These are strange times indeed. While our lockdowns may feel timeless, it’s easy to forget that the world is still rolling onwards. Better times are coming and we will be back on our bikes soon enough. But is this a good time to launch a new bike brand? Northern Irish brand FUSTLE think so, kicking off with an affordable Causeway GR1 Gravel Bike that unashamedly champions MTB inspired D.N.A.
If you have not heard about FUSTLE yet, then your exactly like everyone else. FUSTLE is a new, small, rider-owned brand that aims to design forward-thinking bikes free from the constraints of its larger competitors. Owner and head designer, Alastair Beckett already has a proven track record in the mountain bike sector, helping launch a number of radical brands with innovative bikes through his design house Redburn Design. FUSTLE is Alastair’s own house-brand, based on the coast just outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
A Disruptive Business Model
Tradition has long dictated that the mainstream cycling industry sticks to a standard business model, that of the ‘model year cycle’. You know, the one where you pick a bike that is incrementally different from last years bike, specified by a product manager who may or may not ride like you. Like a handful of other brands, being small, FUSTLE is in a position to change that model, giving the build choice to the consumer with their online configurator. This configurator gives choice on virtually every part of the bike build, from handlebar width and flair to tyre tread and size; options can be chosen from a huge portfolio of brands.
The Causeway GR1 Gravel Bike
The Causeway GR1 is the first bike from FUSTLE, a gravel bike that unashamedly draws more inspiration from the MTB industry than the road. Two years in development, The Causeway GR1 is a 6061 aluminium Gravel / Adventure frame with a carbon fork. Drawing from an MTB pedigree, the geometry is radical, with a slack 69-degree head angle, and a 31.6 mm diameter seat tube (compatible with most leading dropper posts). Given it’s off-road D.N.A it’s also no surprise to see 12 x 142 mm and 12 x 100 mm thru-axle spacing and a dropped top tube for dropper post compatibility, complete with internal dropper cable routing. Tire clearance for 700 x 50mm or 650B x 2.1“ tires further increases the versatility. We approve of the addition of flat-mount brakes and those looking for the ultimate in all-weather social isolation will be happy to see fender mounts. The bike will initially ship in 3 colours (Red, Green and Blue) in 3 sizes (S/M, M/L and L/XL) with an XS/S coming later.
|Seat tube||460 mm||480 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||583 mm||608 mm||634 mm|
|Head tube||185 mm||185 mm||190 mm|
|Chainstay||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm|
|Wheelbase||1074 mm||1103 mm||1130 mm|
|Reach||400 mm||425 mm||450 mm|
|Stack||598 mm||598 mm||602.7 mm|
A bargain brawler, a gravel bike for the times.
On paper, the new FUSTLE Causeway GR1 strikes quite the bargain, starting at just £849.99 for a full chassis kit, including frame and fork, seat post and stem (sized to the customer), headset, axles and chainstay protection. Complete bikes will start from £1999.99 for a base-spec model with Shimano GRX RX600 groupset and disc brakes, WTB SpeedTerra wheelset, WTB Resolute 700×42 tires and PRO finishing kit. However, FUSTLE offers almost limitless configuration options with their online configurator, allowing you to pick from brands like Shimano, Pro, Hunt, ENVE, DT Swiss, or even source from smaller boutique brands.
Hope in adversity
Needless to say, we already have a demo bike on its way to us, and working within the current restrictions we aim to bring a review very soon. It will be interesting to see if the chunky Causeway GR1 can offer a compliant ride. While the launch of a new company at this strange time may seem like an insurmountable challenge, there is hope in adversity. As each country makes its stand against the global spread of Coronavirus, we imagine a slow return to a new-normal existence where the tarmac becomes increasingly saturated, while MTB is still considered too risky. For the true aficionado, salvation will be found on the gravel.
As such, we foresee a boom in the gravel sector, and affordable, disruptive brands like FUSTLE will appeal to both the road rider looking for something radical and the mountain biker looking for something tame. We will bring a full review of the new FUSTLE Causeway GR1 very soon.
The FUSTLE website is now open, so for more information, check out ridefustle.com
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Words: Photos: FUSTLE