I’ve recently started browsing off.road.cc, an offshoot of road.cc. On the whole, I do like road.cc, even if I once blogged a piece about where I felt they are going wrong.
I recently read a review of the All-City Space Horse on their website and I have been pondering it for the last couple of days. I then read their review of the Sonder Camino and I started thinking a bit more.
So the Space Horse didn’t get a great review but why would that bother me?
The main thing is they talked about how the Space Horse sucked offroad as they didn’t like the gearing choice and felt it was too high. This seems weird to me as the Space Horse was not part of All-City’s offroad/cross range but had always been marketed as a road touring bike.
It seems pretty obvious to me that All-City is not marketing the bike as an off-road machine, it looks a lot like a road machine on their website. So surely road gearing is not a bad choice for a bike that is designed to ride on the road, it just seems weird to me that they chose to put a road bike through an offroad test. I would guess most road bikes would fail there for their gearing.
The next thing that annoyed me was the talk about TRP Spyres. The on/off issues they have with Spyres would be a bad setup or issues with bedding in. Spyres are a brake that most bike mechanics fit on their own bikes and there is a reason for that, I have seen a good many mechanics drop the bling SRAM and Shimano hydraulic setups to get brakes that work correctly and are easy to set up, possibly not simply enough for off.road.cc though.
We also have the usual boring talk of steel and this and that about steel. Including the twangy fork and how we could save weight by having a carbon fork, completely ignoring the fact that a 5 segment fork looks awesome and does a great job and is kinda what you would expect on an All-City as that is how their image is perceived. Yeah, you could save weight but why would you put a boring fork on a bike like this, it just seems wrong to take a work of art off and replace it with blandness.
There also a bit of lack of talk of exactly what steel the frame is made of, there are a lot of choices. It is made out of propriety chromo tubing, this will sadly put the cost up as there is an economy of scale going on here. Compare this to the value of the Sonder. Now, I have searched online and I can’t find what aluminium the Sonder is made of this, I am therefore guessing it is a 6 series aluminium if they won’t tell us. So the Sonder frame is possibly made out of a very basic and cheap material, the All-City not so, it would be a hi-ten steel if it was being cheap. I have waxed evangelical about steel here.
This is something all the cycling media seems to do. They generalise about what frames are made of and readers are not being educated on the difference.
When we see the review summed up at the top of the Sonder, we see this.
They have given the bike 5 stars for value. Now I guess this is purely an exercise of looking at a spec sheet and going “Oh, that looks great value”.
But, look across at the “What’s Not” column. We see the bike suffers from “some steering vagueness”. That to me seems a bit of a worry for a bikepacking/touring bike. If I am out on a trip or a big day out I do not want a bike that may not want to steer properly when I am fatigued, it seems a great way to kill/injure myself. How then can a touring bike that has an issue, that they feel is big enough to mention, that affects its ability to be a good touring bike make it a great value bike? Surely a bike that does not have this issue would much better value than worrying about the steering on your bike down a windswept, rainy descent at night? So value for me cannot be just a spec sheet, it must be that the bike can basically do the job it is designed for.
I am slightly confused by Offrad.cc then. They test a road bike as if it was a cross bike and then test a touring a bike and say it is great value for a touring bike even if it has a fault that hampers its ability to be a touring bike.