First Impression: Van Dessel Gin and Trombones

By Jordan Villella:

So I know cross season is now over nearly everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ride a kick ass cross bike around. The Van Dessel Gin and Trombones has entered Frick Park, and it’s eating it for breakfast.

For those of you who are not familiar with Van Dessel and their cool line of dirt shredders, let me give you some background: Van Dessel Sports is an growing New Jeresy-based bike company and is the brainchild of former professional racer Edwin Bull. Bull started Van Dessel sports in 2000 and wanted to use his race experience and valuable team racer/rider input to design some of the most competitive and sought after cross bikes in the world. Professional riders Adam Myerson and Adam McGrath are just a few people who are responsible for the Gin and Trombones’ world-class ride.

The Gin and Trombones has been the top offering for Van Dessel for the past couple years, but only recently was it slightly overshadowed by the Full Tilt Boogie carbon bike. But now the Gin and Trombones can be had with some mighty upgrades.

When I laid eyes on the Gin and Trombones the first thing I noticed was the paint and it was black and yellow…black and yellow. But really, this is a sharp looking bike. The tube shapes are power-inspiring and the color scheme is a classic layout, a nice change from the wonderful world of anodizing as of late.

The second thing that caught my attention was the weight, 18.0 lbs. out of the box. Now I understand that this is a cyclocross race bike, but it’s still nice to see. The geometry was fairly close to my current cross bike so it didn’t take long to get my fit dialed in and get in the woods.

On the inaugural ride on the Van Dessel I could tell that this bike just wanted to move… fast. I noticed that the steering was more like my road bike and less like my current cross bike. But as we entered the single track all that seemed to fade away. First thing I noticed was how there was zero fork shutter under heavy breaking loads, and man, this bike was could dance in the woods.

The Van Dessel tracked confidently over roots, rocks, and was nice and easy to bunny hop. It was hard to get adjusted to all the braking power; this is my first venture into the disc equipped cross world. One thing is for sure, I’ll have a solid opinion after this review is over. The Challenge Limus tubular tires offer an amazing amount of grip, and that makes the braking seem even more powerful. I’m very excited to get in some more long mountain rides, and a lot of winter base miles on the gravel paths. This bike will also be tested with clincher tires as well, so don’t you worry. And be on the look out for more updates as more riding unfolds.

The specs are as follows:

  • Size: 56
  • Frame: Aluminum,
  • Fork: Full carbon, tapered
  • Build: Full Sram Force BB30
  • Brakes: Avid BB7 140mm Rear, 160mm Front
  • Gearing: 42 front chainring with an 11/28-tooth cassette.
  • Wheelset: Velocity Major Tom disc
  • Tires: Challenge Limus 700×33 tubular



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