Three Things I learned from Cameron Falconer
During my recent visit to Downieville for the Roval Terra wheel launch, I had the opportunity to chat with custom frame builder Cameron Falconer, and appreciate up close one of his recent works. Cam was invited to not only give the new Terra CLX wheels a spin, but share his knowledge of the local terrain with two rides during our stay. Northern California has a rich history in frame building, so I was curious to learn more about his philosophy as a builder, the benefits of steel and why someone might consider going custom.
Falconer (Plumas County) Road
“I call this bike the Plumas County road bike. It's sort of a joke, I live in Plumas County and we have almost no good paved riding but thousands of miles of dirt roads.”
“The bike is built from very light Columbus tubing mostly, I am 160 pounds and not super hard on stuff so I can get away with light materials. Geometrically it is fairly traditional, 72.5 seat angle, 72 head, 7cm of bottom bracket drop, 430mm chainstays. The only thing that is a bit out there is the top tube is long at 63cm, I built it to fit me with a 70mm stem. I did this to increase the wheelbase and make the bike more confident at speed and on steep downhill stuff while the 72 head angle keeps it feeling fairly normal on the road. Frame fits a 700x45c and 650bx2.2” with room to spare.”
1. Steel IS IDEAL (FOR GRAVEL)
“I believe steel is still relevant because of the ride quality it offers, it will never be weight competitive with carbon but light weight is an overstated virtue in the industry in my opinion. The easiest way to think of a steel bike is that it behaves more like a spring, the frame flexes more than carbon but due to this flex the ride is more lively feeling. Another benefit is better traction, on a frame which lacks mechanical suspension the tires, wheels, frame and fork all work together to help keep the bike hooked up on rough terrain, because of the softer nature of a steel bike they are often more confident and tractable.”
2. The Hidden Benefits of Custom
“There are big differences between something I make (or any other good builder) and something like an All City. I use them as an example because they try pretty hard to appear as a small builder. There is nothing wrong with an All City, they are fine bikes but any production bike has to be designed to work for all riders. They have to assume that a 56cm may be ridden by a 130 pound or a 230 pound person and they are over built due to this. I would also argue that the materials I use are higher quality being made in the USA and Italy. As we discussed this is on top of the fit and ride quality that a custom bike provides.”
Plumas county gravel bike Specs
FRAME / Falconer Plumas County Road
WHEELSET / Roval Terra CLX
TIRES / Maxxis Rambler 700 x 45c
DRIVETRAIN / SRAM Red AXS
BRAKESET / SRAM Red AXS
FORK / ENVE G-Series
HANDLEBAR / ENVE G-Series
SEATPOST / ENVE
HEADSET / Chris King
STEM / Paul Components
SEATPOST CLAMP / Wolf Tooth Components
SADDLE / Selle Italia Flite
SADDLE BAG / Outer Shell Adventure
Falconer bikes are only available custom, hand made in Plumas County, California. Wait time is 8 months and frames start at $2600. Every Falconer customer gets something that fits, looks and rides exactly the way they like.
Learn more at FALCONER CYCLES.
3. Your Handlebar tape DOESN'T need to match
Brilliant, thanks Cam!