We caught up with Joe Breeze and his Breezer Bikes brand at the Sea Otter Classic to check out his latest creation, a gravel grinder called the Inversion. This is an early look at a model year 2017 bike that was created as the “mountain biker’s road bike” and it will be available in two versions, both with the same steel frame and carbon fork with carbon steerer.
The Inversion Team is featured here and runs WTB’s new Exposure 30c tires rolling on WTB Frequency tubeless compatible 700c rims. The frame itself is an evolution of Joe’s old Venturi road frames that actually carries over some of the same tubing, same top tube but the Inversion has a more modern large diameter down tube so it’s a little more stout for today’s rider demands. The Inversion also has rack mounts and fender mounts so it can be loaded up for bike packing or a gravel endurance event.
It’s in the tubeset that the Inversion differs from most steel frames out there. Japanese steel is used by it’s not Tange or Kansai. These tubes come from the JFE Steel Corporation and they are possibly one of the top 5 steel producers in the world specializing in such categories as aeronautics and marine industries and a lot of things outside of the bicycle industry. For the Inversion, the frame design dictated that the builder use a lot of manipulation at the junctions. We talked to Breezer Brand Manager, Mark Vanek who explained, “A standard tubeset will not work because Joe sources the tubes to be annealed but not heat treated. Normally, you would get a set of heat treated tubes that you then cut, miter and weld. The welds are strong but you’re weakening the tubes. But this frame is completely welded first, like an aluminum frame and then heat treated as a complete frame, not the individual tubes. So, it’s a more labor intensive process but the end result is we are then able to shape the tubing and not rely on any gusseting or heavier tube profiles to have the same strength at the end.”
The Inversion frames require huge heating treating ovens for the complete frame and entire rows of frames go through these ovens in the frame factory. As such, these frames don’t lend themselves too easily to production on a small scale.
The Inversion frame has thru-axles front and rear and feature new Breeze-thru dropouts in the rear that are also shared with a new 2017 steel hardtail (Lightning) that will be coming out later this year. The bike has 142mm rear spacing for 40c tire clearance. Vanek continues, “You can fit road, cross or gravel tires. This bike will let you do everything. 40c max width front and rear.” In addition, the Inversion has a tapered head tube that Joe designed and machined away as much material as possible to lighten weight without sacrificing stiffness. There are also three bottle mounts and the frame has a press fit bottom bracket.
The Inversion will come in two models, the Inversion Team and the Inversion Pro. The Inversion Team will have a full Shimano Ultegra kit with Praxis Zayante crankset, full hydraulic disc brakes and retail will be around $2000.
The Inversion Pro will feature the same frame and carbon fork, but will be equipped with a Shimano 105 kit, TRP Hy/Rd mechanically actuated disc brakes, WTB tubeless rims, with a slightly wider 32c tire and will retail around $1500.
There will also be another steel bikepacking specific model called the Radar which will be shown later this year. The Radar will have a steel fork and less expensive straight double butted cromoly tubeset with a bit wider stance. It will also have QR front and rear, room for a 2.1 tire front and rear, rack mounts, low-rider mounts on the fork and will be designed as a commuter or dirtbomb type bike for camping. The Radar will be available in two models. One version will have a Shimano Sora 9-speed group with mechanical disc brakes and will retail for around $800-$900. There will be a model above that with SRAM Rival 2×10 group, HRD 600 levers, full hydraulic disc brakes for around $1200.
Both the Inversion and Radar models will be available around September of this year.
For more information visit www.breezerbikes.com.
This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s coverage of the 2016 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.