This may not appeal to everyone, but I’ve spent the last month or so obsessively looking at adventure road bikes in an attempt to find the perfect all-rounder.
What is an adventure road bike?
Based on cyclocross geometry, the adventure road bike is Britain’s answer to the American gravel bike. It’s light, with drop bars, a high bottom bracket, and capable of taking thicker tires. Basically it’s an all-rounder – light and fast on the road, whilst also capable of going off-road for adventuring.
Why an adventure road bike?
I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer to this, but this is my reason: I want to try a bit more off-road riding, but living in the middle of the city and not owning a car, I find it difficult to get to the trails. I have a neglected mountain bike that I’d love to take over to Ashton Court, but I’ve tried riding it through town before and I hated it. The handlebars are too wide, the whole thing feels clunky and slow on the tarmac, and generally just isn’t a pleasant ride. And I feel guilty. I think if I can get my hands on an all-rounder like an adventure road bike, I could take a nice ride through town, have fun on the trails, then ride comfortably back home.
Dipping my toe in the water
I’ve dabbled in mountain biking before (I’ll save the full story for another time) but after a nasty accident I’ve been very hesitant to give it another try. The MTB was a birthday present with the best of intentions, but I wasn’t ready to try again. Now I no longer have a car and bike rack available to me, and I’m itching to dip my toe tentatively back in.
- Small women specific frame
- 20+ gears
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Steel frame (in an ideal world)
- Triple front sprocket
- < £1,000
I’ve struggled to find anything that ticked all the boxes.
Enter Stage Right: Orange RX9
I was at Evans recently, and thought I’d settled on the Pinnacle Arkose Women’s Specific 2017, but decided to look at what Bike Workshop had to offer, as I’d much rather support a local, independent bike shop.
Tom gave me brilliant service, taking me through all the small framed bikes they had, getting them out for me so I could sit on them and get a feel for them. Eventually I fell for an Orange RX9.
I admit, it doesn’t actually tick a lot of those boxes. It has cable disc brakes rather than hydraulic, a double front sprocket (10-speed though) and an alluminium frame. Obviously it’s not blue either. I can see past these things, because all in all it looks like a good bike.
What won me over were the crosstop brake levers. I’m terrified of transitioning to drops, and these look like they’ll be a great way to break myself in gently.
On top of helping me pick something suitable, Tom very kindly let me bring this bike home over the Christmas week, to take it out on a few test rides. You don’t get that kind of service at Evans – you only get to test ride a bike once you’ve ordered it. No thanks. He’s also offered to powder coat it blue for me, because I’m determined to have a gorgeous blue bike.
I’m planning to take it on the B2B towards Bath, to practise on some flat, straight tarmac. I’m super excited, but crazy nervous. I’ve never ridden anything with this kind of geometry before, the drops are terrifying and it’s going to feel light as a feather compared to my clunky Ridgeback.
I’ll let you know how I get on!