My Agave Marginata Crema Cycles Duo 27.5″ Cross Bike

Holy. Shit. This. Bike.

HSTB. The Crema Duo changed Los Angeles’ riding for me. In fact, it changed how I feel about the potential for ‘cross bikes to be the most versatile bike in your stable. Take everything you love about your bike and turn it up to 11. Big tires, disc brakes, lightweight, snappy geometry and the ability to hold your own in a pace-line, while still being able to crush singletrack and fire roads all in a tight package.

The Duo is the brainchild of Ken Bloomer from Crema Cycles, with the construction experience of Mattia from Legor Cicli. Together they worked out the design and production of these frames, with enough confidence to offer them to the public. An experienced mountain bike racer and ‘cross aficionado, Ken wanted a bike that could take on a metric century on dirt and still be raced at the weekend’s ‘cross races, whether UCI-sanctioned or not.

How, might you ask, is this possible?

Well, the Crema Duo is designed to fit a 27.5″ wheel with a 2.2″ XC tire and a 700c by 48mm ‘cross tire. Meaning, you could be shredding this bike on singletrack with your 27.5″ mountain wheels all week, if you’re so inclined, and then throw on your ultra light 700c x 33mm ‘cross tubulars on the weekend to tackle races.

My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Or, if you’re like me, you just ride the damn thing with a 27.5″ wheel and rarely ever swap out its rubber for a more “race-friendly” option.

Yes, since owning this bike, I have only ridden it with a 700c wheel and tire combo once, during which, I said to myself, “self, this isn’t nearly as shreddy or fun, so why would I do this?” to which the race-demon replied, “dude, cross is coming! You’ve gotta race a 33mm tire for UCI!”

Ok, truthfully, I don’t race that often, so the second point of this argument is moot – but I wanted to address it for those who might be reading this and do in fact shred and race the same bike.

LEGOR-2

Frame Origin

While Ken Bloomer may have designed the frame, Mattia from Legor Cicli constructed it using Columbus tubing, a T47 BB, ENVE disc ‘cross fork and Syntace thru-axle dropouts. The bike has curves, is sturdy, and is capable of taking mid-trail diggers and everything in between. I have literally thrashed this bike since it was handed off to me back in the early spring, on everything from road group rides to wicked pissah singletrack jaunts in both Barcelona and Los Angeles. Just look at the many paint chips and beausage marks!

Kyle's Red White and Blue Stinner Monster Cross

Inspired Inspiration

Back when Kyle had ordered a new disc brake bike from Stinner Frameworks, we had discussed tire clearance. My biggest push was for 50mm of clearance, which in Los Angeles is plenty since we don’t get a lot of rain and consequently mud here. Then, the Duo arrived and suddenly both of our opinions changed, prompting Kyle to holler at Aaron to make his bike fit the same wheel. Since then, we both agree this is the way to go in terms of a custom ‘cross bike. This Stinner was a result of my Duo.

My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Design Challenges

As you might have guessed, it’s not easy to cram a 27.5″ by 2.2″ tire in a chainstay otherwise designed to fit a 700 by whatever ‘cross tire. You’ve got chainring clearances to work out, crank compatibility, and chainstay length to consider. While I won’t disclose specific numbers or specs, I will say that the Duo fits up a 2.2″ XC tread MTB tire and a 42t 1x ring (I am running a 38t) on a Rotor 3D crank with enough clearance to inspire even the most out-of-true wheel.

Other than that, the next hurdle is having the fork clear the tire, which as you can see is not an issue.

My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Swaps

Since first having the bike delivered, I did however re-lace the rear wheel to a King Classic hub to take the SRAM XD driver and a long cage SRAM Rival derailleur. I also removed the oval Rotor ring for a prototype 38t AARN ‘cx ring. This gave me the gearing I needed for tackling the fire roads and trails in LA, while still being able to ride in a group ride environment.

My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Specs

The gist of this build is centered around SRAM’s 1x offering. A mix of Force shifters and brakes with a Rival rear mech and a third-party crank keep this bike rolling smoothly, while the White Industries T47 bottom bracket provides a fat footprint for the oversized Columbus tubing. ENVE components are sprinkled throughout and the Maxxis Aspen tires have given me absolutely zero issues for hundreds of miles of dirt riding. Oh and that Fabric ALM saddle is amazing! I’ve yet to even ride it with a chamois!

LEGOR-58

Ok, Wait, What’s Agave Marginata?

The Agave Marginata is an extremely drought-tolerant species of the more common blue agave that presents a beautiful white to yellow and green cast in its beautiful stalk and leaves. Was the Duo’s paint inspired by this succulent? I dunno. Does it look great? Of course. Thousands of years of evolution doesn’t produce turds in terms of desert flora!

Can I Have One?

Yes! Provided you can pay money to Crema Cycles in forms of $, €, £, and any other 111 forms of currency.

My Agave Marginata Crema Duo 'Cross Bike

Why I’m Writing This Post

Look, the proof is in the pudding. I don’t like bike reviews anymore than you probably enjoy reading my attempts at analyzing geometry (wait, I didn’t even talk about that!), specs or other minutiae. As someone who throws his sunburned legs over many bikes in a year’s time, I can say however that when a bike like this shows up and suddenly you find yourself choosing to ride it, over its other stablemates, it means something.

This Crema Duo has literally blown my mind as to what a drop bar bike is capable of. It’s been a vehicle for fun, and a catalyst for bicycle design as a whole. Holler at Crema Cycles if you want to throw your leg over one!

  • http://limberlost.co/ Gabriel Amadeus

    So damned perfect. Both them bikes.

  • Brian Richard Walbergh

    Really hope this idea trickles down in the next few years.

    • Albert

      Still waiting on other companies to basically replicate the Cannondale Slate (minus the Lefty).

      • Brian Richard Walbergh

        I think this would be more like if All City made a Macho Man that could fit those tires, not some aluminum monster.

    • caliente

      Diamondback Haanjo EXP Carbon– if you can handle the 3×9 and mechanical brakes.

      • JScriv

        Just got my hands on the EXP – super surprised by how much I like the bike and do not notice the mech and 3×9. Biggest complaint would be the lack of power with 1 finger braking from the hoods. And it needs a dropper!

      • Aaron Savona

        There’s also the Raleigh Stuntman, but this has 29er wheels
        http://www.raleighusa.com/stuntman

        • caliente

          I like the carbon and paint better on the DB. ;) all in the same corpo-family anyhow, right?

    • Smithhammer

      I believe it will. We are seeing the future.

  • charlesojones

    Like.

  • George

    Hey John — can you go into more detail about what types of rides would drive you to choose this bike over a mtb and vice versa? Does it basically come down to fire roads / basic singletrack (the Crema) vs. more technical singletrack (mtb)?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Yeah that’s a fair assessment.

  • Ryan

    Nice looking bike, I particularly like the color palette and asymmetrical use of color and patterns. Those meaty tires look great on it too.

    • Sebastian Burnell

      Reminds me of the color sheme of the older bridgestones. Very nice !

  • http://mwynne.ca Michael Wynne

    Brotoshoot of the Stinner and Crema together please!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      LOL @ Brotoshoot

      • http://mwynne.ca Michael Wynne

        I say that with 0% sarcasm!

  • Jack

    John,
    I’m interested to know how many bikes you currently own. I’m all for N+1, but how do you decide between using this or the firefly?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The Firefly has 700c wheels on it and usually a 40mm semi-slick tire. I’ve been riding it pretty much the same as this bike, but I won’t jam down rough singletrack all day like I will on the Crema.

  • Scotty Scotty Scotty

    What do you think about running a full bikepacking setup on this, and swapping out the carbon fork for one with eyelets to potentially run a set of small panniers as well? Ever since I first saw this bike months ago I’ve been thinking it’s the perfect touring bike that could take one on and off of roads with ease, while still being fun to ride unloaded.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I’d say bikepacking bags for sure and you could run that Spark fork for eyelets. I was planning on doing some light bikepacking on it in Japan but took my Firefly instead.

      • Scotty Scotty Scotty

        Awesome. Thanks for the reply.

      • Kristoffer NRJ

        What spark fork?????

  • Carsten

    John, thats a great bike. As fare as I know the medium CX1derailleur is able to handle a 10-42t cluster. But you replaced the standard Force by a long cage Rival derailleur. So the Force won’t handle 10-42? Please share the geometry with us, it’s always interesting to get this information and your thoughts… it helps to form a concept for a own bike out of it :-)

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Only the long cage will work with a 42t.

      65mm BB drop, 420mm stays, 71.5º head tube angle.

      :-)

      • Somebadideas

        Hey John how you feel about that 38-42 low gear that SRAM offers on the 1x road right now? For the loaded touring I do I so wish SRAM would do smaller chainrings so I can use drop bar shifters. The MTB groupsets go down to 30, wish they would make compatible.

        Currently I’ve hacked together a 46-34 compact upfront with a 10 speed 11-42 in back, with a wolftooth cog and a SRAM long cage MTB derailleur, which works flawlessly. Surprised by how well it works.

        To me this is the future of do anything bikes that I’m waiting on: 27.5+ / drop bars / wider range 1x drivetrains. I’ve no doubt bike companies are eyeing this thing thinking about their knockoffs. Beautiful ride dude. Hope I can save up for one.

  • Mark McGrath

    Holy Cow – that bike is a thing of beauty!

  • j0hnA

    random question: what saddle bag is that?

    • Sebastian Burnell

      Swift Industries I Think

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

        Nah, it’s a Yanco x Tracko Ramblin Roll

        • j0hnA

          cheers. thought so…one day ill get my hands on one.

          this bike is amazing!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Ramblin Roll

  • Randy

    John – Love this bike! Got a question about the 27.5″ set up.

    Do you think that running 27.5″ wheels on a cross bike that is designed around 700c wheels would cause any problems? Basically would a geo designed for 700c wheels work well once you slap 27.5″ wheels on there? I’m building out a new cross rig and trying to figure out what size wheels to go on it. I think tire clearance for 700c wheels will be around 40mm, and I was hoping to drop something a bit wider on there.

    Cheers,
    Randy

  • Ace Metric Cycles

    “Why I’m Writing This Post” Many of us were anticipating this post. and you delivered. SO curious about this kinda set up.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Thanks bud!

  • Natalie Pitts

    Thank you for this post! This is one of my all-time favorite bikes on this site. Whoever designed the paint absolutely killed it.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Thanks!

    • Christian Wieners

      thanks!

  • KevinSF

    Time to sell the Swiss Cross….. and the AWOL. The want is strong with this one.

  • Ray Penrod

    This one…of all your bikes in your, as I understand it, “active roster,” this bike is the one.

    And the Retrotec…

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I’ve sold a number of my custom bikes to friends over the years (for cheaps) and it’s been incredible to see them live on.

  • Ian TheMusette Walton

    And Mattia is such a top bloke as well. Just adds to the lustre of a bike if it’s made by a good bloke.

  • dollitle

    hold your own in pacelines? Nice. What type of pacelines are these? Regular pacelines, or plaid knickered slow train up mt diablo selfie stick kombucha in the water bottle pacelines?

  • RNTRMP

    Hi John, just curious about your opinion on thr Duo versus the Sequioa – the geometry doesn’t seem radically different. Shorter stays and slightly higher BB on the Duo. Having ridden both what’s your take on them: do you think the Sequoia with 650Bs would be close?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The Sequoia wouldn’t fit a mountain tire like this but yeah, the geo is very similar.

  • PEPE

    Would be curious to know which one is your go to bike, the one you ride the most, the one u just pick-up when u go for a ride, without having to think about it!? Between the Firefly, the Argonaut, the Crema, the Icarus, etc…

  • Ech

    Hi John, checked out the Crema site but don’t see this model listed. Any ideas when it will be offered? Thanks