Bikes of the Bunch: Cyfac Exostiff gravel

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This week’s Bikes of the Bunch comes fresh from the workshop of French frame builder Cyfac International. It’s a bike made for Xavier, a customer based just outside of Paris who’ll be participating in the mountainous five-day, 1,200km Born to Ride event.

While it’s odd to cover an unfinished bike in a series called Bikes of the Bunch, I think you’ll agree that the combination of materials and integration of what are typically after-thought accessories makes this one well worthy of such coverage.

Custom this, custom that, custom those

Cyfac, a French acronym which roughly translates to Handmade Bicycle Frames, is a famed name within France’s custom bike scene. Based in the Loire Valley, the company may have changed hands a couple of times since its 1982 inception, but the made-in-house approach remains true.

Take Cyfac’s Exostiff “gravel” bike, for example – a model they’ve produced since 2016, which arguably is more All-Road than gravel in 2020. It’s a bike made from stainless steel and a flourish of carbon, with unique custom touches at every corner, seam, and thread.

Most of the frame is made from Columbus XCR stainless steel tubing, but the seat tube introduces a healthy dose of fibre into the diet.

The Columbus XCR stainless steel tubes are artistically machined, cut and filed before being fillet-brazed together – no easy feat given how tough these tubes are to work with – while the carbon seat tube (which also serves as the integrated seat post) is sourced from French composites specialists Mateduc. That carbon tube is finished with a wholly custom steel seatpost topper, something Cyfac made in-house with a lathe, machining mill and numerous other manually-controlled tools before brazing the individual pieces together.

More unique again are the custom carbon fenders, based on those from French fender maker Berthoud, which integrate almost seamlessly with the frame. The bike can handle up to 28mm tyres with fenders installed, and 35mm tyres without. Those fenders are captured by the wheel axles and can be removed without tools.

The fillet-brazed steel front rack is another custom piece, and with just three bolts it too can be easily removed or installed. Furthermore, that rack connects with an Enve All Road fork, modified by Cyfac with Son SL dynamo dropouts for on-bike USB power. Enve’s five-year warranty on that part is surely void.

Riding lights are no longer just an accessory for riding at night, and many cyclists, especially those doing ultra-endurance riding, are riding with powerful daytime running lights. With that in mind, it’s a clever touch to integrate such an accessory that will run full-time.

The custom light mounts on this Exostiff are designed for Exposure Lights. Cyfac’s director, Aymeric Le Brun, explained that Xavier will use the “TraceR USB rechargeable rear light with DayBright & ReAKT for the rear and Trace USB rechargeable front light with DayBright mode for the front.” That rear light is wonderfully integrated into the back of the bike, positioned just above the rear wheel, while the front light sits off to the left of the rack.

Cyfac has built itself a reputation in recent years for its custom integrated accessories. It’s easy to see why.

As mentioned, this bike is arguably better defined as an All-Road ride than as a gravel machine – but where that line sits is best decided by the quality of your gravel roads. Regardless, the 59mm trail figure (measured with a 32mm tyre) from a 72.4-degree head angle puts it inline with a number of versatile gravel bikes. The chainstays are 408mm in length, while the bottom bracket drop is quoted at a relatively high 67.5mm – perhaps exactly what you want when pedalling exhausted through the tight turns of the French Alps.

The build to be

The bike was merely a rolling chassis when these photos were taken over the New Year break. The bike’s owner, Xavier, will finish the build with a SRAM Red eTap AXS disc brake groupset, using a 46×33 double on the front, and the wide-range 10-33T cassette out back.

Le Brun estimates that a custom frame module like this – including the frame, fork, lights, fenders, Chris King headset, stem, handlebar and custom rack – would run to about €7,500 (approximately US$8,350 / AU$12,000).


The images below are an assortment of both the finished and unfinished product.

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