I didn’t know what to expect from a $500 gravel bike, and from a company that I was fairly unfamiliar with. But, the price was compelling, as well as the look of the Retrospec Amok, so I had to try it out.

YouTube has been going nuts over another budget-friendly gravel bike, from Walmart. Yes, Walmart. The Ozark Trail 700c G.1 explorer bike, quite a mouthful, goes for just $248. I’m definitely intrigued, but I wasn’t sure if the sizing would be right for me, and I just preferred the overall look and vibe of the Amok. Plus, there isn’t much information about the Amok gravel bike, so I wanted to do a proper review.

2024 Retrospec Amok

For $499, the Retrospec Amok provides an aluminum frame with good frame geometry and several mounting points, a steel fork with three mounting points for tons of utility, 700c x 40c tires, double-wall aluminum wheels (32-holes), and 8-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain, and mechanical brakes.

It’s also available in 5 frame sizes, whereas the Ozark Trail gravel bike is only available in 2, at this point. There are two color options to choose from. Shipping is free to most places.

Shipping

It took less than a week to receive the Amok, and it was shipped from California to Illinois. It was shipped through Amazon, and tracking was very good all along the way. The bike arrived undamaged, except for a scratch mark on the rear chainstay. I ordered the 45 mm, extra-small frame in yellow, and that’s what I got.

Assembly

Assembly was fairly straightforward. It does come with step-by-step instructions, though I assembled it on my own, since I’ve assembled quite a few bikes. It’s just a matter of attaching the handlebar, inserting the seat post, and attaching the front wheel, which is easy since it’s quick-release.

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Headtube and Badging

Issues

While the assembly was straightforward, I did run into some issues. The front and rear brakes needed adjustment. I was able to get the rear brakes working well, but the front rotor was warped and luckily, I had a spare in my garage, for a replacement.

The front wheel has quite a bit of wobble and will need to take a trip to the bike shop for truing. There’s likely loose and/or over-tightened spokes that is causing the issue.

Unbranded Mechanical Brake Lever
160 mm Mechanical Disc Brake

The derailleur came adjusted well. It shifts into each gear as it should, but needs a little tweaking to get it as smooth as it can be.

It’s always a good idea to take a direct-to-consumer bike to your local bike shop to fine tune after assembly. Some may even assemble the bike for you. Making sure that everything is functioning properly will make for a more enjoyable and safe ride. Plus, parts will last longer.

First Impressions

My first impressions of the Retrospec Amok were mixed at first. The frame seems well-built, welds are decent, the paint doesn’t seem to scratch easily, the saddle is actually pretty darn good, and I love all the mounts for bottle cages, bags, and racks. The overall vibe of the bike is fun, and that’s why I chose it.

Several frame mounts give the Amok a lot of utility

One area of disappoint were the brakes. I’m fine with mechanical disc brakes on a lightweight bike like the Amok, but they’re a little too bargain-basement for me. Brakes are too important to go cheap on. I’d prefer more reliable stopping power, and high quality levers. I wasn’t surprised since they’re unbranded, but I wish all bikes came with good brakes. They’re important!

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The wheel wobble bummed me, because that meant I’d have to take it to a bike shop. I could try truing the wheels myself, but then, I could just make it worse.

First Ride

Shimano Altus 8-Speed

It wasn’t until the first ride that my spirits lifted. Even with a warped front wheel and a rubbing front brake, the ride quality is good. It’s not a jarring ride at all, thanks to good frame geometry and a steel fork.

The gearing handled the hills in my neighborhood well, and I didn’t even need to use the lowest gears. I’ll need to test it on steeper hills, but so far, so good. It comes with an 11-32 tooth freewheel, and I’ll decide later if I need to upgrade it.

Overall, for $500, it’s a good entry-level gravel bike that someone could upgrade over time.

Future Upgrades

I will be upgrading certain components of the bike. As I already stated, the first upgrade will be the brakes. That’s the one upgrade I would recommend to everyone. I’m fine with the drivetrain right now. The tires are a generic brand, and only time will tell how they hold up. Eventually, I’ll upgrade to some good puncture-resistant gravel tires.

The other changes are more personal preference. I prefer a handlebar that is a little wider and with more of a rise, ergonomic grips, and better pedals.

So far, I’m fine with the seat, but I may upgrade that in the future, too.

Once I get the bike tuned up, I’ll be taking it on paved trails, gravel, and even some single-track. The full review will have all the details, both good and not-so-good, but for now, I’m optimistic about the Retrospec Amok.

You can check it out, at Retrospec, here.

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Last Update: July 3, 2024