|They grow up so fast!..........sniff! (Image courtesy of B Fornes)|
Back when I got my Tamland Two, I guessed in a post here that if this gravel bike thing caught on, there would soon be carbon examples for the genre. I turned out to be correct, but I was disappointed to find out most of them have cyclo cross inspired geometry, or are merely cyclo cross bikes with more tire clearances. That isn't at all what would work best for gravel road cycling. It is merely marketing to a group of cyclists with what is convenient. It is easier, and therefore, you get the following: "why do you need a gravel specific bike when cyclo cross bikes already do that." Or: "All road bikes are gravel bikes". That last one is one of my favorites. Daft logic for sure.
Anyway, Raleigh didn't fashion this carbon bike by tweaking an existing cyclo cross offering. Nope- this has Tamland geometry, now in carbon fiber. Even the fork rake is the same as the Tamland's is. It's dubbed the "Roker", and will be available in early Fall, '15. It features three bottle mounts, a flared drop bar, and will come with tubeless ready wheels.
WARNING! My Opinion Follows: I'll tell ya what- if it rides like my Tamland does, it will be the premier gravel road riding rig available today. I've seen what the projected weight is for the complete Roker Two, and it is very, very competitive with the upcoming Warbird Carbon. That Salsa bike may have those wild seat stays, and the Roker may not have that sort of compliance, but I'm betting this new Raleigh will be neck and neck with the Salsa, and handle slightly better. We'll see......
|Twin Six's Standard Rando (Image courtesy of Twin Six)|
However cool a carbon fiber gravel travel bike may be, there are many that adhere to the steel frame camp for crushed rock roads and won't be changing their minds soon. Twin Six has just started shipping their "Standard Rando" rig to satisfy such cravings and at a very reasonable price. $600.00- $670.00 gets you the frame, fork, and maybe some cool painted to match fenders if you go to the upper end of that range.
Now, ya know this rig is going to look killer because it was designed by those Minneapolis whiz-bang designers at Twin Six. Their stuff has been cool since like, '05 or so. They are trying their hand again at doing a bicycle line, and this time I think they hit it outta the park. The geometry is pretty dang good, and it has clearances for big tires, which is good. Overall, "good" is going to work well for most folks. Plus, like I say, it looks awesome. The price is right, and if it rides well, then this could be the best deal in a steel frame for gravel out there.
|Well, well! Looky there! (Image courtesy of TNI.com)|
My friend, Grannygear, who steers the ship over at Twentynineinches.com these days, told me he expected a huge wave of 27.5+ stuff at Sea Otter, and it looks as though he wasn't wrong about that!
I checked the Facebook page and all there is to see are 27.5+ rigs from Jamis, Specialized, Rocky Mountain, and over at the WTB booth, he saw this strange apparition with Salsa livery.
Now, I am betting that this whole "Plus" sized wheel thing will go in two directions: One is for Enduro. The bigger meats with higher volume will be perfect for swallowing smaller bumps, giving beau-coup traction benefits, and a boost in diameter to almost 29"er proportions for better roll-ability. Two: Bikepacking/Adventure riders will eat this up because of the easier acceleration of the smaller than 29+ wheels and fatness of those larger wheels in smaller packages which should help with sizing up smaller folk as well.
Don't get me wrong- 29+ has a place at the table too, but the "Industry" is going to decide that 27.5+ is where the focus will be at, so get used to it folks. It's the "Next Big Thing" in mountain biking and we're just seeing the tip of the ol' berg, as it were.
Oh! And that bike is a prototype Salsa rig with Boost148/Boost110 axle spacings and 120mm of travel. We'll probably see more of that around Saddledrive time, I'd expect.
Okay, that's a wrap for today. Get ready next week for an onslaught of Trans Iowa craziness as I am one week away from the Big Dance. Weather, packing, last minute preparations, and more will all be discussed and fretted over. Have a great weekend!