Talked (ever so easily) into an adventure weekend up in the Lake District, Joe and Darren set off bags on bikes to the Langdales for a weekend of riding, camping and gas stove cooking. Bliss.
Pretty familiar with bikepacking bikes and a keen adventurer, we asked Joe to let us know how he got on with the Adventure 725 whilst also testing a few of the new bikepacking bags from our friends at Restrap – a Yorkshire based handmade luggage brand.
The bike was set up in the SRAM Apex mid-range ‘enthusiast’ build – with Apex 1×11, steel adventure fork, hydraulic brakes and 2.8″ WTB Ranger tyres on Mavic Crossmax 650B’s. (Check out the build here.) The set-up definitely feels more MTB/Gravel orientated and much better suited to off-road riding, the larger volume 2.8″ tyres on 27.5″ wheels were a welcome addition and made the riding super comfortable and surprisingly capable off-road on rougher terrain.
If you’re after something more suited to hardpack or predominantly road use, I’d recommend switching to a smaller tyre on the larger 29″ wheels. But keep those for road only, 29’s would be a harsher ride for sure on rougher terrain.
There’d definitely plenty of room on the bike for all different types of luggage making it ideal for self-sufficient multi-day trips. With fork racks on and the right luggage configuration, there’s ample space for lightweight camping/cooking and riding equipment.
You’d think I’d have learned to travel light by now, but well, partly to test the bags and handling when fully loaded (and mostly for simply not cutting down), I had 2 fork-mounted bags which are perfect for carrying heavier equipment – I’ll typically pack the camping equipment in these – gas and cooker etc – as it helps to keeps the centre of gravity low for better stability when riding, especially on rougher tracks.
The handlebar bag was packed with a tent and sleeping bag and then on top of this is the top tube and frame bags which is where I keep all essentials as they’re immediately accessible – phone, maps, money, SWEETS!
The saddlebag was predominantly just filled with cycling kit and general overnight clothing – keeping my waterproofs and insulated jacket at the top, hat and gloves too, to be able to get to them quickly when the temperature dropped.
The beauty of having it all on the bike is your freed up and not feeling the weight of the luggage whilst riding, the only thing I’d have on me is an over the shoulder waterproof map bag.
Even when fully loaded and carrying weight, the Adventure 725 still handles and rides superbly well and we could still tackle the climbs comfortably and shred the descents too! If anything, the added weight makes it feel more stable and planted.
Flares Are In
The flared bars give a great feel when descending on the drops, they definitely aid your control of the bike and use of the brakes off-road to navigate more technical descents. You can get Loop bars too, all just down to preference, but Loops feel more like a traditional MTB with standard disc brake levers.
Steel Is Real
I definitely have a bias for steel, I’ve just always loved a steel bike. Be it my classic singlespeed, road bike or CGR 725 gravel bike, there’s just something about steel, if you know you know. In terms of the Adventure bike – the high quality Reynolds 725 steel frame feels solid and dependable without being cumbersome or heavy which would have been my initial concern pre-ride. The tubing is lively but stiff and when matched with lower tyre pressures it certainly improves the ride quality. Aesthetically I think the minimal copper and white finish with classic branding looks the bomb. Nice touch.
The wide range cassette and 1x set up is ideal for this type of bike, even when fully loaded on steep climbs you can spin away over the rough stuff and its happy enough plugging away up a mountain pass on the tarmac. We rode varying terrain; from tarmac, gravel, grass, rocky bridleway, mud, boggy waterlogged ground, crossing fords, slate, you name it, we rode it. Using the 2.8″ WTB Rangers, run (with a tube) at 15-20 PSI which offered fantastic grip with minimal rolling resistance. Running them slightly harder would obviously benefit hardpack surfaced but the bear in mind the point that the lower pressures help with grip and act as suspension when the bike is fully loaded.
All in all, it’s a cracking bikepacking bike and if you’re looking to do more bikepacking adventures it’s well worth investing in a capable bike. There is also the Adventure Ti version but Darren was riding that, so stay tuned to find out what he thought of it.
Hand-building bikes in the UK since 1897, read the Ribble Cycles’ story; the journey from the bespoke crafting of steel frames to our position today as a market-leading, Direct to Consumer (DTC) premium bike brand.
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