Over the weekend, while you were drinking coffee or escaping from town for a hike, over 1,000 cyclists took to the endless network of dirt roads around Emporia, Kansas in what’s become known as the premier gravel race in the world, Dirty Kanza. The full course is a 200-mile loop through the undulating Flint Hills, a route that might take days to complete. That is unless you’re Colin Strickland, who did it in less than ten hours with a time of 9:58:49 (a new course record). What’s more, he and women’s division winner Amity Rockwell both did it on a bike that was revealed just days before the event: Allied Bicycle’s new gravel-oriented Able.
The Able was made for Kanza. As a fat tire drop-bar, the Able is a mash-up of sorts that demonstrates how much space the gravel category still contains for creative interpretation. If gravel occupies the space between road and mountain bikes, the Able leans further toward the latter, mainly by providing clearance for fatter tires. And that’s the reason for the Able’s most visually striking feature, a raised chainstay that immediately calls to mind the mountain bikes from years past. The idea here is to create more room for wider tires without lengthening the stays, which keeps the bike light and nimble. And in turn, a bike with wider tires is better equipped to speed down mountain bike trails and gnarly roads, like the ones in Kansas’s Flint Hills.
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