This edition we get our hands on a fine example of a rather peculiar bicycle genre, a Cyclocross. The SCOTT Speedster Gravel 2017. It looks like a road bike and you would expect it to behave like one too. But it won’t!
For those who might not know, Cyclocross is an entire discipline of bicycle racing and is one of the toughest sports around. It is held in a Criterium style on a lap made up of mud, sand, gravel and obstacles. It combines the sports of cycling and running. Athletes carry their bicycle on their backs to make it across the obstacles or some of the muddy steep climbs. And that is the reason why Cyclocross bikes resemble road bikes and not mountain bikes. For weight reduction.
The Speedster Gravel has a lot of the makings of a great Cyclocross and follows closely in the footsteps of Scott premier offering for Cyclocross, the Addict. The Speedster Gravel is built on SCOTT’s race pedigree of the Speedster series. Even a 52cms frame looked massive to us, thanks to the chubby 35C tyres that you normally see on hybrids. The 160mm mechanical disc brakes were also a welcome sight for what we were about to put this bicycle through.
Some of the other noteworthy modifications are the wider handle bar drops and of course modifications on the frame to accommodate the fat tyres. We were happy to see the Gravel have the new 10 speed Shimano Tiagra groupset all throughout including the disc brakes. We can’t praise the colour scheme enough with the reflective bar tape ends and charcoal and red frame decals that are also reflective.
Our test ride of this bicycle took us to outskirts of Bengaluru and beyond. We were in search of back country roads and some fun trails. And find we did them. The Gravel does an amazing job at increasing ride confidence and gaining speeds even on questionable surfaces.
For people who are into motorcycle touring, I’m sure you are familiar with what you do when a car or any other big vehicle has slowed down ahead of you to negotiate a road hump. We take our motorcycle outside the tarmac and over through the dust and pebbles and leave the big wheels behind. Most often, you can’t do that on a regular road bike, the SCOTT Gravel does it with utmost efficiency, that you might end up staying with the pebbles more than the tarmac. A Cyclocross race is a display of peak bicycle control and the SCOTT Gravel offers that control to you through the disc brakes and the wider handle bar. It is only up to the rider then to stay upright and keep the bicycle moving.
With the 35C wide tyres, the negotiates a wider range of loose terrain, but the rider has to have the legs to trudge through these terrains or get stuck in the slush with the bicycle. And even in that event, the beautiful alloy frame keeps the bicycle light enough to be lugged around by the top tube across bushes and stepped paths. The SCOTT Gravel is still fast on tarmac even against carbon road bikes running on 28C tyres. But you will never miss the hum from the tyres that the treads make when cutting through the wind. For the first few rides, that humming noise will stay with you over night too.
We did see the Speedster Gravel in the light of being an all terrain touring bicycle. It is fast, light, can negotiate a lot more terrain than your average road bike and is much lighter than your average MTB. Cyclocross could be the future of bicycle touring in India and the Gravel’s price point makes it a great place to start at. If that is indeed the direction Scott wants to take for the Speedster Gravel, we do have a suggestion of including eyelets for luggage mounting solutions on the stays and fork parts of the frame.
The Speedster Gravel is one of the few bikes that leaves you smiling even after weeks of having first ridden it. There are many things you can start doing on this bicycle and one of them could very well be questioning the mediocrity of your existing bicycle.
Crank gives the SCOTT Speedster Gravel 2017 and AHT (Average Head Turning Factor) of 9 out of 10.
Frame : Speedster Gravel Disc / D.Butted 6061 Alloy Gravel Race geometry / Integrated Headtube
Fork : Speedster Carbon/Alloy Disc 1 1/8″ Alloy steerer
Headset : Integrated Steel Cup
Rear Derailleur : Shimano Tiagra RD-4700-GS 20 Speed
Front Derailleur : Shimano Tiagra FD-4700
Shifters : Shimano Tiagra ST-4700 Dual control 20 Speed
Brakes : Shimano BR-RS305 Black Mech. Disc160/F and 160/R mm SM-RT54 Rotor
Crankset : Shimano FC-4700 Black Hyperdrive 50×34 T
BB-Set : Shimano BB-RS500
Handlebar : Syncros GR2.0 Ergonomic outsweep 31.8mm
Seat : Syncros FL2.5
Chain : KMC X10
Cassette : Shimano CS-HG500 10 Speed 11-32 T
Rims : Syncros Race 22 Disc 28 Front / 28 Rear
Tires : Schwalbe G-One Performance 700x35C
Approx weights in KG : 10.64