With the gravel bike scene exploding over recent years, we’re grateful to be a part of a growing community of low-ego adventure seekers, gravel bike racers, and tasteful bicycle enthusiats.
Thunderhawk and Beaux Jaxon are two legends that have remained steadfast in Bearclaw Bicycle Co.’s lineup and have redefined what’s possible. We love seeing them out in the world (or on Instagram), whether on remote bikepacking adventures or at world-class gravel races.
In this blog post, we get up close and personal with these two brainchildren of Chet Bearclaw. Together, Beaux Jaxon and Thunderhawk have been industry pioneers in pushing the boundaries and inspiring the gravel bike community. This post is a tribute to these two bikes and their many personalities.
Meet Thunderhawk, a Gravel Bike Built for Adventure, Speed, or Both
With deep roots in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Bearclaw’s R&D is largely inspired by unpredictable, all-season cycling. Northern Michigan winters are no exception, and this ice road Thunderhawk is built to embrace them.
Ice Road Thunderhawk
Grounded with 45NRTH Gravdal studded tires on an ENVE G23 gravel wheelset, this Thunderhawk is ready to embrace off-season training rides, cold-season commutes, and any-season gravel races. This build pulls out all the stops with SRAM Force eTap AXS. But don’t sleep on Bearclaw’s own Titanium Gravel Fork and ENVE Gravel Handlebars providing a responsive, smooth feel.
With 700c wheels, Thunderhawk can easily accommodate up to a 2” wide (50mm) tire. Those who love the range of a 650b/27.5” setup will enjoy up to 2.35” wide clearance. If that’s your thing, here are a couple of boost-leaning Thunderhawks worth checking out.
Titanium 650b Gravel Bike Setups
Taking titanium to the next level, this new-age Thunderhawk is an absolute ripper for all things off-road. It’s a buttery setup built with our Titanium Stem, Seatpost, and Fork, but it’s no softy. This all-terrain “gravel bike” runs Vittoria Mezcals via 650b/27.5” Industry Nine Trail S wheels. The White Industries’ G30 adventure gravel crankset has arms designed to allow greater spacing for big tires.
While we’re on the topic of smaller wheels and wider tire clearance, here’s a trendsetting Thunderhawk that shows off a bit more flair and a bit fewer cables.
“Cleanliness is next to Chetliness” #PraiseChet
This gravel bike brings new meaning to the proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” with a BBCo-inspired remix we call “Cleanliness is next to Chetliness.” An ultra-clean SRAM Force AXS build, this Thunderhawk tastefully flaunts its bling with a gold Chris King headset and top cap, and matching gold Industry Nine Torch road hubs. It’s what some might call a match made in heaven.
Adding to the no-frills, minimally-leaning cleanliness of this bike is a Reynolds 650b carbon wheelset wrapped with WTB Venture 47mm tires. It’s also built with a full-carbon ENVE Adventure Fork and Bars.
It’s hard not to gawk at the buzzworks behind this shiny Thunderhawk assembled with a gold Chris King headset and Bearclaw’s Titanium Boost Fork. Front and center between the ti fork are 29×2.35″ Maxxis Icons, which are basically mountain bike tires on a gravel bike.
Sure, Thunderhawk looks incredible. But the way it performs is an entirely different story worth telling. In addition to providing relentless capability and utility across all types of terrain, Thunderhawk has proven itself as a race-worthy steed and frequent podium topper.
Wild Thunderhawks in Gravel Racemode
Rumor has it that Chet Bearclaw has a place nestled deep in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Widely known as “Someplace Special,” it’s not uncommon to see flocks of Thunderhawks roaming the eastern U.P. wilderness, especially when race season is flourishing.
Among those recently spotted in the U.P. wild is this minimalist Thunderhawk dolloped with a colorful top tube bag by Morrow Packs. For rubber, it’s running Schwable Furious Fred’s, one of Chet’s favorites.
Another speed demon of a gravel bike is this Thunderhawk caught hanging out after racing 166 heavenly miles of U.P. gravel via the Moran 166 gravel race. If you want an ultra-lightweight frame that’s comparable to carbon but offers the unbeatable durability and longevity of titanium, this is it.
You can sometimes find rogue Thunderhawks thriving in dense foliage, shredding lightly amongst the other mountain bikes, fat bikes, and gravel bikes. While its drop bars and Ultradistance Gravel Friendly Geometry (UGFG) might look out of place amongst the big-tire bikes, the way this titanium gravel bike shreds tells a different story.
Some might argue that Thunderhawk is perfectly designed to be a gravel race bike. We wouldn’t disagree with that statement. But we would let it be known that Thunderhawk is more widely used for a range of cycling, like all-road adventure rides, multi-day bikepacking trips, and quick rips after work. In simple terms, it offers the best of both worlds when it comes to racing and exploration.
As one of the first prototypes designed by Chet Bearclaw, Thunderhawk has stood the test of time and continues to be known as BBCo’s flagship gravel bike. But as Bearclaw’s R&D department continues to burn the midnight oil and spawn new creations for the cycling world, another spotlight-worthy gravel bike has surfaced. That is, Beaux Jaxon.
Meet Beaux Jaxon, a Boosted Gravel Bike Designed to Go Big
Without drop-bars, Beaux Jaxon may be confused as a mountain bike. That’s because Beaux is a pioneering rebel in gravel plus (boost) and massive tire clearance. If you like the look, feel, and function of Thunderhawk, but want to go even bigger, then you’re going to love Beaux Jaxon.
Shown here is one of the first Beaux’s to ever hit the road. It’s a simple SRAM Rival build with a Race Face Next R carbon crankset and an Absoluteblack oval chainring. This Beaux is naturally equipped with our 110×15 Ti Boost Gravel Fork which can accommodate huge tires. But in this case, we took a more modest approach with 29×2.25″ Mezcals.
Contrary to popular belief, Beaux Jaxon is not a drop-bar mountain bike. Beaux is more accurately described as a drop-bar gravel bike engineered to fit mountain bike tires. Capable of fitting 29×2.6″ tires (or 27.5×3.0″ tires), Beaux understands the importance of big ass tires for limitless exploration.
The Jack of All Gravel Bikes
We like gold and we like to go big. And this Beaux combines both with a beautiful Chris King InSet™ 7 headset and top cap. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s one of our favorites, next to our very own Ti Boost Fork. The matching gold SRAM Oval Boost 1x chainring from Absoluteblack and SRAM Red AXS XX1 sets it off.
The Industry Nine Enduro 305 wheelset installed with 29×2.6″ Mezcals makes for an aggressive, all-mountain pairing that’s capable of holding any line. Also worth mentioning is the ENVE Seatpost, G-series Handlebar, and Stem – making this Beaux one of the best in its class.
Beaux Jaxon Defines Gravel Boost
This bike defines gravel boost in every way imaginable. Ready for dirt, hardpack, loose-over-hard, wet terrain, and everything in-between, Beaux is a pedal-damn-near-anywhere bike that provides just as much cycling range as it does climbing ability.
Love it or hate it, Beaux Jaxon is the paradigm-shifting gravel bike built for massive tire clearance. This build is a testament to Beaux’s gravel boost capabilities, pushing its limits as a drop-bar 29er with 3″ WTB Rangers paired with ENVE M525 Wheels and Industry Nine Hydra hubs.
Not only is this Beaux stacked with Bearclaw’s Ti Stem, Ti Collar, Ti Seatpost, and Ti Boost Fork, but it also features Cane Creek’s Titanium eeWings. These titanium cranks deliver 20% to 30% greater stiffness at about the same weight class as premium carbon cranks.
Extra-Wide Drop-Bar Beaux Jaxon
When you think of wide drop-bars, you probably wouldn’t envision handlebars this wide. These titanium, custom-made drop-bars from the talented fabricators at Black Sheep are certainly some of the widest we’ve ever seen. Combined with polished Blunt 35 29” hoops from Velocity and our very own Ti Boost Fork and Ti Stem, this custom gravel bike build is a real head-turner.
Ready to rip just about anything, the Velocity wheels are wrapped in 2.35” Vittoria Mezcal tires. And atop our Titanium Seatpost is a fashionable Brooks Cambium C17 that the hipsters will appreciate.
Even for those who are not bike nerds, this build is a visually-obvious example of just how custom we can go. In fact, virtually all of our builds are custom based on individual preferences, riding style, and accessibility of parts and components. In the Beaux Jaxon above, super-wide drop-bars was the special ticket item for the build.
Shown here is the studly beachgoer known as Dynamo Beaux, bringing the heat to the Lake Michigan shoreline. It’s not often that Dynamo Beaux flexes his muscles in front of the camera, so these rare captures were worth documenting.
Dynamo Beaux brings all new meaning to “no bad days” by also promising “no bad nights” with its Sinewave Cycles Beacon headlight and sun dynamo hub. Ready to rave into the night, Dynamo Beaux can pull all-nighters like nobody’s business.
Steroid-free and naturally juiced to the gills with a franken-SRAM groupset (featuring GX Eagle derailleur and crankset), this studly gravel bike goes bigger than most with Mezcal 29×2.6” tires. While you could pedal Beach Beaux down the coastline, we’d recommend our ti fat bike options TŌWMAK and FRANK for that.
Because our gravel bikes are built in the Great Lakes State, it’s only natural we feature mother Lake Michigan as the backdrop to these beautiful bicycles. Between her and Lake Superior, these majestic bodies of water are responsible for the unpredictable weather patterns that inspire Bearclaw Bicycles.
This Beach Beaux is blinged-out with Bearclaw’s Ti Boost Fork, Ti Steapost, and Ti Stem. Affixed to the stem are Redshift’s Kitchen Sink Handlebars (non-loop design with drop grips) wrapped in WESTERN Rattler Bar Tape by Camp and Go Slow.
The groupset we call a “Mechanical Mullet,” combining SRAM Force shifters with XX1 Derailleur and 12-speed gold cassette. An Absoluteblack chainring is driven by Race Face Next SL G5 cranks. Industry Nine Trail S wheels and Hydra hubs matched with Teravail Rutland 29×2.2” round-out the Beach Beaux build.
These are just a handful of our favorite gravel bike builds featuring both Beaux Jaxon and Thunderhawk. Stay tuned for updates as we share new bikes we’re working on, either here on the blog, or on our Instagram.
What to Know More About Bearclaw’s Gravel Bikes?
We don’t blame you! Definitely follow Bearclaw Bicycle Co. on Instagram and/or Facebook to stay in the know on any future gravel, fat, MTB, or non-genre identifying bikes. Or, if you’d like to learn more about our gravel bikes, see our FAQs page or browse our site for more product information.
If you’d like to reach out to us about your own gravel bike build, frame, or other inquiry, get in touch with us via our contact page. And as always, praise Chet.