The launch of the Fox AX gravel fork opened up a world of possibilities when it comes to suspension equipped gravel bikes. The only problem? With an axle to crown measurement of 420mm, adding it to most gravel bikes would result in the raising of the front end, skewing the geometry. The answer of course is to create a suspension corrected gravel frame – though that’s not the best answer if you also may want to run a rigid fork at some point as well. To offer the solution to both of those scenarios, Otso Cycles has come up with an all new bike called the Waheela.
Borrowing a bit from their Warakin frame design, the Waheela starts off with a slightly different material. Using Reynolds 520 steel tubing with an ED coating on the inside of the tubes for rust protection, Otso can offer the ride qualities of steel while keeping the price a few hundred dollars less than the stainless steel of the Warakin.
At the back end of the bike, Otso has employed their Tuning Chip Dropout system which allows for three different rear wheel positions with chain stay lengths from 420-440mm. The dropout is angled up, so that as you push the axle back to allow for bigger tires, it also slightly drops the bottom bracket to maintain the geometry. This is the same system that Otso uses on their Voytek fat bike, and after years of abuse now, our test sample is still going strong and completely quiet.
Thanks to the Tuning chip Dropouts and the shaping of the stays, the Waheela can comfortably run tires from 700c x 28mm to massive 700c x 53mm or 29 x 2.1″. It can also roll 650b x 53mm for plenty of options.
Of course, the biggest news here is that the Waheela is suspension corrected to use with the Fox AX gravel suspension fork (or MRP Baxter). That means it’s equipped to run 420mm axle to crown forks, which are quite a bit longer than the standard 390-400mm rigid fork measurement. The solution? As part of their recent headset development, Otso created a special lower headset cup that has a 20mm spacer integrated into the cup. It’s all one piece, and it installs in the head tube just like a normal head set cup.
The 20mm spacer allows the frame to run standard rigid forks without affecting the geometry. And other than the additional black section below the head tube, the frame still looks fairly normal while running a rigid.
Equipped with a threaded bottom bracket, thru axles at both ends, the ability to run internal 27.2mm dropper posts, and three bottle mounts plus fender and rack mounts, the frame has a claimed weight of 2200g. Available as a frame for $899, complete bikes will start at $1,999 for the Comp build with a rigid fork or $2,349 for the Expert build also with a rigid fork. The $3,249 Pro Build will include the Fox AX suspension fork. Check out the Otso site for more details.