Equator wheels is now also Equator gravel bikes, thanks to 2 new titanium gravel frames that deliver their same ethos of consumer-direct value and high-performance. Pick from the adventure Yasei or race Sensei, with a couple of affordable ti frames that cover a broad spectrum from all-road to bikepacking off-road. We had the chance to spend several weeks test riding the pre-production prototype Yasei this summer. And now it’s available to the public…
Equator titanium gravel bikes born from affordable wheels
For more than a decade, Equator delivered top quality affordable direct-to-consumer carbon wheels around central Europe, produced in a close development partnership with Taiwanese carbon powerhouse Gigantex.
Now, the leap to making bikes grew out of a passion project on the guy behind the growth of the wheel brand. Jan Habich like to ride gravel. He wanted to develop his own bike. And he wanted to bring that same Equator mix of performance & consumer accessibility to a premium gravel bike.
What’s the difference between the Yasei & Sensei?
The resulting Equator titanium gravel bike project ended up with a bit of an internal squabble at the company. Some wanted a performance-focused gravel bike that could do double duty as an all-road bike or a fast gravel bike. And the other half wanted an ‘all-purpose-vehicle’ that leaned more towards adventure, bikepacking, and riding further off-road.
So they made both. And figured they would let customers decide which they preferred.
The Sensei is the performance gravel bike, with more road leaning geometry, 1x or 2x , and clearance for up to 700c x 47mm tires. More all-road.
The Yasei is the adventure model, with slacker geometry, 1x only, more mounting points, and space for up to 700c x 57mm (29x 2.2″) tires. Closer to a mountain bike.
Both frames are welded in Asia from similar seamless butted 3/2.5 titanium tube sets, with mostly round tubes. Equator does now switch to a slightly flattened oval toptube (30mm tall x 40mm wide) for more horizontal flex, less torsional flex & improved rider comfort.
And rather importantly in my book for modern gravel bikes, plenty of key future-proof standards. A T47 threaded bottom bracket, a UDH universal derailleur hanger, flat mount disc brakes, 12mm thru-axles, and a 31.6mm seatpost with internal routing for a dropper. Plus, a little bonus chain hanger above the driveside dropout for cleaner transport with the wheel removed.
Both also share the same tapered headtube fitted with an external Cane Creek Angleset headset that lets the end buyer customize the geometry to their preference from -1.5° to + 1.5° in 1/2 a degree steps. And they each get their own discipline appropriate full carbon forks. The Yasei adventure fork includes flush Anything cage mounts, plus a flip-chip at the dropout to adjust the rake between 47 or 52mm offset for consistent loaded or unloaded handling, or just to tune your ideal ride.
The Sensei gets a sensible amount of attachment points. Two sets of cage mounts inside the main triangle, a direct mount for a toptube bag, and a pair of cage bosses under the downtube just in front of the BB.
Then, the Yasei takes it to the next level for adventure, adding of course the fork Anything cage mounts, and turning that mount under the downtube into a 3-bolt Anything cage mounts. You also get rear rack mounts and separate tabs for full-coverage fenders front & rear. (It will not include the anything cage mounts that were on the prototype I tested, due to clearance issues while pedaling.)
What else is new?
Beyond what I saw and tested in these 2 prototypes, Equator has further refined the titanium gravel bikes that you will actually buy with a few more improvements. Maybe the biggest in my mind based on my feedback to them, will be smaller diameter size-specific butted seatstays for improved rider comfort. The early prototype I rode still had 19mm stays and was quite a bit stiffer than it needed to be. But production bikes scale back to 16mm for small & medium and 17mm for large & XL frames, to further benefit from that classic smooth ti ride.
The frames you order today now also get a new unified port (similar to this routing port example) on the side of the headtube for cleaner internal cable routing without frame rub. Fewer holes in the frame is always better, right? Rear derailleur cable routing also now comes out directly from the end of the chainstay which is a cleaner look (and better structurally). Plus, you won’t see it if you build up a wireless shifting bike. /
They also both now get a 3-pack of cage mounts on the downtube. So riders can mount a single bottle down low if they run a partial frame bag, or raise it up to fit two bottles inside the main triangle.
Updated bottom bracket & chainstay yokes
The latest iteration of the fast gravel Sensei features a 3D-printed double-wall bottom bracket cluster that diverts cables away from the spinning bottom bracket. And it gets a hollow 3D-printed chainstay yoke so cables stay completely inside while keeping 1x or road compact 2x chainring clearance.
The adventure Yasei keeps a CNC-machined chainstay yoke to help fit bigger tires with up to a 1x 46T chainring. And the cables route externally from in front of the BB, around to the chainstay. The rear brake does stay inside the downtube over to the left chainstay, though.
Geometry: Sensei vs. Yasei
Both bikes come in a pretty common Small to Extra Large range. But Equator adds a fifth M/L size in the middle of their fast gravel/all-road Sensei to cater to the more particular fits of road riders with smaller sizing steps.
With more of an on-road focus the Sensei gets a steeper 71.5° head angle. And short chainstays (for such big tire clearance). And appropriately much lower Stack height for more aggressive fit on the bike, with more conventional Reach figures.
Still off-road capable, though.
The Yasei is only a bit slacker at a 70° head angle for a still quick feel with the longer chainstay. And much longer front center. Fit is much more upright with taller frame Stacks. And the adventure gravel bike gets considerably longer Reach, meant to be set up with shorter stems.
Review: Equator Yasei affordable titanium adventure gravel bike
Equator lent me their medium-sized prototype of the Yasei adventure gravel bike for about a month this past summer. Weighing in at 10.44kg complete with a dropper post and pedals, it isn’t exactly light. But I’ve ridden multiple cheaper & more expensive new carbon gravel bikes around 10.1kg this summer, so it’s not really bad either for a metal bike that should last forever.
Test riding the adventure-ready Equator Yasei titanium gravel
Then, I rode it all over my local dirt & gravel roads, plenty of singletrack, and one bigger light bikepacking trip across a couple of Czech mountains. Most importantly, Equator were very open and welcoming to my feedback, and specifically addressed my one primary concern. And even corrected a small nit that I picked before the bikes went into production.
Just like the prototype arrived to me, I was quite happy with the fit and feel of the bike. The mid-long Reach and low Stack supported a nice aggressive position on the bike. But you could always set it up a bit more relaxed if you prefer.
Geometry-wise, the bike has quite a long wheelbase which lent great all-surface stability. But with the 70° headtube, the ride still felt quick, even with the big knobby 44mm Raddler tires. I only rode the fork flip-chip in the forward-most 52mm offset position, with its lower Trail setting. I never felt the need for extra stability. But I also didn’t have time to play with the adjustable angle headset. In the end though, I really appreciate the adjustability (without too much extra complexity). And if it was my personal bike, I would experiment with which setting I like best for my riding terrain. And then set it and forget it there.
There definitely feels like enough adjustability, that I would pick this over the Sensei, because of the flexibility that comes with the extra tire clearance. Even for more of a fast gravel setup with fast-rolling 40mm tires, the Yasei is still a solid bet.
What that means though, is that buyers would probably pick the Sensei for more all-road-specific riding. Or a tiny bit of weight savings. Or for someone just looking for a more conventional road fit with lower Stack & shorter Reach.
Updates based on my prototype testing
So my only real concern was rear end stiffness. With 19mm seatstays on the prototype Yasei, I felt a bit beat up after riding all-day on chunky gravel and rougher mountain bike trails. So, Equator revised the rear end. They swapped in much more forgiving 16 or 17mm butted chainstays that will likely go a long way to filtering out rough gravel buzz.
And to match that, they shifted to a 1cm flattened top tube for a bit more give.
I have NOT ridden the updated bike yet (maybe next spring). But Equator assures me that both the new Yasei & Sensei that went into production with these tube shaping updated are noticeably more comfortable, while not sacrificing any of the excellent handling stiffness that I experienced.
And that last nit I picked? I felt that the Anything cage mounts were located too high on the downtube. I had to use a Fidlock setup to fit a bottle under my frame bag. So they shifted the mounts down. The upper pair of bolts stay where I had my bottle, but now there will be one hole lower. If you want just one bottle then, you can get it lower.
Equator Yasei & Sensei titanium gravel – Pricing, availability & options
Technically both the new Equator Yasei & Sensei titanium gravel bike framesets are available now in a made-to-order pre-order scheme. To order one now you pay 50% up front, and the remainder a couple of months later when they arrive. But…
Equator does also plan to keep a number of S/M/L frames in stock starting later this month. So you won’t necessarily have to wait long if you get one of their limited stock.
Both framesets officially retail for 2440€. But Equator is currently offering a 10% discount on the frames until the end of December 2023. That means you can pick up an Equator titanium gravel frameset for 2200€ this month only. With European and worldwide delivery available.
They will also sell you a stock electronic shift, carbon wheelset complete bike build of either frame for 5500€. The Yasei gets Rival AXS 1x & 44mm WTB Riddler tires. And the Sensei gets GRX Di2 2×11 & 40mm Tufo Thundero tires. Or they’ll even work individually with buyers to put together a custom build.