Throwback Thursday: Franco’s Road To Gravel Evolution

First seen in 2015, the Repsol color theme has moved on

It was at the Sea Otter Classic back in 2015  when Franco Bikes first rolled out their Balcom S road bike that was slathered in a rich coat of Repsol tribute paint.

Two years later Franco once again used the Sea Otter to launch a new bike. This was the Latigo RS (that appeared in August 2017 issue) and with its bright red paint, SRAM Red drivetrain and minimalist Lightweight wheels, once again, a real head-turner.  Of course back then Franco was still  all-in on designing pure road geek bikes; light, stiff,  skinny tires,  with tight clusters and of course, caliper brakes. In fact, if we recall, that was at the same Sea Otter where one of their booth groms was wearing a shirt that said “Disc Brakes Suck”.


The Grimes is available in  five sizes and six different build kits starting at $2450 up to $5950. Frames will sell for $1950. Hidden fender mounts and the dropped driveside chainstay  are handy to have.

Well, all that has changed.  Welcome to the new  Franco Grimes that’s highlighted by wide tires,  a wide ratio cluster, and, oh yeah, disc brakes. The Grimes is intended to reflect modern “all-road” technology which first & foremost means that its friendly to bigger tires – up to 38mm (10mm wider than what the wheels on the older Latigo would accept).

The all-road Grimes with either 1x or 2x drivetrains. Kinda crazy to see a rear cassette that’s bigger than the chainring. Hidden fender mounts are another added value. T


While flared handlebars are popular with some riders, we’re not sold on them yet, especially for a bike that will still see plenty of road miles. The Grimes will accept up to 38mm tires. which is all you need for any all-road bike. As a reflection of  how the road bike market has evolved, Franco says the Grimes is now their top selling model.


Since the Repsol color scheme is a custom order paint scheme, for actual test ride duties we had to settle for this sea foam blue that stood out nicely in the usual sea of black carbon. The SRAM AXS drivetrain was the perfect fit for all-road use. Look for a complete test in the June 2020 issue of Road Bike Action.


We last tested the Franco Latigo RS1-D in the October 2018 issue which, thankfully, Franco by then had come to appreciate disc brakes.


When it comes to going fast on slick tires, there are none faster than Spanish rider Marc Marquez aboard his factory Repsol Honda.  Photo: MotoGP/Honda


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