Budget Gateway to Gravel
You may notice that this story and its photographs mention and show Ocoee Bikes — that’s because it was published prior to our Obed Bikes rebrand. Check out this blog to learn more about the reason behind the rebrand, the new Obed Bikes name and our plans for the future.
This article was originally included in Peloton Magazine.
Riding Gravel need not be overly expensive. At least not with Ocoee, a new direct-to-consumer bike brand fro the same people behind brands such Litespeed and Quintana Roo. Ocoee offers its Boundary gravel frame in a wide range of builds, all the way to Di2--with GRX builds available soon. We got our hands on the most entry-level 105 build, at $2,600.
Ocoee may be a new brand but the people behind it are far from novices. With the Boundary , they have created a bike that can tackle a diverse array of off-road pursuits. Thanks to a dropped-chainstay design, it has a massive tire clearance for 700x45c or 650x53 wheels--with fenders--and room for a 48.32 crank.
Ample gear mounts beyond the standard two bottle mounts, and front and rear rack mounts, prepare this bike for all-day and all-week adventures alike. Additional gear mounts on the fork expand your options even further. An endurance-frame geometry makes the long days in gravel riding very possible.
Customer service is at the core of Ocoee. The team will work with you to dial in the bike how you like. If Ocoee has access to the parts you want to spec, they'll be on your bike. Each bike is assembled in Tennessee, providing the brand complete control over build. Pulling the Boundary out of the box and having it ready to roll in well under a half-hour was a pleasant surprise. The tires were even already set up tubeless with sealant, an appreciated touch.
The Boundary feels like a tank, confidently rumbling over any terrain in its path. As tested, with the included 43c Panaracer GravelKing tires, it comfortably tore through miles of gravel roads with a steady line. The wider tires can make it feel a bit sluggish getting up to speed but once it's there it doesn't want to stop.
Shimano 105 continues to be an excellent and reliable budget option but we would hold out for an entry-level GRX build, which offers better brake/shifter ergonomics and a rear-derailleur chain stabilizer that keeps chain slap out of your ride.
The Boundary is not the lightest option, weighing in at over 21 pounds. Given a stable of bikes, it wouldn't be our first choice for racing. But most people don't have a stable and that's kind of the point of this bike. Want to go backpacking one day and put every single gear mount to use? No problem; it handles up to 300 pounds and rides steadily weighed down. Want to tackle a gravel race? Throw on some 38c to 35c tires and you've got a capable all-day racer. Whatever you want to do, you'll have a bike that's a willing companion for a good price.
Shimano 105 hydraulic; Praxis Alba Alloy 48/32 crank, 11-34 cassette; Panaracer GravelKing SK 700x43c tires; Sun Charger Comp Tubeless wheels' Ocoee stem, bars and seat post. $2600 (as tested); 9.62kg/21.22lbs (size medium)