By Rob Quinn
The word guerrilla (the diminutive of Spanish Guerra, “war”) stems from the duke of Wellington’s campaigns during the Peninsular war (1808-14) in which Spanish and Portuguese irregulars of guerrilleros, helped drive the French from the Iberian Peninsula.
Guerrilla Gravity was established in 2011 making welded aluminum travel-heavy bikes at 2031 Bryant Street, right by Mile High Stadium or whatever it’s called this year. It was a curious design when compared with the white-hot carbon fiber beauties these folks are cranking out today. The organic transition from a weld and build shop to one that builds and manufactures their own carbon fiber. A rarity in the cycling world.
Guerrilla Gravity’s mission statement is simple “Make mountain biking more awesome”. From what I experienced after 4 days on their top selling “Smash” they have executed mission critical goals.
Guerrilla Gravity makes a few bikes
- The Gnarvana, is described as a 29” – 160mm No limit trail bike,
- The Smash, is described as a 29 -145 mm Surface-to-surface missile (good one!!),
- The Trail Pistol, 29” -120 mm Single track flyer, The Megatrail, 27.5 -155/165mm Big Mountain Liberator,
- The ShredDogg, 27.5 / 27.5+-130/140mm Ain’t Nothin but a party,
- The Pedalhead, 29 / 27.5 Adventure Hardtail
All bikes use the same front triangle for both the 27.5 and 29er models.
From there they can be customized to create the above listed bikes.
On the Guerrilla Gravity website www.RideGG.com the company proudly proclaims that they are part of a new American Manufacturing movement. I like that!
To the uninitiated. Even USA stalwarts Trek and Specialized mostly build overseas. Treks last remaining USA Carbon bikes rolled off the line with carbon fiber made in Salt Lake City. Specialized manufactures almost all it’s bikes now in Taiwan. For two years I was the American sales manager for Bellwether and Profile-Design. Bike business is big business, especially in Taiwan. I travelled there each quarter where entire sections of cities are dedicated to the cycling. Manufacturing carbon fiber is notoriously tricky and results in difficult to deal with byproducts. Enough world economics. Let’s talk about the bike.
I reached out to Liz, the nicer than nice marketing person and introduced myself and asked to demo a bike.
It’s full tilt Moab season so demand for these bikes is high but they managed to work me in for a Tuesday pickup. The factory show room and office is tight but jumping with energy and a decidedly cool vibe. They will be moving to a new location, still in Denver, to handle demand— a good sign in business.
I was greeted by GG’s (I’ll use this since we are friends now…) front man Dustin. A company advocate extraordinaire who was about as “hihowareya” nice as anybody I’ve come across in the bike biz.
GG’s bikes are sized 1 to 4, 4 being the largest. Dustin with the eye of an Italian tailor, hands me a size 4 Smash. Their “XL”. I’m usually a large. He notes my long inseam (35) and long arms (bizarre 6’4 wingspan on a 6’1 frame). I took his word for it and off I departed, promising to bring Smash baby back Friday by 10:00 AM because it was shipping out for another lap to Moab.
The first thing I and everyone else that saw it noticed was how tall and noble it stands with a stand-over height of 28.9 inches and a length of 50.7 inches, (if she was a horse they’d say she was “20 hands high”). The Smash is a long-tall drink of water. Just what the doctor ordered after shredding all summer on a new tighter XC type bike and the tried and true hardtail.
Now with the pandemic and fulfillment problems out of Asia, bikes were hard to come by and I sold two steeds early and cheap. I’m in the market for a big travel companion bike. My hunch was The Smash would fit the bill. For usually being wrong, I was right about this one.
The game plan: Take the Smash home and dial it. Every demo bike I ride I need to put a longer stem on and move the seat back. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum (sorry Mel Brookes). I put the Speedplay frogs on (an object of curiosity at GG shop!) in the driveway and got ready to start adjusting (I’m a notoriously fussy fit). The Smash fit me like an old pair of running shoes, with zero adjustment. Not even the seat? That’s never ever happened. I’ll bring a #6 with me on the shakedown ride just in case.
I figure after a short test ride in my hood, I’ll head out for two days on The Western slope. One day in Fruita riding Mary’s loop etc just off the highway and the next day, The lunch loop in Grand Junction. I even had a business appointment with Rocky Mounts, who just relocated from Boulder to Grand Junction. That deserves it’s own article. The Airport Holiday Inn was booking room for just 10,000 points. I’ve never seen that amount so low, so Wednesday night I’ll spent in fine style.
At 2 PM with the sun quickly sinking, I hit the hardest, rockiest trails that I’d been avoiding all summer in my neighborhood. Pedaling out, I’m hurting. I had done two days on a new torture machine called a Nordic Track Rower and it made every pedal stroke harder than usual. Not a very nice way to review a 32 pound trail bike that has to be coaxed up 2k to get to the desired rock garden before the sun sets.
That’s when I noticed that The Smash pedaled more like my road bike or racing XC bike than my previous gravity rigs.
It seemed I always had a “flat spot” at the bottom of my stroke, the kind that favors “mashers”. I’m an old roadie that was raised spinning with Campy toe clips on a lax angle head tube steel Eddy Merckx. At a young age I was coached on the importance and elegance of “the stroke” and “the spin”. Even though my legs (and everything) was in a lactic acid revolt this GG Smash was allowing me to pedal through and for the first time a 32 lb bike did not seem to be 20% more work on the up. Within 20 minutes I was feeling great and buoyed by the feel of my new friend.
The only feeling I can compare to what I felt on my first descent on The Smash is the feeling you get when you first skied on some phatty twin-tip powder skis after a dump. Like feeling invincible and skiing way outta your fool head. Then you almost hit a submerged log and realize you better reel it in. Ditto, The Smash. It did not take long for me to realize I was going way too fast over way too much and let’s not crash the Smash in the first hour. No sooner did that thought pass that I hit the rear wheel hard on a sharp rock and I could hear the air pissin out the back. Shit, I smashed The Smash before I got to the Western Slope. I insert a Stans injection and an air cart and it held. I limp back to my garage shop thinking I wrecked the Christmas present before Christmas. After a few taps a little of dis and a little of dat, I got it fixed. I take a picture and send it to Corky from Green Mountain sports. He’s been fixing things I break for the last 20 years…He says “It should hold but I’d bring a few extra tubes”.
Not all is right while I pack for a two-day boondoggle disguised as a business trip. The Pandemic had been brutal for my business. Like any Mountain Biker I just dug in and kept cranking and everything appeared to be coming back. Then phase 2 of the pandemic started to raise its ugly head. I had one very large, new client that had gone “radio silent” and during a key agreement time he ghosted me. It was weighing heavily on me and I enlisted my wife Jeanne to join my pity party so we could all bum-out together. Not a chance. “It’s not all about you Rob” the words stung—it’s not? She continued. “Maybe that person has things going on also? Quit your bitching and get on with it.”
With my tail between my legs I departed for Fruita at 5AM with my XC bike accompanying us just in case I had done The GG Smash wrong yesterday and the wheel failed. I was hungry too, so stopped in Glenwood Springs for a proper breakfast at Village Inn. Should I be spending money on a sit-down place after I had apparently lost such a large account?.
What did I do wrong? I retrace all my actions to see where I failed. The stench of failure makes me sick.
I check my phone out of habit, it’s the client! “Sorry for the delay, been in Scottsdale golfing and the time got away from me. Attached is the signed agreement. How quickly can we start the ad campaign”. Words cannot explain the feeling I had. I ordered extra bacon and a large orange juice to celebrate. Bon Ton Roulette.
Today would not be a day on the best trails in the state (country?) self-flogging and crying over spilled milk. This would be a victory lap. Today was shaping up to be the best day ever.
The lot was full. These are hard core locals and not weekend warriors. I sensed necks craned looking at what’s in back of my truck. Something if you own a GG bike you should get used to. Right on cue the dudes next to me started with questions on the bike. This happened eight times in the next two days. People are aware and into the brand.
The trails were empty and The Smash felt like an old friend. I then hit the moment of truth, the object of destruction, Horse Thief bench drop. The widow maker. A funny thing happens when you hit a certain age and have had everything from your teeth to your shoulders knocked out. What if I eat it by myself 5 miles from the parking lot?. I humbly climb down the descent, prepared to fight another day. I effortlessly ride the entire system. The Smash’s 13.5 inch bottom bracket height makes clearing everything a do-able run. I’m making things I would not attempt on my 100M xc ride, yet I don’t feel like I’m driving a Sherman tank. Smash is badass but nimble. There is love and there is lust. I am in lust. I pull into the parking lot and realize in all the excitement I had left a top-of-the line spare XC bike unlocked on my rack. Dumb asses don’t usually get a mulligan. What a day.
Then it hit me. The advertising campaign, start asap, I have three commercials to write and need to muster and direct a production crew from my iPhone in the next 2 hours. This work would best be accomplished using professional grade internet…the type offered at the Copper Club Brewing Company of Fruita. Luv ya Moab but I’ll take Fruita. Viva Colorado!
I settled onto the deck and basked in the late afternoon sun. I ordered a double IPA to jump start the process. The words and ideas flowed like Hemmingway. No edits, no typos, everything flows perfectly. The two good-old boys with Cowboy boots and sun creased necks eavesdropped on me reading my spot outload against the stopwatch. First in English then in Spanish. Spanish requires a 20% edit vs English copy for the same timed spot.
I have always liked Thursdays. Some might even say my Thursday is most other peoples Friday. None-the-less, after a quick breakfast with former Evergreen High School racer Quintin Kurtz who is racing for Mesa, I headed out to the impressive new Rocky Mounts facility in Grand Junction and thank them for their participation in the Fort Lewis Fall Blaze and do my thing.
By 11 AM I’m off to the epic Grand Junction Lunch Loop area.
Again, my entrance drew looks and two able and ready riders started asking questions. If you like attention this bike is for you. The two dudes, Johnny and Raffa, Grand Junction firefighters enjoying a break after one busy summer asked me to join them on a ride. These guys were fabulous riders and I was humbled on the ups and downs. The Smash is clearly more bike that I am rider. After 3 hours of red-lining it and trying to keep these guys in sight we rolled into the parking lot. I apologized for riding so slow, they looked surprised and said “you hung just fine bro, how old are you anyhow?” My stock answer, “old enough to know better.”
They gave me a compliment not fit for print ending with the now fashionable M & F. My eyes watered up in the truck when the coast was clear. A compliment from two hard men was humbling. I checked the time and pushed it back to make dinner at home.
Friday, I awoke pretty sore after three good days of riding and almost 10k of vert. A great excuse to eat a nice breakfast and get that bike back by 10:00 AM, or I could kit up and haul ass out for an hour or two and get my YaYa’s one more time.
Sold. I opt for the mellow lower loop, but once again I’m turning circles and in no time we are chopping high cotton.
It’s an unseasonably warm day so I put the rear rack on the vintage blue 1995 Mazda Miata Convertible, whose blue is the same blue as the smash, I call it a Honolulu Blue. The same blue the hapless Detroit Lions have besmirched. The large Smash mounted on the tiny Miata is almost a comical sight. On the way out of the valley a guy in a pickup truck is tailgating me waving his iPhone around filming like a pissed off motorist. Did I cut him off? False alarm, at the light he drops his window and says “How long you had The Smash?”. Uffda.
I pull into Gravity Gorilla for the 10:00AM drop. In a mixture of pride and guilt I show Dustin the wheel damage. He thanks me for my honesty and says he can repair it. Dustin, Looking at my gray whiskers, long hair and sun creased face asks “How old are you anyhow”. You know how the rest goes.
In summary, I like what these folks are doing at Gorilla Gravity from A to Z. I like the grass roots movement and I like the bike.
Best of all I like that it was part of the best day of the year for me and that’s just as good as it gets.
“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere”
-Ursula K. Le Guin. The Dispossessed.
20 hands high is 80 inches.17 hands is a good size horse.