Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
As I have mentioned a couple of times in this column recently, we were traveling around the USA in our Class C RV a little of June and almost all of July. In case you’re curious about the route, we left our home here in Santa Cruz, California and drove up to Anacortes, Washington. There we took the ferry to Orcas Island where we camped for a week.
We then ferried to Whidbey Island and enjoyed a couple of days in the town of Langley (alas, I could not find a Langley T-shirt or hat!). Another ferry ride got us back on the mainland and we proceeded across the country to New Hampshire to visit family (it’s my and my wife’s home state).
After a fun week on the NH Seacoast we loaded up our glamper and headed back to California following a different route. A few trip highlights were visiting Little Bighorn National Battlefield, seeing Gettysburg for the first time and riding trails in Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming.
For this adventure I brought a Cervelo S5 aero road rocket and a Trek Fuel EX mountain bike. I rode every day. The Cervelo got the most use by far because we were mostly camped in state parks or campsites in cities alongside the highway we were following.
I’ve done the bike-every-day thing on three cross country trips like this now (in 1991, 2013 and now 2021). I’ve learned that you can usually find decent places to ride no matter where you end up, with one caveat. That caveat is that you have to be okay riding on dirt roads. I am, and on the Cervelo, too. I only ride my MTB for trails, such as the epic ones in Curt Gowdy State Park.
Road Bike Limitations
The thing about my Cervelo is that it’s definitely not made for dirt road or gravel use. Even with its relatively narrow 25mm tires the frame clearances are so tight that if the treads pick up any dirt or mud it can jam the wheels in the frame.
Also, the aero carbon road frame is as stiff as it should be for performance, which means it’s harsh and unforgiving on any rough stuff. Ditto for the 40mm deep carbon aero rims. And, if you want a thrill, try descending on a loose dirt road at 35mph on such skinny wheels and tires – you will need to know how to ski your bike.
After weeks of such riding on our RV trip, I started thinking that maybe I should have brought a gravel bike instead of my Cervelo. These are sometimes called “all-road” bicycles because with a change of tires (on many gravel bikes you can change the wheel size, too), you can tune the bike’s performance for whatever surface you’re riding, paved or rubble.
Had I brought an all-road bicycle like this, I probably could have left the MTB home. The all-road wouldn’t have been ideal for extreme trails but it would have been at least rideable. And on all those dirt and gravel roads it would have provided a smoother and more controlled ride than the Cervelo.
Also, I wouldn’t have had to worry so much about breaking something and having to walk back to the campsite. For example, in the photo of the Roosevelt Tower here (in Deadwood, SD) I had to test the limits of the Cervelo up and down a rocky singletrack trail to get there. I could easily have cracked a rim or worse.
State Bicycle Company’s 4130 All-Road
With these thoughts still fresh in my mind from the trip, I was intrigued to open my email and find a press release from the State Bicycle Company about their 4130 All-Road – a fully equipped gravel bike that sells for only $899.99!
And for just $389.99 more you can buy it with both available wheel sizes (700c and 650b) with both set up and ready to ride with tires and cassette. That will allow swapping out the wheels in only minutes to dial in the ride for the terrain.
Here’s a fun animation of the All-Road changing its wheel size so you can see the effect: https://www.statebicycle.com/blogs/news/first-look-4130-all-road-gravel-work-bike-commuter-do-it-all-bike.
As its name suggests, the 4130 boasts a chromoly frame and fork (you can upgrade to a carbon tiller if you want for added cost). Chromoly steel’s compliance and durability is well suited for the demands of gravel grinding. Plus, the frame is loaded with braze-ons for easily carrying packs, bags and bottles on even your longest travels.
The frame comes in Small, Medium and Large sizes to fit riders from 5-feet 1 to 6-feet 5-inches tall. And it comes in Black, Copper Brown, Sonoran Tan and Pigeon Gray.
The 4130 rolls on 28-spoke aluminum wheels with 100/142mm thru-axle wheels. The tires are Panaracer Gravel Kings in 700 x 38c or 27.5 x 1.9 inch. The frame accepts tires up to 53c (2.0 inches).
For cruising the flats and conquering climbs there’s a wide-range 11-speed drivetrain with a 42-tooth ring and 11-42 cassette while Promax flat-mount mechanical disc brakes provide ample stopping power. Overall, it’s a heck of a package for the money. So I wanted to share it with you in case you too are thinking of an all-road sled and State Bicycles weren’t already on your radar.
Here’s the full specifications, sizing and geometry: https://www.statebicycle.com/blogs/size-and-spec-guides/4130-all-road.
To learn more and order the bike (estimated shipping is currently early September) go here: https://www.statebicycle.com/collections/4130-steel-bikes/products/4130-all-road-copper-brown-650b-700c.
10,081 Daily Rides in a Row
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 10,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.