The folks that run Alpkit, a big online outdoor outfitter in the UK, are avid cyclists so it only seemed logical to them that they would build their own in-house bike brand. Getting out for long days on the bike and pretty much any type of off-road adventure you could think of, they were looking for bikes that could get you up one side of a mountain and then bomb down the other side.
So working with Brant Richards, who had designed bikes for On-One, Planet-X, and Ragley, among others, Alpkit built the Sonder bike brand around a few new bikes designed to “Go Nice Places & Do Good Things”. Starting off with a 650b+ aluminum hardtail, an adjustable dropout titanium hardtail able to be setup in any number of ways, and an all-day ti cross & gravel touring bike for the long haul, Sonder has set an ambition to go the distance. Get a closer look after the break…
The Sonder Transmitter is a high-spirited aluminum hardtail for big mountain and hard trail riding, with geometry designed for fast trail center descending. The bike is built around 27.5+ tires, thru-axles, and Boost hub spacing. Its details include bolt-on external housing guides, a port for stealth dropper routing, an integrated tapered headset, a standard threaded 73mm BB shell to stay creak-free, a ISCG05 chainguide mount, and a hydroformed, triple-butted 6061 tubeset. Its frame geometry is designed to be paired with 130mm forks (or 120mm of travel with a 51mm offset.)
The frame uses a wide flattened toptube for to keep responsive handling, but still deliver a comfortable ride for an alloy bike. In three sizes, the anodized frame only sells for just £300, but a couple SRAM builds will also be available, both featuring RockShox forks and Alpkits’ own house Love Mud components and Rumpus wheelset. A build as low as £850 is said to be in the works, with a SRAM GX1/Pike version to sell for £1600.
The Broken Road is a completely different take on a 27.5+ hardtail. Sonder crafts this one out of titanium and destined it for adventure a bit farther afield. It revolves around adaptable wheel standards and adaptable drivetrain solutions to tackle long-distance off-road adventure touring, with its sight set on bikepacking the world.
Like the Transmitter, the Broken Road can handle fat 27.5+ rubber, but Sonder also tweaked it to fit standard 29er tires or pretty much any tire you can throw on a set of 700c wheels, with an eye on ultimate versatility. Bigger and fatter tires roll over obstacles better, but depending on the track a lighter setup could be better suited to cover the miles.
The Broken Road frame itself is welded from 3/2.5 titanium tubing, and also uses a flattened toptube for added comfort while maintains lateral stiffness. It uses an adjustable, rocker-style drop out that lets you set the bike up as either a conventionally geared ride, or with a singlespeed or internal geared hub. It also gets external routing, a machined chainstay yoke for short stays and big tire clearance, a threaded BB, and long, slack geometry, but adds in a wealth of extra bottle braze-ons for the long tours.
A titanium fork option pairs well for a comfortable ride, able to handle any terrain. It is also designed to handle various wheel standards, including the ability to run a true fat bike front wheel/tire combo for rolling over the loosest surfaces imaginable. Plus, you can always swap in a short travel suspension fork to eat up even rougher trails. Both frame and fork use thru-axles to keep the bike tracking true, sticking with 100&142 spacing. The Broken Road sells for £800 as a frame-only in 4 sizes, for £1100 paired with the ti fork, or in a complete SRAM GX1 build f0r £1750.
Last of the first wave of Sonder bikes is the Camino Ti, a mix of a cyclocross, gravel, and road bike. The Camino seems to be the road version of the Broken Road, designed for an adventure this time when you don’t know what to expect of the road ahead. Designed for even longer tours, the drop bar bike can take on rough roads and rugged paths with its all-day, long wheelbase stability and a more comfortable upright position.
Sonder specs the Camino with flared bars for flexible riding positions and less stress on the back, no matter the terrain. They see the bike as a mountain biker’s road bike. As we can attest, it’s nice to have a bike that can handle the rough stuff when its rider has the uncontrollable urge to venture down every dirt track that a smooth asphalt road crosses.
The 3/2.5 titanium Camino again builds up with wide, flattened tubing to balance stiffness and comfort, and gets a disc brake only build. It does however stick with standard quick release axles, and an external headset (although still a 44mm headtube for a tapered steerer.) In a bit more of wheel flexibility, the frame gets clearance for both 650b x 48mm or 700c x 44mm tires.
The Camino is also offered in 4 sizes as a couple of SRAM builds with hydro brakes, as well as a standalone frameset. The frame and full carbon monocoque fork sell for £1000. A Rival1 build adds just £500, while the Force1 complete bike sells for £2000, both again finished off with Love Mud components.
The new Sonder frames are available now, with complete bikes ready to ship by the end of March. For the time being they are only shipping within the UK, but Alpkit assures us that they are working on sorting out more agreeable shipping terms, so they should at least be spreading across the continent in the near future.
Alpkit even has three more bikes already in the works. An aluminum version of the all-road bike – the Camino Alloy – will give mixed surface adventure road touring a lower cost of entry. Adding to the ti bikes, the Cahoot will be a fully custom off-road Titanium Tandem that a couple of the Alpkiteers are out testing now in prep to ride in on the 2016 Tour Divide. Lastly spreading into another material, the Vir Fortis will be an all carbon fat bike that will take you past the end of the trail.