As I deal with less than optimum biking weather this winter (although I shouldn’t complain — I rode today in 62-degree (16C) sunshine), my thoughts turn to other bikes. What’s out there that I need to pay attention to?
I’ve noticed one category that has taken hold quickly, at least based on the offerings of all the major bike companies. That’s the so-called “Adventure Road” bike. Evolved from cyclocross bikes, the adventure road is intended to let the recreational roadie go beyond the tarmac. The wider tires offer good traction on gravel roads, too, and more comfort when the pavement disintegrates. It has the drop handlebars of a road bike, and it’s priced in a wide range — from under $1,000 to well up into the several thousands. What sets it apart is its wider-than-typical road bike tires and its brakes.
I took a look at several makes, and selected models that are priced in about the mid-range: $1,200-$1,500. Here’s what you can get:
The Trek CrossRip
The Elite model has an aluminum frame and carbon fork, a 9-speed cassette with an 11-32 tooth range, a 50/34 compact crankset, mechanical disc brakes and 32 mm tires. Its MSRP is $1,270.
Giant AnyRoad 1
Also aluminum frame, carbon fork, mechanical disc brakes. It has a 9-speed cassette with an 11-34 tooth range, and a 48/34 crankset. It also comes with 32 mm tires. Its MSRP is $1,225.
Diamondback Haanjo Comp
Aluminum frame, carbon fork, and a 10-speed Shimano 105 drive train. It has a 12-30 cassette, and a 46/36 crankset. Mechanical disc brakes, but wide tires — 40 mm. MSRP: $1,500.
Norco Search S2 Steel
The Canadian bike maker Norco has low-to-medium-priced adventure road bikes with steel frames, and more expensive carbon fiber framed models. The S2 has a chromoly frame and fork, and 11-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, 11-32 cassette and a 50/34 crankset. Mechanical disc brakes, 28 mm tires. It’s priced at $1,215.
So, what’s the attraction of bikes like these? Well, they offer a more comfortable alternative to traditional road bikes. Their geometry is more relaxed than most road bikes, with shorter top tubes, and taller head tubes. The disc brakes offer better stopping power, and the wider tires cushion the ride somewhat. If you have gravel roads in your area that beckon the cyclist, these bikes are good gravel grinders.
It’s likely that they won’t keep up with the A group in your club, but that probably won’t bother most people in the market for them. For a certain type of rider, the ride is important — not the speed. I’m intrigued by these bikes. I’m not in the market now, but if I do start shopping for a new road bike, I think the adventure road will be the road I take.