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Bicycles designed with more than one intended use often fall short of the mark. So we were skeptical of Allied’s “go fast everywhere” claim that its new Echo ($8,475) is a one-bike solution for road riding and gravel racing. It turns out the Arkansas-based carbon-bike manufacturer may be onto something. Flip chips mounted to the fork and chainstays allow riders to change this bike from an endurance roadie into a gravel rig in less than ten minutes. Flip the orientation of these adjustable inserts to slacken the head angle from 73 to 72.5 degrees and lengthen the chainstay from 415 to 425 millimeters. These small adjustments have a meaningful impact on the Echo’s handling, adding stability on rough gravel roads and increasing the maximum tire clearance from 30 to 40 millimeters—the preferred tire width of many gravel grinders.
In both configurations, the Echo is nimble, efficient, and one of the best-looking bikes we’ve tried. The brake lines run from the handlebar through the painted-to-match stem for a clean, uncluttered cockpit, and the removable stem top plate makes it much more user-serviceable than many other integrated designs. Although Allied doesn’t offer the ability to customize frame geometry, as many of its fellow US bike manufacturers do, buyers can choose from a wide range of colors, matte or gloss finishes, and decals.
After months of testing on the tarmac and rugged back roads of Colorado, Kansas, and Utah, we’re sold on how well Allied executed the two-bikes-in-one concept. Investing in a single high-end rig that can be used for road training in the winter and spring followed by gravel racing in the summer and fall makes sense for many cyclists. The Echo lacks the voluminous tire clearance and cargo frame mounts needed for bikepacking, but we couldn’t ask for a better companion for daylong rides and gravel races.