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  1. Hi, I am looking getting a gravel bike and have been researching the interwebs for the last month or so. There seems to be very little choice available in South Africa wrt Gravel bikes. Also, most international sites (in fact ALL international sites I have looked at!) do not seem to ship full bikes, so sourcing from oversees also do not seem like an option. Let me also say, I am looking for a Gravel bike and not a cyclocross bike as I want the slightly more relaxed geometry a gravel bike offers, and I definitely want Hydraulic discs not mechanical or anything cantilever... I am looking to spend around R30k. In terms of locally, the only ones I have been able to find are: - Cannondale Slate (too expensive and I don't think its worth paying as much for only 30mm of travel) - Cannondale CaadX and SuperX (really more Cyclocross bikes than gravel bikes I think, also most of the affordable models have mechanical discs, and I'm not a fan of mechanical disks) - Scott Speedster 10 Gravel (looks like a nice option, comes with Hydro disk brakes for a really nice price) - Spaz Diverge and Seqoia (expensive for what you get, SA also seems a bit limited in terms of the specific models we get. Most of the affordable models also come with mechanical discs - meh) - Trek Crockett 5 (also mechanical disks...) - GT Grade various models (looks pretty good value, but usually out of stock everywhere!) So my question, what gravel bikes does the Bikehub community own and where did you get it from?
  2. Hi Guys, our new website and marketing is in the works but here are some sneak previews of SOME of our new 2019 models. our dealers will be getting updated arrival and pricing within the next 2 weeks. please see our website for a list of dealers in your area. as those of you who have joined our newsletter will already know , we are expanding our GRAVEL range from 2 models to 4 ... we are also bringing back a CARBON 29er hardtail option ... Models shown: 2019 GP500 2019 SL729
  3. Retail Specification FrameAlloy Gravel Plus, 142 X 12mm Rear Thru-Axle, Internal Cable Routing, Rear Flatmount For DiscForkAlloy Gravel, Alloy Blades, Taper Steerer, 100 X 15mm Thru-Axle, Disc Only, Flat MountHeadsetMomsen Integrated, AlloyStemMomsen 3D Forged Alloy, Oversize 31.8mm, 7 Degree Rise, 80mm (XS, S) 90mm (M, L) 100mm (XL)HandlebarMomsen Gravel Alloy, Oversize 31.8mm, 40cm (XS) 42cm (S, M) 44cm (L, XL)GripsAnti-Slip, Shockproof TapeRotorTektro Spyre, 6 Bolt, 160mm Front and RearBrake LeverTektro Spyre Mechanical Disc, Rear/Right, Front/LeftTyresClement X’Plor MSO 60TPI 700x40c Wire BeadTube700x 40C, Presta ValveRimsWeinmann U28TL / 32H / Custom DecalSpokesStainless BlackFront HubAlloy 32H, 100 X 15mm Thru-AxleRear HubAlloy 32H, 142 X 12mm Thru-AxleChainwheel SetSRAM S350-1, Alloy, 24mm, X-SYNC 42TChainKMC X11.93Bottom BracketSRAM Pressfit GXP Road 86.5/WA91.5SaddleMomsen Custom, Cromo Rail, Embossed GraphicsSeatpostMomsen Alloy 27.2mm / 350mmSeat BinderAlloy 31.8mm CNC GrooveShiftersSRAM Apex 11-Speed Rear OnlyRear DerailleurSRAM Rival1 Long CageCassetteSRAM PG-1130 11-42TAccessoriesClear Chainstay Protector, Momsen Headbadge, Owner’s ManualWeight10.22kg ( Medium )RRPR17,500 On the Bike The SRAM Apex 1 groupset is a dedicated 1x drivetrain that is available with drop- or flat-bar shifters with the drop-bar levers offered in mechanical or hydraulic versions. Both feature the company’s DoubleTap shifting technology as found on their other STI shifters. Shifting was what one would expect without any dropped chains or botched gear changes. The GP300 comes with Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes, presumably in an effort to keep the pricing down. Although I couldn't fault the brakes it would be nice to see hydraulic disc brakes fitted even if it does bump the price a bit. The extra peace of mind when it really matters and improved feel of a hydraulic system will be worth the added expense. The rest of the kit performed as expected with nothing distracting from the riding experience. Tyre and rim testing I first rode the bike with 700x40c VEE Tire Co Rail tyres on SRAM Roam 40 wheels. They were comfortable at minimum pressure and managed a good balance between rolling resistance and tractionI then changed to Pirelli's P ZERO velo 4S 28C's (their four seasons tyre) to tackle some road rides. There was a noticeable pick up in speed compared to the VEE tyres and they behaved well in all weather conditions. On gravel, I missed the extra width and cushioning, but that was not what the Pirelli's were designed for so it is understandable. The tyres had a good shape on the Roam 40 mountain bike rims (21mm internal width, 25.5mm outer) with no hassle seat them on the rim. The smaller 650b wheelset with the FARROFF 1.95 tyres fitted led to a drop of around 15mm to the axle and bottom bracket height. For more gnarlier (gravel bike speaking) riding, the drop in pedal clearance is something to get used to. For me, the bike won't take me too deep into trail riding so most of the hazards will be avoided by extension. As with the other tyre and wheel combinations tested, these were at the minimum recommended pressure and on serious corrugated roads, the extra cushioning from the tyres helped to smooth out the road and ride. I did miss the added momentum and roll-over that comes with the larger 700 / 29er wheels. The 700 rim and tyre were noticeably taller than the 650b rim and tyre combination. The main benefit with the chunky gravel tyres on the 650b wheels is the ability to lean the bike over to rail berms and push the bike harder around corners. On a gravel bike, this is the set up I would use the least as I'd rather just spend time on a mountain bike. I am sure there are riders out there who enjoy mostly gravel roads or jeep track and for them, this combo could make sense depending on how bad those sections are. Jonkerhoek jeep track comes to mind as an option for these. 650bx50c versus 700x40c Plenty of clearance at the rear with the 40c tyre. Even with the bigger tyres, with their pronounced side knobs, there was still ample tyre clearance on the GP300 front and back. It certainly won't be an issue to take these on a muddy ride.Overall, the bike was fun to ride and reminded me of the simple joys of just riding my bike. To get out and ride wherever straight from my doorstep and not have to worry about optimal suspension setup and messing around with a multitude of settings and levers. There was no easy cop-out lever; when the roads grew rougher I had to compensate with my grip and body position - as simple as that. Verdict When gravel bikes were first launched I thought it was a great idea and loved the vibe and ethos around them. In my time leading up to the review (and trying to figure out if I would ever buy a gravel bike), my enthusiasm waned. It seemed that the gravel bike was the perfect example of Jack of all trades, master of none. Not quite a road bike (1x gearing, heavier) and not quite fit for proper off-road riding, to not even mention trail riding. But then I road the bike and simply loved it. It is pure, simple fun and as long as you can get your head around the compromises, you will have a lot of fun.The added versatility is a great bonus and if it was mine it would rock gravel tires for 80% of its life and a set of all season road tyres for when I really wanted to spend more time on tar. For those who will spend more time on their gravel bikes riding a greater variety of terrain, a second wheelset could be an attractive prospect. ProsAmple tyre and mud clearance Comfortable cruiser Two and a half bikes in one (not quite making it into MTB-light territory) ConsI would like to see hydraulic disc brakes even if it bumps the price
  4. The flagship Checkpoint SL 6 arrives sporting a full Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with a 50/34 compact crank and an 11-34 cassette. Stopping power comes courtesy of flat-mounted Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes paired with Shimano RT800 Ice-Tech Freeze rotors, and finned brake pads for additional cooling and stopping power. Bontrager’s Paradigm Comp Disc wheels have been fitted with tubeless-ready Schwalbe G-One 35c tyres. The Checkpoint's geometry shares some numbers with Trek's Boone cyclocross bike but with strategic tweaks to better tailor it to gravel riding. According to Trek these adaptions "offer comfort for the long haul and on rough terrain but remain aggressive enough to provide the speed and responsive ride-feel most gravel riders crave". It has a nearly identical reach to the Boone but with a slightly taller stack and lower bottom bracket height. The lower bottom bracket provides the additional stability riders look for on rougher roads while maintaining a tight wheelbase, long reach, and relatively low stack height which keeps Checkpoint fast and manoeuvrable. The chainstay length and wheelbase also match the Boone but with a slight twist. The Stranglehold dropouts let the rider adjust the bike’s geometry and gearing based on the requirements of the day’s ride and personal preference. The longest setting increases the bike’s stability for longer rides or bike-packing while shortening the wheelbase provides snappier, more responsive handling for gravel racing. The adjustment range is 15 mm for a 425 to 440 mm chainstay length. The dropouts also facilitate quick, no-fuss conversion to single speed. Hardcore gravel riders can rejoice at the detail that has gone into the Checkpoint. Extra mounts on the top tube, seat tube and both sides of the downtube make it easy to carry extra gear and water with size 49, 52 and 54 cm frames accepting three bottle cages with four cages on sizes 56, 58 and 61 cm. Lowrider fork mounts will hold a rack such as Trek’s 720 fork rack while rear rack mounts provide the option to haul even more cargo. Hidden fender mounts give foul-weather riders the option to give themselves and their bikes some relief from wheel spray. There is even a top tube mount to quickly attach an easy-to-reach bag for on-the-go essentials. The Checkpoint SL 6 features the same rear IsoSpeed decoupler used on Trek's Domane and Boone models. It aims to minimize fatiguing vibrations from uneven road and trail surfaces, ensuring greater comfort for the rider. The SL model also comes with a carbon seatmast cap and Trek’s Carbon Armour to protect the downtube from carbon smashing debris. All Checkpoint models feature front and rear thru axles and Control Freak internal cable routing. There is even a chain-catcher to ensure the chain does not drop when the going gets rough.The rims and tyres are tubeless ready, but you will need to invest in a tubeless conversion to get rid of the standard inner tubes. Throw in the frame's capability to run tyres as wide as 45c and you have a bike that ticks all the gravel boxes. Specification Frame500 Series OCLV Carbon, Rear IsoSpeed, Stranglehold dropouts, tapered head tube, BB90, flat mount disc brakes, rack mounts and hidden mudguard mounts, Control Freak, internal cable routing, 12 mm thru axle, 3S chain keeper, Ride Tuned seatmastForkCheckpoint carbon disc, carbon tapered steerer, flat mount disc brakes, rack mounts, hidden mudguard mounts, 12 mm thru axleWheelsBontrager Paradigm Comp Tubeless Ready Disc, 12 mm thru axleTyresSchwalbe G-One Allround, aramid bead, TL Easy, 700 c 35 cShiftersShimano Ultegra, 11 speedFront derailleurShimano Ultegra, braze-onRear derailleurShimano Ultegra, Shadow design, 11-speedCrankShimano Ultegra, 50/34 (compact)Bottom bracketBB90CassetteShimano HG800, 11-34, 11-speedChainShimano HG600, 11-speedSaddleBontrager Montrose CompSeatpostBontrager Ride Tuned carbon seatmast cap, 20 mm offsetHandlebarBontrager RL IsoZone VR-CF, 31.8 mmTapeBontrager tapeStemBontrager Elite, 31.8 mm, 7-degree, w/computer and light mountsHeadsetIntegrated, cartridge bearing, sealed, 1-1/8˝ top, 1.5˝ bottomBrakesetShimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic discActual weight (Size 54)9,03kg (no pedals, bottle cages or any other mounts)Retail PriceR 69,999 On the road less gravelled Trek paid close attention to the frame design details and this also carried over to the bike's finishing equipment, with an overwhelming focus on comfort. From the Montrose Comp saddle with its pressure relieving channel and sufficient padding to the IsoZone handlebar with its built-in vibration-absorbing pads with extra cushioning underneath the handlebar tape. Even the bar tape strikes the balance between not too skinny to be hard and tiring but also not too thick to feel squishy. Just perfect. This along with the Bontrager handlebar makes for a comfortable front-end, quite a bit more comfortable than I was expecting considering that the Checkpoint does not come with Trek's bump absorbing IsoSpeed in front or something trick like Specialized's FutureShock. I couldn't help but wonder just how much of a difference the IsoSpeed would make in front considering just how comfortable the Checkpoint SL6 already is. The Checkpoint balances surefootedness and playfulness well. The bike feels comfortable on rougher sections without losing agility through overly slack and mellow geometry. The rear of the Checkpoint rides like an SUV with air suspension as it glides over whatever the road less gravelled could throw at it. There can be no doubt about the comfort the IsoSpeed decoupler brings as it provides the perfect amount of give without feeling soft. The Checkpoint SL6 is happy covering endless gravel miles and allows the rider to enjoy the scenery. The only thought that kept popping into my mind was how comfortable it is on corrugated gravel rides. On the single track sections, the bike handled well. It is not the type of riding I would do often on a gravel bike but it was great fun when I ducked into a trail. The 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres performed very well in most conditions with the low profile dimpled tread being grippy enough for gravel riding while only showing its shortcomings on the trails - as you might expect. On the road, the tyres are fast, rolling along with little noise or drag. The G-One's thrive on dry trails with muddy or very loose conditions causing them some trouble. This is not really a comment on their performance, but rather of the nature of the low profile gravel tyre. Through the mud and rain, there were no signs of clearance issues or a noisy bike. The Checkpoint's dropped chainstay reduces chain slap and on the trail noise, negating some benefits of a clutch derailleur. Some riders may prefer a 1x drivetrain but I felt that double chainring setup made it a more versatile ride when there was tar or faster, smooth sections in the mix. On the road, the bike rides like an endurance bike - comfortable enough for longer, more scenic rides, but with enough focus and speed for when I wanted to go fast. Overall handling is also good considering that zooming around tarred corners is not a big focus point for this bike. The bike is no slouch on the climbs, more than happy to tackle a tarred mountain pass or two. Verdict The Checkpoint SL6 has been the first bike in a while that has cleared my mind of review thoughts. Simply the bike and me on (seemingly) endless gravel roads. That takes some doing, as I usually think of how a bike compares to another, how does it handle, what would I change, etc, etc, etc. I spent more time looking around and admiring my surrounds than on any other bike in recent memory. Sure, that is possible on any bike, but we quickly become so focused on performance (our own and a bike's) that we forget to sit up and take things in. Some of that must be down to the gravel genre. It looks and feels more lifestyle-focused but that could just be all the pretty pictures, videos, and marketing getting to me.Whatever it was, it worked. I really enjoyed the Checkpoint. There was nothing in the parts choice or frame design that distracted from the riding experience. For the first time, I wondered how cool it would be to strap up some bags and essentials and just pedal into the wild. ProsVery comfortable, should be even more so with wider tires Smaller frames accept three bottle cages, larger frames accept four Great gravel bike, accomplished all-rounder Mounts for fenders and racks Lifetime warranty on the frame for the lifetime of the original owner Asphalt manners are good ConsThere are better priced rivals for the component level IsoSpeed added to the front might make an already great bike better
  5. Rondo’s aim with the Ruut is to give customers a do-it-all adventure bike. Something a performance rider will appreciate racing on gravel, riding on trails, clocking training miles on the tar, touring through the countryside, or even as the daily commuter. Rondo the brand Rondo is a new brand originating from Poland but Rondo does come to the market claiming with many years of bike industry knowledge, albeit from mountain biking. The founder of Rondo is Szymon Kobylinski. He played in a relatively famous Polish rock band and he was also a decent downhill mountain bike racer. But more importantly, some mountain bikers may know Szymon as the man responsible for NS Bikes, a reputable brand with many years of experience designing and building bikes. The Frame The Rondo Ruut frameset is available in a safe but stealthy black-on-black or the outspoken aubergine and orange eyegasm pictured in the review. Both options look great and will suit most personalities on the spectrum. The Ruut is a carbon fibre frame with specific points that flex to provide relief to the rider. These flex points include: a) the sharp kink in the top tube before the seat tube, b) the seat tube and seatpost, and c) the bend in the seat stays that is set behind the rear wheel axle so that the forces do not travel directly up the seatstay into the seatpost. The Ruut can support both single and double chainring driver systems with internal routing for the cabling. Rondo specifies that the Ruut has clearance up to 700 x 40c and 650b x 2.1” tyres, although I reckon you could squeeze in a tyre size or two bigger. For those looking to do bike packing missions, all the necessary mounts are included to fit mudguards and rack mounts on the front and back. The Ruut is available in four frame sizes. Adjustable Geometry The Ruut has the option of two geometry settings: HI and LO fit. In the LO setting the bike is best suited for race performance with a low cockpit height, steeper head and seatpost angles, and a shorter fork trail. In the HI setting, the head and seatpost angles slacken by half a degree, the cockpit rises higher, and the trail grows by 13mm. The geometry is modified by changing the height and position of the fork axle. Small changes in geometry can make a difference and it is noticeable when switching the chip on the Ruut. The LO mode is great for grinding miles of gravel and riding on tar or even a CX race (should such things ever catch on in SA). In HI mode, a more upright riding position creates better comfort and confidence with a noticeable improvement in rollover ability through roots and rocks. Personally, I was happy with the racier LO fit for most of the test period. Switching the chip between LO and HI modes is a straightforward process requiring loosening the front brake bolts and apply or removing a brake adapter (which is supplied by Rondo). It took me roughly 10 minutes to make the switch. Although a simple enough task, I would not recommend it as a trailside procedure. All you need is the correct sized hex keys and the confidence to realign the brake caliper. Geometry Models and Pricing The Ruut CF is a full carbon frameset which retails for R 32 900. There is also a steel frame (Ruut ST) priced at R 17 900 with an aluminium option also available shortly. A complete Ruut CF build with SRAM components starts from R 54 950.00 while the Rondo Ruut ST builds from R 41 750.00. The Build The parts build on the demo Rondo Ruut is completely custom. It is the bike of Switchback Sports owner Charles Keey and shows off a number of products from his distribution company’s catalogue including Easton and Panaracer. The RUUT features a SRAM Force drivetrain with a single 38 tooth Easton chainring up front with a SRAM 10-42T cassette. I found the spread adequate with good climbing range on steeper mountain bike type trails while providing enough high-speed drive on gravel roads and even out on my morning Chappies peninsula loops (granted, I was not trying to hold a wheel down the hills at race pace). The Easton EC90 SL with CINCH Power Meter was a nice touch with the power meter component fitting neatly in the crank axle. The carbon Easton EC90 SL wheelset is solid but light, offering confidence when hurtling down gravel roads and holding a line when picking your way through rock and roots. The Panaracer SK GravelKing tread design impressed with excellent grip in dry loose turns while rolling supremely well. I did manage to mortally wound my front tyre by smashing into a spearhead-shaped rock while hurtling blindly down a gravel road at the back of the pack. Even a mountain bike would have struggled to keep from spilling its sealant guts in that incident, so there’s no blaming Panaracer for the pit stop. The cockpit features more Easton carbon bits with the highlight being a flared handlebars providing additional steering control and comfortable position in the drops. The Ruut frame arrives standard with an Easton carbon seat post and a Rondo own-branded stem. In this dress up, the extra large frame Ruut weighs a frisky 8.4 kilograms. Throw on some road tyres for race days and you’ll be knocking on the door of many well-specced road bikes, especially in the smaller frame sizes. Specifications FrameRondo Ruut Flex Design EPS Carbon Frame (Extra Large)ForkRuut TwinTip Carbon ForkHandlebarsEaston EA70 AXStemRondoGripsEastonSaddleRitchey WCS StreemSeatpostEaston EC90BrakesSRAM ForceRotorsSRAM Centreline 160Shift LeversSRAM ForceRear DerailleurSRAM ForceCassetteSRAM 10-42TCranksetEaston EC90 SL with CINCH Power MeterChainringEaston 38TBottom BracketRotorChainSRAM PC-1110WheelsEaston EC90 SLTyresPanaracer Gravelking SK 700x38CWeight8.4 kg (XL frame including two bottle cages and sealant) Riding the RUUT The Ruut makes bold claims about its versatility over different types of terrain, so I set out to test it on a variety of surfaces including a 100-mile gravel race, Constantia green belts, the rough Jonkershoek plantation roads, and my regular morning tarred road loop.On Gravel Jumping on the Ruut I was immediately impressed by its eagerness to go. The bike is sharp, firm, and attentive when pedalling giving the feeling that it's working hard to make you go faster. Although the extra large frame did resemble a farm gate, the Ruut felt surprisingly compact and responsive possibly thanks, in part to, the shortish 420mm chainstays. This plays out well in climbing where the positive feedback paired with the relatively light weight make for an enthusiastic ascender. The Ruut glides with road bike like ease over smoother gravel roads. On rougher broken roads, it copes well giving you the confidence and manoeuvrability to hold a line, punching through the roughest sections. Even in the sand, when the grip goes and the bike lurches, the Rondo frame feels reasonably composed under the rider. Comfort The longest ride I completed on the Ruut was Around the Pot 100 Miler in well over 7 hours. The Ruut was a blast to ride, keeping me entertained with the sharp feedback and super efficient pedalling, coupled with being able to assume a slippery road bike riding position. It brings many of the aspects I enjoy from road riding to the gravel without losing any of the joy of being off the tar. Most importantly though, the seven hours on the bike gave me an indication of comfort in the racier LO geometry position. On the drops, the bike's geometry positions the rider aggressively, well suited to speeding down a gravel road for hours. I'll admit to lacking the core fitness for racing in this position all day and jumping on the hoods or tops still allowed me to clock the miles efficiently with the more upright position providing some respite for my arms and back. The Ruut's vibration dampening does well to absorb smaller road chatter type vibrations but does little to soften bigger impacts. But it is the gravel tyres that offer the most 'suspension' and finding the correct pressures for the style of riding will go a long way to improve the ride quality. On the road On the tar, the Ruut feels surprisingly like an ordinary carbon road bike. Only the heavier, wider tyres hint at the bikes gravel abilities and some speed loss. An easy enough fix for those who might want to occasionally get a bit racey on the road is to change tyres or have a spare wheelset to swap out when required. There is no doubting that serious roadies seeking every little advantage will benefit from their purpose built machines but for everyone else from training to coffee rides and the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour dash, the Ruut is more than fast enough with gravel tyres. And when your road ride needs some spicing up, simply hop onto the trails and leave the tar behind. The Ruut really is a viable option for those looking for that one (road) bike to truly explore their surroundings. On the trails Also being a keen mountain biker, it is always fun to see how far you can push a gravel bike on rougher terrain. If you’re up for an adventure, there are lots of opportunities to link road and off-road routes in South Africa. Assuming the attack position in the drop bars is necessary but rewarding, as trails that were routine on the mountain bike now take on a whole new level of complexity. On more technical trails, the Ruut is limited by its genre being reasonably capable over rocks and root but not entirely suited to such terrain. For this type of riding, the HI geometry position was noticeably more capable and confidence inducing. At the end of the day, it is not a mountain bike and trying to ride it like one will only disappoint. Where is the Rondo best suited? The Ruut is highly adaptable switching between gravel and tar riding. It is also comfortable flowing mountain bike style trails, keeping up with the suspended big wheel bikes is not a challenge. Not surprisingly, on technical rocky and routed trails, the Ruut starts to exceed its comfort zone.I found the Ruut to be an excellent gravel race bike and endless gravel road adventures. And with my podium ambitions being non-existent, I'd happily race it on the road too. For on tar training and coffee rides, it's more than capable of keeping up with, if not beating, your mates to the top of Chappies. Perhaps consider a spare wheelset with skinnier tyres for even better road results. In the end The Ruut delivers on its promise of being a versatile adventure bike. From speeding along gravel to dicing your mates between traffic lights, the Ruut delivers. The Ruut is a bike that I'd happily give up having a road bike for. Opening up the world of adventure bike exploration without losing what the road bike offered. ProsAgile, repsonsive ride feel, especially on the climbs Decent all day comfort Versatile across gravel and road Capable on smoother trails ConsNew brand with a new bike lacks a track record
  6. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie What is new? The Diverge falls into the booming gravel bike category, in which drop bars, and the ability to dominate both road and dirt surfaces are de rigueur. First launched in 2014, the Diverge has seen a makeover for 2018. The most notable changes are greater tyre and mud clearance, removing the Zertz inserts from the fork and seatstay, the addition of a version of the Future Shock suspension specifically adapted for the Diverge, and adjustments in geometry towards what Specialized call their Open Road Geometry.The tyre clearance has been increased to accommodate 700x42mm tyres, an increase from 35mm tyres on the previous model. The new geometry sees the bottom bracket drop 6.5 millimetres to 265 millimetres, for increased stability on technical terrain. The reach has been decreased from 380 to 373 millimetres, and the stack height has been increased from 565 to 592 millimetres (on a size 54) to put the rider in a more upright position. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie The Future Shock is a suspension system in the headset allowing for 20 millimetres of axial travel to soak up bumps. The system on the Diverge makes use of a progressive spring to cope with bigger hits than its counterpart on the more road orientated Roubaix.In terms of the adventure-ready checklist, the Diverge is compatible with a short travel dropper post, offers three water bottle mounts, mounting for rack and fenders, and mounting for the road SWAT box for storing a tube, CO2 canister and adapter, valve extender and money clip. Photo credit: Ewald SadieThe Future Shock provides 20 millimetres of travel. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie The SWAT box provides a convenient place to store necessary tools and spares, keeping the centre of gravity low. Photo credit: Ewald SadieThe S-Works Diverge I tested comes standard with a 35mm Command Post XCP, and the road SWAT box. Braking is taken care of by Shimano RS805 hydraulic disc brakes, while the drivetrain is a mixture: Shimano R785 Di2 shifters paired with an XTR Di2 rear derailleur, Shimano XTR 11-40t, 11-speed cassette, and an Easton EC90 SL Carbon crank and 42T chainring. Roval CLX 32 Disc carbon wheels are wrapped in 38mm Specialized Trigger Pro tyres. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie Specifications FrameS-Works FACT 11r carbon, Open Road Geometry, 12x142mm thru-axle, Future Shock Progressive suspension, 20mm of travel, flat mount discForkS-Works FACT carbon, flat mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axleFront WheelRoval CLX 32 Disc, Win Tunnel Engineered, carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD Hub, CeramicSpeed bearings, 21hRear WheelRoval CLX 32 Disc, Win Tunnel Engineered, carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD Hub, CeramicSpeed bearings, 24hInner Tubes700x28/38mm, 48mm Presta valve w/ extenderFront TyreSpecialized Trigger Pro, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 700x38mmRear TyreSpecialized Trigger Pro, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 700x38mmCranksetEaston EC90 SL CarbonChainringEaston direct mount 42TBottom BracketCeramicSpeed 386 EVOShiftersShimano R785 Di2, hydraulic discRear DerailleurXTR Di2 M9050, 11-speedCassetteShimano XTR, 11-speed, 11-40tChainShimano Dura-Ace,11-speedFront BrakeShimano RS805, hydraulic discRear BrakeShimano RS805, hydraulic discHandlebarsS-Works Carbon Hover Drop, 125x75mmTapeS-Wrap w/ Sticky gelStemS-Works SL, alloy, titanium bolts, 6-degree riseSaddleBody Geometry S-Works Phenom, carbon rails, 143mmSeatpostCommand Post XCP, 27.2mm, 35mm of travelPriceR145 000 Geometry On the Gravel It’s been said before: South Africa is ripe for a gravel bike revolution. Endless kilometres of farm roads with varying surface quality, and a mindset laser focused on endurance and ultra-endurance events. Some might argue that the riding a large majority of South Africans do on their mountain bikes is in fact gravel grinding anyway, so why not use the right tool for the job?In terms of covering ground on gravel surfaces, the S-Works Diverge is more of a weapon than a tool: It eats choppy surfaces for breakfast. It is always difficult to give a fair assessment of a bike when you ride the top of the range model: and it is no different with the S-Works Diverge. Top notch components and an ultra-light frame combine to make you feel like a hero. In the case of the Diverge, it managed to feel astonishingly light and efficient on the road, but scarily smooth and surefooted on rough terrain. Photo credit: Etienne van RensburgOur ride took us from Boschendal onto the slopes of Paarl rock via a mixture of gravel and tar roads. As I mentioned earlier, the Diverge flies on the tar. The only limitation comes from the 1x drive train which means you occasionally spin out on descents. As sleek as the 1x system looks and feels, if you are going to be klapping kilometres on tar, 2x might be your friend. Similarly, on gravel surfaces the Diverge has pace: I had to adjust mentally to the speed at which we were moving along the dirt path next to the road. The Future Shock seemed to soak up impacts on the front, without any weird bobbing, even when out of the saddle and pushing. Similarly, the flex in the seatpost prevents road chatter from reaching your body. I’d have to ride it for longer and on rougher roads, to know for sure, but I imagine the vibration damping does a lot to mitigate fatigue, and it felt noticeably smoother than the 2017 model on gravel. The only technical terrain we tackled during our ride was an exposed granite slab on the slopes of Paarl rock which we rode down, for a challenge. This is where I noticed a difference in my confidence when compared with a mountain bike. It was harder to commit and trust the grip on the tyres. I would have liked to ride some smooth singletrack with the Diverge: I imagine the efficiency and low weight could result in some quick acceleration out of the corners, and the drop bars and skinny tyres add an interesting challenge to trails that might otherwise feel mundane. One aspect of the design updates that didn’t suit me was the increased stack height, putting the rider in a more upright position. I like a slammed stem, and an aggressive riding position, especially on open roads. It just happens to be what is comfortable for me. The design and position of the Future Shock means that adjusting the stem height is not much of an option, and I was more upright on the hoods than I would have liked. I suspect I was on the border of 52 and 54 cm size and perhaps going a size down would have worked better. Photo credit: Etienne van Rensburg Retailing at R145 000 you have to be pretty committed to gravel riding to go the S-Works Diverge route, but there are options for your pocket all the way down to the Diverge Comp E5 for R28 000, which are worth looking at. In the end The Diverge has the capacity to open up doors you did not know were there, linking tar and gravel seamlessly, with very little compromise on either surface.In a country with kilometres of untapped potential in the form of dirt roads, and with roads becoming increasingly dangerous and congested for conventional road bikes, the flexibility of a gravel or “adventure” bike is becoming hard to ignore. And disappearing into the distance, in any direction, on any road, is an alluring possibility. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie Time for an upgrade?Buy or sell a new or used gravel bike in our marketplace here.
  7. Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race Erik Kleinhans' eye-catching Canyon was his pick from their lineup for the event. It's a cyclo-cross race bike with more aggressive geometry than the other bikes on tour, but given the generally good condition of the Klein Karoo gravel and Erik's abilities it was well suited. This top end model was suitably kitted out with Reynolds Assault LS carbon wheels, SRAM Force CX1, and a beautifully integrated handlebar and stem. Tyres: Maxxis Rambler 700x40C SilkShield TR, 120TPI (Tubeless) Momsen R355 Jan Braai's Momsen R355 threw in a bit of a twist with some 29" mountain bike wheels and tyres. The Momsen offers good clearance and versatility being able to accommodate the 2" Continental Race Kings on Stans Arch rims. Jan certainly had an advantage on the bumpy, loose downhills, and in maintaining traction on the uphills, however the broader contact patch and meatier tread made for a less efficient ride. Given the predominantly smooth surfaces we encountered, the bike was a bit over-equipped for the route, but that didn't seem to slow him down. Tyres: Continental Race King 29x2.0 (Tubeless) Cannondale Slate Ultegra My steed for the week was the plush Cannondale Slate rolling on 27.5" wheels with some semi-slick 27.5x1.75 tyres. Had I done a bit more forward planning and arranged the bike earlier I'd have fitted something with a bit more tread. Thankfully though the road surfaces were quite accommodating and the tyres faired well until the road got bendy. On turns with loose marble like stones on a hard surface, it was very skittish and I had to slow right down to keep the bike upright. The turns aside, the tyre width and volume did make for an incredibly comfortable ride (and I'm sure the Lefty helped here too). Tyres: Kenda Koast Sport 27.5x1.75 60TPI (Tubeless) Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Tim Brink's Santa Cruz Stigmata CC was equipped with the same Maxxiss Rambler 40c tyres as on the Canyon and both had a hassle-free ride. The Stigmata is no stranger to our shores as one of the earlier gravel bikes to hit the market. Tim can usually be seen riding all sorts of typically "mountain bike only" terrain on this bike so naturally, the smooth roads of Tour de Braai offered little challenge for him (and the Stig). Tyres: Maxxis Rambler 700x40C SilkShield TR, 120TPI (Tubeless) Momsen R355 Another Momsen R355 was piloted by David Moseley, but this one featured a more conventional 700x40c wheel and tyre setup (the same bike which we reviewed earlier this year). Based on the feedback over the week, the general consensus was that 700x40c was the sweet spot for the Klein Karoo gravel providing just enough volume to give comfort while still a fast rolling tyre. Tyres: Clement X’Plor MSO 60TPI 700x40c Folding Bead (Tubeless) IF Bikes Custom Titanium gravel / touring bike To a casual observe Kenny Scheepers' understated bike might not garner a second look, but one look at the head badge and you realise it's no ordinary machine. This is a fully custom Titanium Independent Fabrication frame hand built in the US. Kenny opted for 38c Challenge Gravel Grinder tyres and as the only rider with tubes was also the only rider to puncture over the five days. All the punctures were a snake bite and all happened at speed as we headed downhill. In order to run the tyre pressures that we found to be ideal for comfort on these roads (2 - 2.5 bar) a tubeless setup is mandatory to avoid snakebites. Tyres: Challenge Gravel Grinder Race Series 700x38c, 120TPI (Tubes) To find out more about the Tour de Braai visit the website: http://braai.com/braaitour/tour-de-braai/The next tour takes place in May 2018.
  8. Erik Kleinhans's Canyon Exceed CF SLX Erik Kleinhans arrived with what must be one of the cleanest monster cross builds we've seen. Erik has fitted drop bars to his Canyon Exceed 29er carbon hardtail mountain bike. The drivetrain is also a mix and match with a SRAM XX1 Eagle crankset with a Force derailleur and brakeset. Erik retained the RockShoc RS-1 fork but custom fitted the remote lockout to the drop bars. The wheels are DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline with Maxxis Icon 2.2 front and Aspen 2.1 rear. Jan Braai's Santa Cruz Stigmata CC Jan Braai, the imagination behind the race, rocked up in style with this Santa Cruz Stigmata. As is customary with a Santa Cruz, the wheels are from Enve fitted and wrapped 38c Vitorria Adventure Trail tyres. The Zipp handelbars, stem, and seatpost polish off a well-rounded bike. Rob Gilmour's Lynskey Cooper CX The supple, shock-absorbing ride that titanium provides makes it an ideal material for endurance gravel bikes. Even the most ardent steel or titanium rider will concede that carbon forks are the way to go on a rigid setup, and on this bike Rob has elected Lynsky's Pro Carbon CX. The SRAM Force1 drivetrain powers American Classic Race wheels with challenge Gravel Grinder 38c tyres. Leonardo van Onselen's 3T Explorer Leonardo's white carbon 3T Explorer certainly stands out in a crowd. 3T say this purpose built gravel bike boasts aerodynamic frame tubing that benefits the rider on fast tar sections and headwinds. This particular build is fitted with Easton EC90 carbon wheels along with a SRAM Force1 groupset with a Rotor 3D crankset. David Moseley's Trek Crockett 5 The Trek Crockett 5 represents a more attainable option for the everyday rider, but is just as capable as the exotic bikes above. The bike arrives from the factory with a Shimano 105 drivetrain with FSA crankset while braking is taken care of by a set of Hayes CX 5 mechanical disc brakes. Bontrager cockpit components and wheels complete the bike. The one change on this bike are the Vittoria Adventure Trail 38c tubeless tyres. Found this interesting? Take a look at the 2017 edition of Bikes of Tour de Braai here.
  9. Frame The Momsen R355 Gravel is a full carbon frame resembling a road bike but shaped to accommodate a variety of wheel and tyres sizes to take the bike beyond the confines of tar. The frame comes with a number of practical touches to make long distance adventures somewhat easier. There is provision for three water bottle mounts. Two inside the front triangle and one on the outside of the downtube. There are also mounts for racks and bags on the seatpost and rear axle.The R355 gravel borrows technology from the mountain bike world. The axles size comes straight out of mountain biking with a 142 mm rear thru axle and 100 mm front thru axle. This allows the R355 to fit a variety of wheel sizes including 700 X 50C, 27.5 X 2.10, and 29 X 2.10. SizingWhen first looking at the centimetre sizing, I was a bit confused by how small the range appeared. However, its is best to ignore that and look to the S/M/L/XL sizing for a better representation. For example, I'm usually a 58 or 59 on road bike measurements but I fit reasonably comfortably on the 54 (Large) R355 frame although one size up would probably have been the sweet spot. Components The Momsen R355 arrives perfectly ready to get stuck in, with a well thought out selection of parts. There are no components that are subpar or necessitate an upgrade, except perhaps a tubeless conversion if your conditions require it.Originally developed for cyclocross racing, SRAM’s single chainring Force1 drivetrain has proven to be versatile across many cycling disciplines including gravel. The Momsen R355 features a SRAM Force crankset, derailleur, and hydraulic brakes/levers. The X1 cassette is borrowed from SRAM’s mountain biking catalogue while the chain has been sourced from KMC. Momsen have elected to go with a 40 tooth chainring and a 10-42 cassette range. The disc brakes are SRAM Force hydraulic with 160mm rotors front and back. The wheelset is Stan’s NoTubes gravel specific ZTR Grail MK3 rims laced with Sapim Force spokes to Neo hubs wrapped in Clement X’Plor MSO 40c tyres. The bike arrives with tubes and this is how I tested it, without suffering any punctures or pinch flats. The cockpit consists of Momsen branded parts. Most interesting is the carbon seatpost which is ovalised near the top to add flexibility to the post. On the large frame the stem is 90 mm with a 44 cm flared handlebars wrapped in shock absorbing bar tape. Momsen R355 Specifications: FrameCarbon Gravel Plus 142 x 12MM Rear Thru-Axle, Internal Cable Routing, Dropper Post Compatibility, Rear Flatmount for discForkFull Carbon, Carbon Steerer, 100 x 12MM Thru-Axle, Disc Only, Flat MountHeadsetMomsen Integrated, Angular Contact BearingCranksetSram Force1 24MM XSYNC 40T (170MM – XS, S) (172.5MM – M, L) (175MM – XL)Rear DerailleurSram Force1 Type 2.1 Long CageShiftersSram Force1 HRD 11-Speed Rear OnlyCassetteSram XG 1180 10-42TBrakesSRAM Force1 DiscRotorsSRAM CLX, 6 Bolt, 160MM Front and RearBottom BracketSram Pressfit GXP Road 86.5/WA91.5RimsStan’s ZTR Grail MK3 28H / 32HSpokesSapim Force BlackFront HubStan’s NEO 28H 12 x 100Rear HubStan’s NEO 32H 142 x 12TyresClement X’Plor MSO 60TPI 700x40c Folding BeadTubes700x40c, Presta ValueHandlebarsMomsen Gravel, Oversize 31.88MM, 40CM (XS) 42CM (S, M) 44CM (L, XL)GripsAnti-Slip, Shockproof TapeStemMomsen 3D Forged Alloy, Oversize 31.8MM, 7 Degree Rise, 80MM (XS, S) 90MM (M,L) 100MM (XL)SaddleMomsen Custom, Cromo Rail, Embossed GraphicsSeatpostMomsen Carbon 27.2MM Comfort / 350MMSeat BinderAlloy 31.8MM CNC GrooveSizesXS (48CM), S (50CM), M (52CM), L (54CM), XL (56CM)Weight (Large)8.6 kgsRRPR52,500 Models and pricingThe above build is currently the only model in the R355 range. The recommend retail price is R52,500. If that's a bit rich for your taste, Momsen also have an aluminium GP300 gravel bike with a modest build retailing for R17,500. On the trail I tested the Momsen R355 on a variety of terrain including gravel roads, tar, urban greenbelts, single track, and even the odd mountain bike rock garden. As is to be expected, the R355 excels on gravel and broken roads. The direct road bike feel coupled with a comfortable geometry and large tyres certainly enhances the experience of disappearing down a farm road. Putting the power down and surging forward feels great on the Momsen R355 but the rigid frame design does mean some harsh impacts without any suspension to soak them up. The flexible carbon seat post actually worked. I could feel it moving underneath me when I hit big holes but it was never was uncomfortable or distracting. While the large 40c tyres worked tirelessly to soak up a decent amount of chatter and corrugations. Having recently ridden around the dirt roads of L'Agulhas on a road bike with 25c tyres, I can attest to the gain in comfort and traction that larger tyres bring. The R355 is no slouch on the tar either, making switching between the road and dirt seamless and natural. I tested the bike on my regular road group ride around the Cape Peninsula. On tar, the bike feels like a road bike. The geometry made for a comfortable ride without impacting on performance. I even enjoyed the flared handlebars. The larger tyres do add a bit of weight, and a touch of extra drag is noticeable. The low gear range only hindered my progress on the steeper descents which I found myself approaching with much more confidence on the 40c wide tyres (and a higher cadence). There was little compromise on the climbs with the range of the mountain bike cassette. The R355 is a viable road bike for those riding for fun and fitness, and if you really don't want both a road and gravel bike, the R355 can go a long way to being your road bike. Throw on some skinnier slick tyres and I have no doubts that the bike will be even better suited for the job. The bike’s handling is predictable and stable. The flared drops proved to be the safest place for your hands on rougher terrain. This did mean that the back wheel can get a bit sideways with your weight far forward, just something to be mindful of when grabbing the brakes. The Clement X’Plor tyres give good grip and I was pleasantly surprised at their resilience when bashed into sharp rocks. This sense of adventure carries over to more technical riding on what is usually considered mountain biking territory. Much like riding on gravel roads, the Momsen R355 breathed new life into my midweek mountain bike route. (For those familiar with the Cape Town southern suburbs trail network, via the Constantia Greenbelts up Constantia Nek, back down through Newlands Forest, and back to the Greenbelts via the Cork Tree Trail). Riding the R355 on these familiar trails presented new challenges and required different line choices that transformed the experience. Perfect if you’re looking to switch up your riding but not the trails. On the R355, I managed to largely keep up pace, if not go faster, than my mountain biking companions. However, on fast and loose gravel descents where the robust tyres and coddling suspension of the mountain bikes show their worth in speed and stability. The R355 or at least I, fell apart in rock gardens and rooty sections. I found myself understanding why some gravel bikes come fitted with a dropper seatpost. Its worth keeping your expectations in check, it is a gravel bike after all and while it's perfectly adapted to mountain dirt roads and smoother single track, in most rider's hands, it is not a mountain bike. In the end The Momsen R355 is the ideal companion with which to explore the countryside. While it shines on gravel roads, the versatility means that you can get away with using it as a road bike and even on less technical mountain bike excursions. The component selection is spot on, matching the abilities of the light sturdy frame.
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