A Little Time to Reflect
01 January, 2024

A Little Time to Reflect

By: Allied Cycle Works

Looking back on ALLIED reviews from 2023.

INTRODUCTION

During the infancy of 2024 – before we settle down into ramping up for the coming race calendar – we’re taking a moment to catch our breath and stretch our legs by reviewing some of our reviews from the latter part of 2023.

The headliner is James Huang dissecting the BC40 for The Escape Collective, but we’ve also got an insightful look at the ALFA from Chris at Outdoor Bros and a get-pumped piece about racing the ABLE on gravel from Ren Walkenhorst, writing for Men’s Journal.

THE BC40 | “THE MODERN MARATHON MACHINE”

REVIEWED BY JAMES HUANG FOR THE ESCAPE COLLECTIVE

Few – if any – industry stalwarts carry the tech-review cred of James Huang, so we were stoked that he decided to throw a leg over the BC40. We were also, admittedly, a little anxious to get his impressions. We weren’t disappointed.

In his review, James pitches the bike to “XC racers looking for something just as speedy as a full-blown race bike but with more versatility.” James being James, he doesn’t leave it there, instead diving into the particulars that inform his verdict.

Two things stand out in his review: the BC40’s pedaling platform and terrain versatility.

“Under power,” James writes, “the rear end simply Does. Not. Move.” He credits the stability and responsiveness to “a magical combination of anti-squat and leverage curve characteristics.” He continues, “To be honest, I’m not sure why Allied even bothers offering a remote lockout as it just isn’t necessary (at least out back),” later praising the bike’s “hardtail-like efficiency.”

Since we engineered those supernatural characteristics, we could dispel the magic here by explaining exactly how we made a single-pivot linkage pedal like a hardtail, but that would be telling – and anyway, it’s better to experience that magic in the saddle, not in print.

On the BC40’s downcountry versatility, James notes that the bike is a balanced approach to a “fast bike for a wide range of terrain.” He largely credits the frame stiffness and the geo’s combination of a slack front end and a long-ish cockpit, which produces “confidence-inspiring stability on steeper or technically challenging terrain.”

The BC40 “can handle a lot more than you’d think a 120/120 bike could. Go ahead and charge hard into the chunk or really drive the front end into that berm. It’s just completely uneventful,” he writes. “A fantastic bike for marathon-type events on technical terrain [...] It’s ruthlessly efficient at gobbling up terrain.”

Finally, James also gives a shout-out to the BC40’s cable and hose routing.

“Allied has thankfully resisted the much-maligned industry trend of running control lines through the upper headset,” he writes. “Instead, there’s a single oversized port on the side of the head tube that’s fitted with a tidy internal clamp,” noting that the port leaves room for dropper cables and remote lockouts while securing all the hoses and housing in place.

“Send me your home address, Sam,” he writes in a direct message to our head engineer, Sam Pickman. “I’m adding you to my Christmas card list.”

We’re glad to be on his nice list.

To go deep with James Huang, get over to the Escape Collective and read his very (very!) in-depth review. To meet the machine that inspired his praise, stay here, and say hi to the BC40.

ALFA group ride in the Fall

THE ALFA | “THIS BIKE RIPS”

REVIEWED BY CHRIS FOR OUTDOOR BROS

Chris at Outdoor Bros, a self-described “everyday athlete,” recently spent a few hundred miles on the ALFA in variable terrain from California’s shining sea to Utah’s purple mountains’ majesty, summarizing his experience with praise we’re happy to have earned: “In a sea of big-brand, mass-produced performance bikes, the ALLIED ALFA hangs with the best,” he said. “I was pretty bummed to send it back.”

In the review, Chris lauds the clean, classic frame lines and the ultra-slim forward profile: “While some say that you can’t see aero,” he observes, “if you turn the bike 90-degrees, you get a sense of the ALFA’s slim profile.”

Though you can’t see the drag reduction, the profile Chris describes is the result of the work we did with AeroPod CdA analysis while designing and refining the ALFA. The frame’s lines are the result of aerodynamic testing based on real-world drag conditions – not the sterile, controlled environment of a wind tunnel.

But ride quality is the ALFA’s real advantage over other racing bikes, and we like to think that’s obvious when you test the ALFA. Chris spotted it right away.

“This bike rips,” he enthuses. “It climbs well, it descends well, it’s snappy out of the saddle, it’s well-mannered – Check. Check. Check.” You may hear that about countless other racing bikes, but Chris insists that the ALFA is different.

“The way it rides is not like other performance bikes I’ve ridden,” he explains. From the geo (“It’s aggressive in just the right places.”) to the handling (“Confidence inspiring [...] moves the rider away from that razor sharp, often twitchy handling to a more comfortable place.”) to the frame’s ability to mute road-noise (“it absorbs and dampens road chatter unlike any other carbon bike I’ve ridden – in many ways, it reminds of titanium.”).

And finally, Chris notes that the US-made ALFA’s perfectly balanced blend of punchy responsiveness, real-world aerodynamics, and incomparable ride quality is available with race-out-of-the-box build kits at several thousand dollars less than a bike made overseas.

To see the full review, head over to the Outdoor Bros’ YouTube channel here. To see the ALFA itself, go here.

THE ABLE | “BUILT FOR RACING, FULL STOP.”

REVIEWED BY REN WALKENHORST FOR MEN’S JOURNAL

While we do enjoy gravel touring and bikepacking, our day job is building racing bikes. (How lucky are we!?) The ABLE is no exception, and backcountry obsessive Ren Walkenhorst realized this as soon as he threw a leg over its top tube.

“In short,” he concludes, “the ABLE is the best gravel race bike I’ve ridden. [...] It’s stiff and feels faster than other rigs, yet doesn’t beat you up and leave you on the roadside bruised and battered.”

That’s his conclusion, but the review also walks through how he got there, beginning with an emphatic statement about the ABLE’s identity: “Built for racing, full stop.”

Of course, “stop” is only figurative here, and he did anything but, using the ABLE to launch from aggressive gravel grinding to competitive gravel racing.

“For me, the perfect race bike is one that can race all kinds of distances and styles,” he writes, noting that for a gravel racing bike, “it's important a bike feels steady at speed.” According to his review, the ABLE goes beyond steady.

“The geometry of the ABLE lends itself to confident handling at speed and the bike holds its line with ease.” For Ren, that sets it apart from longer, slacker geos – which can get drifty – or over-tuned, twitchy cyclocross bikes, implying that the ABLE blends stability and intuitive control “when jammed in the middle of a pack, racing at 30mph into a corner on a gravel road.”

Ren also reserves space in his review for the frame’s stiffness (“there is little power lost to a flexing frame when I am out of the saddle pedaling, but [...] the ABLE rides smoother than its stiffness would suggest.”), and he saves one last bit of praise for the unique drive-side chainstay design, which he credits for responsive handling “without losing a few of the race vibes.”

To catch up with Ren, head over to his ABLE review. To test your own mettle in a 30mph corner on gravel, check out the ABLE itself.

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