I’m always on the lookout for budget-friendly bikes that turn out to be actually pretty good, and with a few upgrades could be really good. I’m hoping that’s the case with the Retrospec Amok Gravel Adventure bike.

No, the specs aren’t going to blow you away, but there’s a lot to like about the Amok, including its fun name. It features an aluminum frame and steel fork. Obviously, for $500 you’re not going to get a bike with a carbon fork, but steel is also very good at vibration dampening, especially on gravel.

I like the combination of aluminum frame and steel fork on an affordable bike, like the Amok. An aluminum fork would be more jarring. The fork also features three mounting points for attaching a low rider rack or other accessories, while the aluminum frame features two bottle cage mounts and a top tube mount. There area also mounting points for a rear rack. So, the bike offers a lot of utility.

The frame is made out of 6061 aluminum with a tapered headtube and a replaceable derailleur hanger. A detachable hanger is preferable over one that is welded into the frame on an adventure bike, since the derailleur is more prone to bumping into things like rocks or tree roots. They’re not a bad idea in the city, either, where a curb could do the same damage.

The rims are double-wall aluminum, 32-hole, and equipped with 700c x 40mm tires. This is an ideal size for city and gravel riding, and there appears to be space to change to a slightly wider tire.

The mechanical 160 mm brakes are sufficient for a light gravel bike, though they appear to be unbranded, to keep costs down. Eventually, I would make the change to hydraulic, or a better quality mechanical system.

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The 8-speed Shimano 11-32 Altus groupset is entry-level and buget-friendly. It’s probably the one thing most will want to upgrade, especially if you’re going to be climbing steep hills. I would swap it out to an 11-42 freewheel, for better climbing ability. This would be relatively inexpensive and easy to do.

When I try to find faults with the bike, I have to keep reminding myself of its price, and intended purposes. I see it more of a city bike with the ability to ride on gravel, endure potholes or other uneven terrain. It could certainly handle a gravel railtrail or towpath.

I also appreciate the utility it offers with its several mounting points. Many more expensive gravel bikes don’t have as many. Also, if I were to choose a bike to commute in the city, I’d feel more comfortable locking up and leaving a $500 bike than a $5000 one! Sometimes it makes way more sense to go cheaper.

The Amok is available in two colors and five frame sizes. I really appreciate having several sizes to choose from, especially from a budget bike. It can accommodate riders from 5′ to 6’+ and offers up to 250 lbs of payload capacity.

Yes, there are components on the Amok that many would upgrade over time, including the brakes and groupset, but at least it gets you into the game, and if you like to customize your bikes anyway, you won’t mind it.

Check out the current price, full specs and availability of the Retrospec Amok, here.

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Last Update: June 23, 2024