I’ve been a drop-bar, off-roading rider for a couple decades, so the whole ‘gravel’ category is a little late-coming and a bit cliché for me. Who wouldn’t want to ride a properly-specced and comfortable performance bike anywhere and everywhere? Isn’t that the point of adventure seeking?
What’s new for me and others is the marriage of drop bars and disc brakes, which makes perfect sense for many reasons, including better speed control and less hand fatigue. I’m more comfortable on drop bars, and make use of all the hand positions afforded by the extra real estate, so having better control at the levers gives me more confidence. The Pivot Vault caught my eye as a modern carbon all-rounder to stack up against my 24-plus years of off-road riding experience, and it offers several interesting features.
First, the $3,599 complete bike includes some Shimano Ultegra 6800 mechanical 11-speed drivetrain components, including shifters, derailleurs and cassette (11-28), specced with FSA’s Gossamer Cross crankset in a versatile 46/36 chainring combination. TRP’s Hydraulic cable-actuated disc brakes handle the speed control. At a little under 20 pounds for my Large tester, it’s more of a welterweight, but for the price and spec available it proved worthy on the trails and tarmac.
Living less than 10 miles from Palo Alto’s Arastradero Preserve is handy for testing bikes like the Vault. I garb up, clip in and pedal to my test grounds, which offers plenty of gravel, dirt, climbing, twisty singletrack and wide open pavement at the source and in between. The coat of dust on my bike and body remind me of the effort, and the more-than-capable machine returns me home with a smile.
Look for my complete review later this summer.
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