Mason Progressive Cycles is always keen to emphasise the ‘Progressive’ bit in its name and this new ‘FastFar’ frame harnesses the latest trends to bend the road/off-road rules in search of new horizons.
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Our Bokeh test bike comes with 650x50mm semi-knobbly Panaracer tyres on Hunt’s new Four Season Gravel Disc wheels, but it will also take 700x41C wheels/tyres. You can buy built-up Bokehs with 11-speed Shimano Ultegra or 105 and 700x35 tyres, as well as two models with 650x50B rubber and 1x11 SRAM Rival or Force. We felt the Force…
But there’s a lot more to the £1,150 hand-built Italian frame than just fat tyres. The Italian-made Mason-exclusive ‘Parallax’ carbon fork looks stout with its 12mm thru-axle, flat disc brake mount, rack, guard and dynamo fixtures but it still only weighs 465g. It blends into a tapered head-tube that’s kept short for a racy feel and at 1,700g the frame is one of the lightest here.
The big D-section down-tube, oversized bottom bracket and ‘BoatTail’ seatstays are custom made by Dedacciai, while the down-curved chainstays and 142mm rear dropouts are Reynolds. Mason’s investment in expensive new tooling is rewarded with increased head-tube and bottom bracket weld areas, reduced chain slap and improved rear-end comfort. ‘MultiPort’ plugs configure the smoothly aligned internal control routing for any transmission including Di2. The separate rack and mudguard mounts are hidden in the stays and the seatclamp is a very neat double-banded design.
The tubeless-ready Hunt wheels, with a 20mm internal width, are accompanied by slick kit that includes an own-brand carbon seatpost. The 1x11 SRAM Force transmission gives a similar range to a 2x11 set up but in a lighter, cleaner package with a more secure chain. The Deda bar provided comfortable aero tops, the stem is a sculpted beauty and the custom Fabric Scoop saddle is colour-matched to the frame highlights.
The big 650B tyres lose roughly a gear of rolling speed on smooth tarmac and take some accelerating too. The road doesn’t have to be rough for things to equalise, though, and as soon as gravel becomes rocks and ruts the Mason motors away from the other bikes on test with 700C wheels. Increased control, reduced puncture panic and a far smoother ride leaves you fresher so the 650 bonus becomes bigger the more you ride.
Swapping to 700C tyres/wheels fully unleashes the power transfer of the big down-tube and bottom bracket and with 28mm slicks the Bokeh is close to road bike speed. Stick with grippy 35s and the purposeful yet controlled 71.5-degree short head-tube makes it a resolute all-weather, all-surface warrior that’ll commute or cross continents with equal confidence.
While not quite as smooth as the Spa Cycles Elan and Shand Stooshie, Mason’s custom tubing investment and holistic component approach delivers a shock-shrugging ride that’s as cultured as the more ‘exotic’ materials here. And depending on the wheel choice, you’ll also find the Bokeh fast and engaging whether chasing the chain gang or charging through the woods, cementing its status as the ultimate all-rounder and a very rare five out of five.