The gravel scene now has a firm hold worldwide. From its grassroots in the US, the gravel bike phenomenon has grown exponentially; this is reflected in the number of ‘gravel’ bikes on the market. Bikes such as the Pinnacle Arkose 4, from Evans Cycles, are designed to do much more than simply race. They are designed for a wide range of terrain and uses. Racing, just riding or heading out for a bikepacking adventure? These bikes will do it all. It is a reasonable assumption that most of us will use these bikes for ‘adventure’ as opposed to racing, though quite what ‘adventure’ means is up to you.
Gravel bikes have an almost ‘go anywhere’ versatility, thanks to the wide choice of tyres in 700c mode. This is only enhanced by their ability to function perfectly well with 27.5 wheels and larger tyres. Faster than an MTB across smooth tracks and sealed roads. More stability and compliance than a cyclocross bike for loaded bikepacking adventures. There is little these bikes can’t conquer (within their design parameters).
Frame choice comes in the usual range of carbon, steel, aluminium and titanium depending on budget. Technological advances mean that quality aluminium frames are no longer a harsh ride. Clever design and tube manipulation have even given some aluminium frames a degree of compliance.
The nitty gritty
I have really put the Pinnacle Arkose 4 through its paces over the past few months. Pushed to the limits of its design, both unloaded and fully loaded with bikepacking gear and with several thousand kilometers under my belt, I think I know what this bike has to offer.
I swapped the stock saddle and handlebars to suit my personal preferences. Most people do this with new bikes so it isn’t a criticism. I also changed the tyres to suit the sort of riding I had in mind.
A compliant and capable frameset, matched up with a full carbon fork
For £1350, you get a lot of bike, one that is light and highly capable across a wide variety of terrain. At its heart is the frameset. It may be alloy, but this is no uncomfortable ‘beat-you-up’ beast. The excellent frame is matched up with a FULL carbon tapered fork.
The Pinnacle Arkose is all about adventure and versatility. The chainstays may seem long at 434mm compared to racier designs. The extra length however, allows you to fit up to 700c x 45mm tyres or 38mm with mudguards. Perfect for winter riding, the frame also manages to provide a stable platform for descending rocky off road sections loaded up and at speed.
The BB is a low slung (and welcome) threaded unit, with none of the issues usually associated with a PF BB. Great for your peace of mind when bikepacking.
The headtube is tapered and the geometry gives you a good compromise between responsiveness and stability, especially when loaded with bikepacking bags up front.
The 2018 frame comes with 3 bottle cage mounts (1 under the down tube) and full mounts for mudguards and a rack.
It’s all about the fork
The fork boasts a 12mm axle. The ride characteristics can be summarised as “a good compromise between lateral stiffness and compliance”. Unfaltering when ridden hard over challenging terrain, such as the 200km Dirty Reiver, it will leave you feeling distinctly unbeaten up after long, rugged rides. Comfort and compliance are also a function of tyre pressure of course, but this fork works well as an integral part of the frameset.
While not particularly light, the wheels are well built. The 21mm width Alex Volar rims are built on Novatec hubs and are fully tubeless compatible. It is great to see a tubeless compatible wheelset at this price point, confirming the bike’s adventurous pedigree. The WTB Riddler tyres (supplied) and Maxxis 40c Ramblers inflated easily in tubeless mode with a Topeak Booster pump.
The ideal ‘do it all’ bike
In common with most ‘adventure’ bikes, the Pinnacle Arkose is never going to be the quickest bike off the blocks. Once up to speed though, it carries momentum well.
It was pleasantly surprising to note that the longer wheelbase does not affect climbing ability. During the Torino-Nice Rally (TNR) I could stay with riders on racier machines, no doubt partly due to the lateral stiffness of the BB, despite the smaller, threaded, shell. Push hard and the bike surges forward. Perfect for when all your pedalling input is needed to maintain forward momentum. This was a godsend when fully loaded going up steep gradients, of which there were no shortage in the TNR!
Handling is responsive, yet stable, even when the trails become rough. A blast around the local singletrack, the bike can also be piloted with confidence down super steep gradients. Trails on the TNR were often challenging, with long and technical descents, yet I never felt out of my depth on the Arkose. Descending on the drops at speed, it felt steady and planted. With the larger 45c WTB Riddler tyres fitted, only pilot skill held the bike back.
Pinnacle Arkose – Conclusion
An adventure bike seemingly underrated despite its ride quality, weight and cost.
With its minimal fuss 1×11 drive train, light weight, robust nature and tubeless ready wheels, the Pinnacle Arkose 4 is a great value adventure/gravel bike. It is versatile enough for a wide variety of uses. If adventure isn’t your thing but you like what you see, rest assured that once you fit mudguards and wide tyres, it is the perfect winter bike.
Although a bolt through rear is becoming more common, the 9mm QR rear axle didn’t noticeably detract from its handling at all.
What you have here is a well designed and thought out bike (at a stunning price) for long days in the saddle or equally for short blasts around the local trails. It’s limitations are only defined by your riding skills. And the Arkose definitely has its fans, you only have to look at this thread over on Singletrack Magazine’s forum to see that it’s definitely got a cult following.
Last modified: 28th March 2018