Van Dessel WTF: Reviewed

With the cold weather, snow and ice hitting us a little harder this winter, I have not been able to get outside as often as last year. This gives me some time to create a little content for the blog. When I read other blogs, and I read a lot of them, I pay attention to product reviews. The bike industry continues to evolve, with new equipment and apparel debuting more often than most industries. It can be hard to keep up with. Reviews provide insight from end users to industry professionals, helping consumers make smart choices.

One of the bikes I rode in 2016 was the Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. The WTF is an all road, adventure or gravel bike. According to Van Dessel’s website, “With 4130 Cro-Moly at it’s heart the WTF you can build it up with drop bars or straight, a chain drive or belt drive, skinny tires or 2.1’s Really it’s open to suggestions. After all, it handles gravel roads, paved roads, single track, mountain trails, commuting, loaded touring, winter training, monster cross — pretty much anything you might want to do on a bike, it’s perfectly qualified for”. The bike is available as a frame/fork/headset/seat collar for $699 from Van Dessel Cycles, a small builder with a great reputation, located in Mendham, N.J.cropped-img_22111.jpgThe frame and fork are disc brake only. I purchased my frame in 2015, so I have quick release dropouts. For 2017, the WTF comes with new modular dropouts, meaning it will take quick release or through axle. The bottom bracket she’ll accepts Pressfit 30 BB’s and cranksets. The frame is also belt drive compatible. Tire clearance is phenomenal! I run 700c X 40mm tires during the spring, summer and fall. For the winter, I run 29 X 2.1″ tires. Fender and rack eyelets round out the package. Oh, and you have to see the double top tube!


I built my frame up with a SRAM 11 speed groupset. I wanted enough gearing to get me and a fully loaded bike up dirt and gravel hills, so a 54/30 crankset and an 11-32 cassette paired with Rival derailers and shifters do the trick nicely. I went with Avid BB7 road disc brakes, 160mm rotors. I won’t mention tires, (that’s for another review) but the wheelset is Bontrager’s Affinity Comp Disc. The cockpit is a simple alloy seatpost, Thomson stem and a 15 degree flared handlebar for better control in the drops.

The WTF is for me, my go to bike, when conditions are less than stellar. In the rain, snow, mud, dirt and gravel, the WTF has done it all. It climbs exceptionally well for a 26+pound bike. When your riding a bike in this category, you need to throw out the weight and just enjoy the ride quality that a finely crafted steel bike offers. On 2 separate bikepacking trips, I loaded the bike down with frame bag, seatpack, handlebar bag, fork mounted extra large cage and 2 top tube bags. With about 40 extra pounds of gear, and my 180lbs., control was no issue. Overall, a great bike that is fully up to any task.72dpi-700pxl-hyper-limited-edition-pearlized-pinkFor 2017, Van Dessel offers the WTF in orange and pink. Two cool new colors that add a little flavor to an already exciting package.72dpi-700pxl-pearlized-orange-drive-side

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is – The Chicago Transit Authority