REVIEW: Curve GXR, the Kevin of Steel

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.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

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.

The Build

  • 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 hand rear / Right hand front 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

Geometry

Curve GXR SteelXSSMMEDLGEXL
Effective Top Tube (Horizontal – mm542555565575590
Seat Tube (Centre to Top) – mm540550560580595
Seat Tube Angle – degrees7373737373
Head Tube Angle – degrees7171.571.57272
Chain Stay Length – mm432432432432432
BB Drop – mm7070706868
Wheel Base – mm10171026103610421058
Head Tube Length – mm115125136150170
Reach – mm371381388394403
Stack – mm554565575591608
Front Centre – mm595604614620635
Stand Over – mm (700 x 45)798808818838853
Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

Features

Tyre clearance: Built to handle anything from a 700 x 32 to a 700 x 45 or a 27.5 x 2.0 to 27.5 x 2.2.

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 radness.

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 say will last around 10 years – at sea level which is one of the toughest corrosion resistant treatments available.


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.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

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.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

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.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

The longer geometry, disc brakes, upright riding position and wide bars give a lot of confidence on high-speed descents. Handling is super predictable and downright fun. There is nothing sketchy or nervous about the ride characteristic here, it’s a composed, tame ride.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

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.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

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.


Summary

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 kevin@benkyrides.com for more details.

Curve Cycling The Kevin, a steel gravel bike. Photoshoot on Table Mountain, Cape Town. May 2019

Images: @garyperkin #GOAT


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