My daily rider is a sixteen year old road bike that still rides quite nicely. I can climb the hills where I live, I descend with confidence, it goes fast enough, it mostly brakes good enough as well, and I can spend all day in the saddle. What more could I want in a bike? I think it retailed for around $2000 new, with a little extra spent to upgrade the wheels.
Over the past few years, I’ve demoed some really nice bikes that retail for upwards of $10,000. These bikes ride like magic carpets. They float up hills, my hands don’t hurt after long braking on some technical descents, and the shifting feels as crisp as a Pringles chip. I feel like I can ride forever on these bikes.
That’s more than I’ll ever spend on a bike, but I’m looking at more reasonable options. Alchemy Bikes, for example, just announced a dramatic price drop for their Lycos gravel bikes. The base-model (non-Au) price for a Lycos is now just $4999 for the SRAM Rival GX AXS build, which is $2500 less than its initial iteration. Alchemy will be at the Sea Otter Classic 2023 next week so I’ll demo this and other models they have on hand while I’m there. I’ll also ask how they managed this dramatic price drop.
My time is limited, so what else should I try while I’m there? You can find the full list of exhibitors here.
I switched to gravel bikes 5-6 years ago, big fan. I stuck with 2x setups because I like close gearing, the 1x setups have larger jumps that I don’t think I’d be as thrilled with on road riding, where I genuinely use the entire cassette. I know mountain bike is basically a 1x world at this point, and pro’s race on 1x setups sometimes, but they so very fast I don’t put much weight on how they use gear.
I like my gravel bike that can use 650b wheels, and have a few 700 and 650b wheelsets, switching between them regularly. It’s wild to use a 27.5 x 2.1″ tire at 30psi on bad roads or moderate trails, super fun. A little extra weight if you’re doing lots of hill climbing compared to skinnier tires, and you don’t have the aerodynamics you can get with a deep-section carbon rim and narrower tire. Great to have the choice, but most people don’t collect a pile of wheelsets so I wouldn’t prioritize this capability if you’re unlikely to indulge. It’s super fun to have a whole different kind of tires to explore. Down side – you need separate seatbags for you 700c setup and your 650b setup, so you don’t find you need a spare tube and have the wrong size spare. (I ride tubeless always, but I still carry a spare tube – I use it once every couple years when a tire cannot be plugged)
I happen to be using Lynskey gravel bikes, but I’m a heavier fellow and prefer metal bikes because of breaking things. I don’t see Lynskey or Litespeed on the exhibitor list, but there will be so many gravel bike frames and they’re all super great. My bike has clearance for 700×45 but i’ll be honest I’ve never gone wider than 700×40; when I want to go really wide I switch over to my 650b’s (650b x 53mm).
I love mounts on the top tube for a top-tube bag/bento box. If you’re the sort who might want to use a top tube bag, that would be high on the list. Love electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes, I will never buy a bike without them now.
Thanks for the detailed response, Jason!
I do see a couple of Ti companies who say they’ll exhibit at Sea Otter, Turner & Sage, both of which offer Gravel bikes. I’ll check them out.