It’s getting to be that time of year where a little (or a lot) of extra rubber is welcomed for your drop bar builds. Whether you’re exploring dirt roads and hidden single track that is overgrown most of the year, chasing down competitors on the cross circuit, or cruising the gravel highways, fall is a great time for a gravel/dirt road/adventure bike.
That’s why we were pretty excited when Why Cycles offered up their new R+ for review. The most “road” out of their three debut titanium bikes, the R+ is one of those category defying “gravel” or “road plus” bikes we’re starting to see more of. The bike is really based around 700 x 40/42 tires, but with clearance for 27.5 x 2.1″ wheels and tires and options like the Lauf Grit fork, the R+ won’t be confined to your typical routes…
Right off the bat, Why Cycles is doing thing a bit differently. Instead of shipping in standard cardboard boxes, all complete Why Cycles come in their own custom Evoc bike bags. And not just the standard version, but the Bike Travel Bag Pro which includes a clip on front wheel which makes it easy to maneuver through airports. Why Cycles co-founders Adam Miller and Ben Craner wanted a way to reduce the amount of cardboard that ends up in landfills while also providing an added benefit to the consumer. The result is a reusable bike bag that collapses for easy storage and as we’ve seen in our tests, keeps the bike and wheels plenty safe.
Starting at the frame, the R+ like all of the Why Cycles is a combination of 3/2.5 and 6/4 titanium. In addition to shapely usage of the Ti material, Why Cycles has decorated the frame with subtle but fun graphics bead blasted into the raw titanium. Everywhere you look is another detail, though it’s done in a way that isn’t over the top.
Frame appointments include a tapered 1.5 to 1 1/8″ head tube with integrated headset (70.5-72.5º HTA depending on size), threaded 68 mm bottom bracket, 142 x 12mm rear axle, and post mount rear brake mounts for 160mm rotors. Cable routing is internal which includes provisions for a 31.6mm dropper post – which sounds a little weird for a drop bar gravel bike, but it’s actually something we’d consider. More on that later.
The frame also includes three bottle mounts, two inside the triangle, and one on the bottom of the downtube, while the upper downtube mount includes three bottle bosses for either positioning of standard cages or using 3 pack mounts. Finally, there are full rear rack and fender mounts available for more versatility.
Even though the R+ frame boast clearance for 27.5 x 2.1″ tires, all of the complete builds are based around 700 x 40c Maxxis Ramblers. Speaking at Eurobike, Adam said that they wanted to offer the ability to run road plus if desired, but at the current point in time they think 700c will be the bigger seller. Why Cycles claims the frame will fit up to 700 x 44c tires, though there is ample clearance around the Maxxis Ramblers and the new Terrene Elwoods shown above.
Offered in frame only, Frame + fork, and two complete builds, the bike here is basically their Force Carbon build with different wheels. To get the bike out the door for the review, Industry Nine sent a set of their ULCX Pillar Carbon CX wheels with a special purple and pink touch. The wide, hookless tubeless profile is a nice match to the wider tires.
The Force Carbon kit includes a full SRAM Force CX1 drivetrain with a 42t chainring and an 11-36t cassette. I’ll get into this more in the full review, but the 40t Wolf Tooth Components chainring shown above was added to get the gearing a bit lower than the stock ring.
Other components include an Easton EC70 bar and post, EA90 stem (swapped above for a Thompson in a shorter length, and the bike comes stock with an ENVE disc carbon fork (47mm offset), though the Lauf Grit is an intriguing option.
Complete as shown above the bike comes in at 19.25lbs (8.73kg), with the Lauf fork and Terrene tires.
Stay tuned for the complete review as we put it through the paces both with and without the Lauf Grit fork.