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Gravel Gear

Buyer’s Guide 2017: Why Cycles R+

Have we hit the point of carbon disillusionment? Perhaps not, but there seems to be a resurgence of builders seeking to differentiate their brands with metal frames rather than the ubiquitous carbon fiber we know and love for our race bikes. Adam Miller is no stranger to carbon fiber —…

Size Reviewed

Large

Price

$5,899

Brand

Why Cycles


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Have we hit the point of carbon disillusionment? Perhaps not, but there seems to be a resurgence of builders seeking to differentiate their brands with metal frames rather than the ubiquitous carbon fiber we know and love for our race bikes. Adam Miller is no stranger to carbon fiber — he founded Borealis Fat Bikes back in the Fall of 2012, but has since moved on to his newest project, Why Cycles. These Titanium rigs draw on Miller’s years in the fat bike world, but they’re anything but monster trucks.

We tested the R+, Why’s answer to the all-road question. If you want to fall in love with it, we recommend making it your exclusive adventure bike. As roads in the US become more dangerous (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/29/491854557/traffic-deaths-climb-by-largest-increase-in-decades ) and riders seek out quieter and more challenging dirt roads and even trails, the need for a drop-bar bike that can handle the blacktop as deftly as the gravel has become the new hotness in the bike world. Is it a fad? If you’ve been around long enough, you know the cycling world is prone to fads (tri-spoke MTB wheels, anyone?), but it doesn’t seem likely the all-road category is going away.

That said, while the pursuit of the do-anything bike is a noble one, few, if any, companies truly pull it off. A do-anything bike often becomes a compromise-a-lot-of-stuff bike instead. The R+ is no different: It’s no racer, and if you occasionally itch for a sprint during a group ride, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re looking for dirt road adventures, cozy up to the R+ because It’s prime for gravel excursions and maybe even the occasional cyclocross race.

Our test model came stock with tubeless Maxxis Rambler 700 x 40c tires, so we headed out to the dirt roads north of Boulder to see the R+ flex its muscles.

And flex it did: The R+ was pure fun on the dirt. It handles similarly to a cyclocross bike, and we could envision throwing some knobbies on this bike and giving it a go. But we were more compelled to throw some skinnier tires on it to see if that struck a finer balance between gravel goodness and a true pavement road bike, which is what we really want out of a bike like this. Fortunately, Why works a lot of versatility into theR+: You can run skinny tires for a more road-oriented feel, or go as big as a 700×44 tire. Why even says you can run 27.5X2.1 tires on this bad boy.

It will never be a race bike, bit it’s not trying to be one. Our size Medium has a 1004mm wheelbase, 420mm chainstays, a 66mm trail, and 71.5mm head tube angle. What does that mean? It’s a stable steerer meant more for long days in the saddle than weaving through a peloton.

If you’re considering this bike, you’re probably not interested in racing it anyway. That’s why it comes with rack mounts, plenty of tire clearance, and a threaded bottom bracket intended more for servicing convenience than lateral stiffness.

So why titanium instead of steel? They both flex for that characteristically comfortable ride, but titanium tends to be quite a bit lighter. This is perhaps a nod to Why’s notions that you could use this bike as a cyclocrosser, or an everyday rig that won’t bog you down. Titanium is also very durable compared to carbon, so it seems Why wants you to keep and ride this bike for a long, long time. It’s fortunate, then, that it’s a lot of fun to ride. You’ll probably want it to stick around for a bit.

The R+ ships direct to consumer in a padded EVOC case (included with the purchase of your bike), which is an awesome perk.

Whether this bike is worth it to you depends entirely on where you ride. Here in Boulder, there’s a lot of dirt roads that connect with paved roads, so the Why R+ is a versatile, fun bike I can imagine riding frequently. If you’re a pure pavement rider, pass on this and look at a dedicated road bike. Or let the R+ encourage you to adventure more. It’s always ready to rally.