As New Bike Days go, Amity Rockwell’s (Easton Overland Gravel Team) was perhaps the best ever.
Since joining the Easton Overland Gravel Team at the beginning of the year, Rockwell has been riding the Allied Allroad, which, as its name suggests, has some extra tire clearance compared to the Alfa road bike while keeping a race-inspired geometry.
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Easton Overland team riders recently received the new Allied Able gravel bike, the latest evolution in mixed-terrain riding from the Arkansas company that builds its carbon frames here in America.
Saturday’s Dirty Kanza 200 represented one of Rockwell’s first rides on the new gravel bike. A New Bike Day to end all New Bike Days, if you will.
“I’m going to be honest with you and say I have not been on it for very long,” Rockwell said the day before the DK200. “The real test is Saturday, and I’m sure I’ll be able to form an opinion somewhere in those 200 miles.”
After her impressive comeback win, Rockwell’s opinion of the new Able is likely Queen-of-Kanza-Certified, Willing-and-Able and One-Fast-Ally.
We kick off our Dirty Kanza bike profiles with a look at Rockwell’s winning Made-in-America gravel bike from Allied.
Amity Rockwell’s DK200 Allied Able Gravel Bike
Allied is a relatively young company founded with the goal of producing top-of-the-line carbon bikes in its Little Rock factory. The company sources its prepreg carbon from Mitsubishi in California and uses a monocoque carbon design in its frames.
When we rode the Allied Allroad at the Almanzo 100 last year, the company offered three framesets, with the Allroad serving as the company’s mixed-terrain bike. Beginning around that time, Allied began working on a true gravel bike frame.
The Able frame features a tapered top tube that is thickest at the head tube providing what it calls a “tough aesthetic.” The rear is bridgeless for a race-oriented appeal, and the top tube features two bosses for a top tube bag. The carbon fork is mountless, against suggesting the bike is geared more for winning the DK200 than, say, the DKXL.
A quick comparison with the Allroad shows the gravel lineage of the new Able. Rockwell’s XS Able has a head tube angle of 70 degrees (versus 72 for the Allroad) and has clearance for up to 700c x 43mm tires in the front (versus 700c x 35mm). The bottom bracket gets a smidge higher, with a drop of 7cm (versus 7.16cm). Both bikes have short 42cm chainstays.
Probably most noticeable about the new Able is the unique raised chainstay on the drive side. We have seen dropped drive-side stays and dropped non-drive stays, but nothing has really raised our attention like the Able since the first wave of elevated chainstay bikes.
“Everyone has been asking me about that,” Rockwell said with a laugh.
The unique chainstay design and its short length help make room for plenty of high-volume rubber. Allied claims clearance for up to 700c x 43mm and 650b x 47mm tires in the rear. The fork provides room for a whopping 700c x 47mm and 650b x 55mm.
“I am incredibly stoked Allied has jumped on board the fat-tire train,” Rockwell said. “That was probably my only hesitation with the Allroad. The Allroad has been a perfect bike for me thus far, but occasionally I do want to open it up and try some crazier things with wider tires. I’m really excited I can do that with the Able.”
When we saw Rockwell’s old bike at Gravel Worlds last year, she ran 35mm tires. This year, she was able to pump it up by running 700c x 38mm Schwalbe G-Ones. The Dirty Kanza is a race where all tires go to flat, but save a slow-motion crash on an uphill, Rockwell remained mishap-free during her steady comeback win.
“[The tires] are super fast-rolling but also grippy on the loose gravel corners,” Rockwell told us on Friday. “Forties and my small stature mean I can run them at pretty low pressure. I’m making those final number decisions this afternoon.”
As an Easton-sponsored rider, you can bet Rockwell was running the company’s rims with the carbon frame. She had EC70 AX carbon prototypes that should be similar to the recently released EA90 AX wheels but with a carbon rim, and without the Vault hubs. More info about the new wheels is expected later this summer, but they have a 24mm-wide rim profile to work well with the wide tires Rockwell ran at the DK200.
When it comes to aero bars for gravel, Rockwell comes down in the #aerowhat camp.
“I think aero bars are just as dangerous on gravel as they are on the road. They’re banned on the road,” Rockwell said at the 2018 Gravel Worlds. “At Dirty Kanza, Geoff Kabush and Joshua Berry, the second and third guys [in 2018], definitely took a stand against them, and I think that’s kind of necessary.”
What is interesting is with the flared EA70 AX handlebar available, Rockwell kept it compact and narrow with an Easton EC90 SLX handlebar.
“I have yet to adopt flared bars. I kind of like keeping a small front end. My bars are 38cm wide,” she said. “I understand it gives you a little bit more stability descending, but this race is not going to come down to the descents. I’d rather keep that tight front end I’m used to. I guess I view races like [the DK200] as more similar to road than mountain, and that steers a lot of my decisions in terms of lightness and speed over durability and stability.”
With her new Able gravel bike, Rockwell switched to a 1x drivetrain. Up front she paired a 42t Easton ring to an EC90 SL crank. In the back, she had a Shimano Deore XT M8050 Di2 mountain derailleur with an 11-42t cassette—no Shimano GRX yet. Even with more hills on the new course, the California resident felt the 1:1 ratio for climbing would be plenty on the Great Plains. Speaking of California, Canadian teammate Michael van den Ham was out riding a very similar setup, but suffered from a shift into singlespeed mode while racing for the win.
Controlling the derailleurs were Shimano Ultegra R8070 dual-control levers. Her brakes were Ultegra R8070 flat mount calipers and her rotors were Dura Ace RT900.
Rockwell’s cockpit included an Easton EC90 ICM stem and the aforementioned 38cm SLX bar. She was running an EC90 SL prototype seatpost that held a Specialized Power saddle.
On Friday, Rockwell had an Outer Shell Mini Saddlebag mounted under the saddle.
“I’m really stoked about those guys. They’re some friends I ride with in San Francisco, adventure buddies of mine,” Rockwell said about Outer Shell. “The bag is made of Cordura and X-Pac, so it’s pretty waterproof and super durable. It’s literally never fallen off. That’s been an issue for me at these gravel races and the Grasshopper [Adventure Series] and all that insanity. I’ve lost a lot of saddlebags, so I’m stoked to find one that stays on there.”
On race day, she used the two top tube bosses to mount a Silca Speed Capsule TT bag, and she had two Arundel water bottle cages mounted on the frame. The rest of her hydration was handled by three Camelbak Chase vests she swapped in and out at the checkpoints.
She handled navigation and recording her numbers from the long day using a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt computer.
On to Next Year?
That Rockwell won the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200 is likely because she had such a bad experience at the 2018 race. She finished 18th, on perhaps the toughest day of her life.
“Every time I have a bad race I try to chalk it up as fuel for the fire. I suffered last year for a long time,” Rockwell said about 2018. “I think it was like 13 1/2 hours. It was a lot of time to kind of plot my next year’s revenge.”
Why did the bad finish get her to Kanza? When your team advertises you as a “general badass” and climbing and ripping gnarly terrain are your fortes, there is another race with a siren song is tough to resist.
“There is another really big gravel race happening in my part of the country right now, Lost and Found, which arguably plays to my strengths a lot more than this one. There are a lot more mountains out there and sketchy descents and all that stuff,” Rockwell said.
“I could have made plenty of arguments to stay there and do what I’m good at, but I had to come back. I have to see what I can do at this race with the right setup and the right people and the right support that I kind of lacked last year. I’m really excited. There’s something really special about this. It’s not the Sierras and it’s not home, but there’s something here and I want to see what that is.”
What Rockwell saw was one of the most memorable days of her life. With the title Queen of Kanza now next to her name, she was honest about her title defense.
“I’ll have to get talked out of racing Lost and Found first,” she said on Saturday.
For a closer look at Rockwell’s Allied Able, see the photo gallery and specs below. Stay tuned for a lot more bike profiles from both the Dirty Kanza and Lost and Found.
For more from Emporia, see all of our coverage of the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200.
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