I've been riding a "gravel" bike for almost five years now. My steel Soma Wolverine has 650b wheels, 48mm tires, and drop bars, and I wanted to see what it was like to ride a modern gravel bike with 700c wheels. I've never described my Wolverine as fast or agile. It's comfy and fun for long casual treks at a party pace. I knew that I wanted to experience bigger wheels on long gravel roads.
My only experience with Landyachtz has been with their longboards. During the first stage of my mid-life crisis, I watched one too many YouTube videos of people bombing down hills on drop deck skateboards and ended up owning a Landyachtz Switch. I tooled around town on it, too aware of my mortality and the stiffness of my hips and lower back to point it down any actual hills. I was very aware of their popularity and reputation, especially here in British Columbia, where I live and Landyachtz runs their thing. Up until our trip to Clinton, in my mind, Landyachtz was a skateboard company and not a bike company.
Now I wouldn't call myself a bike snob, but I do enjoy researching and picking out the parts for a bike, so I end up with something unique. Off-the-shelf builds don't excite me. So when I first swung my leg over the Landyachtz bike, the stoke was minimal and expectations were low. I was just happy to be getting out for a 50k ride, to experience more of the gravel roads we had just tasted, on a bike that had a wheel size I thought I'd want to put on my Wolverine. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
I expected to ride the Landyacthz AB1 Gravel bike, but Tutti's were set up with 650b wheels. I was not to be deterred from the big-wheel experience I was hoping for, and I ended up on a large Landyachtz CB MkII setup with the desired 700c wheels.
Landyachtz describes the CB MkII as a capable gravel setup. A blue-painted Chromoly steel frame with Landyachtz's carbon fork. Ritchey aluminum for the bars, stem, and seat post. TRP Spyre cable pull disc brakes are the original spec for this bike, but mine came with hydraulics. I don't recall the brand. Aluminum wheels, tubes, and 42mm Teravail rubber to interface with the road. SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain with Double-Tap shifting. Basic black bar tape and a no-nonsense saddle. Everything one needs to search for gravel gold in the Cariboo. Let's go.
As soon as we were rolling, I could feel the difference in the tire size. The ride didn't feel as plush as my Wolverine, but at the same time, I didn't feel like I was getting sucked into and slowed by the washboard roads. It felt like I was rolling over the terrain a bit quicker. I know this is a commonly described benefit of 700C over 650b wheel sizes, and it was nice to experience it.
The more we rode on, the more I realized how much I liked the tires, and I also really liked this bike. It felt confident on the gravel, mud, and paved road we experienced. The steel frame and tubed tires soaked up enough of the bumps so that I could relax into a steady pace. The CB MkII's large frame size fits my 5'10" body well. Barry kept saying how it looked like it fit me better than my Wolverine, and it did feel that way. The bike felt so good over our 50km ride that it had me questioning many of my bicycle choices to date.
My only gripes with this bike are personal preference. I don't like Double-Tap shifters, which would easily be resolved by switching the levers out to something I prefer, like Di2 or Campagnolo. And the drop bars felt small compared to the Cow Chippers that I'm used to. I could get used to smaller drops though. And I'd pull the tubes out and run this bike tubeless. That's it, that's all.
Up until this ride, I had only planned on buying a 700C wheelset for the Wolverine. Over the last 10km of our ride, I was calculating costs and scheming of ways to get myself more permanently onto something like the Landyachtz CB MkII, unaware of its price. How many bikes would I have to sell? How would I justify yet another bike purchase to my (very bike-supportive) wife? It turns out this bike is reasonably priced at $2499 CAD.
We got back to Clinton after our ride and got the chance to speak with Kelly about the bikes and his relationship with Landyachtz. We talked about how people can get stuck on bicycle trends, semantics, and brands and forget to enjoy the ride. I definitely fall into this trap and would never have considered a Landyachtz in my top choices of gravel bikes to buy. They're a skateboard company, right? But now I'm glad to have experienced the fact that Landyachtz makes damn good gravel bikes.
"Landyachtz isn't just a skateboard company that also makes gravel bikes. Landyachtz is a bicycle company that makes excellent gravel bikes"
Just consider that Landyachtz has a direct line to the gravel bicycle world via riders like Kelly. If you have ever had the privilege of hanging out at the Tutti Gravel Inn and riding the epic Cariboo gravel, you know the roads are beautiful, but the loops are long. Kelly has experienced the Italian L'Eroica twice (winning it once) and spends his days in Clinton riding and discovering long beautiful gravel adventures for himself and his guests. If anyone knows gravel riding, it's Kelly. Landyachtz has already built him at least two custom bikes with his input, and I'm sure they won't be the last. What this all means is that Landyachtz isn't just a skateboard company that also makes gravel bikes. Landyachtz is a bicycle company that makes excellent gravel bikes with the input of experienced gravel riders like Kelly.
Will I end up with a Landyachtz gravel bike? Time will tell. I like the idea of supporting a local British Columbia company, and if I were looking for a sub-$3000 gravel bike, the CB MkII would be on my list. It's a really great gravel bike. I am looking closely at their custom titanium options and have dreamed up a build that I could use for long gravel, bike-packing, and commuting. Landyachtz. Who knew? Kelly Servinski did.
|Reasonalbly priced, entry level gravel bike|
|Small issues with factory build kit|