The new Search XR from Norco.
Adventure bikes. Gravel road bikes. Endurance bikes with big tires. Call them what you want, but there is no denying that this new segment is here to stay. Add the increasing proliferation of disc brakes and wide tires, and the definitions for ‘what’s a road bike’ and ‘what can a road bike do’ are being stretched far beyond the traditional tarmac covered boundaries.
With slacker head angles, shorter top tubes, lower BBs, longer chainstays, and taller head tubes, these bikes provide the silky smooth ride necessary to conquer off-road adventures with comfort and control. No surprise then that nearly every road bike manufacture now has some kind of road less traveled steed in its 2015 product line. Here are seven of our favorites from this year’s Interbike cycling industry trade show in Las Vegas.
The Norco Search employs a 15mm thru-axle up front and has ample tire clearance.
Norco Search XR
Canadian bike maker Norco is opening up new roads with its Search line of adventure road bikes. Pictured above is the SR model ($3700), which has 15mm thru-axles front and rear for improved steering precision, and a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with compact cranks and hydraulic disc brakes. Every offering in the six-bike line-up utilizes size-scaled tubing, while lengthened fork rake helps deflect road vibration, and increased clearance allows you to run wide tires. More info at norco.com
The BMC gran fondo GF01 combines racing heritage with consumer friendly geometry.
BMC gran fondo GF01 Disc
Part of BMC’s expansive endurance series, this disc equipped steed is ready to tackle any road. What started as a race bike designed for the rough and tumble spring classics has been given a consumer bent with a slightly taller head tube. BMC uses what it calls its Tuned Compliance Concept where cantilevered rear dropouts, flexible, flattened seat stays, and added rake on the fork help enhance comfort and handling. A mechanical Ultegra 6800 mechanical drivetrain delivers Shimano shifting reliability while keeping price in check. The pictured bike sells for a relatively modest $4500. Or you can upgrade to Ultegra Di2 for $5600 or Dura-Ace Di2 for $10,500. More info at bmc-racing.com
The Co-Motion Divide splits the difference between gravel road bike and fully rigid mountain bike.
Is it a road bike? Yes. Is it a mountain bike? Yes, again. Indeed, the Co-Motion Divide splits the difference between skinny and fat tired steeds, utilizing traditional drop-bar geometry, but with 29er wheels and 1.9” knobby tires. The idea is to create a bike than can go virtually anywhere. The made-in-Oregon frame is constructed with Reynolds 725 steel tubing, and it has rack and fender mounts, plus three water bottle cage mounts. Mechanical disc brakes provide stopping power, while the wheels are hand built Velocity Cliffhanger with DT Swiss 540 hubs. Base MSRP is $4025, with upgrades for S&S couplers and Rohloff internal drivetrains available. More info at co-motion.com
The Marin Lombard Elite comes spec’d with SRAM’s X7 mountain bike drivetrain.
Marin Lombard Elite
Made of light-touring capable alloy, the Marin Lombard Elite comes equipped with a carbon fork, tubeless-ready wheels, Avid BB7 disc brakes and “mountain bike tough” SRAM X7 components. It’s got mounts for fenders or racks, and integrated reflective decals, making it adventure-ready. MSRP: $1399. More info at marinbikes.com
The Renegade is a purpose-built adventure bike with a lower BB and longer chainstays for improved off-road stability.
New from Jamis is the Renegade, a purpose-built adventure bike where the bottom bracket is lower and the chainstays longer. Built-in rack and fender mounts mean you can set it up for long distance journeys. Tire clearance of 35c with fenders or 40c without provides ample space for extra rubber. Jamis says all the frames utilize a sliding scale of stack and reach sizing so that you get a consistent ride feel whether you’re on board a 48cm frame or a 60cm. The pictured model runs $4199 and is spec’d with Shimano Ultegra, hydraulic disc brakes, and American Classic Argent tubeless wheels. More info at jamisbikes.com
Moots calls its new Routt 45 an “uber multi-tool” of bike designs.
Moots Routt 45
Riding in Colorado’s Routt County (home of Moots) often means hybrid adventures where dirt, gravel and pavement are served up in equal shares. The Routt 45 is designed specially for these dynamic adventures — or load it with cargo bags and go for a longer journey. The Steamboat Springs-based titanium bike makers started with their Routt cyclocross bike, then stretched out the chainstays to 45cm, dropped the bottom bracket, and slackened the head angle. The end result is a bike that could still be raced on the ’cross circuit, but is more at home out on the range, exploring new roads. Tire clearance ranges from 23mm all the way to 41mm. Frame and fork run $3895. More info at moots.com
The Litespeed T5 Gravel is built specifically for off-road adventuring.
Litespeed T5 Gravel
As the name indicates this bike is built to be ridden off road. The front end is raised for a more upright, comfortable position, while the slackened head tube improves handling on rough terrain. Tire clearance is rated at 40mm for a road tire or 36mm for knobbies. Chainstays are thinned for better compliance, and 12mm rear thru-axles help maintain efficient power transfer. The handmade titanium frame and fork retails for $2545. More info at litespeed.com
This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s coverage of the 2014 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. For more from Interbike CLICK HERE.