Gravel bikes have very quickly grown from the latest craze to a significant part of the bike industry’s ensemble. Tailored for long-distance comfort with disc brakes, big
tyre clearance and geometry tweaked from that of a road or CX bike they will carry you from the tar, to the district road and deep into the forest. It’s a versatile no rules go anywhere and wear anything genre. We tested the steel framed offering from Curve Cycling.
What is it?
Curve Cycling GXR Kevin of Steel is a mixed terrain no-nonsense gravel bike. The Australian brand uses Italian made Columbus tubing which is built in the East by the masters of frame building. It’s a bike built to celebrate riding – any kind of riding.
- Frame: Curve GXR – Colombus Zona
- Fork: Curve Carbon GXR 12mm Flat mount
- Axles: Bolt Up F&R
- Crank: SRAM Apex 175mm – 40T
- Derailleur: SRAM Apex 1
- Cassette: XG 1175 10-42 Wide Range 11sp
- Chain: SRAM 1170 Power Chain
- Shifters/Levers: SRAM Apex 1 –
Left handrear / Right handfront brake & shifting
- Bars: Easton AX
- Stem: Easton 75mm
- Seatpost: EASTON EA50 – 27.2mm 0 Setback
- Wheels: Easton EA70
- Seat: Specialized Phenom
Tyres: Panaracer GravelKing SK 700 x 38c
- RRP: R42,500 in this build OR R19,500 frame, carbon fork and BB
|Curve GXR Steel||XS||SM||MED||LGE||XL|
|Effective Top Tube (Horizontal – mm||542||555||565||575||590|
|Seat Tube (Centre to Top) – mm||540||550||560||580||595|
|Seat Tube Angle – degrees||73||73||73||73||73|
|Head Tube Angle – degrees||71||71.5||71.5||72||72|
|Chain Stay Length – mm||432||432||432||432||432|
|BB Drop – mm||70||70||70||68||68|
|Wheel Base – mm||1017||1026||1036||1042||1058|
|Head Tube Length – mm||115||125||136||150||170|
|Reach – mm||371||381||388||394||403|
|Stack – mm||554||565||575||591||608|
|Front Centre – mm||595||604||614||620||635|
|Stand Over – mm (700 x 45)||798||808||818||838||853|
Adventure Features The Kevin is rack and fender ready accommodating frame and fork micro-panniers. The Curve Ride and Seek fork carries up to 6kg of cargo for those long adventures.
Long geometry means the bike is optimized to be ridden with shorter stems for maximum control, safety, and trail
A high standover improves frame stowage space and The Kevin of Steel has 3 water bottle mounts.
Electro-deposition plating uses electricity to deposit a smooth, thin, uniform layer of plastic coating to the frame surface. E-Coat is a formula combining epoxy resin, paste, and deionized water, which forms a protective layer of coating which Curve
The Ride & The Vibe
The dual wheel size capability speaks volumes for the bikes ability to cater to as much terrain as possible. I rode the bike in the bigger wheel size option with 38c Panaracer rubber. The ride position is upright and ready for fun with typical leisurely gravel bike handling. The ride nature is calm, chilled and perfect for taking in the full adventure. Yet, if you want to boost onto the pavement, attack a climb, smash a downhill section or carve some singletrack, Kevin is always ready.
Steel framed bikes do deliver a certain ride characteristic that is best articulated as smooth and easy. It will never be the lightest material option for bike frames but steel delivers so much more in other areas like comfort, assured handling and durability.
The 38c rubber is phenomenal on tarmac and decent on mild off-road terrain but for the rockier terrain, you might want to explore something a little more voluminous. I ran 25psi upfront and 30psi rear for optimum traction on the dirt.
The longer geometry, disc brakes, upright riding position
The build kit performs flawlessly on the road, gravel and singletrack. The 1 X drivetrain is fuss free and offers a wide range for varying terrain.
Don’t underestimate its capabilities
A bike test is not a bike test if the equipment is not taken out of it’s comfort zone so we found gnarly, steep, singletrack to find the edge. Yes, under these circumstances the bike pushes in turns and is rather rigid BUT, it’s incredibly capable and fast on singletrack and sharpens skills too.
The Curve GXR / Kevin of Steel is an investment in your relaxation and status as an adventure seeker. Break all the rules, go where you want to, wear what you want to, stop and take in the beautiful country we live in and just ride to relax. Commute to work, take on your local roadie loop with some adventurous short cuts through the ‘Spruit’ or go full bore on an outback mammoth bike packing adventure. This is one robust and versatile smart buy that will keep you smiling. Hit up the local importer firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Images: @garyperkin #GOAT