Vaast A/1 Allroad Assessment | Finest Gravel Bikes 2020
The Takeaway: Vaast makes use of magnesium alloy for its A/1 Allroad to supply a peppy journey in a light-weight bundle.
- Allite Tremendous Magnesium alloy resists corrosion and delivers a stable, torsionally stiff journey.
- Confirmed parts and a SRAM Rival 1x drivetrain ship dependable efficiency.
- Consumers can select between 700C and 650B wheel/tire combos.
Weight: 20.2 lb. (L)
Wheel measurement: 650B
Tire clearance: 42mm (700C), 50mm (650B)
The Vaast A/1 is without doubt one of the finest offers in gravel bikes proper now. For those who haven’t heard, Vaast launched final yr to provide the biking world an underutilized materials: magnesium! Sure, the silvery steel utilized in fireworks and hearth starters is now in bike frames, and no, your Vaast received’t grow to be a street flare in case you lay it down on the pavement. We’ll get into why that’s shortly, however the stats present why you need a magnesium bike: a 1,200-gram body (measurement medium) that’s claimed to be stronger and lighter than metal or aluminum and lighter than titanium. That makes for a stiff and vigorous journey that damps vibration fairly effectively and doesn’t weigh you down.
The A/1 Gravel additionally represents aggressive worth for the cash. You may have the bike with 700C or 650B wheels; we examined the latter. The 700C bike offers you the choice of a Shimano GRX gravel-specific drivetrain or a SRAM Rival 1 setup (each have 11 speeds and an 11-42t cassette), though the 650B bike is SRAM-only. The $2,500 value places it in a league with entry-level carbon fiber bikes just like the Specialised Diverge Base Carbon, however the A/1’s strong construct high quality and excitable journey ought to earn it a spot on anybody’s mid-level gravel bike shortlist.
Why Magnesium, Why Now
Vaast isn’t the primary body builder to mess with magnesium alloys, however it’s the one firm to mass produce the frames with welded tubes in current historical past. Magnesium is notoriously tough to weld and susceptible to corrosion. And it presents a singular manufacturing problem: Magnesium mud, if allowed to build up, can ignite. These hurdles haven’t fully doused experimentation with magnesium. The UK-based Kirk Precision made solid magnesium bikes within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, however the firm folded within the mid’-90s. In 2004, Pinarello made a magnesium Dogma, bucking developments towards carbon and titanium. And the Colorado-based Paketa Custom Magnesium Bicycles has been working with the fabric since 2001.
The distinction between Vaast and its predecessors is the backing of a rising supplies supplier: Allite Inc. It’s partnering with Vaast to debut its Allite Tremendous Magnesium alloy for shopper use (the corporate says the fabric was beforehand reserved for “labeled protection and aerospace software”). Vaast bikes have been in growth for 4 years, however Allite has been engaged on Tremendous Magnesium since 2006. The Allite manufacturing unit makes use of common cleansing, air purifiers, and filters to maintain the manufacturing line protected, in accordance with Vaast Bikes product supervisor Steven Fairchild. To forestall corrosion, Vaast drops the frames in an electrolyte tub that produces a ceramic coating on the within and outdoors of the tubes. The method, known as plasma electrolytic oxidation, gives higher corrosion-resistance than conventional anodizing. The coating permits Vaast to make long-lasting bikes that don’t corrode or spark if you by accident meet the pavement.
Allite makes normal claims about magnesium’s strength-to-weight ratio, however they’re powerful to parse with out understanding the particular gauge of metal or aluminum they’re referring to. The factor to notice is that Vaast’s body is light-weight—about 300 grams lighter than an aluminum Canyon Grail—and it rides like a metal bike. So suppose metal, however lighter. (Oh, and it’s inexperienced; the absolutely recyclable magnesium alloy takes much less power to make than aluminum, Vaast says.)
The A/1 isn’t designed as a racer, though the 72-degree head angle and 425mm chainstays hold the dealing with tight. Slightly, the bike is supposed to go lengthy, with rack and fender mounts and threaded backside bracket cups that use enduro bearings for sturdiness. The Maxxis Rambler tires, with their shallow tread, offer you an excellent mixture of low rolling resistance with grip over hard-packed gravel and singletrack. They’re not too knobby for street use, both, though you may discover smoother-rolling tires for principally on-road use.
Vaast picked well-known, dependable parts to construct out its A/1 gravel bikes. The SRAM Rival 11-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes labored effectively throughout testing, shifting crisply and stopping with loads of pressure and modulation. The Stans NoTubes Crest rims are designed for cross-country use, so they need to maintain as much as your gravel shenanigans and light-weight path using. The Vaast bar tape has a pleasant, grippy really feel.
Vaast Allroad Mannequin A/1 Gravel Particulars
Body: AE81 Allite Tremendous Magnesium
Fork: Vaast Allroad carbon
Rims: Stans NoTubes Crest 27.5
Tires: Maxxis Rambler 650x47B
Drivetrain: SRAM Rival 1, 11 speeds
Cassette: SRAM 11-42t
Crank: Praxis Zyante carbon 42T
Brakes: SRAM Rival 1 Hydraulic, 160mm rotors
Handlebar: Vaast Allroad aluminum, 420mm large
Stem: Vaast Allroad, 6 diploma, 90mm
Seat submit: Vaast carbon fiber
Saddle: WTB Volt 142 Comp
The A/1 feels stable however vigorous. Magnesium’s damping traits really feel nearer to metal and carbon than aluminum, a candy spot that gives first rate vibration discount and a springy, direct pedaling expertise. The total carbon fork improves the journey up entrance, too. As a degree of comparability, I’ve additionally been using a Lauf True Grit X, a full-carbon gravel bike with a suspension fork that yields front-axle comparisons fairly ineffective. However within the rear, regardless of having narrower 700c tires, the Lauf rides about as easily. But the A/1 feels no much less thrilling below exhausting acceleration and a bit extra alive as you skip between rocks whereas taking a flyer on the native tow path. It corners properly, too: The small wheels and 72-degree head angle offer you a nimble, quick turn-in.
The vital query is whether or not to decide on the 700C bike with 38mm Maxxis Rambler tires as a substitute of the 47B Ramblers on the 650B bike. The 650x47B tires let you run decrease pressures—under 20 psi in case you go tubeless—and that tends to additional enhance the journey. The broader rubber additionally gave me confidence to ship it by means of rock gardens and singletrack made with 2-inch tires in thoughts—stuff that might be iffy at finest on a ’cross bike. On free surfaces, the tires appear to drift over the gravel as a substitute of digging in. This sensation is a matter of choice. Excessive-speed cornering feels rather less exact than I’ve discovered on gravel bikes with narrower 700C tires, however the drifty sensation can also be actually amusing when you get used to it.
However the 650Bs additionally roll slower and make an in any other case animated bike really feel a bit sluggish. I’ve no proper to complain, as I selected this variant to check, however looking back I feel I’d have the 700C rig and benefit from the roll-over means that turns into more and more important as your legs tire throughout, say, a 90-mile gravel journey.
The mid-range gravel class is crowded with bikes that supply wonderful efficiency and worth for cash. Purchase the Vaast if you’d like an excellent solid-feeling gravel bike that rides like metal with out the burden penalty.