Kona’s 2021 Rove DL steel gravel bike is fitted with 650B wheels, drop bars, and a single front chainring 1 “1x” (pronounced one-by) means that there’s only a single front chainring and no front derailer. This is only made possible by wide-range cassettes that a long-cage rear derailer can shift through and quickly take up slack in the chain. paired with an 11-speed cassette. I bought one in 2021 for commuting because I wanted something more comfortable than the narrow-tire road bike I had pressed into service a few years earlier. The wide tires provide a nice cushion and the smaller wheels reduce the likelihood of toe overlap with fenders. The lack of a front derailer means less maintenance and fiddling to find the right front/rear gear combination. A few months after I bought it, I built a new front wheel to add dynamo lighting. About a year later, I upgraded to the 12-speed electronic SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain and SRAM Rival 1 AXS Wide power meter.
There are a ridiculous number of eyelets, especially on the front fork, for mounting gear carriers like the King Manything. A rear rack fits without QR axle adapters or a brake bolt mount. There’s even an extra set of bottle cage mounts on the bottom of the down tube.
It comes stock with a 40T front chainring and 11-42T rear cassette, providing a gear ratio range from 3.64 to 0.95. With my wheels and tires, that translates to a range of 98 to 25.6 gear inches, which was not quite low enough for some of the climbs near me.
The biggest change from the stock bike is the electronic SRAM GX Eagle AXS rear derailer and shifter, using their upgrade kit. 2 Most electronic drivetrains have switched to hydraulic braking, but my bike uses cable-actuated disc brakes. SRAM still makes electronic shifters with mechanical brakes for road bikes with rim brakes, but only for higher-end groupsets. Unfortunately, the cheaper SRAM Force eTap AXS shift-brake lever was out of stock everywhere when I upgraded the bike. The upgrade kit comes with a mountain bike shifter meant for handlebars with a diameter of 22.2mm, but my drop bars are 31.8mm. This meant that the collar supplied with the shifter didn’t fit, so I had to use a Paul Components SRAM Shifter Adaptor instead. The new rear derailer supports an 11-50T cassette that, when paired with a 40T chainring, gets a low gear of 21 gear inches, compared to 26 for the original drivetrain. Shifts feel faster and it’s a lot easier to dial in the derailer adjustment using the micro-adjust system. There’s also a SRAM Rival 1 AXS Wide power meter integrated into the left-hand crank so I can track my fitness more accurately. When I installed the drivetrain, I also started using Silca Secret Chain Blend hot melt wax to keep the chain lubricated.
A proper bike needs a way of carrying gear, so I added a Tubus Stainless Logo rear rack. For the bottle cage on the bottom of the down tube, I fitted a King Cage and use REI’s K.E.G. Bike Tool Storage Bottle to store a patch kit, Park Tool IB-12 multi-tool, Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers, and spare Tubolito MTB tube. For hydration, a King Iris Cage on top of the down tube holds either a Klean Kanteen classic brushed 27oz with a sport cap or a Klean Kanteen wide 27oz bottle. On the seat tube, a Klean Kanteen wide 40oz sits in a Velo Orange Mojave cage. A Silca Tattico mini pump is mounted alongside the seat tube bottle cage.
A Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ-XS headlight is connected to a Schmidt SON 28 dynamo hub and regulates power sent to the rear Busch & Müller Line Plus taillight. It works well, but the built-in wires aren’t very durable and I’d prefer a physical switch, so the lights don’t flash while I’m walking the bike. I’m going to replace it with a blue Schmidt Edelux II soon.
I have a Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT head unit for pairing with sensors and recording rides. Just in case, the Cycliq Fly12 CE and Cycliq Fly6 CE cameras record any crashes or oddities. A Garmin Varia RTL515 radar mounted to my rack detects any overtaking cars, but I’ve silenced the audio alerts due to false positives.
The bike comes with knobby tires, so I replaced them with a pair of slick, 48mm-wide Rene Herse Switchback Hill tires. These ended up being a bit too wide, even, so I may downsize once these wear out. I also replaced the saddle with a Brooks Cambium C17.
To keep the drivetrain clean and make it suitable for inclement weather, PDW 650 Beast fenders wrap the tires. They were a pain to install, mainly because both the front and rear eyelets don’t fit the mounting hardware. For the front, I had to shave down the plastic safety clips (so the front fender can detach if it gets caught in the wheel) with a utility knife. On the back, I couldn’t get a good fit and had to mount them to the rack’s extra set of eyelets. But they look really nice and otherwise fit well, with a slight rattle in the front fender at times.
The stock road drop handlebars aren’t very comfortable for the laid-back rides and climbs I tend to do. I’m not a fast descender so I rarely use the drops. To make matters worse, I have to keep moving my hand back to my shifter mounted on the top of the handlebars, near the stem. So I’d like to swap out the handlebars for swept-back ones, like the Nitto Albatross.
The cameras don’t last long enough and aren’t clear enough to capture license plates. I would like to use a proper action camera but their batteries die even faster.
The brakes are fine, but difficult to adjust on the bike, so I might get a new set of brake calipers.
The front fender probably needs the PDW disc brake spacer set to clear the brakes more gracefully. And the rear fender could hug the tire more closely with another spacer set.