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Phil Gaimon, a former WorldTour racer turned YouTube personality, has a new bike… and for the first time in many years, it’s not a Cannondale. Instead, the cookie-loving cyclist has linked up with a little-known brand out of Western Australia – Nove.
Having just collected his new ride, Gaimon was in Australia hungrily chasing local Strava KOMs. On the morning of the first Tour Down Under stage, Gaimon took to Adelaide’s hugely popular Norton Summit trying to best current pro Thomas de Gendt’s KOM – albeit doing it solo, rather than under race conditions. Eleven minutes later and at an average of 455W, Gaimon was eight seconds off from victory – enough for a tied 9th place with a bunch of current WorldTour pros in front. Needless to say, Thomas de Gendt found it funny that his record still stood.
In this Bike of the Bunch, we caught up with Gaimon to look at his new “World National Hill Climbing Championship” bike: a bike that (somewhat) jokingly carries both the rainbow and United States national colours.
A new brand
Nove is a small consumer-direct brand with customization being its clear point of difference. A quick look at the website will reveal no fewer than 16 steps to customising your bike, with impressive 3D images and renderings at every step along the way.
Speaking with Nove’s owner, Jay Barron, the company has heavily invested in Australian visual and web design talent to build out a website that offers far more customisation and instant visuals than any other brand currently in cycling: think Trek’s Project One on steroids and with an emptied Asthma inhaler.
And that customisation shows little signs of slowing. At the moment, the website allows for almost any colour combination to be picked and viewed, with options for adding your name, flag or even a picture to the bike. And while Gaimon’s featured bike goes beyond the site’s existing capabilities, eventually, such a level of personalisation will be possible for any of Nove’s customers.
Once a customer locks in their order, the bike is produced directly from the factory and delivered within four-six weeks. While the deep customisation options and the website tech that allows all this are unique to Nove, the frames they put their name to are open-mold from a reputable Chinese manufacturer.
Nove’s unique and broad customisation options have opened the door to a number of branded and charity partnerships. One of the early ones was with ChefsCycle, a cycling-focussed charity group that raises money for the “No Kid Hungry” charity. Coincidentally, it’s a charity that Gaimon also works with. “That was the first connection that I got to know you,” said Gaimon, speaking of Nove.
Gaimon and his bikes
Up until the start of 2019, Gaimon had been tackling his KOMs on a Cannondale. His last year as a professional cyclist was with the Cannondale outfit (now EF Education First), and he’d remained a part of the family since.
“What I’m doing is super weird by doing a YouTube show. My relationships were from pro cycling, cause that’s what I knew. But as I venture into the world of Youtube and people, then having a brand that isn’t rooted in racing is just a lot better of a fit,” explained Gaimon of his move.
“I’ve been surprised to see how much of cycling takes place out of the WorldTour. People don’t know who won the last race, or care. They just want to ride their bikes and [be] into cool stuff. That’s what I’ve evolved into.”
With Nove onboard, Gaimon now has this custom painted World National Hill Climbing Championship bike and a lighter rim-braked version for his Strava attempts (this bike not featured here, nor seen). “I only ever go fast uphill, so the brakes don’t matter there,” joked Gaimon of his lighter bike.
While the fancily painted “everyday” bike is thought to sit near 8kg, his Strava-hunting bike is certainly lighter. “It’s fairly similar to my last bike. I haven’t got all the crazy light parts on it yet… I’ll get the light one down there. It’s at about 6.2kg currently.”
The featured bike is a celebration of the “World National Hill Climbing Championships,” an unofficial event that Gaimon began after USA Cycling ended its hill climbing championships. The hand-painted frame blends his notorious love for cookies with his national stars and stripes and a hard-to-miss rainbow coloured theme.
Gaimon’s everyday bike squeezes in 28mm Mavic Yksion Pro UST rubber (run tubeless) mounted on matching Mavic Cosmic Carbon SL UST Disc wheels, while his climbing-specific bike (not pictured) is setup with tubulars. Most of the time he runs regular 53/39T gearing with a wide-range 11-32T cassette. However, he swaps to a compact (50/34T) for crazy steep climbs, such as Mount Washington.
Most unexpected is the choice of an ISM saddle, a brand best known in triathlon circles. “When I was riding for Optim (2015) they sponsored the team. So we were forced to try it. It takes a minute (a while) to setup, but then I was like “Oh, this is better for my crotch”. They started making a lighter road style version. The one I have here is a solid carbon shell, and because you sit on it differently, you don’t need the padding.
“It’s the first time in my career that I’ve had the stuff on my bike that I wanted. It’s the brands that I’ve liked and the brands that are into what I’m doing.”
While Gaimon’s Youtube presence started as something focussed on taking Strava KOMs, it’s morphed into more location-based content, where the climbs are the excuse to be there. Speaking of his new travel angle, “A lot of my audience, respectfully, want to masturbate to watts on the screen. There are a lot of people into that, and I like ripping climbs. I’m into that. But the story I want to tell is the best way to see the world is a bicycle. And I really believe in that mission.”
As for where this new bike will take Gaimon, he already has plans to go hunting Strava segments in Colombia and Japan, along with defending his title at his own championship held on Gibraltar Rd in Santa Barbara.