Lately, you may have noticed my interest in multi-purpose bikes. It’s a kind of cycles that intrigues me for many years, although I must confess that, when I was younger, I created many of them for other people and very few for myself; I struggled to resist the lure of sport bike. The gravel phenomenon sails before the wind, but in the ocean of proposals it is difficult for a captain to choose the right course. In the substantial hold of this gravel label, they are including a little of everything, from tamed cyclocross to the sour tourism bikes Many believe that it only takes a fold, two fat tires and some disc brakes and, there you are!, the gravel is served, faster than a ready meal in the microwave.
And with so many versions, the confusion for the cyclists and the companies’ price lists, they both go up. At this point, there are some models that cost much more Than some very special racing or off-road bikes. It is not right, a gravel bike is a bike that you can use in various situations, and without too many worries. It’s difficult to use in the city and let to the pole a few thousand Euro, or happily hopping on humps and bumps, at the risk of turning into confetti the may banknotes left on the counter of the store.
That’s why I started looking for something reliable, inexpensive, not very well Known and that many owners praise.
But in this article I do not write about the complete bike: only about the frame. The test will come, but I thought that starting to familiarize with the frame and the fork is a good thing in any case. In fact, Planet X proposes the sale of the complete bike, in different configurations, but also the sale of the frame kit or the fork only. It often makes some good special offers and it’s easy to take home the frame and the fork spending less than 180 Pounds. The price in Euro depends on the exchange rate at the time, and my advice is to pay in Pounds and not to rely on the automatic exchange in the website, that is always more onerous.
The 6061 aluminum frame weighs, on my scale, 1600 grams, in size 54; the fork, 760 grams. The few grams more and less than the official data (1540 and 780) are normal. Small variances, the scale that is out of phase, in short, there’s nothing strange in this discrepancy.
Geometries are, as they say, “relaxed”. In this 54 size, we have a 540 mm. top tube full-bodied, the seat tube of 510 mm. and the head tube of 140 mm. With a corner of the top tube of 74 degrees and an offset of the fork of 45 mm., we get a comfortable – but not excessively open – geometry, and the bike stays quite compact, thanks also to the chainstay of 435 mm.
Different colors are available, from the mat black with some graphics tone on tone, to the bright zesty lime, through a martial olive green and a youthful blue dragon.
Let’s take a look at this frame in the matt black version with the help of some images; and let’s start from the conical steering box, with the top 1” and 1/8 and the lower 1.5”.
The manufacturing of the head tube is the one for the integrated headset type. Just for the sake of completeness and because in the official website there is really scanty technical information, the bearing housings are suitable to accommodate in the top a 45 degrees bearing, the lower as well; in short, only the diameter changes.
From the handlebar, it starts the well-sized top tube, adorned with a sticker that celebrates the model.
In the side view, you can appreciate more fully both the curvature and the clear pressing of the tube in the central area, that is a panacea when you load the bike on your shoulders.
Another small sticker next to the saddle advertises the brand.
The seatpost entry is simple and requires a collar of 34,9 mm. in order to proper tighten a seatpost clamp of 31,6 mm.
Solid as always, with the aluminum frames, is the down tube.
The differentiated section embellishes it, with the upper zone flattened at the sides, like a sole I should say, and the lower one regains the most classic rounded shape. In black it is not clearly visible as in the other brighter colors.The bottle cage attack is in standard position.
The graphics which adorn it are very beautiful, with the brand in glossy black, made with a stripped adhesive; same pattern on the head tube too.
You can really appreciate it when move closer and for someone it could be a limit. Not for me, I really like it.
Under the down tube, there are the threaded seats for the shifters registers, in the classic M5 format.
The seat tube is without the anchor clamps of the derailleur, and this is good. On multi-purpose frames, the plaque limits the choices, but here, with the help of a normal band of 34,9 mm., we can place the derailleur at any height we need , according to the chosen trimming. If we opt for the current fashionable single chainring, the area will remain free, and if a MTB configuration intrigues us, we could also decide for a direct mount derailleur, helping the draught from the top (if the derailleur does not provide for a double option), with the classic pulley. In short, maximum freedom of choice.
The tube ends in a bottom bracket housing Of 68 mm. and an English pitch. And the name could not be otherwise…
Moving to the rear, we appreciate the beautiful and wide chart, well equipped and able to accommodate some bulging tires. The company’s declarations about these are conflicting in the various sections of the website. They talk about tires up to 40, up to 35 somewhere else, and up to 32, if you opt for the protection of the mudguards.
The only thing I can tell you is that I had a pair of 700×37 and they fit without difficulty, even in the front.
The course of the seat stay is not particularly elaborated: they go straight down and they curve just above the little forks. No exasperated sinuosity, which will also have the advantage of dampening the bumps, but we also know that it often is the cause of the response delay pedal – making the bike comfortable but not funny. Here, on the contrary, lines clean and simple, agreeable. The little forks’ measure is 135 mm., the wheels way is of 135 mm.: it is for the classic QR and not for those with passing pin. And given the perspective of use for which this frame is thought, it’s a choice that I share: it’s easier (and cheaper) to find some good quick release wheels.
In the upper area, we find the attacks for the carrier, m5 threads. To be cleaned before being used, inside the paint is dense.
All the above simplicity vanishes when you look down.
The right fork has the S course typical of these aluminum frames, but it is not so marked. On the left side, on the contrary, also because of the need to create some room for the disc brake pliers, the “chicane” is decided.
The left little fork is pretty with its reduction slots, and has both the direct Mount type pliers attack and two M5 thread holes to secure the parcel carrier and the mudguard. Thanks to the fact that the clamp is inside the chart and not behind it, we can install any parcel carrier, and not just those with specific adapters for frames with disc brakes.
Looking at it from the inside, we can see better the stiffening ribs.
On the opposite side, the little fork that can be dismantled, available as a spare in the catalog of the manufacturer. Obviously the holes for the carrier and the mudguard are here too. They were not distracted…
Talking about mudguard attacks: in addition to those we just saw, we have one under the hardening bridge (solution that I prefer, because you don’t have to use the little ring which I hate) and behind the steering box, M5 thread for all of them.
Under the right fork, the cable housing stop for the gear cable, nicely pierced.
I understand that for many people it can be a minor detail; me, on the contrary, I appreciate these details, they show in any case some research, the desire to propose something instead of using the most common component.
The rear brake sheathing has a good number of little bridges to be attached to: two on the left chainstay …
…one under the bottom bracket (which has also engraved the number of the frame series), on the side of the threaded hole in which you can secure the fairlead …
…and three under the down tube. Better safe than sorry
And after the frame, here is the carbon fork with the aluminum tube. It’s a solution less valuable than a full carbon one, but undoubtedly curbs costs.
The head area is very wide, you can mount large tires without difficulty; clearly visible the hole to mount the mudguard. I also like that is perforated, so you can install a mudguard resorting to Daruma or French system, the one with the drilled screw, just to be clear. Yes, all right, I know I repeat myself, but what can I do if I cannot stand the stirrup in full view? Did you see what I came up with the Ellesar? A stirrup and Antonio Taverna it’s kind of unusual, but it’s a lot more beautiful, isn’t it?
On the side of the stems, on both sides, another very British style sticker, that reminds us we’re riding on a London Road; on the contrary, it reminds it to other people because, while pedaling, we don’t see it: if we see it, we are not pedaling, and if we see it and pedal at the same time, something is not going the right way…
Attack brake pliers according to Direct Mount standard.
In the mid-height of the stems, the attacks – one on each side – for a low rider type parcel carrier and two little bridges for the brake housing.
As we saw before, the attacks on the little forks for the mudguard are lacking, so we have to clamp it using those on the stems.
A choice that I don’t completely agree with. Well, in fact, when you have some low discs, you cannot use the low screw eyes; but it’s also true that the accessories companies are proposing some mudguards with brackets suitable to solve the problem. In short, I would have put two screw eyes.
Only on an inner side of the stays, there is an adhesive protection with the manufacturer’s logo. Why only one I don’t know, because the discs don’t create all this dirt…
Finally, the aluminum tube, with the adhesive showing the fork model. The thrust block is in place, but is not standard with the frame kit or the fork.
I still cannot give to you my impressions on the driveability; first, I must reassemble this frame that I laid bare in order to take pictures. Then I have to start pedaling on it, because until now I didn’t have the time. For now, only some static consideration, let’s say so.
Indeed, the build quality is good for the price; the weld beads are ugly, but is a trouble shared and it’s also present in some noble frames, a lot more expensive. The geometries on paper promise a cheerful behavior on the road, without sacrificing the ride comfort. The possibility of mounting some wide tires is not a plus but it’s the rule for this kind of frame, but the manufacturer should provide certain data. The mounting eyes are not plentiful, but we still have enough of them; and – however – this is not a frame designed to build a globetrotting bike, full loaded with baggage. The direct mount standard for the brakes makes it up to date, and the manufacturing seems accurate; but I would mill it a little bit, provided that you can find a mechanic who has the equipment: it costs a few hundreds euros, and not everybody invests. The box-section steering is another feature that gives aggressiveness and modernity, and the working of the bearing seats is very accurate. Of course, this means that they are not so many suitable steering series, and not so cheap, but, if you spend about fifty euros, you can find something suitable. The painting is well done and this mat black with graphics tone on tone manages to be elegant and aggressive at the same time, without being a tawdry thing. I can’t say the same for the other color proposed…
I don’t know if it’s strong, it seems solid, but only when I will pedal on it I will find out. As well as only when I’ll pedal on it, I will be able to understand how it behaves. I browsed the net and, in some English forums, people owning it speak very well of it, some of them enthusiastically. We will see if it’s for the love of the country or because this little English earned some stripes in the field.