Reykjavik, Iceland. The perfect place of birth for one of the most polarizing gravel bikes on the market: the True Grit. For € 4,410 you’ll get a truly unique gravel racer. But is “unique” a thing in everyday life?
The Lauf True Grit in detail
Hardly any bike or fork splits opinions as much as the Icelandic carbon suspension system. Wherever we took the bike with us it got lots of interesting and surprised looks. And we were asked a lot of questions too: “Is that a brake?”. “What’s the thing on the front of the fork?”. “What does it do?”. Quite frankly the brake question puzzled us quite a bit: “No, that’s just the fork”. And yet for some people, the concept is still weird. On the other hand, it’s hardly surprising that a fork that has been developed in a country of volcanoes, geysers, thermal springs and lava fields looks somewhat extra-terrestrial. Like a 4×4 off-road vehicle, the True Grit Race Edition perfectly suits its home landscape — the northernmost capital in the World. The Race Edition weighs just 8.12 kg in Medium Long size, which comes as a surprise considering the amount of material used at the front of the fork.
The cockpit of the LAUF relies on Easton’s newest gravel components: the Fins combine an EC70 AX carbon handlebar with a big flare of 410 mm in the tops and 490 mm in the drops with an EC70 SL aluminium stem. Also from Easton is the elegant EC90 SL crankset with a 42mm chainring. A SRAM Force 1 groupset takes care of the shifting and braking and leaves us with one dilemma: “Beers or Gears”?. This means you can either keep the bottle opener or swap it for a front derailleur to set up your LAUF with a two speed SRAM eTap groupset. But if you want to keep both the beer and the front derailleur you’ll have to open the bottle the traditional way — with the cleat of your shoe.
At the back, a pan-sized 10-42 SRAM cassette provides a wide range of gears which unfortunately implicates substantial gear jumps. The front frame triangle is made of one piece. This wants to improve stability and reduce weight. At closer inspection however you’ll notice one more interesting detail: the True Grit Carbon leaf suspension fork. This offers 30 mm of travel and is designed to provide maximum comfort on long uneven stretches.
All in all the Lauf True Grit suspension system is of high quality and neatly finished. From the cable ports to the bottle cage mount for a third bottle under the down tube, everything looks neat and is beautifully integrated. The 27.2 mm FSA SL-K carbon seatpost with a WTB Volt Pro saddle provide some comfort out-back. Nevertheless, compared with the fork neither of these seems to offer sufficient compliance. A DT Swiss XR1501 wheelset combined with MAXXIS Rambler 40C tires rounds off the package.
First riding impressions
Lauf? Action! The True Grit Race Edition is what it promises to be: a race-ready gravel bike. As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle of the Lauf this accelerates very efficiently and consistently — the stiff bottom bracket and light weight are mainly responsible for this. Once you get to cruising speed the bike is surprisingly easy to handle. The suspension fork takes care of the smaller bumps and only chunkier roots and larger obstacles will slow you down requiring smaller tracking adjustments.
The fork, however, doesn’t work like a conventional suspension fork; It dampens efficiently but doesn’t spring entirely — this means you can still feel the road. The stretched and racy geometry of the True Grit is optimised for long distances and high speeds. This orientation also reflects on the wheelbase which measures 1,042 mm. For comparison’s sake: The OPEN U.P. has a wheelbase of 1,008 mm in size M. The unusually long wheelbase and the fork’s slack 47° head angle causes the bike to understeer in tight corners on loose ground. All in all the shredding credentials of the Lauf come alive on flowy downhill trails but the long fork negatively affects the handling on short steep off-road climbs: You never seem to get enough weight on the front wheel. That’s why our test riders felt like they were about to tip over on steeper climbs. Especially on loose terrain, the bike doesn’t inspire enough confidence. The seatpost stands in sharp contrast with the good damping qualities of the front-end; It feels hard and stiff and passes on every single impact the fork had just successfully taken care of.
Drifting uphill only seems to work for powerful rally cars. And yet we were very surprised by the performance of the True Grit fork. It offers good lateral stiffness and only presents minimal dive under braking — which is by no means excessive or annoying. All in all the ride-feeling reminded us of riding with large-volume tires, minus the bounce.
The Lauf True Grit is for people who like eccentric designs and love riding unique bikes. The Lauf doesn’t just look good, it also performs incredibly well on a variety of compact terrains. The True Grit Race Edition is not for everyone and certainly doesn’t pretend to stand out for the sole sake of innovation. Instead, it offers an interesting alternative for comfort on long distances. All in all the True Grit makes a good impression but requires an experienced rider.
- Bottle opener
- Reliable 30 mm BSA bottom bracket — just right for an adventure bike
- The wide flare provides good trail control
- The rear-end is too stiff and the uncomfortable seatpost makes for unbalanced comfort
- No through axle tool
Price: € 4,410
Weight: 8.12 kg size L
Here you’ll find our current group test on the best gravel bike.
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Words: Photos: David Rösler, Valentin Rühl