Building a Bitchn Firefly Road Bike
By: Dani Arman: Bitchn Grit Adventure Team
The Bitchn Grit Adventure Team is a Colorado-based cyclocross, gravel, and bikepacking squad dedicated to pushing boundaries on and off the racecourse. Co-founder Dani Arman talks about her new custom, titanium Firefly bike build and the process of designing the ultimate modern road bike.
When we first started the Bitchn Grit adventure squad we had two goals: the first was to keep things fun while embracing the balance of work, life, and professional racing. The second was to work with companies that shared our passion for hardwearing equipment that could last multiple seasons of rugged riding and frequent travel. We wanted to break the cycle of disposable equipment and partnered with companies like Shimano and Firefly Bicycles to build versatile race bikes that would stand the test of time.
The Bitchn Grit team stables are full of titanium Firefly cyclocross-gravel-adventure bikes that have taken us around the world for UCI cyclocross racing, helped us to various gravel podiums, and have hit the trails for bikepacking excursions throughout the west. But for our local Boulder, Colorado riding, there is no better bike to ride than the modern road bike: wide enough tire clearance for tackling our smooth dirt roads with road bike geometry and climbing gears for our vast network of canyon roads.
Working with Firefly on this project bike, we also wanted to showcase one of Bitchn Grit’s most meaningful partners and part of our team’s namesake. BitchStix is more than a face and body care company whose profits go toward supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. It’s a call to action to transform a “bad” word into a force for good. It’s a one-of-a-kind product that seeks to inspire, empower, and change lives for the better. Our squad is profoundly grateful to represent this brand, and a bike - with its endless empowerment capabilities - is the perfect platform to share the story.
Designing the Bitchn Grit Road Bike
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Firefly Bicycles is one of the most revered small frame builders in the world. I’ve been fortunate to work with Firefly for a long time and am still blown away by the incredible attention to detail of every frame. Drawing on decades of experience, the master craftsmen at Firefly design and custom-build every one of their bikes from raw materials.
Firefly is also known for its colorful and creative anodized finishes. Our team bike designs range from vibrant blue, to fiery orange, to majestic purple, all of which are distinct and eye catching. However, Firefly took anodizing one step further with this “Splatter Ano” technique. I’d explain the process of this technique but I’ve been sworn to secrecy!
When designing the Bitchn Grit modern road bike, I wanted a bike that could fulfill my “oh, where does that go?” curiosity. It needed to have big enough tire clearance for venturing down overlooked dirt roads but without going too wide. Most of our off-road riding is fairly tame with plenty of asphalt mixed in. So, I opted for a generous 34 mm of clearance, which perfectly suits my need to explore while primarily sticking to the road.
For the bike’s geometry, I stuck with a traditional road bike design. It features short and snappy chainstays and a stiff, threaded bottom bracket for a responsive ride. It also has a moderate head tube length and slightly longer wheelbase for added comfort and control for long days on the bike. It’s an all-around bike that is as equally equipped for all-day adventures as it is for road racing.
Building a durable, dependable bike was a must for this project. I regularly travel with my bike for work and for racing so it goes through a lot with each trip. Titanium is the perfect frame material for a busy travel schedule like mine because I don’t have to worry nearly as much about damaging a frame like I would with carbon. I’ve gone on over 20 different work trips this year and have taken my bike with me on most without a single complication or damage.
Firefly leads the way when it comes to innovation and thinking outside the box with versatile bike designs. Several Bitchn Grit team cross and gravel bikes feature 3D-printed chainstay yokes that provide massive tire clearance without sacrificing frame strength. Similarly, my road bike features 3D-printed dropouts that create a cleaner, stiffer platform for mounting the rear disc brake caliper and rear derailleur.
Shimano GRX was an obvious choice for this bike. While it may be tagged as a gravel and cyclocross group, the ergonomics, added braking force, and climbing gears made it the perfect match for my all-road antics. I had no idea that lever shape could make such a difference when it comes to comfort and control. But the GRX Di2 levers cradle my hands, holding them securely in place on washboard descents and the higher pivot point on the brake levers makes reliable, one-finger braking on any surface possible.
Complementing the slick GRX ergonomics is PRO’s Discover handlebar with 12 degrees of flair. The bar provides a slightly wider hand position at the drops, which offers more stability and leverage when I’m carving down a switchback descent or rumbling over bumpy roads.
I’m partial to high cadence riding and when factoring in the silly steep climbs around Boulder, the GRX 2x11 drivetrain offered the optimal gear range for me. With 48/31-tooth front chainrings paired with an 11-34-tooth cassette, I can spin up the steepest paved roads or sit comfortably when climbing on loose dirt trails that connect our local canyons.
For a dream build like the Bitchn Grit road bike, I knew from the start that I wanted to build it around Shimano’s Di2 drivetrain. The stellar shifting performance and easy maintenance of the system is unbeatable. So, Firefly delivered a Di2-specific build with slick wire integration and super clean look that doesn’t sacrificing fast and reliable shifting.
The bike’s subtle but important nod to BitchStix can be found in bold lettering on the inside the fork. Every time I look down and see these powerful works, it’s a constant reminder to live boldly and courageously.