February 7, 2024 ~ Jacob Penick
FiftyOne Assassin - Rothmans Porsche Edition
What's going on here?
In 1982, the governing body of motorsport implemented rule changes that spawned a newer, meaner kind of race car – the Group C Prototype. Porsche, being a mainstay across the world of motorsport, entered Group C with their elegant and bloodthirsty 956. Dressed in an unforgettable Rothmans Cigarettes livery, the 956 swept the podium at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans. At some point during the race, the Rothmans Porsche saddled all 620 of its horses (~456,009 watts, for reference) and laid down a top speed of 221mph – the fastest speed recorded at Le Mans that year.
Speed. Race car go fast. Bike go fast too. That’s where we and our gearhead friends at FiftyOne Bikes came in.
FiftyOne have designed a colorway for their flagship gravel bike, the Assassin, as an homage to the fabled Rothmans Porsche livery. You can bet your bottom dollar we snatched one of those frames expeditiously. For about a year, the Rothmans FiftyOne was admired and drooled-over as it sat on our shelf aside a photo of its granddaddy. Until last month.
Will had this profound lightbulb moment, like a whole vision had come to him in an instant. “We need to build the FiftyOne,” he said, or something like that, and launched into a sermon of what parts would go where and how each and every bit of the bike would be faithful to its Porsche 956 ancestor. The finished project really is faithful. Take a look:
The logos match, and that's cool, but the matchiness goes beyond just that. The bar tape has a suede-y texture that closely resembles that of a Momo steering wheel dressed in Alcantara. The Dunlop logo on the Panaracer Gravelkings was spray painted on by Will, exactly as race mechanics would in the pits of Le Mans. Will created the Dunlop logo stencil himself to get the look juuust right.
The Assassin's silver drivetrain components are meant to bring to mind the various pipings and hosings you'd find beneath the hood of the Rothmans 956. Even the bike's brake hoses are silver braided steel. That Garbaruk crankset and chainring are central to the theme of the build and one of the first decided-upon components. Only just recently released, the Garbaruk crankset is made from CNC'd aluminum. With its profound ridges and square edges, there are clear parallels between the design of this crankset and the visage of a racecar.
All too often, specialty bike builds are prohibitively expensive and serve more as art pieces than toys to be played with. This bike's kit, while definitely quite nice, was designed to be affordable and accessible (see: SRAM Apex AXS) to where a prospective new bike buyer could consider this alongside any other decently nice gravel bike.
And, speaking of, this bike does not have a home yet. Please get in touch if you're interested!
Thanks for reading along! And thanks to FiftyOne for inspiring such a goofy project. Lately at Latting Speed Shop we've been becoming increasingly aware that when creative juices flow, our best builds appear on the floor. This Rothmans FiftyOne Assassin is among our proudest works. Stay tuned for more just-for-fun bike builds!