Earlier this summer Lauf quietly changed their social media presence from Lauf Forks to Lauf Cycling. That was a not so subtle hint that they were expanding out of the fork-only market. The move brings us the Lauf True Grit – a racy carbon gravel bike designed to better match the lateral stiffness & vertical compliance of their innovative leaf spring Grit gravel suspension fork. The new lightweight carbon bike is a more conventional design than we expected out of Lauf considering their unique fork suspension, but there are good reasons for that. Get a closer look at the new frame & fork that blend so smoothly together, plus the full frame details, pricing & availability all after the jump. Oh, and did we mention that it gets a new fork as well?
I was a bit surprised at first that Lauf didn’t come up with some ‘out there’ leaf spring solution for the True Grit’s rear triangle. But while their design team says they considered some crazy concepts, it just didn’t make sense for what they were trying to create – a light, stiff, high performance gravel race bike.
It seems that many bikes using their Grit fork were already too flexy to start with. Lauf felt like some just didn’t track well or made the whole ride feel a bit noodly, and thought they could design a better match for their laterally stiff fork.
Lauf even experimented engineering more measurable flex into the rear end of the bike with flexy stays, but that just added unnecessary weight & complexity when they were already rocking wide gravel tires. Running 40mm tires tubeless, they could get more benefit out of dropping 5psi and be able to add or remove the desired cushion with a mini pump and no weight penalty.
In Lauf’s own words…
Having spent the last few years studying gravel bikes and gravel riding, in a way, the Lauf True Grit is something that “just happened”. In the beginning, it was a question of “How our Lauf forks could best compliment gravel bikes?” That question soon developed into “What are the optimal parameters for our forks and gravel bikes to work together?”. Which then eventually became “What would be the ultimate gravel bike?”. In the end, we simply couldn’t resist making the gravel bike of our dreams.
Lauf wanted a fast but confidence inspiring gravel bike. Light, but able to withstand the beatings of a wide range of what cyclists call gravel riding – sometimes that’s smooth, hardpacked & sandy; other times it’s rock gardens and boulder fields of baby heads. They also wanted a bike to crack open a well-earned beer at the end of a ride.
In the end a race-focused gravel bike that you were still happy to be riding after an ultra distance ride like the 206mi/331km Dirty Kanza.
Lauf built on the manufacturing relationships they developed in Asia with their carbon forks to create the new frames. Working with similar premium molding tech and careful layup design, they were able to minimize the use of bonded tube junctions and got a frame with a very smooth, consistent inner wall. So, light, plus strong. A medium sized True Grit frame, painted blue with all hardware weighs just 1070g.
The True Grit gets a tapered 1.5″-1.125″ headtube, paired with their new lighter, stiffer fork. As for other standards used, the bike sticks with a tried & true threaded BSA bottom bracket, a 12x142mm thru-axle rear end, flat mount disc brakes, and a 27.2mm seatpost. It has two sets of bottle cage bosses inside the main triangle, plus a third under the downtube for longer adventure rides & races; even a fourth set of bosses pop up on top of the toptube for a bolt on bento box.
Long 4 Speed geometry
The bike gets geometry that seems almost inspired by modern trail bikes: long, low & slack. That seems to work well for gravel racing stability too, especially paired with their own leaf spring fork. Lauf is usually not into acronyms & naming technologies (so thankfully you won’t find any of this printed on their bike), but it seems they had a bit of fun making up some of these names. This one helps set a low & aero bar position, while keeping high-speed stability and confidence on rough terrain. “Making you Long 4 Speed.“
The bike gets internal cable routing, with internal guides that stick with full length housing for consistent performance, but still is easy to route and doesn’t rattle around in the frame. “Some might call it voodoo but we call it Lauf’ing Out Loud engineering.“
Right Amount of Clearance
The True Grit will fit up to 45mm width tires on 700c wheels, still with enough space around them for the mud and gravel to fall off. Lauf matched that with the new fork too. It’s the most tire they think a gravel race bike needs. And it allowed them to still keep to a respectable 425mm chainstay length without limiting crank or chainring selection. In the end Lauf specs a 40mm Maxxis Rambler on their complete bike, which delivers a balance of lightweight and a good amount of cush.
Beers Or Gears
This is an important one for the rowdy Icelanders who designed the bike. They figured that most True Grit buyers are going to prefer the simplicity of 1x drivetrains, but they didn’t want to ignore the double crankset. (Even though they did ignore cable routing to a front derailleur. A 2x setup only works because of eTap’s wireless front derailleur.) So 1x riders get an integrated Lauf-branded direct-mount bottle opener, to make post ride imbibing quick & easy.
Lauf knows that some roadies turned gravelheads will want a classic, tightly spaced road double for racing, so eTap gives that option.
Here’s another quote from Lauf…
Our cyclist behavioral studies show that the riders longing for tight gear spacing are the least likely to have an aprés beer, so they’ll probably not even notice that they are missing a bottle opener. They are also not likely to ride unsupported across Siberia, so we don’t worry about dead shifter batteries. Hence, the True Grit has no cable routing for a front derailleur.
The True Grit is available in three different complete build packages that share the same carbon True Grit frame and Grit SL fork. You can also get that frameset alone if you want to build it up on your own for $2690. The most affordable complete bike is the $3690 Weekend Warrior 1×11, that gets a full SRAM Rival 1 groupset with American Classic AM28/Terrain wheels and a carbon Easton/FSA cockpit. In a medium & blue that build is claimed to weigh 8.9kg/19.6lb when set up tubeless. (A white bike is heavier as it requires more primer to cover up the carbon underneath. That’s kind of a shame, because I think it is the color that looks best on this bike – clean or dirty.)
Next up on the cost scale is the $4990 Race Edition 1×11. It gets upgraded to a Force 1 group, and Easton EC90 carbon crank & American Classic Race wheels. Set up tubeless in a medium blue, it claims to weigh 7.8kg/17.2lb.
The top build is for those gravel racers looking for a wide, but tight gearing spread. The $6390 Lauf True Grit Race Edition Wireless 2×11 opts for the only double Lauf supports – a Red eTap HRD groupset. An Easton EC90SL crankset and the same American Classic Race wheels round out the build, with a claimed weight of 7.9kg/17.4lb.
eTap bikes get a 5mm longer crank/BB spindle vs. the 1x bikes to make more room for standard or compact road rings. It also helps a lot by moving the eTap front derailleur battery out an extra 2.5mm, giving it more clearance away from the rear tire. That still limits the eTap bike with its front derailleur to just 40mm wide tires.
True Grit comes in just three actual sizes – S, M & L – but Lauf recognizes smaller steps between riders. So they are offering each size in two fits – short & long. The difference is the “long” build gets a 1cm longer stem. That way even though frame reach only grows 11mm per size, riders can get a bit more variability within each of those three sizes so riders from about 5’3″ – 6’4″ tall (160-193cm) can have a better opportunity to dial in a comfortable fit.
The True Grit frame and color matched fork will be available in two stock colors for the standard price: the off-white Cream Matte in the riding pics above & the Midnight Blue Matte in the details. Several other colors like this orange, red & matter black will also be available in select quantities for an upcharge.
Pricing & Availability
Lauf is taking the True Grit consumer direct. They’ll still be selling forks through their same distribution channel, but the bikes you will order straight from them or through a very limited number of global premium Lauf dealers. To avoid stocking thousands of pre-built bikes and hope they guessed the mix right (they’re a small company, after all), Lauf will have two price structures.
Get It Now will be the standard price. Order a bike, and Lauf will ship it straight out to you. But if you are willing to wait up to 12 weeks, you can get a deal. If you are not in a giant hurry, when you order a bike Lauf will add it to their list and paint and assemble them in batches, still guaranteeing that it makes it to you in 12 weeks or less. Patience will shave a little more than 10% off the cost of your bike.
Lauf is taking orders from today. Complete bikes are expected to start shipping out to customers in November, on a first come, first served basis. That also means that through Dec 2017, all bikes will effectively be on a pre-order basis. So anyone who buys one to get it in 2017 will be getting the discounted <12week delivery pricing. Sadly, that doesn’t help those buying a frameset only.
Part of what forms the unique profile of the new Lauf True Grit is the suspension fork. Lauf was relatively low-key about it, but paired with the new bike is a completely new fork as well. The all-new iteration of their unique leaf spring fork showcases a major design overhaul with big implications. The new Lauf Grit SL shares the same construction and basic layout of all of their prior forks, but it improves on the old Grit in almost every way. It’s lighter, stiffer, and offers improved suspension kinematics.
At the same time it gets a new shape that helps in blend in more on this complete bike, and likely also on the large number of frames from other bike companies who will be chomping at the bit to get this updated fork spec’ed as OEM on their bikes. We’ll go more into the details of the new fork in an hour or two, so check back to get the full story…
We spent the better part of a week in Iceland test riding the new True Grit frame & Grit SL fork. It started out pleasant, then turned to cold, rain & the strongest winds we’d ever ridden in. We lost count of the number of glacial melt rivers we crossed as they continued to rise, barely making it out the next day. Then while the rest of the crew headed home, we kept riding. Hunting more gravel, we found lava flows and warmer weather. Needless to say we got a good sense of the new frame & fork in a vast range of conditions. Proper review coming soon.