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The Colorado mountain town of Steamboat Springs officially has barely 13,000 full-time residents, but more than half a million people visit the place each year thanks to the outsized possibilities for outdoor recreation — many for the world-class ski resort, some for the picturesque Yampa River, others for the vast network of incredible mountain bike trails. But Steamboat also boasts an unbelievable network of postcard-like paved and unpaved routes that’s a veritable playground for road and gravel bikes.
And that’s why we found ourselves in Steamboat for the 2022 CyclingTips Field Test, along with ten road, all-road, and gravel bikes packed into the back of a U-Haul van.
A few of the bikes were decidedly high-end — bike availability is still pretty limited, after all — however we mainly focused on value this time around, with all but three of the bikes boasting retail prices of less than US$2,500, and one coming in at just US$800.
This year’s event brought together five different frame materials — carbon fiber, titanium, steel, aluminum, and magnesium — and although it was a mixed bag of intended usages, we made sure every bike could fit tires up to 700×35 mm-wide. One even sported a stock suspension fork.
Here’s what we packed into the back of our rental U-Haul van:
- Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2RLE
- Lauf Siegla Weekend Warrior Wireless
- Litespeed Cherohala 105
- Marin Nicasio 2
- Ridley Kanzo A
- Salsa Journeyer Apex 1 700c
- Scott Speedster 30
- State Bicycle Company 6061 Black Label All-Road
- Triban RC120
- Vaast A/1 Apex 700c
As usual, we sought to answer a bunch of questions.
How much does frame material matter? Can a road bike really also serve double-duty as a gravel bike? How much underbiking is too much underbiking before things stop being fun? And speaking of which, how little can you spend while still having a good time, on-road or off?And are mechanical disc brakes really all that bad?
Helping to answer those, and other, questions were four testers from near and far, including CyclingTips head of tech James Huang and CyclingTips senior tech editor Dave Rome (who made the trip from Sydney, Australia). Also joining us was Velonews senior editor — and endurance gravel racer extraordinaire — Betsy Welch, along with pro-racer-on-sabbatical Ellen Noble.
We’ll have detailed written and video reviews of all of those bikes for you in the coming weeks, along with our usual roundtable discussions on a variety of pertinent topics. Check back here regularly for updates, and also be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can get automatic updates when something new has been added.
[ct_highlight_box_start]CyclingTips Field Test group bike tests are never paid for by the participants, but they’re still only possible with some outside assistance. CyclingTips would like to thank the generous support of Assos for this year’s Field Test.[ct_highlight_box_end]