Thursday, February 19, 2015

Foundry Overland: A Nice Cyclo Cross Bike

It sure ain't no "gravel road bike"!
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

The Foundry brand released details on their new rig yesterday, and sure 'nuff- it's a metal bike! Hooray! I applaud the brand for straightening out it's marketing and product offering with this model. To my mind, "Foundry" and "metal" framed bicycles seem like a no-brainer, but apparently it took a few years for that to come around up in Bloomington, Minnesota. Glad it finally did, and I look for more of the same/similar with regard to future product offerings from the brand.

However........

In their marketing of this new "Overland" model, they say the following....

"The Overland was developed to be the only bike you need when it comes to gravel and cyclocross."

The quote should have read as follows:

"The Overland was developed to be the only cyclo cross bike you need when it comes to gravel and cyclocross". 

Why? Because what we have here is a hard core, no compromises, mean, nasty cyclo cross bike. The geometry says so. High bottom bracket, steepish angles, and low trail all add up to what every cyclo cross racer wants in a bike. That's awesome. Love it for the cyclo cross guys, but don't tell me you designed this for gravel road riding. 

First of all, there really is nothing at all in the Overland, besides a bigger tire clearance, that calls out "gravel road bike" to my way of thinking here. I am not going to re-hash all the reasons why that is, but long time readers can all tic off the reasons for themselves, I am sure. Secondly, and maybe most importantly, Foundry took the "safe route" by gunning for classic CX geometry rather than something "untested', (although the Raleigh Tamland/Willard models seem to be faring well with their more daring take on geo), and......ya know.....cyclo cross bikes are good enough for gravel racing/riding. So they say..... Heck, if ya listen to Tom Ritchey talk, you don't even need a cyclo cross bike for cyclo cross, because a road bike is a "gravel bike" and ergo, a road bike is a cyclo cross bike, a mountain bike, etc...  Whatever.

Regardless- it is a good looking bike.....for a cyclo cross bike!
In the end, it won't matter, most likely, because this will appeal to those who want a "do-it-all" cyclo cross bike. It will do cross really well, and since most folks probably won't care about the geometry for gravel, it will suit them fine. I will say that calling a dyed in the wool cross bike "the only bike you need" for gravel and cross isn't saying this bike is "new" in terms of geometry though. It really isn't saying anything "new" because this thought is the majority opinion for many when it comes to cyclo cross geometry and the bikes made specifically for cyclo cross racing. Which.....by the way....isn't anything like gravel road racing, nor like the geometry for which gravel road riding would be best served. That would be more like classic road bike geometry with a slacker head angle thrown in for good measure.

But hey! It's a good turn for Foundry and the bike looks great.......for a cyclo cross bike!

21 comments:

RC said...

Ditto. Thanks for calling them out. If you get a chance, check out the Giant Revolt. It's not steel, and looks weird?, but seems to work really well.....so far.

Iowagriz said...

Odd that their site no longer shows the Broadaxe MTB. Flaw on the site? Or, did they drop it? Any idea?

Wally Kilburg said...

GT; I'm in agreement and thought so after looking at it yesterday when it was posted on FB. I'm sort of at odds though with the QBP bike direction...forgive me for not being 110% up to speed on their stuff like I was at one time but doesn't Salsa have just about the same bike? In the same metal? They tend to do this a lot to me, build the same bikes across all the brands. Anyway, thats the way a "lay" person sees it.

Guitar Ted said...

@Wally Kilburg: I cannot say right now, but I think all will make sense by Saturday noon or so..... :>)

@Iowagriz: I'll find out more come this weekend.

Nick said...

I think we're in for a lot of this kind of marketing this year. The term "gravel" is hot and marketing will take whatever product is close enough and try to brand it as a gravel bike.

youcancallmeAl said...

Don't quite get some of your complaint. In a medium size and comparing to the Tamland 2,the BB drop is less than 3/16" less, the trail is almost exactly the same and the headtube angle is only 1/2 deg steeper. The only significant difference I see is in the chainstay length.

BluesDawg said...

While I agree that this bike doesn't meet your idea of a gravel bike, I do think it is fair to say that it leans toward the more versatile range of cyclocross bike geometry. 68mm BB drop is lower than many traditional European CX bikes and more in line with the "American" CX geometry of bikes like the Crux. Maybe out of place on big chunky Iowa gravel, but right at home on the dirt roads I ride in Georgia.

Guitar Ted said...

@BluesDawg: I look at geo charts a lot. Almost every CX bike BB height I see ranges from 65-70. The Overland is dead center on that range, no? And Trek geo is very "European" when it comes to CX bikes and has been for a decade.

Your point: "....but right at home on the dirt roads I ride in Georgia" is exactly what I am saying at the end of my article today when I say "Most people won't care". However; my ooint that cross racing isn't anything like gravel racing still stands. For example- I don't see many road racing bikes with taller than 70mm bottom brackets, for one thing. Gravel roads are "roads" after all, no? Makes sense that maybe you'd want to design a bike for that sort of thing, instead of bouncing around on a muddy, grassy course for an hour tops, which is what a CX bike is designed specifically for.

@youcancalmeAl: Yes- and the Raleigh is headed in the right direction with their geo and yes- it makes a difference. (Not unlike the differences in other bikes geo which can also be measured in millimeters of difference which seem miniscule to many folks, no?)

And as a final point- Raleigh's geo isn't aggressive enough either, in my opinion. Trek has a bike called the Domane. Check out the geo there. The only thing I might change there is to have tire clearances be more and to have a 71° head angle.

youcancallmeAl said...

The only REAL difference in the Domane is the BB height.

Barturtle said...

Is it just me, or is it a bit cludgy for a manufacturer to use an adapter instead of having the brake disc and the wheelset match? Not the end of the world, it just seems they could have speced parts that match.

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAl: Right? That and the tire clearance, and honestly I don't like carbon and gravel together. rather it be steel or titanium. Plus, I still think the Domane's head angle isn't quite right.

@Barturtle: Yeah, I'll have to see what the thinking was there.

BluesDawg said...

@GT I'm definitely in agreement with you in preferring more road bike like geometry for the dirt roads. I'd rather see 75mm or more drop than the 67-70 I see on the lowest of the CX bikes. I'd also like a bit taller and slacker head tube and even wider tire clearance. I'm starting to think I'll have to go custom to get what I really want.

I look at geometry a lot, too. While the trend has definitely been towards more bikes in the 65-70mm range (more near 65 than near 70), there are still quite a few with higher. A few examples, the Ritchey Swiss Cross has 63mm drop, Ridley X-Fire has 61mm and the BMC CX01 has 62mm.

Very few CX bikes I've seen have room for 41mm tires. Specialized Crux carbon (barely), Surly Cross-Check and now the latest from Santa Cruz and Overland.

All I am really trying to say is that among CX bikes, the Overland looks to be one of the more suitable for gravel and dirt roads. Not ideal, but better than average. Peace. :)

youcancallmeAl said...

I still don't see why a bike that isnt EXACTLY what YOU want in a bike can't be advertised as the only bike someone would need for CX and gravel racing!!

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAL: Well......I don't see why you don't see that it is advertised like you are saying- bikes that are not EXACTLY what I want, you want, or others want are advertised as other things all the time. Right? So what.

I'll tell you what- It is not what would be best. It isn't "my idea" either, in case you were wondering. This stuff is searchable and opinions weightier than mine have spoken on this before.....YEARS ago. It isn't anything that is a mystery, but like I say, bringing this back to the Overland- what Foundry is laying down is not what the bike truly is. That's not disputable. This is a cross bike through and through, and cross racing is not gravel racing.

@Blues Dawg- Yes, you get it. This is exactly what I would say about the Overland. It is maybe more suitable for gravel rides, but it isn't what Foundry is trying to make it look like.

youcancallmeAl said...

unbelievable!!!

Glenn said...

Agreed, I was hoping for an all-road bike with geometry similar to Gunnar Crosshairs.

So, a bottom bracket comment: the BlackMountain 'cross bike also has a high bottom bracket - right? And that bike is regarded as good for gravel. What's different? head angle? chain stays?

I have a road bike from a well known ti manufacturer with a BB drop of 6.75, and it drives me nuts.

Irishtsunami said...

I am obviously coming into this late in the day however, I don't often see anyone speak of the Giant Revolt. It has a slack head tube (70.5 degrees) and a very low bottom bracket. It has a ton of room for mud clearance for a 40mm tire based on the fact it can run a 50mm tire. It even has a third water bottle cage on the bottom of the down tube.

I would say the two biggest marks against it are that there is not doubt steel would be better (in my opinion it rides comfortably on some rough washboard roads as is) and I would like an adjustable drop out as a fail safe on a really muddy day.

Like others though I find it odd that many consumers are asking for certain qualities that manufactures don't seem to sell as a total package. It seems as though you get certain characteristics from the menu but not the complete menu.

Guitar Ted said...

@Glenn: The earlier BMC bikes were taller at the BB but these have been dropped by 5mm on newer versions. The BMC, (at the time I got mine) was the best thing I could find short of going custom. Now there are better choices.

@Irishtsunami: Yes, the Revolt has close to the right numbers, but Giant went and made it look odd, which I think is very polarizing, and then you add in the aluminum frame. So, yeah......they could have it sewed up with a more traditional looking frame and done in steel.

Glenn said...

One of these days -- when I win the lottery -- I will get an all road/gravel bike. Or when the pavement all goes to pot where I live.

My area of WI has few if any gravel roads, but a ton of chip seal.

markK said...

This may illustrate the point...3 different horses for 3 different courses, but one material, Ti. REN Cycles out of Portland is the brand, but made by Ti Cycles. http://rencycles.com/ I contacted Eric Herboth, operations manager at Ti Cycles about modifying my Lynskey CX to get more clearance and he said this about their gravel bike "FYI the REN Waypoint will clear a 42c with fenders"

bill winnenberg said...

I have had a Tamland now for over a year and it is a very enjoyable ride, particularly on gravel. I recently acquired an Overland and despite what the geometry numbers say, it is far better than the typical CX bike on gravel. While not quite as stable as the Tamland(what is?), it is plenty stable and much more comfortable, not to mention more responsive. The ti tubing just absorbs the hits and the washboards much better while being lighter and a much better climber. That said, they are both excellent bikes and would be great rides for any gravel or dirt adventure.