It looks as if we’ve come full circle. I keep in mind when the 3T Exploro launched and everybody collectively misplaced their minds for a short while on the idea of an aero gravel bike. There have been gravel bikes since that actually take note of aerodynamics, however to my thoughts, there hasn’t been a motorbike within the gravel phase that focuses so closely on aerodynamics because the Issue Ostro Gravel. It’s unashamedly a gravel race bike, a lot in order that it’s UCI-legal for the street.
Can one thing so specialist sit amongst the finest gravel bikes, and even the finest gravel race bikes? Effectively, I’m not going to let you know on this paragraph, however I believe as a motorbike it poses some actually attention-grabbing questions for the way forward for the phase, significantly if gravel racing and mass participation occasions proceed to develop and attain the extent of peak-fondo from six or so years in the past.
Design and aesthetics
I make no bones about the truth that I’m not overly enamoured with the aesthetics of the very best aero street bikes. Nonetheless, being a person of contradiction, I truly actually like the best way the Issue Ostro Gravel seems to be. I believe that is partially as a result of it’s one of many first of its variety, so there’s something of a novelty issue (pun not supposed), however I believe it additionally has to do with the tough juxtaposition of such a man-made object getting used off-road, in a pure setting that’s simply sort of cool. It’s so clearly inorganic, jagged, and centered that it instructions just a little extra consideration. It’s a bit like seeing an influence station nestled someplace lovely; you’ll be able to’t assist however take a look at it.
Let’s discuss design although, slightly than me telling you what it’s best to just like the look of. It’s clear from a look that this can be a bike designed to cheat the wind. No wattage financial savings are claimed over the competitors, and there are not any predecessors to check towards both. That being mentioned, the deep headtube, kammtail tube profiles, excessive backside bracket, and dropped stays are all options frequent to the finest aero street bikes now. The totally built-in setup, and the selection to solely enable digital groupsets, are an extra nod to the high-performance goals of the Ostro Gravel.
Contemplating its a chunky body it’s remarkably mild. A 900g claimed weight for the body could be very skinny certainly. In all honesty that’s mild by street bike requirements nonetheless. The complete weight, with a bottle cage and pedals and a superb glug of sealant in every of the tyres, was 9.19kg. Maybe not superlight by street requirements, however for a gravel bike it’s fairly phenomenal.
The Black Inc. cockpit wouldn’t look misplaced on an aero street bike both, and should you’re on the lookout for a brand new cockpit I’d truly suggest it; it’s very nice. You possibly can swap to a conventional bar and stem combo although should you so want, because of the spherical steerer tube. This additionally implies that, for the needs of becoming myself to the check bike, I may plop some customary spherical spacers above the stem slightly than having a better stack than I’d like or slicing it off.
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It may be run with 2x programs it appears to have a detachable plate the place a derailleur hanger must be, nevertheless it’s solely out there as an entire bike with SRAM Power XPLR or Pink XPLR. Naturally, I used to be on the fancypants Pink model, which does make sense for a motorbike like this. The vary is ample and a 1x is extra aero.
Geometry charts may be fairly revealing too. Compared to my Fairlight Secan, the Issue is 5mm longer by way of attain, has a 0.3-degree steeper head angle, and has a 5mm shorter wheelbase. It’s additionally acquired a 3mm smaller BB drop (the underside bracket is larger) and is taller on the entrance with an 8mm larger stack. That 0.3-degree distinction in head angle might not look like a lot, nevertheless it’s what permits the bike to really feel longer (longer attain/efficient prime tube) whereas additionally ending up with a shorter wheelbase. Small increments in BB drop even have a huge impact, and whereas they give the impression of being related on paper the 2 are chalk and cheese.
A closing level, extra as a query than the rest: When you can add 4 bosses for a bottle on the highest tube and underneath the down tube, certainly you could possibly add a pair extra for some mudguards? Particularly given that is additionally marketed as an all-road bike, with the ability to keep dry and clear would actually be of profit. No, they’re not aero, however they’ll actually assist cease manure spraying all around the nozzle of your downtube bottle for one factor.
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When requested to carry out inside a comparatively particular vary of parameters this bike is completely sensational. On clean, well-graded gravel it’s like being shot out of a cannon. It’s taught and lithe and responsive, however most of all it simply kinda tempts you to sit down in an aero place and deal with your experience like some type of gravel time trial. The stiffness is up there with any high-end street bike for energy switch. On the appropriate floor, it is extremely harking back to driving an aero street bike, besides the geometry is completely different.
The dealing with, once more offered you’re on the appropriate terrain, is good. You possibly can choose your approach between rocks with ease when flying down tight corners and alter your line fairly fortunately with out a second thought. A part of that’s the geometry, however loads of it comes all the way down to the tyres and wheels. The wheels are very stiff and stand as much as arduous cornering nicely with out feeling mushy, however the tyres are an actual stroke of genius by way of speccing, particularly given tyres are often the very first thing to get downgraded to hit a value level.
This isn’t a tyre evaluate, however suffice it to say there was little or no left wanting from the Goodyear Connectors. Extraordinarily quick on gravel and on-road sections too, with facet knobs that deal with off camber with ease and, to my shock, slightly succesful in mud too. Not like a cyclocross tyre can be, however for a general-purpose gravel tyre they had been tip-top and had been a particularly complementary selection.
The groupset makes good sense too, contemplating the aspirations of the bike. The gear vary is such that no climbs are ever going to be an excessive amount of, both on or off-road, particularly contemplating you’re not realistically going to be strapping any actual cargo to the body. I did undergo from a barely sticky rear brake piston and a creaky backside bracket, however you by no means know the way media check bikes have been handled earlier than they arrive.
Lastly, earlier than we dive into a few of the drawbacks, I’d prefer to champion the cockpit. The form is nice, the flare is delicate however there sufficient to make the drops really feel like a extra steady possibility. The drop is spherical and deep too, and the bars are slender sufficient to really feel at dwelling on an aero machine. What’s extra, the bar tape could be very grippy, and the tops have been wrapped too.
Right here’s the place issues begin to fall down barely: When you take it on something remotely tough it’s disagreeable. The identical stiffness from the body and the parts, together with the geometry that makes it such a quick and responsive bike on the sleek stuff makes it jarring and arduous to deal with off-road. The rear finish has so little compliance that on rocky floor it is not solely uncomfortable in your rear finish but in addition it makes placing the ability down tougher, which successfully makes you slower. One of the best tactic is just a little like driving bikes over cobbles; go as arduous and quick as potential and hope you fly over.
Uncommon is it that I’ve to chop a experience brief for discomfort causes, nevertheless it did occur with the Issue Ostro Gravel. It jogged my memory lots in some methods of the Ribble Extremely SL, in that its hyper-focus on a single purpose has truly gone as far as to be detrimental for the generalist.
To preempt what I’m positive a few of you might be itching to say, sure, you’ll be able to spec wider tyres to enhance compliance. My retort to that is twofold. Firstly, that is the spec I’m testing so in that respect I’m a trifle hamstrung. Secondly, and extra importantly, the bike is marketed as optimised for a 32mm tyre. When you’re racing and it’s a must to use a much bigger tyre simply to bear driving the factor then you definitely’re each including weight and rolling resistance so as to impact compliance that may, from a efficiency standpoint, be higher provided by a extra versatile rear finish. It’s the place I believe the Specialised Diverge is onto one thing with its utilisation of suspension, although I am not completely bought on the supply. Clean is, to a point, quick I’m afraid to say and past the realms of gorgeous hearth roads, the Issue Ostro Gravel is definitely hampered by itself. Given the proprietary seatpost, you cant use one thing like a Redshift seatpost so as to add consolation whereas sustaining the low rolling resistance of narrower rubber.
On the street, it’s a particularly nice expertise. It feels very very like an endurance street bike, however with less-than-ideal tyres. In all honesty, I usually felt relieved to get again on the tarmac, which isn’t precisely a glowing indictment. The dealing with continues to be nimble sufficient to really feel alive on roads, and I believe Issue is justified in advertising and marketing it as a viable all-road bike as a secondary goal.
Now for a troublesome query. In my view, this bike is barely actually viable as a race bike on well-graded gravel. The inaugural gravel world championships had been gained on a Canyon Final street bike operating a 32/25mm entrance/rear tyre setup, and an analogous setup additionally on a Canyon Final for second place too. With this in thoughts, do you really want a gravel bike for clean gravel anymore? For probably the most half, you’re gaining the geometry of an all-road bike just like the Trek Domane or dare I say the Specialised Roubaix, and upgrading the aero bundle drastically however lowering the flexibility by an equal quantity. I’ve examined the Roubaix and I believe I’d slightly slap some 32mm tyres on that for my normal gravel driving.
Oh boy, okay. It’s ten grand. That’s not fairly Trek Domane SLR 9 cash, nevertheless it’s ‘solely’ three grand shy and it’s a much more specialist machine. Given its specialism for a self-discipline that’s nonetheless comparatively youthful, it’s helpful to border it as if it had been a special self-discipline completely. In case you are actually into your native time trial scene you might not suppose £10k is an absurd amount of cash, and likewise, should you’re into hill climbs you might not suppose something of dropping 10 grand on a motorbike construct that finally ends up weighing the identical as a sneeze. I imagine the Issue Ostro Gravel is so specialist it’s nearly on a par with these disciplines.
When you really are racing on gravel, clean gravel, it’s an excellent little bit of package and you’ll be sooner, nevertheless it’s completely a race bike and solely a race bike, and it’s a must to be ready to doubtlessly have fairly an uncomfortable time.
Given its specialism, I can not say it represents any type of worth. I’d wrestle to counsel it even for racers as a result of consolation is genuinely a consider longer occasions. The considered doing one thing like Unbound aboard this makes me wince, and sadly that’s successfully what it’s designed for. Something tamer and you could possibly equally simply use a street bike and have a greater street bike on the street due to it.
For ten grand you could possibly hook your self up with a Canyon Final with Ultegra Di2 and a dual-sided energy meter, and have 2 grand kicking about for a set of the finest gravel wheels and the finest gravel tyres and also you’d have a setup greater than able to successful Gravel Worlds (should you’ve acquired the engine) and any street race you could possibly consider too.
Once I write bike opinions I typically get a really reachy metaphor lodged in my consciousness. On this case, it’s kitchen knives. To me, a gravel bike must be some variation of a chef’s knife. It may possibly do most issues within the kitchen fairly nicely. The Issue Ostro Gravel is a fish filleting knife; should you’re on the fish part then it’s completely going to be of use to you and can make your lifetime of filleting fish higher and sooner. When you solely hardly ever have a name to take the bones out of a complete turbot although it’s largely going to be an annoyance, particularly if it’s a must to chop carrots, peel a courgette, or shred the cabbage.
What I’m making an attempt to say is it’s superb at one factor, and should you do this one factor then it’s an excellent possibility, but when you’ll want to race gravel and do extra common driving then I believe you can purchase one thing else. To compound this barely there are street bikes on the market now which can be maybe equally good gravel race bikes now for much less cash.
|Design and aesthetics||It seems to be cool, and thought has gone into it. Smart BB and spherical steerer win factors||9/10|
|Construct||SRAM Pink mixed with the Black Inc ending package is a successful recipe. Wonderful tyres are the cherry on prime.||9/10|
|Efficiency||it is a superbike inside its consolation zone however disagreeable to experience out of it||7/10|
|Weight||It is class main for gravel bikes, and actually cannot be faulted||10/10|
|Worth||It isn’t sufficient to be akin to a street bike when street bikes themselves are successful gravel races||1/10|
|Total ranking||Row 5 – Cell 1||72%|