When you are looking for a bike that can smoothly transition from bike commuting to weekend group rides to a bit of adventurous dirt road riding, a straightforward steel all-road bike like the Sour Clueless is hard to beat. I’ve been riding the Clueless for the better part of a half a year, and it has done everything I’ve asked of it – from fast gravel riding to long winter road rides – and keeps asking for more…
Sour Clueless an affordable modern steel, disc brake all road bike
Designed just across the border from our Czech EU HQ over in Dresden, Germany and manufactured in Asia, the steel bikes from Sour do a good job of mixing quality, versatility & affordability. In a world where do-it-all adventure bikes are the current trend in gravel, and light carbon disc brake bikes the heart of current road bikes, this steel all-road bike seems happy to be hiding in between.
Able to fit up to a 700 x 40mm tire with proper clearance, with quick handling endurance geometry, and promising that classic steel ride quality, the Clueless is a great road bike for cyclists who don’t want to be constrained to smooth asphalt.
Clueless – Tech details
The Clueless frame is TIG-welded from a size-specific heat-treated, shaped & butted steel tubeset before getting ED-coated black while it is still in Taiwan. Sour has taken extra care to make sure each frame size gets proportional butt lengths, for consistent ride quality across all sizes (something few companies large or small, actually do.)
The downtube, toptube & seatstays vary quite noticeably in diameter from the XS to XXL before they get tapered, to make sure smaller & taller riders don’t end up riding a bike that is too stiff or too flexy.
The all-road, or as Sour calls it Road+, bike features a nice mix of modern tech details and classic standards. It fits all the road tires you could want, plus the possibility for cross or many full gravel options – 40mm clearance front & rear, or still 35mm with full coverage fenders. The frame gets 12mm thru-axles, flat mount 140mm compatible disc brake tabs, a tapered 34/44mm internal headtube for a 1 1/8″ to 1 1/2″ steerer tube with traditional external headset cups.
It uses a 68mm threaded bottom bracket, 27.2mm seatpost, replaceable derailleur hanger, and traditional downtube external shift cable routing with zip-tie guides for the full-length rear brake hose, plus those eyelets to mount fenders.
Maybe the only real down side in those braze-ons, is that this bike gets only two standard sets of water bottle bosses. That’s really a small nit to pick, but in the days of all-road versatility, I would have appreciated a third mount in front of the BB and/or a toptube bag direct mount to load up for more adventurous rides.
Sour Clueless steel all-road bike – Actual weights
Sour is very open about their claimed frame weights, as they know that their size-specific tubing approach can make their larger frames seem heavier vs. competitors. But they fully stand by the resulting improved ride quality. And these are reasonably-priced steel frames we are talking about, so what’s a hundred grams here or there? In the Service page on their site, Sour lists the real measured (three frames, averaged) weights of each size before its final paint. My size M test bike would be 2134g, plus 495g for the uncut fork.
The actual real complete bike weight as I started riding was 10.75kg (23.7lb), including the full coverage fenders, alloy wheels with tubes & 34mm WTB Exposure tires, plus an extra 320g of pedal & 100g of mixed bottle cages. Simply swapping over to some nice carbon DT Swiss endurance wheels set up tubeless with 28mm road tires, dropped another 680g (1.5lb), without even touching the almost 600g of fenders & their hardware.
All-road endurance geometry
Defining it as a Road+ bike, the Clueless gets a balanced endurance road bike geometry. The bike come is a broad six frame size range (XS 49cm-XXL 61cm.) Our Clueless test bike fell in the middle of the range a 54cm Medium with a 72° headtube, 74mm of BB drop, and 596mm stack to 373mm reach.
Clueless – Pricing & availability
The Clueless is available to customize in many forms, starting with a 750€ frame-only option, $1000 with a full carbon fork (but no headset), or complete bike builds beginning at 2620€ with an Apex 1x group or 2770€ with GRX 1x or 105 2x. My complete Shimano Ultegra 2×11 test bike with handbuilt alloy DT Swiss wheels & WTB all-road tires (not the carbon wheels, above) looks to retail for about 3000€ +/- the cost of fenders and frame protection decals.
One of the nice things about Sour is the amount of customization possible, most via their online customizer tool: color, top coat finish, bar style, 105/Ultegra/GRX/Apex/Force builds, etc. Every bike is painted, then built up to order in Dresden where Sour is based, so they quote about a 3-week delivery lead time on framesets, or 4-5 weeks on complete bikes. (Color-matched fenders are also possible, with more options available later this summer, including an upcoming alloy fork option with extra bottle bosses.)
The bike frames are Sour’s own designs, welded in Taiwan, and arrive in Germany with just the base electro-deposition primer coating. Then, Sour lets you pick from their current 5 colors options & matte/gloss finished for no extra charge (this Clueless test bike was Glitter Teal in Matte).
5 stock & endless custom color options
Those five standard colors (per bike model) include some really nice fades, and regularly are updated as Sour finds something nice they like. They also have tons of custom color possibilities that only add 50-150€ extra, depending on complexity.
The paint shop is just across town from Sour, and they are constantly experimenting on unique powdercoat finishes – like sparkles, splatter, fades & masking. Every month Sour adds around 2-3 new paint job examples to their Gallery page to give potential buyers an idea on possibilities.
Another great option for anyone looking to protect their fancy paint, is a 130€ full vinyl protective wrap option. Done by Easy-Frame also in Dresden before the bike is built up, the 200µm thick clear wrap is custom cut to the tube shapes so well, it’s practically invisible.
This test bike had a non-custom, stock wrap added in a rush before I picked it up. But the full wrap is individually custom made for each Sour model & size (and fork), with the vinyl mitered at the joints and trimmed neatly around braze-ons for seamless scratch protection.
Sour Clueless – Long-term riding impressions
So how does the Clueless actually ride?
Since the beginning of winter I’ve been riding the all-road Sour Clueless as both a daily commuter and a weekender road bike, unconfined by the end of the asphalt. And the bike has done pretty much exactly what I hope for a steel bike.
It disappears beneath me as I ride and leaves a lasting taste in my mouth that this is the kind of road bike frame I could keep tinkering with for years to come – adding or removing fenders depending on the season, swapping wheelsets depending on my mood… between those fast rolling 28mm slicks on carbon wheels or 35mm semi slicks on some bullet-proof alloy hoops.
And given my long-running cyclocross proclivities, there are a number of tubular CX wheelsets hanging in my workshop, just waiting for the chance for some out-of-season trips to hunt for mud & sand. It’s definitely not an actual cross bike with the bars about 5cm higher and the bottom bracket 1cm lower than my same size CX race bike. But the angles & chainstays are surprisingly similar, making for a versatile ride on & off-road.
When anyone asks, I describe the Sour Clueless as a modern road bike. The steel frame, paired with a pretty standard carbon fork, delivers a quick feeling ride that never seems overly stiff or too flexible – just a happy medium sense of being connected to the road (or trail).
It looks great with a set of mid-depth carbon wheels, and rolls really quickly on 28mm tubeless tires in roadie mode. And at the same time in graveler mode, it happily carried me through the winter, over plenty of wet dirt & gravel roads on 35mm tires covered in full fenders, keeping my butt and legs dry all the way.
In the end, it saw more kms than my fancy light carbon road bike, which only really got pulled out on sunny days with extra climbing. I never thought twice about getting the Sour Clueless muddy and wet, and it made me consider many mixed-surface detours on the commute home from the office. It’s versatility, and non-nonsense practicality is exactly what I envision all-road should be.