Bikes We Ride: Patrick's Kona Libre Custom Build
We’re all about pushing things further here at Astral. When we aren’t working, we’re riding bikes. Some might say, “too much.” (What the hell does that even mean?) Our guy, Patrick Means, is no exception. He claims his years as a go-fast racer are in the rear-view, but he still gets out and rips at every opportunity - often on his mountain bike and carrying a camera.
His new Kona Libre is a “curly-bar” bike built to withstand the wild adventures he drops into. Falling on the rowdy, MTB-oriented side of the gravel-bike spectrum, it sports a purpose-built parts selection geared towards fun. It ain’t no gold-chain show-bike. This is a workhorse. “I’d rather ride my bike than wash it.” Patrick says. “A bicycle is a tool, not something I ogle in the garage.”
Patrick’s humbleness aside, the rip-ready parts spec on this unique rig make it worth a second glance. Here’s what he has to say about the build highlights:
- A rear fender out here [the PNW] is a must! It’s not surprising how cold you can get with a river of icy muddy water running down your butt-crack and down your Body heat is precious this time of year.
- Astral Outback CLD Carbon wheelset. On a ‘gravel’ bike, these are game-changers! I didn’t realize how much sidewall support you get from an internal width 25mm rim, and how that translates into the ride experience. Even at pressures in the low 20s, hard cornering felt really stable, with very little wobble or squirm that’s typically associated with running skinny tires at lower pressures.
- 43mm Panaracer Gravel King SK tires. These mounted up beautifully! They feel surprisingly quick on pavement, and at lower pressures, they find more traction in the mud than I was expectin
- OneUp Dropper post. This turns the bike into a singletrack machine! Sure, it’s not as fast as a mountain bike, but it’s super fun in a different way, and doesn’t feel as dangerous as when high-posting.
- The rest of the parts are fairly utilitarian. The kind of parts that when they are functioning correctly, you aren’t thinking about them. A 46cm wide, slightly flared handlebar. Shimano hydro brakes and mechanical shifting bits and pieces, ‘cause they work great.
- I prefer a double-ring, even on a bike like this. I know you can get a similar gear range with a single ring these days, but I enjoy the feeling of putting the chain in the big ring, and having a little tighter spacing between gears on that end of things.
All photos: Patrick Means