As an adventure and travel photographer, I've explored my fair share of rugged terrain and remote corners of the world. My goal is always to move efficiently, yet slowly enough to fully immerse myself in my surroundings—a reason why biking has become a deep love of mine. It's a relatively new hobby that has evolved into the perfect escape, allowing me to clear my mind, seek inspiration, and discover new paths.
My initiation into the world of cycling was rather unconventional. My first big ride outside of my neighbourhood was a 6,223 km ride across Canada from Vancouver, BC to Halifax, NS, relay-style with 7 friends back in 2018. It was a 'good bad idea' that I couldn't resist when invited. Prior to this ride I didn’t own a bike, didn’t have any training under my belt and I had never used clipless pedals before. As you can imagine, the first time I sat down and clipped in, I immediately fell over—a comedic display of my unpreparedness. That trip became the catalyst for my love of cycling. Despite the challenges and the 'type-2 fun' nature of the experience, I grew fond of the vulnerability and joy that comes with being on two wheels, exposed to the elements, working hard to reach your destination.
With a 2024 goal of embarking on international bike adventures, I've been doing my research to ensure an ideally smooth journey with minimal baggage and maximum efficiency to be best prepared for life on two wheels. The gear I choose needs to be as tough as the environments I immerse myself in. So, when it came time to update my setup I was on the lookout for a relatively affordable, adventure ready, steel-frame, easily repairable (mechanical with exposed cabling), multiple mount points and aesthetically pleasing ride (given my background as a photographer), ideally from a Canadian company. That's when I came across the Anticosti from Panorama Cycles.
The name "Anticosti" immediately struck a chord with me. Years ago, I stumbled upon some stunning photos of Anticosti Island. This island, the largest in Quebec and fifth-largest in Canada, nestled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is renowned for its rugged beauty and seclusion. A photo of Vauréal waterfall cascading 76 metres through a 90-metre gorge immediately captured my imagination. Albeit somewhat arbitrary, a new goal of mine is to someday ride this namesake bike on Anticosti Island.
Quebec also happens to be the birthplace of Panorama Cycles, a small independent company dedicated to crafting versatile backcountry concept bikes with adventure cyclists in mind. After looking more into the company, they seem to be a collective of passionate employees who love to ride and are very engaged with their clientele. The quality and ideology behind their builds has earned them consistent 5 star reviews.
Crafted for Adventure: The Anticosti Steel Steed
The Anticosti caters to riders who crave the freedom to venture off the beaten path, be it gravel roads or overgrown trails. It's designed for those who push beyond and demand a bike that can keep up, whether out on a day trip or an extended expedition.
The frame is, of course, the central component of a bike, and the choice of materials for it is crucial when deciding on your preferred riding style. The Anticosti features a custom designed frame constructed from Reynolds 725 steel, which was an excellent choice for a backcountry model as it also provides some flex for long days of riding. This unique blend of steel is thoughtfully thinned out in critical areas to reduce weight. Lifting the bike up for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by how light it was—not necessarily common for a steel frame. Regardless, as nice as it is to have a light bike, it doesn’t need to be ultra-light, it's more about the experience and joy of riding rather than the grams.
Geared towards long-distance riding, the Anticosti’s geometry prioritises comfort during extended hours in the saddle. The tall head tube offers a comfortable riding position, while the 440mm chainstays and 68mm trail provide stability and predictably smooth handling. The 71° head tube seems standard for today’s gravel bikes but let’s not kid ourselves, this thing has been designed for speed in the dirt—not ripping down singletrack in the mountains—although it can do that if you need it to. To ensure longevity, the frame's interior surface has undergone an electrodeposition process, bolstering its resistance to corrosion and ensuring protection. This stuck out to me since the last thing you want is a rust bucket, especially riding here in the PNW.
Performance & Durability Unleashed
Panorama's attention to detail and understanding of what adventure riders want in a bike is evident in this configuration, which boasts a SRAM Rival 1x11 drivetrain, Easton cranks, Hunt 4Season Gravel wheels, and Teravail Rutland 700 x 42mm tires. Additionally, the Anticosti generously accommodates 27.5x2.1 or 700x50 tires with fenders and includes a coordinated carbon fork, featuring internal dynamo hub wiring and numerous mounting points for all your bags and accessories (3 bottle mounts, cargo cages on the fork, a top tube bag, rear rack, and mudguard). For added rigidity, Panorama has incorporated a 12mm rear wheel thru-axle, complemented by the dependable Yokozuna Ultimo disc brake system. For those desiring a front derailleur and 2x setup, readily available cable guards make the conversion simple.
As for aesthetics, Trevor Browne's artistic touch brings elements of the natural world to life on the earth tone bike with custom drawings made specifically for the Anticosti. Whether by design or coincidence, these designs reflect Panorama's commitment to sustainability as carbon-neutral producers and one percent for the planet members. Additionally, the bike features a striking headtube badge composed of mountain layers. I typically tend to gravitate towards dark colours and like to be low-key but there is something about that mustard yellow that surprisingly drew me in. It stands out from the rest, it’s a unique bike that has already racked up a lot of compliments on my rides. It’s a nice bonus that this model is locally constructed in small batches, so you’re not likely to bump into many people with the same ride as you on the trails.
One minor point to note is the cabling on the downtube, which may appear somewhat disorganized and clunky, disrupting the bike's clean lines. However, this is easily remedied the next time I re-cable—by shortening the housings.
Elevating the Riding Experience
The Anticosti has that timeless steel feel to it. Descending on the bike feels like taming a wild stallion. The frame's inherent flexibility translates into a smooth and lively ride. As you hurtle down gravel paths, you'll immediately notice how the bike soaks up vibrations and rough terrain— taking the edge off the bumps and chatter, and allowing you to maintain control and confidence even when the path gets rugged.
Twitchiness in a bike is something I try to avoid at all costs. But the Anticosti’s stability is reassuring, and the solid steel frame offers a planted and secure sensation. You'll experience that steel connection with the bike, as though it's an extension of your body. This connection allows you to push your limits with the knowledge that the bike will respond predictably, enhancing your overall descending experience.
Climbing on the Anticosti is a testament to its versatility. The frame's flex not only contributes to a comfortable climb but also aids in traction when navigating loose terrain. As you power up steep inclines, you'll feel the bike digging in, clawing its way up the trail. When up and out of the saddle, the high front end seems to put the Ritchey bars right where you need them—allowing for amazing torque and balance on the bars. I really appreciated those extended handlebars (Ritchey Comp Venture Max II), which provide a wider grip than traditional drop bars, allowing for multiple hand positions. It was a blessing in disguise when I needed to rest and adjust my posture. It’s one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I had the option.
When cruising along flat gravel paths, the Anticosti shines in a different light. It feels lively and responsive, translating every pedal stroke into momentum efficiently. The bike's ability to smooth out imperfections in the path allows you to maintain speed without sacrificing comfort.
At 6'2", I'm at the upper end of their recommended size range. Unfortunately, Large is the largest size offered, which may pose an issue for a minority of taller riders and might not warrant production of an XL size. I would probably opt for an XL if there was an option because I prefer a bigger bike but I will easily manage with this one.
Your Next Adventure Awaits with the Anticosti
If you seek a bike that matches your adventurous spirit and enhances your riding confidence, the Anticosti is precisely what you're looking for. It excels in performance, aesthetics, and comfort, making it your ideal companion for exploring diverse terrain on both day trips and expeditions. It offers a very well-equipped package at a reasonable price, and you have the satisfaction of supporting a small, independent Canadian company.
I really don’t have anything negative to say about this bike, I wanted to give critical feedback but Panorama did a great job of thoroughly thinking this one out and were very intentional about the build kit. I hope to update this entry after more time in the saddle but in the meantime, these were my initial thoughts and insights on the bike from rides on Vancouver Island. With more people getting into gravel riding and bike-packing, I believe they are going to have a lot of success with this bike and future models if they continue to keep doing what they are doing. As with any small business the biggest hurdles are in gaining global recognition and brand awareness, so I hope this review helps them in their journey of supporting backcountry enthusiasts—they deserve it!
Get it here starting at CAD $1649
|High-quality build specs at a competitive price|
|Wide drop bars for versatile hand placements|
|Durability and comfort for long rides|
|Adventure-ready with abundant mounting points|
|Custom designs and eye-catching colour|
|Limited size options for taller riders|
|Aesthetic preferences may vary due to only one colour and set graphics|
|Cabling could have been slightly neater|