Engineered Bicycles Gezel frame with Lauf Grit fork - review - Road Cycling UK

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Engineered Bicycles Gezel frame with Lauf Grit fork – review

A versatile steel beauty designed in Bristol and made in Italy

Engineered Bikes is a small brand based in the south west, with a four-strong range of frames designed in Bristol and built in Italy. The Gezel is Engineered’s ‘road endurance’ offering but, in truth, it’s far more versatile than that – and a beautiful machine to boot.

The name Gezel is old Dutch for journeyman or companion and the high-spec, disc-ready steel frame is designed for long days in the saddle, regardless of the season or weather. Engineered Bikes was founded by David Fong, a chartered engineer, and Adrian Ridley, a graphic designer, and their inspiration for the Gezel came from serious racers looking for a year-round bike with a race fit.

Elsewhere in the Engineered range you’ll find the Blits gran fondo frame, the Zondag cyclo-cross chassis, and the Donder race frame, while Engineered will also work on one-of-a-kind bikes if you have a particular idea of your own.

The Engineered Gezel, fitted with Lauf’s Grit suspension fork

The frame – understated class and customisation

Before we delve into the frame, let’s deal with the Lauf fork first, because that’s undoubtedly caught your eye. Engineered offer the Gezel either with a ‘standard’ carbon thru-axle fork or with the Lauf Grit fork, which offers 30mm of travel, as an upgrade if you have eyes on taking the Gezel well off the beaten track. I tested the Gezel with both the standard and Lauf fork… but more on that later.

At the heart of any bike lies the frame and that, along with the fork, is what is being reviewed here as there are near infinite options to customise the Gezel, whether that’s custom fit and geometry, ‘bespoke optimisation’ of tubesets to get the ride you desire, bespoke paint or, of course, the final build.

The frame is one which balances obvious thought and a solid mechanical approach, with a considered aesthetic. The paint job on my test frame was super-subtle, but with almost any option available, for varying degrees of cost, this is just one of many options available.

The Gezel has a lean, purposeful feel to it. The frame is currently made from a Dedacciai Zero XL tubeset, though Engineered say they will predominantly switch to Columbus Life tubing this year, which should make everything a touch lighter and a little smoother, apparently. The tube profiles will remain the same, however.

  • Specification

  • Price: from £2,250
  • Sizes: stock sizes and custom geometry available
  • Weight: 9.48kg (as pictured)
  • Website: Engineered Bicycles

The cables are externally routed across the frame, bucking the current trend of internal routing, but there’s good reason for this – it minimise the potential for water entering the tubes over time and it also makes maintenance easier when it comes to changes cables.

However, Engineered are true to their word when it comes to customisation and if you want internal cabling, this can be addressed in the build.

The headtube avoids the Coke-can look which can look at odds on frames with relatively thin tubing (compared to carbon frames, anyway) but it still holds an oversized headset, in this instance from Hope, and that means a stiffer front end, with a bigger contact area for the welds. The downtube and toptube are double-butted and heat-treated.

These mudguard mounts hint at the Gezel’s versatility

The chainstays are pretty much dead straight (the chrome plating on the right-hand chainstay looks lovely, too) but the seatstays are shaped to add a little more tyre clearance. You could squeeze a 35mm tyre in here, again hinting as to the Gezel’s off-road and gravel potential, but you aren’t leaving much clearance. I typically ran 28mm tyres through the test, which allowed good clearance for any track or trail, gravel or rougher road exploring. It also allowed room for mudguards, as there are the required mounts on the (non-Lauf) fork and seatstays/chainstays.

The final thing to mention at this point is the price. The frame and fork is £2,250 with thru-axles or quick-releases, or £2,400 with interchangeable dropouts, while the Lauf fork upgrade costs an additional £300. Engineered also list a range of typical builds on their website.

The Lauf Grit fork, available as an upgrade from the standard carbon fork, offer 30mm of travel

The ride – high-end steel capable of heading off the beaten track

Out on the road, the Gezel has a purposeful feel to it but – and this is crucial – it still feels racy. It has a turn of speed when you ride harder, and coupled with the steel tubing, delivers a firm, positive ride that’s not too harsh. Without hitting too many cliched descriptions, the tubing gives a balance of comfort and stiffness, without straying so far in either direction and risk the Gezel losing its position predominantly as a road bike. Ultimately, it’s a great execution of what a high-end steel road frame should be.

With that in mind, the Gezel is happy being thrashed for a sprint on a Sunday group ride, and even more so after several hours in the saddle. I also rode the bike over a lot of varied terrain, including dry bridleways, and here only the tyres offered any real limitations. The Gezel isn’t an off-road frame – the tyre clearance, standover and geometry ultimately don’t work for that – but what it highlights is the capability and variance it can handle if you want to stray away from the tarmac.

Climbing is a rewarding experience. Obviously with steel you’re carrying some extra weight (the complete bike pictured comes in at 9.48kg) but the frame puts the power you force into the pedals to good use and there’s not a sense of anything flexing unduly for a steel frame that also focuses on offering a degree of comfort. It has a positive spring, rather than a wallow or twist.

The Engineered Gezel is designed in the UK and made in Italy

Cornering and descending is also a pleasure on the Gezel. It wants to be pushed into corners – the race pedigree coming to the fore – but the all-day comfort that comes from steel is really welcome as hours in the saddle increase. It’s refreshingly welcome to see a relatively simple tubeset, built with care and attention but with little complex forming and shaping, generate such a respectable ride.

Our test bike was supplied with a SRAM Force 22 groupset with a 50-34t compact chainset and 11-32t cassette, and a lot of the time I found myself between gears or cross-chaining in a big/big combination. Obviously this is a personal thing, and what gearing works for you will depend on your fitness, riding style and the terrain, but it did make me think, if I were to buy a Gezel, how tempting it would be to run it with a 1x setup. This would heavily lean it over to the adventure or gravel side of things but ultimately it, once again, highlights how versatile the Gezel can be. It isn’t a race bike, and doesn’t pretend to be, but in its heart it has that influence and ensures the Gezel has a performance edge to it, regardless of how you ride the bike.

That performance-focused versatility extends into winter, too. This has been something of a long-term test and I ran the Gezel with mudguards through autumn and winter. Coupled with disc brakes, it made the Gezel a pleasure to ride when putting in the miles through the wetter months. That’s the Gezel in a nutshell, really – a pleasure to ride.

A word on the Lauf Grit fork

As I mentioned earlier, the Lauf Grit fork was supplied for a portion of the test period, and with its marmite looks, it certainly provoked plenty of comments and questions whenever I was out on the Gezel with the Lauf fitted.

For me, the leaf spring fork is a great concept for rider who really want to open up the potential of a bike, but it’s not without its flaws – which in all fairness are to do with its combination with this particular frame.

Having 30mm of travel means you can really put the bike onto surfaces that are borderline off-road and I took it out over some of my local bridleways which are more rubble fields than Roubaix cobbles. The fork steers and tracks perfectly, with little to no torsional twist. It just takes some getting used to terms of how it looks from the saddle.

Engineered Gezel review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

But with the travel offered by the fork, along with the additional tyre clearance it offers, it’s easy to become a little blase about bumps and the surface on which you’re riding, leaving the back tyre exposed and unable to match what the fork is able to handle. Engineered agree the Gezel deserves more tyre clearance at the back to get the most out of the Lauf, and it’s an option if you customise the frame specifically with the fork in mind.

Anyway, I particularly like the no hassle performance of the Lauf and it’s a very simple solution for suspension, plus the low weight is real bonus. Unfortunately, the look of the fork may put plenty of people off, but it really opens up your options in terms of exploration and surface choice. It also works superbly on small chatter bumps, as there is minimal friction, meaning the fork absorbs the hits quicker with no rebound issues.

Maintenance is also very low and the fork is unaffected by weather, which for cold, wet or long adventures is a real plus. Ultimately, it’s a fork which really unlocks the potential of the Gezel – just spec clearance for something around 40c if you want real adventure.

The Gezel is a fine beast, capable of turning it’s hand to almost any type of riding

The build – SRAM Force 22 and Strada/Hope wheels

I’ll only comment briefly on the build as the Gezel can be specced however you want. The test bike I rode came with SRAM Force 22 Hydro and it performed very well throughout, providing quick shifts and reliable all-weather braking thanks to the hydraulic disc brakes.

The wheels were supplied by Sussex-based Strada, with a combination of their own-brand rims on Hope Pro4 hubs – a solid, reliable build that complements the frame well, considering it’s road and light off-road versatility. I also rode some carbon wheels during the test period – the excellent Fulcrum Racing Quattro Disc DB hoops – and the slight reduction in rotating weight just added positively to the overall ride feel.

The finishing kit came mainly from Deda and was painted to match the frame and fork – more attention to detail. My only criticism came with the Deda SuperZero seatpost, as the saddle rails were prone to slipping and were tricky to tighten and adjust effectively.

Conclusion

The Engineered Gezel undoubtedly comes with a premium but if you want a bike that is functional, unique and adaptable, with options to really make it yours, then it should be near the top of your list – I know it would be on mine. As Engineered offer a variety of options to customise the Gezel, you can really adapt it to your needs, but ultimately at its core the frame is a pleasure to ride and capable of turning its hand to just about anything you’d want a road bike to do – and more.

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