There was some expectation that the gravel race scene would grow significantly in 2020. With some successful events in 2019, ever more coverage in the media and plans for the UCI to hold the inaugural World Championships it looked like the genre was set to take a giant leap. Then the Corona pandemic hit.
I’m highlighting this as the Addict Gravel 10 is an out and out race bike, and any potential owners will likely want to pin a number on. Sadly they’ll have to wait at least another year to do that and in the meantime find other ways to put this bike through it’s paces.
First off a small caveat. The bike we’ve tested here came with GRX mechanical, however, this was a show bike (displayed on Scott’s stand at a cycle show) and due to a lack of GRX Di2 available at the time was put together with the cable version. The price listed is for a build with Di2, which is the only version available in the UK. The Addict gravel 20 and 30 come with mechanical versions of Shimano’s groupset.
The full carbon pearlescent purple frame is part of Scott’s top-of-the-range addict family that we’re used to seeing on the road and in the WorldTour under the Mitchleton Scott riders. It’s made with their highest grade carbon, named HMX, and the emphasis is on low weight and rigidity. From an aesthetic point of view the Addict road and gravel frames are quite different. There are no dropped seat stays on the gravel addict, while many of the tubes are as chunky as an mtb. Especially those full carbon straight drop forks.
As we highlighted, it’s built with Shimano’s mechanical GRX gravel groupset, Syncros deep section wheels and components and finished with a set of Schwalbe G-One 35mm tyres. It’s virtually an aero build and, aside from the knobbly tyres, feels as responsive as my road bike in all conditions – which is why it’s calling out to be raced.
Everyone’s budget is different and you can spend what you want on a bike, but at just under £6k, and with this build, it does pigeon hole it somewhat. But it’s a top of the range bike, not one for the masses.
Gravel bikes are generally great for messing around on, exploring new routes and gentle rides on bridleways. The last one I tested was a £1,600 Boardman ADV 9.0 and I found it just as much fun, and probably a little more practical, whereas the Scott is too good for heading to the shops or going for a ride with the kids.
So the potential customers may be limited, but at this price and spec it’s not a bike Scott will be looking to sell hundreds of, if that’s what you’re after check out their Speedster gravel bikes.
But it leaves me with a dilemma. How to test a race-ready gravel bike when I can’t race it? I found myself comparing it to the previous mid range Boardman gravel bike I’d ridden, but also to my road going Dogma, whilst also considering the handling and other standard performance metrics.
First off the full carbon frame. It’s a beauty. It’s hard to judge the capabilities of such a frame when riding 35mm tyres with 35-40psi in as they cushion the ride so well. Pump them up however and you’ve got a very stiff bike beneath you. Too stiff in fact for the hard-packed bumpy bridleways, especially with those bullet-proof, carbon syncros Capital 1.0 40mm wheels that banged through some pretty big holes during the test.
Where the frame really comes in to it’s own is climbing. The best comparisons here are with mountain bikes. Anyone who’s done some mtbing will be familiar with those loose, uneven, steep climbs where you’re twiddling a tiny gear and going nowhere. God I hate those climbs.
On this bike on those climbs you do feel like you’re getting somewhere. And on those occasions when you have to accelerate to regain momentum or get over a root or step, the reaction is instant, surging you forwards and on up the climb. On smooth tarmac climbs it feels like just like a road bike. In fact, put some slick 28 or 32mm tyres on and it would perform as well as most race bikes. This for me was the frames real strength. It was surprising just how well a lightweight bike, with a good position responded on those climbs and made me hate them a whole lot less. Full marks.
The 700c wheels compliment the frame and add to the race pedigree. For 90% of my routes I didn’t feel like I needed a set of deep section carbon rims, but they’re light, responsive and survived some real batterings.
I do my best to go round the craters you tend to find on bridleways, but riding through dappled light under tree cover it’s sometimes impossible to avoid them. Especially when trying to social distance with some walkers coming the other way.
The two really big bangs I encountered left me with pinch punctures when riding at about 35 psi. After happening twice in two rides I decided to put another 5 psi in them and I didn’t puncture again. The Schwalbe G-ones are tubeless ready, but came with inner-tubes (again because it was a show bike). Buy this bike and it will come tubeless meaning you can drop that psi down even further and get better grip with minimal risk of puncturing.
Thankfully getting a tube in wasn’t as difficult as with many tubeless rim and tyre combinations. The Scwalbe’s could be taken off and put back on by hand. Just remember you need long valve tubes or valve extenders when you head out.
The Syncros wheels accelerate well, complimenting the frame and on long flat stretches of road it was easy to get this bike up to speed and hold it there. This was helped by the handlebar and brakes which gave incredible reach.
Holding on to the hoods with my arms dropped on to the tops of the bars let me get a very aero position. It’s a massive 22.2cm from the very front of the GRX calipers to the back of the handlebars, meaning I could rest half my forearm on them to get in a tuck. Another reason why I was left thinking this bike would be perfect for racing.
But for most of my riding this reach was too much. Riding on the tops was a delight; a nice short-reach, upright position giving loads of control. But on the hoods, where I do like to ride, I was too far stretched out. Almost the same as my road bike.
The reach of the bars is standard 80mm so all this length was in the brake hoods which had a shallow angle to the forwards sweep of the back of the hoods. The last gravel bike I rode had SRAM Rival fitted and the brake hoods had a more vertical face at the rear, where your hand sits.
These gave a nice secure feel – your hands butted straight up against the lever and were going nowhere. The shape of the GRX gave a less secure feel for my hands to push against and it felt like I was about to pitch forward when I hit bigger bumps. Even with the nice, grippy anti-slip hood covers.
This was fine on tarmac as there’s little pressure on your grip. It was bearable on bumpy bridleways, but far from ideal when descending. I just didn’t feel like I was in full control. All descending was instead done on the drops where there is still plenty of reach, but the back of the bars offers that solid, secure placement.
There was no problem with the actual braking when on the hoods. The long pull of the levers gives nicely gradated, light braking. With the pivot point being placed higher up in the hood (compared to Dura Ace), this makes for a longer lever with more range of movement in the pull which means your hands are less likely to get tired on long descents.
When perched on top of the bars the bike’s geometry gives a nice high, upright ride position. Excellent for control and comfort as well as visibility when in traffic. The bottom bracket sits 28.2 off the ground (1.1cm higher than my road bike) while the standover height (at the centre point at the top of the head tube) is 85cm, 4.5cm higher than my road bike. The handlebars sat 4cm higher than the bars on my road bike with 4.5cm less reach from the front of my saddle.
That forward sweep of the hoods was my only real grumble with the excellent GRX groupset, Shimano’s first gravel groupset that launched last May. The Gear change movement is a nice, light arc that easily shifts up the sprockets even under pressure, and clicks back down like any other Shimano lever. The rear mech is long cage with oversized jockey wheels (13 teeth at the bottom) for lower friction and a clutch to reduce chain slap.
There’s some innovation on front mech too with an ingenious little adjusting screw on it’s top. The cable routes around a bolt head that can be turned with a grub screw to tighten the cable and pull the mech over. On the cable sits a little plastic cover that clicks in to place on top and neatly wraps the cable around the top of the mech and out of the way.
Back to the handlebars … The Syncros Creston 1.0 Flare bars measured 44cm (centre to centre) at the point just behind the brake hoods and 50cm at the bar end plugs. Very wide, but this gives space for a bar bag. The own-brand seat pin and saddle were also more than good enough, the only surprise being a traditional seatpin clamp. On a frame this good I’d expect that to be neatly built in to the frame as per all other top of the range road bikes.
Frame: Addict Gravel Disc HMX / IMP Carbon technology Gravel Race geometry / Replaceable Derailleur Hanger
Fork: Addict Gravel Disc HMX Flatmount 1 1/8″-1 1/4″ tapered Carbon steerer Alloy Dropout
Groupset: Shimano GRX RX815 Di2 hydro disc, 48-31 chainset, 11-34 cassette
Handlebar: Syncros Creston 1.0 Flare Carbon 31.8mm
Seatpost: Syncros Duncan1.0 27.2/350mm
Wheelset: Syncros Capital 1.0 X40 Disc 24 Front / 24 Rear Syncros Plug-in RWS
Tyres: Schwalbe G-ONE Evolution FOLD 700x35C
This content was originally published here.
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