It's that time of year again. A wonderful time, when instead of force-feeding you a non-stop avalanche of holiday deals and marketing blitzes like any normal cycling retailer should, we spend twelve days foisting what we're good at on the world. Yes, this is the 2016 edition of the Twelve Days of Breathtaking Builds, where we showcase our pride and joy from the past year in a non-stop barrage of bike porn. Unlike last year, which was a decidedly last-minute venture, this year many of the builds featured have never been seen before, save by their happy owners. That isn't to say that deciding on the finalists was easy. No, our plotting and scheming for 2016 was difficult, there was too much to choose from! We whittled our final list down to some 50-ish bikes, and eventually resorted to arduous, eggnog-fueled elimination games of rochambeau to cull the list to 12. So, without further adieu...
DAY ONE: THE RETURN OF MR. ZIEGLER
We felt it apropos to circle back to last year's finale
with yet another bike featuring Zio Ziegler's patina, this time a bit more dirt-oriented. This is Zio's personal Open UP, a bike that since its introduction at AC six months ago has been a consistent favorite, both amongst us and our clients. Usually offered in only two colors, orange and brown, we've been more recently asking for UPs in a raw, unpainted carbon finish, giving us the latitude to lend an Above Category flair to an otherwise stock carbon frameset.
Always one for bucking convention, Zio went against the grain and had the UP built with a mountain bike 1x11 XTR Di2 drivetrain mated to Shimano's R785 Di2 hydraulic drop-bar levers, making for rapid, reliable shifts with a clutched rear derailleur to keep the chain from slapping against his hand-painted stays. Zio insisted on getting it dirty before we had a chance to take photos - not that we're complaining, bikes like the UP look their best with a fine film of grit.
Open Cycles' gravel endeavor is a showcase of versatility - this one is built with XTR 27.5" carbon hoops and Schwalbe's fast-rolling Thunder Burt MTB tires that the UP has no problems accomodating.
The UP is, in a word, freedom. Freedom from cars, freedom from the constraints of a paved road. Of course, it isn't freedom from Marin County's desperate attempts to abolish bicycle riding off-road
, but it isn't poaching if it's on drop bars, right?
Rounding out Zio's mixed-surface weapon is a venerable Thomson cockpit, and an oddly familiar stem with clever Di2 junction box mounting.
Keep an eye on @shreddersdigest
, where Zio is a contributor, to get more fleeting glances at his multi-colored dream rig. Tomorrow, a throwback to the days before color TV with a smashing monochrome number... Stay tuned.