The Growth of Gamut USA

Nov 5, 2014 at 5:25
by Mary Moncorge  


The Growth of Gamut USA



Gamut are a real homegrown American success story. In a world were much manufacturing is shipped off to the Far East and the huge production facilities over there, they stand out as a company who do things differently. Anybody who has seen their chainguides arrive as OEM spec on Specialized bikes might understandably assume that they are a big player, but they'd be wrong. Gamut's story is one of a father, two sons, a childhood friend and a garage just outside San Francisco. That they have managed to land one of the biggest contracts in mountain biking is a testament to their ingenuity and dedication.

For 2014 they are releasing an all-new trail lineup which is a huge step for the Bay Area natives. With their roots planted firmly in downhill, this is the first time they have strayed out of that market and it marks a new and important step in the company's development. Before we look at the new products, we sat down with Gamut's founder, Juan Graziosi, and asked him about where the company started and where we can expect to see it head in the next few years.

Gamut USA
  The Gamut crew: Nate Shaw, Juan Graziosi, and Simon Silver. (Mateo Graziosi, Eduardo Graziosi and Mike Poutre not pictured)

When you started off 15 years ago, it was just you and your dad?

My dad is an industrial engineer by trade, but he has had several machinist gigs over the years. He also worked out of the garage on weekends to make ends meet when we were kids. Mainly doing side jobs he got from various companies nearby. He paid us $10 to help to do manual work - it was good money for a kid, although it probably violated some child labor law. He also raced his Alfa Romeo and rebuilt his own motors, refurbishing Alfa fuel pumps and fuel injections which he sold to other Alfa enthusiasts. I was racing downhill and my dad and I were travelling from race to race each weekend. I needed a chain guide, but after he saw the prices, he said we should make a few ourselves. We bought some material and stayed up late a couple nights getting some prototypes built. They were raw, unfinished, a little finicky to work with but once you set them up correctly, they did the job.

You had the ideas, he had the skills?

For the most part, yes. He was very savvy and would always design a high functioning product, but I found they lacked simplicity and some panache. I was 15 and mostly concerned with making my bike look cool while he couldn't have cared less about the aesthetics - a familiar father-son debate! With opposing views came loud arguments, or as Mike [my brother] called them, “Graz-hole shouting matches.” Fortunately, it usually produced an outcome we’d both be happy with. Usually...

Are you a trained engineer?

Nope. But growing up with a garage full of tools and a father who would only let us race things if we did our own mechanic-ing, we got to be fairly handy. Funny story - my brother welded chromoly handlebars he stole from my sister's ten-speed onto his go-kart frame so it would comply with the new height spec for racing. It still hangs in the garage as a reminder of his hackery...

Gamut USA

How was the first guide made?

We bought a few sheets of aluminum, cut them to length on the table saw then popped them into the CNC machine. Incidentally, I ran my fingers through the table saw cutting the aluminum, no bueno, blood everywhere. After that it was all the manual jobs: drilling, tapping, deburring, assembling, etc.


Your roots are firmly in downhill, is that where Gamut started?

Yeah, in DH, dual, and 4X. Our first guides were merely for my own use, but a few friends offered to buy some at Donner in 2001/2002 at the “Racin’ at the Ranch” series. After that, Mateo and Mike jumped in to get things organized and we launched the brand in 2004.

It took you 5 years to go from homemade parts to starting your company, how tough was it?

For us it was a hobby so it didn’t feel like a struggle until we had our “oh shit” moment. Brandon [Sloan, Director of Performance Mountain Bikes] from Specialized wanted to meet for OEM consideration. He put in an order with us. After the initial elation of imagining our product on the Demo, we realized we were screwed... We weren't sure we could deliver. We had to have Mateo pull a few graveyard shifts on the CNC machine and Mike would relieve him in the morning. We ran the machine for over 30 hours straight once cutting bashguards while we manually broached axles and made rollers on the manual lathe.

Gamut USA

Fast forward 10 more years, you guys are pretty well-established, but you are still based in the Bay Area in California, still doing your manufacturing in the US.

After some nice growth, our garage turned into our “prototyping lab” and small run production house. We actually do outsource some of our parts locally and some overseas. But all our product are still assembled by Mike, Mateo, and myself here in the Bay Area. Usually on the weekends. Oh and Simon, our intern who once asked me to bring him a Starbucks. Kids these days...


This trail range marks a shift for you guys away from just chainguides for gravity racing - why the move?

As much as we love perfecting the chain guide, it’s a niche market, we realized that if we wanted to expand we would have to move into new territory. Over the years we’ve made prototypes for various products but never brought them to market. We’ve made suspension internals, pedals (with and without exotic materials), aluminum brake rotors which almost cost me my life during “testing” as well as some others. Some of this you’ll see soon...

You are also expanding your staff and production facility, why this new direction or is it more a normal evolution?

It’s the right time given our desire to do more. It’s funny, people have always assumed we were a “big” company. Few people understand that it’s basically four guys, three with day jobs who meet every weekend to make mountain bike parts. Our facility is still a garage, but we do have a proper office and warehouse now to work from. We also have some engineering talent we work with that love our brand and we have Simon, our high maintenance intern.



Gamut's Trail Range


TTr Chainring


Gamut USA - Thick Thin chainring
  Gamut's alternating teeth dimension chainring.

The TTr chainring is Gamut's take on the thick/thin, narrow/wide chainring. After a year in development and four different iterations tested, the TTr ring was born. The triangle cutouts around the boltholes save weight and the amount of material removed is precisely calculated to remove the maximum amount of material possible without compromising the strength. The smallest ring in the range, the 30T chainring, uses a slightly different layout to its larger brethren as the size placed particular demands on the construction. There are no triangular cutouts around the boltholes, instead material is machined out to a depth of 1mm on either side, removing some excess material but keeping strength in the structure. It also features 5mm keyed-in offsets for the bolts, these space the ring out away from the spider, to make sure the chain never comes in contact with the crank. One added benefit of this layout is that the offsets are threaded, so the crankbolt mounts directly onto the ring.

Gamut USA TTr
  Chainrings can be mounted on either side of the crank spider so you can get your alignment just right.

Features:
• 4mm 7075 T6 aluminum
• Type 2 hard-coat finishes for durability
• Compatible with 9, 10, and 11-speed drivetrains
• Compatible with 104 BCD cranks
• Available in 4 sizes: 30/32/34/36T
• Weight: 34 to 40 grams
• MSRP $49.99



Trail SXC Chainguide


Gamut USA Trail SXC ISCG05 32-40T
  With clutch derailleurs and narrow/wide chainrings, a full chainguide is no longer mandatory for aggressive riders

Anybody familiar with Gamut's chain devices will instantly see that this is a big step away from their previous offerings. Where in the past they have produced relatively simple back-plates paired with a spider-mounted bashguard, their new guides do away with the bashguard completely and retention is taken care of by the head of the guide. For those who are running a 1x setup with a clutch derailleur, but want some extra security without too much of a weight penalty, this guide might be your holy grail. The back-plate is a minimalist aluminum frame, with as much material as possible removed to reduce weight to an absolute minimum. At the top, the guide is keyed directly into the back-plate to minimize twisting. The head of the guide is made of polyurethane and is held together with two bolts so it can be easily popped off and stripped down. Gamut say that as more and more people are asking for more compact guides, they are looking to produce a stripped down 30-36T version of the guide, which should shave some extra weight. They are also currently working on an evolution of the Trail SXC with an integrated lower bashguard – Trail SXR.

Gamut USA Trail SXC
  Laser markings on the aluminum helps you set up properly your chainguide

Features:
• 6061 T6 Aluminum back-plate and polyurethane slider
• Red anodization and laser marking
• Mounting options: BB, ISCG03 and ISCG05
• Works with 30 to 40T chainrings
• Weight: 40 to 50 grams depending on mount
• MSRP at $59.99



Trail S Chainguide


Gamut USA Trail S ISCG05 28-32T
  The Trail S is the bigger guide in the range to offer additional security, or for riders who aren't running clutch derailleurs and retention chainrings

The Trail S is the Trail SXC’s big brother: in addition to the upper guide, it has a lower guide, also in polyurethane, to keep your chain held on at both ends. It comes in three different sizes, with each size optimized for the size chainring it is mated to. Due to a clever trick of machining the weight is fairly consistent between the three sizes, as the larger guides have had material more aggressively removed to keep the weight down.

Gamut USA - Trail S
  Like the SXC, the S has laser marking on the aluminum for easy adjustment and uses rubber in the contact area to keep it quiet

Features:
• 6061 T6 Aluminum back-plate and polyurethane sliders
• Red anodization and laser marking
• Mounting options:BB, ISCG03 and ISCG05
• Available in 3 sizes: 28-32T, 33-36T, 37-40T
• Weight: 80 to 89grams
• MSRP at $99.99



Cillos stem


Gamut USA Cillos 50
  The Cillos 50 stem is Gamut first stem

The Cillos stem line is Gamut first step into broadening their product offering. It is made of forged aluminum and as a matte anodized finish for nice and smooth look. The Cillos stem is only available as 50mm but Gamut is working on more sizes.

Gamut USA Cillos 50

Features:
• Forged aluminum with custom M6 taper head bolts
• Matte anodization in grey or black with laser marking
• Bar clamp: 31.8mm
• Available in 50mm (40mm, 60mm and DM coming soon)
• Weight: 150 grams
• MSRP at $109.99



Gamutusa.com
@gamutusa




59 Comments

  • + 17
 There are loads of brands that'll sell you a garish, form of over function CNC'ed lump for the front of your bike, some of us would rather have something properly engineered that does the job well without having to shout about it and Gamut's kit fits that bill pretty well.
  • + 9
 Seems strange that there was no mention of Gamut acquiring Point 1 Racing? Are they going to continue with making Point 1 pedals and stems which look better than Gamuts in my opinion. Or is Point 1 products being pushed under the shelves, I really like Point 1's products!
  • + 1
 Pedals are in the works. But they said the Point1 brand will transition to the Gamut name.
  • + 2
 Yeah, Point One makes/made the best flat pedals out there. I am hoping they will stay top-natch at Gamut.
  • + 5
 I had (the keyword here) a Gamut chainguide on my dh bike. Long story short the bottom slider broke (fair enough) and I be damned if I can find spare sliders or even just boomerangs. While it worked the guide was great, but choosing between paying for a brand new guide every time I hit a rock the wrong way and spending 20 bucks on a new set of sliders is a fairly easy one.
  • + 3
 Similar experience here, had a gamut on my 1x9 slope style bike. Shattered the bash guard doing lip tricks on my pump track (which had timber stunts) and damaged the sliders, could not get spares. Went over to e13 as spares easily available.

Shame, as gamut nice looking product, just needed better backup and a more durable bash guard.
  • + 5
 They don't even give you the proprietary chainring bolts with the guide. I emailed them wondering why it was not even mentioned on the website etc and got the most blunt F-You email back. So F-You Gamut. MRP a much nicer people with a cleaner 1x11 guide.
  • + 0
 And so far Gamut's growth...
  • + 6
 As a counterpoint, when my 3 yr old (well abused) lower guide roller crapped out, i pinged Gamut to order a replacement; Juan replied personally and sent one out gratis. Great people in my experience.
  • + 0
 @xy9ine

maybe they take care of North-American customers better? (although jclnv who is Canadian expressed he had poor support)

Here in the UK its was a pointless exercise, whereas E13 have good support, I've always found their chainguides to be bomber solid
  • + 6
 I've had nothing but positive interactions with Gamut over the past few years, and it's the ONLY chainguide I've run over the pas 9 years that has yet to drop a chain.
  • + 5
 Hey Gamut - you should do a bash guard for xx1 setups. I have never dropped a chain with xx1 but I do bash into logs and rocks. I bought one from carbocage as it was the only propper one i could find but being carbon it is not cheap. I see a market for you here.
  • + 2
 The article says they're already working on one of these:

"They are also currently working on an evolution of the Trail SXC with an integrated lower bashguard – Trail SXR".
  • + 1
 Made is USA!
  • + 7
 Really? Are you sure? Quote - "We actually do outsource some of our parts locally and some overseas. But all our product are still assembled by Mike, Mateo, and myself here in the Bay Area." - Unquote.
  • + 6
 @hatter no no. i'm talking no top chain guide. Just a standalone bash guard like this one that's made for use with 1x11: enduro-mtb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Review-Carbocage-Chainguide-9-von-12-780x520.jpg
  • + 0
 MRP makes a taco only guide: www.mrpbike.com/xcg
  • + 7
 Not everyone wants "bling" Benji-man^. I respect your opinion even though Im a stealthy guy as the products look and work great IMO.
  • + 0
 Was beginning to sincerely believe I was alone in the world. Lots of my components are available in myriad colours, but I always choose black. None more black...
  • + 6
 Please bring the Point One Split Second back... Gen 2... exactly the same without the integrated top cap... Please... they will sell at my store.
  • + 2
 yes!!!
  • + 6
 Yey Gamut! I've been using Gamut guides for years. Happy to see the new products.
  • + 2
 I am relatively new. Its fine I dont mind admitting it, can someone tell me what type of situations you would need a chain guide for and what is the purpose. Is it an investment I should make if i ride the bike park and do a lot of jumping?
  • + 1
 All situations warrant a chain guide--what I mean by that is that chains tend to derail spontaneously and there are numerous situations for that to happen. Riding bumpy terrain, jumping awkwardly or smoothly, struggling up a steep incline, starting quickly after stopping, etc. Just pretty good insurance if you are running a single ring up front and gears in the rear.
  • + 1
 Thanks, appreciate the info. what if you are running a 2x10?
  • + 2
 They make 2x guides without a top portion, so you can run your front derailleur, a taco bash, and idler
  • + 3
 great story, great company. i would think though the next move is to offer integrated protection for just the bottom of the chain ring. i checked their site and only saw the whole bash guard.
  • + 3
 I've got the cillos stem and you can get it for nearer £60 in the u.k. Its beautiful. Its a bit like the girl next door whos smokin' hot but doesnt know it.
  • + 1
 The only gamut product ive run is the guide system on my demo 7 ii. Im sure they make some great stuff otherwise but not a fan of this guide. No adjustability, noisy, drops chains occasionally. The worst part is that i cannot find chainring bolts that fit through the bashguard anywhere. I am now missing two, does anybody know where to find them?
  • + 2
 Gamut makes their own chain rings bolts that should work.
  • + 0
 Ill be honest I didnt have the best experience with their chainring bolts. Came fitted on a brand new bike I had bought and all just stripped and fell apart when I was out riding. This has never happened on any others I have used.
  • + 1
 I've had that experience but with some other brand of chainring bolts. Sure fire way to cut short a day of riding Frown
  • + 1
 eagerly awaiting a trail guide with a bash taco. There's little point to a top guide on trail bikes these days, thanks to NW rings and clutch drls (although, it's a safety aid for those really rough trails), but a bash guard is still going to be useful. Hell it's more useful now that my ring costs twice what it did before!
  • - 1
 AMG has a top guide, @atrokz said he didn't want one.
  • + 4
 Aka, me! haha. no, I could stand to use one for safety on really rough trails, little point but a nice safety feature. But the AMG looks ok too. I'm surprised more people aren't running some semblance of bash guard with these rings. And lol at the ass clown who checks up on my profile daily to downvote any post regardless of content. Hi! You need a life.
  • + 2
 lol, I'm a doofus. Hmmm, I dig that blackspire one as well... real question is if one is sturdier or not, methinks. I'd take a weight penalty(if one exists) to replace the taco less often.
  • + 5
 4 people gathering for the weekend?! WOW!
  • + 3
 Looks nice but need's a taco type bashguard... also not liking the rubber in the slider. Looks like that would wear pretty quick, time will tell.
  • + 3
 I have the SXC guide and it's great. Light and easy to set up. Refreshing to see reasonable prices, good work Gamut!!
  • + 2
 By golly I believe I went to H.S. with one or two of these guys and their sister. Glad to see they ended up making some awesome mtb parts!
  • + 3
 Nathan at Gamut is a rad dude!
  • + 3
 @waterwaterwaterwater
  • + 0
 This guide actually looks alright. Still not perfect, but much better looking than the old ones (Read: Your f*cking cranktumor).
  • + 2
 Got my gamut p20 for $45, couldn't be happier.
  • + 0
 I hope they offer a 55mm stem, Easton has a monopoly on that size it seems. Nobody else makes a 55 that I can find. its all either 50 or 60.
  • + 2
 i think the stem looks cool-different from what everyone else is doing.
  • + 0
 I've always hated my Gamut guide. The lower roller is essentially self loosening and it drives me berserk. I'm sure it's been fixed since 09 when I bought the bike though.
  • - 1
 I'm not an engineer but putting rubber on the slider is not a wise move. On the top cage, it works (i have installed rubber onto my lg1+)
  • + 2
 these guys are rad!
  • - 2
 I'm sure it all works amazingly.. but it's a little too understated for my taste. If I'm dropping around 100 on a stem, i want it to have some discerning features. Price to Bling ratio is way off.
  • + 3
 I thought that was the point for the stem?
No bling?
  • + 3
 I'm not talking gold plated this and jewel encrusted that.. just something a little bit standoutish.. Easton, RaceFace, Renthal, Deity, Point etc etc.. they all have discerning features. I get that not everything has to be outlandish and in your face.. but you can have subtle and classy looking components.
  • + 3
 I see what you mean. Not necessarily colour options, but maybe some machining/laser etching? I see it's a forged piece, so they're clearly going for function over fashion, but I'm also no engineer.
  • + 1
 stem is just eh. really nothing special for a 110 bucks
  • - 1
 Eh. E*Thirteen beats Gamut in every way IMO

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