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Take a European handmade Gravel Cycles on an adventure

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Catalonia based Gravel Cycles went straight to the point naming their company four years ago when it launched. Founder Eliseu Climent came to bike building from life as a journalist always on the move and a cyclist looking to explore the world by bike since he first strapped a set of panniers to his bike when he was 14 years old. Now more than three decades later, he is still seeking out the lesser travelled back roads of the Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees, and the fields and villages in between. But now he’s also building bikes to share that passion with other cyclists looking to head out on an adventure. There are so many back roads, gravel tracks, and unknown paths left to explore so he has created three different steel (and some carbon) bikes to outfit all manner of bike traveler…

Le Sportif

courtesy Gravel Cycles

Each of the Gravel Cycles bikes are designed and tailored to the buyer, one at a time in Barcelona, and then hand built by their framebuilders in Italy. Their fastest on/off-road gravel race bike – Le Sportif – was developed for the latest crop of endurance road racing over all manner of dirt, gravel, and asphalt. Targeted at events like the Strade Bianche, it was finally tested at the Pirinexus Challenge, a 360km non-stop gravel race on the Catalonian Costa Brava heading out of Girona, Spain.

 

Le Sportif mixes steel and carbon, by crafting a set of welded steel lugs at the oversized tapered headtube, bottom bracket, and seat cluster then bonding in carbon tubing for the main triangle.

The rear end is all steel, built with curved Columbus Spirit seatstays and tapered chainstays, and a hollowed-put plate-style drop out that neatly tucks the rear disc brake into the rear triangle. The bike is built to clear a 700c x 45mm tire (29″ x 1.75″) or can be fitted with 650b Road Plus wheels as well. For 1850€, you get the frame only in either Spirit or Life tubing, as well as custom geometry and one-color paint (you can even get an all steel version if you don’t want the carbon front end.)

Le Nomade

If you are looking for more of an adventure off the beaten track, Le Nomade might be your bike. The do-it-all bike can handle everything from your regular weekend rides to proper multi-day backpacking trips venturing far from home. It was the bike chosen by Monica Aguilera to become the first woman to cross the finish line of the French Divide’s first edition, a self-supported bikepacking race that takes in 2100km (70% gravel) crossing the entirety of France.

Le Nomade is a Columbus Zona steel monstercross style frameset available in either 29″ or 27.5″ wheel variants for true off-road touring, designed around dirt drop bars. It gets a low bottom bracket for stable descending off-road, especially when fully loaded. Le Nomade gets its own hand built unicrown steel fork with plenty of braze-ons inside a 44mm headtube that can accommodate either straight or tapered steerers. The frame & fork is available in three stock sizes, or with custom geometry starting at 1780€.

Le Rouleur

Gravel’s new top end bike is the road going Le Rouleur. It was developed along the same lines as Le Sportif, mixing steel and carbon, but takes it to the next level with more premium tubing spec and some tighter clearances. It’s still built to be a comfortable bike, and that’s a big part of why it can combine carbon tubes with the steel, either Columbus Spirit or the stiffer and more resistant XCr stainless.

Designed as a long distance, brevet-style bike with fast moving but stable endurance geometry as a starting point, the options are pretty endless on this bike, although it still bears the Gravel name so even in its lightest, trimmest rim brake version still is meant to clear at least 28mm tires. The variants include a basic all Columbus Spirit version starting from 1746€ to the premium XCr stainless steel version with its carbon seattube and integrated seatmast for 3245€. Braking choice is another option, with both rim brake or disc brake versions with a trimmed down set of dropouts available. Complete rim brake bikes like this 6.7kg 54cm can be built as light as you want, while the disc brake variant can get down to 7kg.

 

Besides frames and framesets, Gravel Cycles will build you a complete bike as well as part of their à la carte option, where the sky is the limit of how you want to spec it out.

Gravel.cc

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17 Comments
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mnorris122
5 years ago

What on earth is the point in those bars? Might as well just run flatbars at that point.

ELEVEN_g
5 years ago
Reply to  mnorris122

People swear by those Jeff Jones style bars. I have a friend, a proper mad hardman on a bike and he’d ride nothing else.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
5 years ago
Reply to  ELEVEN_g

Jesus, man. Those aren’t Jones style bars, at all. They are proper dirt drops like a Woodchpper, Junebug or Midge. Do you signal left when you’re turning right as well?

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
5 years ago
Reply to  ELEVEN_g

By the way, aren’t you on here giving advice all the time? So much for street cred, eh?

Cyclesanity
Cyclesanity
5 years ago

Multiple hand positions if you don’t want to run drops. Use these on my Hybrid and they are great. Much more comfortable for long rides than the stock flat bars.

ascarlarkinyar
ascarlarkinyar
5 years ago

Glue never really holds over time. Hence why you don’t see a lot of carbon and glued into steel/ aluminum /ti parts.

Chader
Chader
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

“Glue” is a vast oversimplification of the high level bonding that takes place on bikes like these. These are highly engineered materials with very successful attachment that is often stronger than the base tubing.

Realize that there are bikes made with construction just like these still in service after 10-20 years. Trek, Raleigh and many others used these methods commonly around the 90s to great success.

Please sight examples from the notable amount of failures that you reference. I’d be interested to see the large number since I question the magnitude of the issue.

Keith R
5 years ago
Reply to  Chader

Indeed. Both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Airbus A-380 are largely held together by
“glue”.

True of Formula 1 cards, too.

And the Robot R160 seems to be the real deal too: https://robotbike.co/frames-calculator/?v=79cba1185463#top160?v=79cba1185463

(Designed and built by ex F1 and aerospace engineers/designers – what would they know about advanced composite bonding technology?)

Craig
Craig
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

You don’t see a lot of metal-carbon bonded bikes because it’s labour intensive. It takes the same amount of time to make the lugs (actually longer) as what it does to build an entire frame, then everything has to be re-set in the jig again to be bonded. It is however a building technique that allows a high level of customisation in the ride quality. Lug length and wall thickness can be varied and so can the tubes, and of course the geometry.

There are many bikes dating back to the 80’s or even the 70’s that are still be ridden that have been “glued”. And those bikes used glue that is garbage compared to todays products.

Glue holding or not holding has nothing to do with it.

Chader
Chader
5 years ago
Reply to  Craig

And to add, many of today’s “full-carbon” bikes are assembled in the same way. Head tube, bb, and other sections of the bike are made separately. Then those “lugs” and the tubes are joined with adhesive.

Some bikes are fully made in a single piece (monocoque). But many are still done as assemblies described above. Point being (contrary to ascarlarkinyar), “glued joints” work really, really well.

ELEVEN_g
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

Guess you don’t fly on aircraft then….?

Robin
Robin
5 years ago
Reply to  ELEVEN_g

This ^.

Heffe
Heffe
5 years ago

What are the bars used in the first couple of bikes? Those might work well for my wife’s bike.

JKHU
JKHU
5 years ago

The bar is the OnOne Midge.

Adam
Adam
5 years ago
Reply to  JKHU

The one on the “Le Sportif” is certainly a Midge (or similar – Soma Junebug or Portola?). I’m much more curious about the bar on the “Le Nomade” – it almost looks like an old Ragley Luxy, although those have been out of production for quite some time.

Jed Zion
Jed Zion
5 years ago

I too would love to know what those bars are!

Darth Baller
Darth Baller
5 years ago

Nice looking dropouts. The last photo (bottom left) in particular.

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