Gravel bikes have revived an interest in the unique ride quality attributes of steel.
If you are going to be cranking significant mileages on gravel, without the benefit of suspension, you want a frame that can absorb small-frequency bumps and trail chatter.
Steel frames have a unique ability to offer riders a relatively inexpensive structure (compared to carbon), with similar ride quality benefits. But not all steel is created equal and the tubing of destiny, for gravel riders, is Reynolds 853.
With its superior strength, Reynolds 853 allows for the thinnest possible wall thickness, which is best for vibration absorption. And if you thought a Reynold 853 tube set gravel bike would be way beyond your budget, Motobecane would like to convince you otherwise.
Its latest offering is the Mulekick 853 and it offers a stellar build and the promise of superb steel ride quality, at a very attainable price point.
Available in six sizes, the Mulekick rolls DT Swiss Spline wheels with the frame and fork configured to clear 700x40mm specification tyres.
The Mulekick cockpit is a collection of Ritchey components and its drivetrain is a Shimano GRX 2×11 system, which should provide enough gearing spread for the steepest fire road climbs and sufficient flat terrain speed, for getting home quickly as the sun is setting.
To optimise the material attributes of a steel frame and its inherent ride quality, the Mulekick has a 27.2mm seatpost, which offers the best possible compliance, comfort, through the rider’s seat.
Although the frame is traditional 853 specification steel, the fork isn’t. To ensure the lightest possible front end, with intuitive steering and the ability to pick-up the front wheel over obstacles when required, the Mulekick has a carbon fork.
The Mulekick’s combination of Reynold 853 steel and reliable Shimano componentry is set to retail for $1799. For those riders who want a more committed CX bike, there is the Whipshot, which is features a Sram 1x drivetrain, but has all the same specifications and price point, as the Mulekick.