Prova Molti - Custom Gravel Bike
MOLTI | ALL-ROAD
As soon as I laid eyes on the latest PROVA out of 6 Bakehouse Street, Kensington there was one place it took me straight to, and that was my childhood. My parents were both FORD drivers, Dad had a 'Desert Gold' LTD and Mum had a 'Regency Bronze' Marquis with matching brown vinyl roof and daggy sun visor. To my eye as a child it looked like metallic 'poo' colour. The sound of the four barrel carburettor opening under full gas is still one that gets the heart racing, though with Mum behind the wheel it was almost never heard.
We literally couldn't give it away in the end. It sat on our front lawn where it was 'FOR SALE' from where it was stolen and later recovered from said lawn. It left the family for a measley $1500. Try getting one now for that. If you can, I'll buy it from you.
A quick hunt on the google revealed these images of the motor. The left image in said 'poo' colour, and the catalogue showing the caverness interior with 6-way power adjustable front seats, and included extras as power mirrors and windows.
A side anecdote on the Marquis - my younger brother who is perhaps the person I owe the most for my eye for detail, thought it would be a nice thing to do for Mum if we washed her car. It would have been nice - if we hadn't used kitchen scourers.
The actual colour palette is what the owner described as 'swamp colours'. An exhaustive hunt and several sample tubes later, the metallic brown of a Mercedes Benz W123 Coupe with contrasting tangerine on the inside of the fork blades and chainstays is what was decided upon. The colour accent of the indicators on the W123 is proof this works.
Steve Gardner / Bikes by Steve is PROVA's hired gun for paint and the execution befits the frame. The PROVA logo is matte clear on the an otherwise gloss metallic. It's luuuuush.
Much like the top-of-the-line Marquis, this PROVA Molti is about as dreamy as a road bike comes in this day and age, fully decked with high end components for the cockpit, drivetrain and wheelset - not that bits maketh the bike but it certainly doesn't hurt the ride experience.
The owner is a stalwart of Melburn Roobaix, and lives in paradise - a nook not far from Bega on the New South Wales coast littered in rolling hills and back country lanes. One particular lane his mates would ride turned to gravel and they would turn around where the bitumen ended. He wanted a bike that he could continue in comfort and speed on the dirt and this is the result.
Where the bitumen ends
and the gravel begins
First - it should be worth mentioning the first thing that came to my mind and is probably coming to yours.
Those tyres and THOSE mudguards / fenders.
It's VERY tight in there. Here's the explanation. The bike shipped with the guards installed and the largest tyre possible - a combination that won't be used in practice as the guards are coming straight off to enjoy the last dregs of summer. Winter is coming and when it does the tyres will drop down a size, and the guards will be installed to keep the riders derriere dry.
The front is an ENVE GRD fender, and the rear is a custom carbon fibre / fiber out of the UK by SWARF Cycles, a relationship that came out of both builders meeting at frame building school. As far as fenders go, they don't get much racier and exquisite.
The frame utilises Mark's chosen blend of Columbus Spirit and Reynolds 853 tubing. He incorporates 3D stainless widgets that he has designed and tested in CAD to overcome some of the engineering issues - his wealth of knowledge from his time as an engineer and 'test pilot' in motorsport is a huge asset to the PROVA offering.
The cabling ports through a full length internal tube that makes installation and maintenance easy. The tapered headtube flows beautifully from tube to headset and fork shoulder.
If the front derailleur isn't dead, it's definitely on life support clinging to life. SRAM's ability to offer the range and reliable shifting is proven 500x over on MTB's and it's eeking it's way over to gravel and road where it's becoming more popular by the month.
Above is a closer gander at many things. The fineness of the fillets, the crispness of the paint and the gear / brake cables exiting the frame in a gentle arc.
I wasn't game enough to flip for the bike for the sake of the serial shot but it has the owners initials and frame number neatly engraved into a stainless plate. A gorgeous alternative to going down to the police station to have them dremel your frame with a 'serial' for the sake of identification.
The PROVA Molti is a great example of the beautiful statement that fillet brazed construction makes. Mark offers PROVA frames built with TIG construction, though the premium filleted finishes are proving the popular for good reason.
If this bike wasn't bling enough, how about the black cerakote KING Cages by KUMO Cycles. The cerakote finish, commonly used in military applications is hard wearing, microns thin and adds 0.055g to an already incredibly light bidon cage. Above all, it looks awesome.
Busyman Bicycles for all coverings of course. Mick Peel hit this one for six with his interpretation of the sealed road transitioning to gravel. Perforations begin evenly and end chaotically.
Fork. That's nice.
Enve are supporting the 1-1/4 "standard" - a great platform for road disc bikes made of steel. Mark tested 1-1/2 tapered forks in his frames and the feedback was more chatter in the bars through corrugated corners. Increased fork stiffness saw reduced rider confidence.
"Google what happened when moto GP first went to carbon frames and you will find some interesting discussions relating to torsional stiffness being too high - higher stiffness is not always better.
The flat mount "standard" throws up a few challenges for non-carbon frames, a couple being the material required to be removed from the chain stay to fit the bosses and clearance to the disc when inserting the wheel.I am always looking for continuous improvement items on PROVA frames, and in this case in'house machined bosses require a 10mm hole in the stay instead of 16mm and give a valuable 3mm more clearance to the rotor during wheel insertion. Internal routing for the SRAM Force 1x shifting and rear brake hose enter the downtube through 3D printed bosses and run inside full length stainless tubes, exiting under the T47 BB. A clean but still functional result.
The syntace X12 thru axle format is a firm favourite here at PROVA, with its tapered head providing axial and radial location and a super neat replaceable hanger holding a nut which can be swapped out for an eccentric version for fine tuning of wheel alignment."
Another functional / beautiful detail is the integrated seat binder. The latest version was designed by Mark 'in-house' and is a 3D printed stainless steel seat binder with M5 ti bolt and replaceable brass bobbin. Like a beautiful clasp on a Prada bag.
Some many details to fit into the main course...
CELEBRATING THE CRAFT OF THE HANDMADE BICYCLE.
The custom bicycke show is back and Prova Cycles is part of the line-up of exhibitors to show this coming April.
For full details, ticket sales and exhibitor bookings head to the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia site.
'Featuring the finest brands of bespoke bicycles and accessories from around the country, the makers themselves will be in attendance to talk about their products and craft.
This is an opportunity to savour the craft of handmade bicycles and mingle with the new-comers and the legends of the industry alike.
Great food, coffee and beer will also be on offer as a fitting accompaniment to the bicycles and accessories on show, making for a perfect evening or day out.
Columbus Spirit + Reynolds 853
ENVE GRD Fork
SRAM Force 11s
Easton EC90 SL Crankset
Cinch Power Meter
Chris King - ENVE ARdisc wheelset
Swarf | ENVE Fenders
Panaracer Gravel Kings
Enve post | bars | stem
King Cages | Black Cerakote
Silca frame pump
Busyman Bartape | Saddle