Words by Katherine Moore
Photos by Toby Martin and Katherine Moore
You may be familiar with Pinnacle, Evans Cycles’ in-house bike brand. There’s a wide range on offer, from their popular hybrid commuters to road bikes and mountain bikes and even e-bikes. The Arkose is their signature adventure bike, with a range of specifications in the collection to cater for a range of budgets.
Avid off-road bike-packer, James Olsen is the brand designer who conceived this rather unique limited edition model to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pinnacle bikes. So what makes this bike so special? We take a closer look...
This limited edition model is at the top of the Arkose range and has some exciting features, most noticeably is the use of XT Di2 electronic gearing on a 1x11 gear setup. Built with a single 40T 'megatooth' chainring in the front, the FSA's longer tooth design helps to reduce the risk of the chain derailing whilst pedalling. The clutch mechanism on the rear derailleur keeps the chain tensioned to reduce chain slap, which is especially important with the single ring setup.
The Shimano Deore XT rear mech features a motor that is twice as powerful as the road Di2 equivalent, to cope with the strain and muck involved with off-road riding. Completely sealed and waterproof, it has been built with a purpose in mind. When it comes to charging the electronic gearing, a full charge takes only 90 minutes when plugged into the information display, and the battery, hidden away neatly in the seat post, is claimed to last for months of riding - In my case, I’ve ridden the Arkose regularly for about a month and only lost one out of four bars of charge.
The 11-speed cassette ranges from 11-42 teeth, giving a wide range of gearing. The handlebar mounted information display features the current gearing level when a switch is made, a sharp beep from the unit indicates when you have chosen the lowest or highest gear. This monitor also gives an indication of battery life, which is lacking in road Di2.
Pinnacle have chosen to use road-specific TRP Hylex hydraulic disc brakes as they have chosen drop handlebars, with the sleek and ergonomic Hylex brake levers. Integrated into the brake levers, the XT Di2 controls sit on the inside of the right hood. TRP have used Shimano climbing buttons, typically used on the top of the bars on custom road bike builds, to control the shifting of the rear mech; with one button to change up a gear, and one to shift down.
It’s reassuring to see Evans Cycles manufacturing a range of sizes that are suitable for men's and women's geometry with differing sizes between the two genders. For the women’s specific frames, the geometry is adjusted to accommodate for longer legs and a shorter torso, as well as being built with more suitable finishing kit such as narrower bars than in the men’s models.
The Arkose geometry is reviewed year on year to ensure a fine balance between performance and comfort can be achieved.
The aluminium alloy frameset makes for a durable and lightweight ride without driving the cost up. Unlike a rigid mountain bike, the drop handlebars put you in a more forward position over the front of the bike.
The wheels of the Arkose are built with Alexrims Volar 2.1 MTB rims and Novatec hubs. Unlike the rest of the Arkose range, the Limited Edition comes set up with tubeless tyres. The 700x45c Riddler tyres use the well-proven tread pattern from WTB, with a greater width than standard cyclo-cross tyres produced specifically for drop bar gravel bikes.
Built with off-road adventures in mind, the Arkose has three bottle cage mounts including one on the underside of the downtube, which could be the perfect place to stow tools and spares. There are also two bolts further up the downtube allowing you to fit a mudguard.
Mounts are also fitted for adding mudguards, as well as a pannier rack. Although, the Arkose is just as at home with rack-free bike packing bags, like the Ortlieb range that I used. Wrapped with a super thick 3.5mm bar tape, Pinnacle has opted for a comfortable gripping surface.
Last, but not at all least, the tan sidewall Riddler tyres are exclusive from Californian mountain bike equipment supplier WTB, and won’t be found anywhere else. A black gloss finish on the aluminium frame is complemented by the subtle Pinnacle logo on the down-tube, powder coated in dark grey, which also has reflective qualities. With black finishing kit and details, it’s a slick, yet trendy choice.
How does the Pinnacle Arkose LTD ride?
The Arkose LTD has been tested over a three-day expedition in the Scottish Highlands. The 180km route was planned to test the bikes to their limits and it was the very definition of mixed terrain, from road riding, gravel tracks and rocky climbs to tackling sandy trails and wooded single-track. Not to forget the bogs to cross and rivers to wade through!
The bike was laden with an Ortlieb seat-pack and handlebar pack. For a fair review, the Arkose was also tested on the lanes and tracks around Bristol without any bags, including the mountain bike trails of Ashton Court.
So is the Arkose really the ‘do it all drop bar’ that Evans Cycles claim? After thorough testing, it would be difficult to dispute. The two elements that surprise me the most are the capability and comfort.
Being a roadie with a few cyclo-cross races under my belt, I wasn’t sure exactly what the Arkose would be capable of. It looks like a road bike with the drop handlebars and not too dissimilar geometry, but the chunky 45mm tyres make a huge difference to what it can handle. Rolling with relative ease over gravel sections and then moving onto rockier climbs and loose descents, the Arkose certainly isn’t limited by the rougher stuff - more by my ability.
Hitting the singletrack, the tyres give great grip and smooth out the shocks of the trail, while giving the fantastic responsive power which is put through the rigid frame. Moving onto the road, they roll surprisingly well, not feeling laborious or sluggish despite the low tyre pressures. The 1x11 drivetrain is ideal for off-road riding with a generous range of gears on offer. Having a single ring in the front improves simplicity for the rider to focus more on the trail ahead rather than thinking about cross-chaining or the inaccuracies of mechanical shifting. The only limitation I found was on the smoother roads, where a higher gear would be useful for descending or riding at greater speeds.
Swinging a leg over onto a bike you’ve never met before, and to then set out for three days together was a slightly daunting prospect; no bike fit, no official measurements, just a quick saddle height adjustment and off into the wild. Despite spending such an intensive period on the Arkose LTD, I didn’t detect even the smallest niggle of discomfort.
Many elements of the Arkose build are responsible for its supreme comfort. Very thick bar tape gives a well padded, soft gripping surface, whilst the Hylex hoods are beautifully ergonomic and fit well even in smaller hands, especially when compared to the enormous Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake hoods which are typical of other bikes in this price bracket.
The WTB Riddler tyres play a large part in the comfort of the ride, acting as the primary shock absorber in the absence of suspension. Wider than typical 33mm cyclo-cross tyres, this makes a huge difference not only to comfort but also capability on the more challenging trails.
The frame and bike geometry, refined over five years in the Arkose range, is also well-suited to my size, giving a forward position like a road bike, yet not too aggressive to allow for long days in the saddle without discomfort. Even loaded up with a seat-post bag and a handlebar bag, the alloy bike doesn’t feel excessively heavy and it can be easily wheeled or lifted over rough terrain when riding is no longer an option.
There are other elements of the Arkose LTD which helps to make this bike stand out from the rest of the range, with tubeless tyres as standard which ride exceedingly well, not giving any problems at all in a month of riding over challenging terrain and glass-strewn inner city cycle paths. The TRP Hylex hydraulic disc brakes are fantastic, giving both a great deal of braking power and modulation, ideal for tackling technical off-road descents.
Even laden with bike packing gear, the handling is generally confident, although a little twitchy at the front, due to the weight of the handlebar pack. Making sure to test every aspect of the bikes, the shifting mechanism was fully submerged when crossing a river and it can be confirmed that they are indeed waterproof as Shimano claim!
Retailing at £1750, you’ll do well to find a comparable build at this price point. If you’re looking for an adventure machine, look no further; with the lightweight build of a gravel bike, the capability of a mountain bike and responsive handling of a cyclo-cross bike, all tied up with fancy Di2 technology, the Arkose LTD is a fine choice. More than anything else, it’s the confidence-inspiring capability of this bike that sets it apart from others in this category and makes it such a fun ride, with the wider 45mm tyres and smooth gearing system inspiring you to tackle tracks and trails that you wouldn’t have thought possible.
The 2017 Arkose range, where the Arkose LTD sits on top, includes four other aluminium framed adventure bikes ranging in price from the Arkose 1 at £800 to the Arkose 4 at £1450.