A PINKBIKE ORIGINAL
THE GRIM DONUT 2
Part 2: The Right Amount of Stupid
Words by Mike Levy
The Grim Donut wasn't supposed to work. It should be near-unrideable, a joke of a bike taken too far, and a punchline that took too long to reach. But if you've already watched the video, you'll know that only the last part of that is true. The Donut was intended to be stupid, but could it be the right amount of stupid?
Okay, fine, it might not work everywhere
, but its 57-degree head angle, 83-degree seat angle, and Winnebago-like wheelbase aren't quite so funny now that we've done timed testing with Yoann Barelli...
How'd We Get Here?
The idea behind the Grim Donut was to skip the drawn-out process of brands getting to the geometry we'll obviously be using in 2030. I mean, if that's where we're going, why don't we just go there now? To do that, we looked at the difference between the numbers we used in 2010 and those we're using today, then we simply applied the difference. To be honest, I'm not sure why no one's done this before.
We're far better at misguided methods than welding, though, so we reached out to Genio, a relatively small but high-end Taiwanese factory.
The 160mm-travel frame is known as 'GF7-1-160A' in Genio's catalog, but after welding two downtubes together to get the required length and applying our future-proofed geometry, it's better known as the Grim Donut. If you need to catch up, here's the first part of the story
The only thing left to do was ride it, which brings us to the next chapter in the Donut's protracted life. Timed Testing Aboard the Grim Donut
It's not that I wasn't excited to ride the Donut, it's just that I had some reservations. Sure, I have to get used to a new-to-me bike every few weeks, but I'm usually not wondering if the headtube will decide to take the day off. And the bikes usually aren't seven or eight degrees slacker and about a foot closer to the ground. So yeah, I was apprehensive.
I survived, despite having more pedal strikes in three-hundred-feet than I have over the last three-years, and the Donut's headtube is still on duty to this day. But it was obvious that my cautious approach and the less-than steep trail were, um, less than ideal for the geometry we'll be using in 2030. Thankfully, we know a guy who might not even know what 'cautious' means in English...
It got serious as soon as I handed the Donut over to Yoann Barelli. After all, it's one thing for me to go out and have some laughs while riding our wacky bike, but it became obvious that Barelli wasn't joking around. Off the bike, yes. On the bike, not so much. The Frenchman was placing well in the Enduro World Series only a few years ago, and judging by his recent videos I'm not sure he's slowed down one bit since.
The test track was around two-minutes long, full of sharp rocks, steep slabs and, luckily for the Donut, not much pedaling. It's also a trail that Yoann was very familiar with, having used it to evaluate his bikes over the years. That's important because it means he could take consistent lines at a consistent effort during the timed laps rather than having to learn the trail. And speaking of learning, Yoann spent all of a few minutes getting used to the Donut, his only changes from my setup being to raise tire pressures a nip and to rotate the brake levers up to near-level.
After posting a 2:09 aboard his own bike, itself nearly twenty-seconds quicker than the existing KOM, it was the Donut's turn to go up against the Freelap clock. And if you thought Yoann would be a bit apprehensive given its odd geometry and unfamiliar components, his GoPro footage says otherwise... 2:03
Yoann went six-seconds quicker aboard the Donut over the span of a short, two-minute descent. On his first timed lap. Using completely unfamiliar brakes, tires, and cockpit. My reaction in the video is genuine - I didn't think the Donut would be much slower, but I certainly didn't expect Yoann to go faster. A lot faster.
Is it a coincidence that the Donut is about six-degrees slacker than Yoann's personal bike and he also shaved about six-seconds off his time? Given the Donut's rigorous development and groundbreaking approach to choosing geometry, I'd say there's zero chance of that being the case.
Yoann clearly made the Donut work for him, but that might not mean it makes sense as a daily driver for those of us without a pro racing license. ''No, I don't think so. As a race perspective, I think yes. And I think that maybe this test might make brands see a little out of the box, and if they want racers to be faster, maybe they have to make proper bikes for the racers.
''Would I ride this bike every day? Absolutely not,
'' said Yoann after his run on the Grim Donut. ''The way it is right now, the geometry isn't pleasant. When you pedal, you're going to hit them on the ground. And it doesn't corner properly, but it works when you go super fast.
'' Having done some tentative test laps of my own on the Donut, I can confirm that it's a handful when you're not at ten-tenths. ''But on something like that,
'' he said of the rocky, high-speed trail, ''where it's kinda fast with long corners, you just have to be pretty centered on the bike and you just go for it!
It makes sense to hear Barelli say that the Donut's long, slack, and maybe-a-bit-too-low geometry best suits eye-watering speeds, and there's no doubt that its overly-active suspension only helps that cause
. Stability and traction equal speed, and that's even truer when both are hard to come by.
"The EWS in Chile? This bike wins by a minute,
'' Yoann said of the dusty, loose South American event where racers often say they find only anti-grip. What Do We Do Now?
What do the microwave, Post-It notes, chocolate chip cookies, and the Grim Donut all have in common? They were all fortunate accidents. This was originally meant to be a two-part series and the joke was supposed to be on us; the Donut was supposed to be terrible and we were supposed to learn some kind of lesson. Instead, we may have stumbled onto something promising. Too promising too ignore.
So we're gonna do the only thing we can, which is to begin work on the next Grim Donut prototype. Expected release date: 2030.
Want more Donut? Part 1: We Went to Taiwan & Made a Bike from the Future - The Grim DonutBehind the Numbers: The Grim DonutWe Tested Our Bike From The Future - The Grim Donut Part 2 (April Fools)
Brian Park & Jason Lucas
Produced & Directed by
Mike Levy, Yoann Barelli
Chris Cocalis, Aaron Gwin
Additional Footage by
Max Barron, Cole Nelson & Chris Ricci
Mike Levy & Brian Park
Special Thanks to
Yoann Barelli, Aaron Gwin, Calvin Lin at Genio Bikes, SRAM, Connor Bondlow at e*Thirteen
Sam Richards at OneUp, Cody Philips,
TRP Brakes, Chris Cocalis at Pivot, Nick Morgan at
Corsa Cycles, Karl & Radek Burkat