The first time I saw the Allied Able was in reports about the Unbound Gravel (formerly known as the DK 200) race. On reading the article more closely, I figured that a bike that had been used to win the both men's and women's version of the event, must be very fast on gravel.
I became more and more interested in the “made in USA” frame and was fascinated by the extraordinary looking elevated chainstay construction of the Able. I decided to buy one, but the first and biggest problem for my project was how could I get an Allied Able frameset delivered to my home country of Germany? In the end a friend of a friend picked it up in person when they were travelling in the USA.
Since the Able was to be set up for gravel races, I was very careful when selecting the parts. The parts needed to be light, to achieve a total build weight of less than 8 kilograms, but they should also be durable enough so that there are no DNFs in the races I intend to compete in this year.
The Able is a radical looking gravel bike due to its elevated driveside chainstay. Raised chainstays, sometimes called e-stays, were popular on mountain bikes in the 1990s. Allied has used an elevated driveside chainstay to provide space for bigger volume tyres (up to 700x43 or 650x47) whilst keeping the chainstays short at just 420mm. The tyre clearance at the fork is a little more generous at 700x47 or 650x55. The geometry of the frame has a slightly slackened head angle of 71 degrees, combined with a 74 degree seat angle and increased stack, to produce a slightly aggressive position.
The frame is only compatible with 1x drivetrains. Other details include additional bottle mounts on the underside of the downtube and top tube mounts for a ‘bento’ bag. All cables are internally routed and there is an interchangeable eagle-shaped aluminum plate on the down tube, which looks stylish and makes for a clean installation.
Weighing in at 7.3 kg in size small, the spec of my Able gravel bike consists of a 1×11 Shimano GRX RX815 Di2 groupset with a Shimano XTR Di2 rear derailleur and superlight Easton EC 90 SL cranks. The bike’s competitive ambitions are ever-present with an aggressive and stretched riding position. However, the 143 mm long head tube offers a bit of relief, allowing you to stay in this position for longer rides that don’t involve the pressure of a ticking stopwatch.
For tyres, I went with Panaracer Gravelking TLC in 650x42, as they have a very low rolling resistance. But I combined these with a wide and deep 9th Wave wheelset, which is superlight and allowed the tyres to inflate to 45mm in width.
Another aspect that contributes to the gravel bike’s long-distance comfort is its compliance. Vibrations and knocks are pleasantly absorbed, though moderate to large vibrations are unfortunately noticeably still passed on to the rider. The Able always remains predictable and its generally stiff and direct character doesn’t lead to any surprises. In races, the bike has been extremely responsive and willing. The Able feels particularly comfortable on fast gravel trails and poorly maintained or bad asphalt roads. However, it hasn’t got enough reserves for MTB trails or technical terrain, where its stiff and direct character quickly reaches its limits.
Proven in the 2019 DK 200, where Allied sponsored athletes Amity Rockwell and Colin Strickland both piloted their Able machines to overall victory, the Able begs to be ripped around on fast gravel roads and trails.
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