Stephen Wood, of Swood Cycles, has been making custom steel frames and racks in Richmond, VA for a couple of years now. At this year’s Philly Bike Expo, Jarrod Bunk linked up with Stephen to photograph his eleventh Swood frame, the “Irie” Road+. Below, Stephen offers a few insights into his trajectory of becoming a framebuilder and, paired with Jarrod’s photos, walks us through this stunningly detailed machine.
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Teravail’s Rutland tire is the newest of their gravel-oriented tires, available in 38mm and 42mm sizes for 700c wheels, and 47mm for the 650b wheels – which is what I had the chance to try out for this review.
The Rutland is a relatively chunky dirt road tire, with tightly-spaced knobs in the center section, and more widely spaced intermediate and side knobs. It resembles a scaled-down version of a semi-slick mountain bike tire, and has the manners you’d expect of such a tire: relatively quick on any surface, but with enough bite to give confidence when the going gets loose.
The Surly Midnight Special is a drop bar bike that fits big tires – real big tires. Beyond fitting huge tires, what makes it unique among the expanding options in this category is that its geometry is derived from a road bike rather than the ‘cross bikes that most “Road Plus” bikes have descended from. Chainstays are short and head tube angles are relatively steep across the board, making for a quick-handling bike that loves to carve corners at any speed – but especially when you’re going fast.
Don’t let the massive tire clearance fool you; despite the wide 650B tires, it handles on the road more like bikes you’d expect to see narrower tires on. Because of this, the Midnight Special is difficult to classify. It fits big tires and it’s got disc brakes and drop bars, but it’s not a ‘cross bike and it’s unlike any bike being marketed as gravel. It fits more tire than a Straggler but its geometry is more like that of the Pacer. So let’s get into that.
Morgan just sent through some photos of his new Kona Rove LTD. Reynolds 853 tubing, carbon ‘cross fork, WTB KOMs with 47c Horizons, Force 1 hydraulic… this thing looks great. Can’t wait to see what you get up to with it, Morgan!