Interbike 2013: Even more gravel bikes!

This is a followup to our earlier gravel bikes article. Once we made it onto the show floor at the Mandalay Bay convention center, it was time to capture pics of some other hot new gravel bike models (and an old favorite).

First up is the Raleigh Tamland, new for 2014 and in two models:

Tamland Two

(Editor’s note: a reader corrected us on the photo we had described as the Tamland One, when it was actually the Roper. I only got a poor background shot of the Tamland One, so simply imagine a different color scheme from the above bike — sky blue with yellow and white accents — and a slightly different component spec.)

The Tamlands sport a Reynolds 631 steel frame, slightly longer chainstays and a lower bottom bracket shell than typical cyclocross bikes. They’re lookers…but I can’t remember what differentiates one from the other. They’re so new they don’t yet appear on Raleigh’s website, and I neglected to take detailed notes. I believe it has something to do with the component spec, with the Tamland Two having Ultegra rather than 105 (but don’t quote me).

The updated Roper also has the gravel-grinding goods:

Here’s a detail shot of the rear dropouts…lovingly sculpted and ready for racks and fenders:

Next is the Co-Motion Pangea…billed as a monstercross/offroad global touring machine with 26″ wheels and a ton of clearance for fat rubber:

Here’s the Surly Straggler, described by the company as a disc-braked version of their very popular Cross-Check. It comes in a very lovely shade of metallic violet:

Finally, the granddaddy of them all, the Bianchi Volpe. Introduced in 1996 as a touring bike, the Volpe has slowly evolved into Bianchi’s “do everything” bike — a prime candidate for commuting, beginner ‘cross racing, gravel adventures, and more. The Volpe is still equipped with rim brakes rather than discs, but we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see discs in a future model. It does come with every mounting option a commuter would want…rack mounts front and rear, fender eyelets on both ends. The Volpe is one of my favorites in the Bianchi lineup:


What do you think — are gravel bikes the new “ultimate commuter platform”? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this burgeoning segment of the bicycle market.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky


  1. Jesse

    Well, I’ve been commuting on a Salsa Vaya for 18+ months now and find it pretty much perfect. I’ve had a front rack on it in the past, along with a rando bag, recently I settled into the standard rear rack and panniers for most trips. I’m currently looking into a trailer to replace the truck I’m selling, that’s how versatile I find it!

    Don’t really ride much gravel, but then I just moved to the DC area and haven’t learned my way around too well yet…time to explore!

  2. Ghost Rider

    Come to think of it, we totally missed the Salsa booth this year…the Vaya does get a lot of good reviews/word-of-mouth recommendations.

  3. Raiyn

    The Tamland dropouts are nice to look at, and the braze-on mounts are awesome, but I wonder how they’d do under a Clydesdale with a load. For some reason (perhaps unwarranted) I look at them and think “lateral flex” I’m starting to think the Straggler (Surly builds their frames STRONG) with a couple tweaks (50t big ring instead of the 46 and a set of 32mm road tires) might be the way for me to go.

  4. Ghost Rider

    Those Tamland rears DO look kinda spindly, don’t they? Of the ones we’ve featured here, I like the looks of the Straggler (beer budget) and the Pangea (champagne) best.

  5. Raiyn

    Yeah, I’m not dropping Pangea money anytime soon. Thankfully it’s not a requirement to get the Straggler in Brony Purple. It’s also much easier for me to get my hands on black reflective tape……

  6. Ghost Rider

    “Brony Purple”…ha ha! I nearly spit coffee onto my monitor!

    The real name of Surly’s color is somehow even better, though: “glitter dreams”.

  7. Mike Myers

    So the bike industry is finally back to where Bridgestone was in the early 1990s? I’m a big fan of the “gravel bike” concept—my Bridgestone XO-2 is pretty much one, and I use it more than any other bike.

    My only suggestion to makers of gravel bikes is to follow Surly’s lead—-put 26 inch wheels on 54cm and smaller frame sizes. That allows easy mounting of fat tires and fenders. I test rode a Cross Check in my size, and the TCO was severe enough to be a safety concern at low speeds.

  8. bigbenaugust

    As one with a pair of CX bikes for commuting and exploration, I am all for the idea… but it looks like I may finally have to warm up to disc brakes eventually. πŸ™

  9. theguth

    The forged steel dropouts on the Tamland are an excellent design IMO. They’re solid steel, likely the stiffest part of the bike, no worries there. They’ll be heavy, but this is no WW bike either. I love that they have pulled the eyelets both far away from the cassette (no worries about long bolts interfering with the small cog) and from each other! Too often I’ve seen the two eyelets have been so close together that you can’t use both, have to double up rack and fender mounts on one bolt. In fact, if I had a dropout like this I’d likely run a longer bolt than necessary on the lower eyelet and have a nice chain hanger like you never see brazed on anymore.

  10. barturtle

    The one you’re showing as the Tamland One, doesn’t seem to be like any other pre-show pics of the Tamland One I’ve seen. I’ve only seen it in a two-tone green and black, with the same frame as the Tamland Two.

    The one you show has different dropouts, a spoke holder, different brakes, different fork, etc. I don’t know if that’s the Tamland One or not, but whatever it is, I like it.

  11. barturtle

    Found it. It’s the updated Roper.

  12. Ghost Rider

    @Barturtle — oh, whoops! You’re right: this orange one IS the updated Roper (I just took a pic at the original-sized image and read the frame decal).

    Off to look for the Tamland One pic…

  13. Raiyn

    Going back and looking at the actual Tamland frame pic(red/white) I’m a bit more comfortable with the drop outs, but I’ve been on the fence with these two for a while now and will likely be until I actually go out and buy one of them. As of right now, the Straggler is still leading.

  14. Raiyn

    I asked a fit question of the fine folks at Surly in reference to the Straggler (According to them the Cross-Check to Straggler conversion should be equal) and took the opportunity to thank them for offering it in something other than “Brony Purple” There was no comment……. :p

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