Interbike 2013: From A Gravel Perspective
Interbike 2013: From A Gravel Perspective- by Guitar Ted
Having gone to Las Vegas to attend Interbike on a regular basis since 2006, I can say with confidence that the gravel biking scene is making an impression on the industry like never before. Following will be some images and stories about what I found at Interbike that concerns the burgeoning gravel road riding niche for 2014 and beyond. Also- See my opening post on Interbike here.
Raleigh Bicycle’s Tamland: The new two model Tamland line up from Raleigh signals the change from cyclo cross geometry and purpose for gravel riders to a specific design for gravel road riding. The bike features a lower bottom bracket than cyclo cross bikes use with a slack head angle (71°), and a steel frame and fork. Raleigh used Reynolds 631 steel alloy tubing at the insistence of Reynolds due to its better vibration damping characteristics over that of Reynolds 831 steel alloy. The bike will ship with Clement MSO 40mm tires and there is plenty of room around them for mud clearance.
The Tamland also features useful features like full rack and fender mounts, which should appeal to uses outside of gravel riding like sport tourists and commuters. Wheels are sturdy and the Tamland will also have a wide ranging compact gear set up. Two models will be offered. A $2400 full Ultegra 11 speed equipped model, (shown here), and a $1600 ten speed model with
Tiagra 105 components and a FSA crankset. Both Tamlands will come with the same frame, fork, and wheel/tire set ups.
Another component shared across both models will be the interesting TRP mechanical disc brakes. These brakes are unusual for their dual piston action. Most mechanical disc brake designs only move one piston and rely on flexing the rotor into the stationary piston. Having both pistons move to engage the rotor should result in smoother braking feel and require less effort at the lever to get the bike whoa’ed up.
Tamlands in the blue livery and lower spec levels should start showing up at dealers this Winter with the full Ultegra models coming late Winter or very early in the Spring. Raleigh has promised Gravel Grinder News a test ride/review sample, so stay tuned for that. Hopefully this will happen yet this Fall.
Wheels: Several bikes coming out, or already available for gravel pursuits have disc brake set ups. This dovetails perfectly into many wheel makers plans since light weight XC oriented 29″er wheels will also make perfectly fine gravel road and cyclo cross bike wheels. A good example of this was seen at the Reynolds wheel booth where they were suggesting a few wheel sets for gravel road use like the 29″er XC set shown above which tipped the scales at around 1500 grams for the set.
Giant Revolt: Giant Bicycles introduced a line up of bikes aimed at gravel road and back road riding called “Revolt”. Featuring “endurance oriented geometry”, ALUXX aluminum frames, carbon legged, aluminum steer tubed forks, and tire clearances for up to 50mm tires, the Revolt line of three bikes covers the gravel road riding category quite well. The line consists of the top of the line Revolt 0, shown here, which features SRAM’s hydraulic disc brake shifters for drop bars and X-9 drive train components, also has two other models with lower spec in the $1380.00 and $1080.00 price points. The Revolt 0 seen here is at $3200.00 All feature disc brakes and the same aforementioned aluminum frames and carbon/aluminum forks.
The Revolt models will all feature full run cable housings, rack mounts, and the “Defender” down tube mounted mud deflectors. While we liked the weather-proofing ideas, the Defender mud guard looks like a “mud catcher” with those negative grooves underneath giving mud a good place to grab on to. All Revolt models will also feature an interesting, slightly flared drop bar reminiscent of Salsa Cycles Cowbell model.
The Revolt models do feature a very slack geometry with head angles at 70.5° and seat tube angles running into the 71-72° range depending on sizing. Matte finishes with minimal branding make the Revolt models look understated, but the lowered seat stays and oddly bent chain stays reverse the graphic understatement with a radical profile. You won’t mistake this bike for anything else out on the back roads!
Top of the line Revolts will roll on Schwalbe 40mm Smart Sam tires while the lower two models will come out with Giant branded 35mm tires featuring flat protection. Some Revolt models are already hitting dealer showrooms, so check out your nearest Giant retailer for details.
Other Notable Items: These were the main contenders seen at Interbike this year, but there were several other smaller companies showing bicycles and components aimed at gravel riding. The main idea here is that manufacturers are asking about this category and/or are thinking of producing components to satisfy the avid back road rider. One such company Gravel Grinder News sat down with was Challenge Tires, (whose several tire models suitable for gravel have been tested here), and they are keenly interested in supporting gravel road bicycle use. Hints were dropped about a 36-38mm larger volume tire that may be seen in 2014. Another gravel riding proponent was found at HED Wheels who have the Ardennes+ wheels and maybe even a steel frame and fork aimed at gravel/back road riding at some point. (See linked story at top of this post for more.)
Specialized Bikes also has their AWOL adventure rig due to drop early next year, (which we may be getting a sample of for test/review as well), along with some other gravel oriented things being discussed as well. It is obvious that gravel road riding has not only captured the imagination of many across the nation, but that it is being seen as a niche category worth paying attention to by the industry. How much further it all goes is anybody’s guess, but it is obvious this isn’t going away anytime soon either.