Viathon G.1 Gravel Bike First Look – Detailed & Demoed


(dramatic music and sound effects) – Viathon is a completely new bike brand that launched in spring of
this year with three models, the R.1 road bike, the M.1
cross-country mountain bike, and this, the G.1 gravel bike. THey’ve asked us to take a look at it, and so in this video I’m going
to be talking you through the finer points. Firstly though, one thing to address, and that is that Viathon
caused quite a stir when they launched. One of the reasons being, they’re owned by retail giant, Walmart. A brand it’s fair to say,
in cycling circles at least, is famous for selling really cheap bikes. Hence why you may have been
reading a rash of articles along the lines of, “Check
out the most expensive bike “you can buy at Walmart”. But what’s the deal here? Because firstly you can’t
buy this in Walmart. It is direct-to-consumer only, so you order it online, and you do so through
https://www.viathonbicycles.com, and not Walmart. Well the deal is, its shouldn’t
really come as that much of a surprise, seeing
as Walmart already sells high-end bike parts, though mainly through
its Moosejaw website. And so it seems like a
bit of a logical step to create their own high-end bike brand. And it must be a pretty
cool gig to get asked to create a bike company from scratch. But that’s exactly what brand manager, Zach Spinhirne-Martin,
was tasked with doing. Now he actually was a pretty
top-notch bike racer himself, spent a few years cutting his teeth in the cut-and-thrust scene in Belgium. He was actually a
pro-team mechanic as well, so it’s fair to say he knows
his way around a pushbike. Now, his first step was to select the team that he wanted to actually
design these Viathon bikes, and he went with Kevin Quan Studios, who are based up in Toronto in Canada. Now Quan himself, who’s a former
senior engineer at Cervelo, and he’s got some pretty impressive bikes in his design palmares. So let’s see what he’s
come up with for this one. (dramatic electronic music) This is, as I mentioned at the beginning, the G.1 gravel bike. When it was first launched, there were three options available, a SRAM Force one-by edition, a Shimano Ultegra groupset edition, and also a Shimano 105, as
well as a framset-only version. This though, as you can see, has the new SRAM RED eTap
AXS groupset on there. Plus, a new colorway, which is this kind of matt black
to metallic copper version. Now, we will get on to
the details of the frame. Firstly, a size 56
weighs just 1,010 grams, which is pretty impressive
for a gravel bike. The next question when talking
about this type of bike is always, “How wide a tire can you fit?” In this case, you can go wide. 51 millimeters on a
standard 700C road wheel. And it’ll also run smaller
diameter 650B wheels with 2.1 inch wide mountain bike tires. And yes, I do appreciate I’ve just swapped from metric to imperial there, but I think that’s actually compulsory when talking about the
already complex subject of wheel sizes. Anyway, to fit in such wide tires, some deft engineering going on, particularly at the back end, which if you look closely, you’ll notice is actually asymmetrical, ‘cos the drive-side
chainstay is actually dropped a little bit. And that is to allow you to
get those wider tires in, but also, on the outside of the chainstay, to fit chainrings on, despite using normal-width
road cranks on there. And you can also, as well
as running one-by like this, run it two-by, as well,
for increased versatility. Whilst we’re down there,
another neat touch you’ll see is the inclusion of a
threaded bottom bracket. So on a bike that’s
destined for dirt roads, the added robustness
and ease of servicing, it’s a welcome touch. And some brands shy away from it, because having a threaded
bottom bracket shell will add a tiny bit of
weight onto the bare frame, and so it maybe doesn’t look
quite as good in marketing. And also, it adds an extra step in the manufacturing process. Other really neat practical touches are you’ve got fender-mounts, mudguards, and also rack-mounts on here, as well as three sets of bottle bosses. So it’s fair to say that
you could load this one up with some pretty heavy-duty bike-packing. As well as the ability to
fit those monster tires, which allowed quite a degree
of comfort on rough trails, the frame itself, you’ll notice, has a few little design touches that should improve the
compliance and comfort. So, the fact that those
seatstays are slightly dropped from the seattube cluster there will add in a bit of compliance. Plus, you see the
cross-section of the tubes is flattened to allow them
to flex a little bit more. Moving back to our story about
how this bike came to be, the next step on from the design process is choosing a manufacturing partner. And I think it’s fair to say that being associated
with Walmart opens doors at high-end factories in Asia. And although brands like to
keep things pretty secretive, I’m told that Viathon is made alongside some pretty
well-known household names. As well as the actual
manufacturing itself, there’s also a two-step
quality-control process. So the first one is in-house, actually at the factory itself, where every frameset is
scanned by CT scanner, and there’s also a batch-testing process that’s carried out by
a third-party company. Now another point to
mention, I was also told that part of the selection
process at the factory was the conditions for the workers there. And I think that’s cool. It’s often overlooked
in the bike industry. But it really shouldn’t be. Now, next question about this bike, should always ask it of a gravel bike, where exactly does it sit on the spectrum? Is it a dirt-loving road bike? Or is it a mountain bike with drop bars? And I think when it comes to this one, the answer is it lies
somewhere in the middle. You can fit those big, fat tires on, to take you towards mountain-biking. But the position you can get on the bike and the nimble handling
means that it also feels a little bit like a road bike. And when you look at the geometry charts, you’ll see that you
can get a low position, if that’s your bag, but equally it’s not so slammed that you’re not going to find you can get comfortable on it either. Back to this bike that
we’ve got here then, this, as I mentioned
earlier, is a new model in the range, with SRAM’s
RED eTap AXS groupset. So it’s going to be right at the top. It feels like SRAM eTap
AXS doesn’t need much of an introduction. But, to summarize, it’s got the wireless eTap functionality, and it’s also now 12-speed at the back. When you look at the
finishing-kit on this bike, again it suggests to me
that it’s been specced by someone that knows their stuff. So you’ve got HED Vanquish
carbon wheels on here. We’ve got Zipp bar, stem, and seatpost, We’ve got Conti tires, and we’ve got fizik saddle and bartape. Now, interestingly, all the
bikes are actually built by another well-established
cycling industry company in California, and then shipped out, leaving you to attach the
seatpost, your handlebars, pop the front wheel in, as well as needing to put some pedals on. So there we go. That is the Viathon G.1 gravel bike. Make sure you let us know
in the comments section what your first impressions are. And also, if you want to see me
take one of these for a spin, I got to actually sample some very, very lovely Idaho gravel myself, and there’s a video on
that over on GCN now.

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