part 2 with all the photos will appear tomorrow!
And these are the 4 happy partners that have the limited edition in stock now while you are reading this:
exclusive for USA
The 11 Inc
exclusive for Canada
exclusive for Europe
exclusive for Australia
"This just in", after finishing to write this blog, we remembered that the guys from SRAM did take some photos. And after keeping them in the vault for the past 8 months, they just sent them. So here's proof we were both there, sort of. (This photo is deceiving, this is the only moment on the climb where we were together. Usually one of us was behind, I won't say who :-). And yes, we are lucky.