Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition long-term review update two
With summer waning and the memories of riding the Transatlantic Way fading, I organised a simple overnight bikepacking ride out of Bristol. I took my good friend George and it was to be his first experience of riding out and sleeping under the stars.
I didn’t need to modify the Lauf Anywhere for this mini adventure, which is one of the joys of this bike and it’s put up with most things I have thrown at it.
The familiar route is about half road, half gravel (plus a bit of mountain biking/hike a bike), so the WTB Exposure 32c tyres I’ve been using for many miles were perfect for this mix of surfaces.
I reinstalled the third bottle cage on the down tube, but to carry my coffee and coffee cup. If that’s not a bikepacking cliché then I don’t know what is!
My tried and tested Apidura saddlebag and top tube bag got another outing, along with a real hidden gem in the world of bikepacking bags, Alpkit’s Airlok Dual handlebar bag. I have it in the 20-litre size and it just fits my Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 winter sleeping bag. It’s still 100 per cent waterproof, having initially tested it on a long cycle tour about three years ago.
Two straps cinch it to the handlebars, but for more off-road bikepacking I’d recommend a handlebar harness to help keep the bag secure – I’ve got Aplkit’s Kanga. The rest of my sleeping kit was stored in the saddle bag.
Overall, the trip was a great success. The weather stayed dry and riding out of the woods to see the sunrise was really special and a rare treat in the UK.
Although the Anywhere is built with gravel racing at its heart, the bike was great fun to ride both on the tarmac and off road, but, on a ride like this, perhaps the front end of the bike could do with being a bit taller for added comfort.
Hill climb potential
To continue testing the versatility of the Lauf Anywhere, I entered my second hill climb race of the season at Burrington – a local hill not far from Cheddar Gorge. However, this time, the event included a more testing climb with a very talented field.
After completing my first hill climb race on the Lauf Anywhere, it got me thinking about the bike’s weight. Although I wasn’t going to reduce its weight by any significant degree, it was still fun to see how light I could make the bike with limited time and upgrades available.
The biggest upgrade I made was to the wheelset and tyres. A pair of Fast Forward F3D carbon wheels provided the biggest upgrade and I replaced the 32mm WTB Exposure tyres with a pair of 25mm Pirelli P Zero Velo 4s tyres.
These changes got the bike down to a respectable 8.22kg.
In reality, I didn’t notice a significant difference in performance using the Fast Forwards, but I did really like the 240s hub and its quality freehub, which purrs away with a sort of quiet confidence. It has great feeling engagement when putting down the power, too.
I then spent half an hour or so removing various bits such as the Lezyne pump bracket and, dare I say it, the Lauf bottle opener! This got the bike to a final weight of 8.15kg, which was a total saving of 450g on its original weight of 8.6kg. Okay, so this may not have helped me win on the day, but I found the process fun and it did help me “get my head in the game”.
I was pleased with my pacing because Burrington is a much longer climb than Chew Hill, with about 175m of elevation and an average gradient of around 6 per cent, but at no point during the sub-9 minute effort did my legs feel in the groove – I think I used the old excuse that I didn’t warm up enough.
In December 2019 I took part in the popular Moonrakers and Sunseekers 300km Audax, organised by Will Pomeroy and the team behind Great Western Randonnées. Starting at 10pm this was not only an overnight ride but also the longest single ride I had ever attempted.
I swapped back the dynamo wheel – which is still one of my favourite bits of kit for the Lauf – and attached the Crudcatcher Roadracer MK3 mudguard set to keep me dry and comfortable.
Almost 20 hours later, I arrived back in Bristol with a fully stamped Brevet card, and I was extremely relieved. The last four hours were really tough despite being mostly flat and it seemed my legs had only one speed – slow!
As for the bike, the only issue I had was a hole in the rear tyre that wouldn’t seal. I set up the WTB Exposure tyre with Weldtite sealant which, despite putting in more than recommended, ended up spraying out and not sealing.
At checkpoint three, one of the volunteers very kindly gave me a small bottle of Stans No Tubes sealant, which instantly plugged the hole and didn’t present a problem for the rest of the ride.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition long-term review conclusions
Looking back at 2019, it was certainly a great year for me in terms of fulfilling my cycling goals and trying new things; I attempted my first ultra-endurance ride, raced open hill climbs, took part in the inaugural Rift gravel race in Iceland, and most recently completed my first 300km audax.
It’s incredible to think that I rode all of that on the same bike! Although there were several guises, the Anywhere remained a true do-it-all bike.
One of the reasons for this is its geometry. The long chainstays and top tube combined with a slack 71-degree head angle mean the bike handles predictably when riding off-road and remains stable when loaded up with luggage over long distances.
Combined with a relatively low front-end, the bike can be built fairly aggressively with aerodynamic qualities. For a fully-fledged gravel race frame, the Anywhere can be built up pretty light too. The Weekend Warrior edition that I’ve been riding comes in at 8.5kg, while similarly specced endurance road bikes, such as the Cannondale Synapse, weigh around the 9kg mark.
The frame also allows wide tyres of up to 45mm. So despite the bike not coming with Lauf’s famous leaf sprung fork, it can be ridden hard over proper gravel with a bit of nerve.
No bike can be perfect at everything, though, and there are a few points to consider.
Although the frame is fairly light for a gravel bike at 1,070g, it doesn’t feel particularly supple. This means the ride is quite harsh, which I noticed most when racing The Rift gravel race in Iceland.
However, It’s also noticeable when riding over rough roads. While many other gravel bikes have specific damping qualities built into the frame, whether that’s using different kinds of carbon in different areas or even elastomers or suspension, the Anywhere feels fairly basic in comparison, and other areas of the bike, such as the tyres, have a greater impact on comfort.
Despite this, Lauf has created an impressive handlebar in the Lauf Smoothie, which is designed to address the issue of vibration felt through the hands. The carbon in the handlebar has been specifically used to promote flex and reduce the high frequency chatter that you find when gravel riding.
In reality, this does help slightly, but real comfort ultimately comes from the frame and some people won’t like the 16-degree flare on the bar. However, I like the position, especially when descending.
Unfortunately the frame doesn’t have any full-length mudguard mounts, and on a bike that is likely to be ridden through winter means using alternatives that perhaps don’t provide as much protection.
The JAF fork is designed around a 15mm axle, which means many gravel and road wheels aren’t compatible. I found this out when testing the Hunt Superdura dynamo wheel, which uses a 12mm axle Son Delux hub.
As restrictive as a larger axle size could be, many gravel-specific wheels have end caps or adaptors available to accept the larger axle size. However, like in my case, if you are wanting to use more road-oriented wheels you might not have this capability.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition highs
One of the best moments riding the Anywhere has got to be taking part in The Rift gravel race. It was a new experience for me having never raced before or had any “proper” gravel riding experience. To combine the two in an incredibly beautiful and unforgiving landscape such as Iceland was very special.
It was also great to ride the Lauf on the trails that the bike was designed for and tested on. Before this, I felt I hadn’t quite done the Anywhere justice because many of my rides were road-based, but this trip really opened up what I thought was possible on a rigid, drop-bar bike.
I felt I really understood what the team behind Lauf wanted to create.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition lows
Perhaps the biggest low of the Anywhere is the 15mm axle on the JAF fork. It’s designed around a popular mountain bike hub axle size, but since the bike is designed for mixed terrain, a 12mm axle would open up more gravel and road wheel options, including the option to use a SON dynamo hub, like me.
I also think the harshness that, most likely, comes from a stiff carbon frame makes this bike particularly rough when riding big gravel. A form of built-in frame compliance would also pose an advantage if you plan to ride ultra distances when comfort is most needed.
Also, a gravel bike will spend a lot of time on the road, all year round, so the lack of mudguard mounts is disappointing because they would make it into a capable winter training bike.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition review verdict
Overall, the Lauf Anywhere is a truly awesome all-rounder.
The frame is light at 1,070g, but also strong enough for tackling serious gravel racing. The Anywhere will handle pretty much whatever adventure your imagination can think of and although it might not be the most comfortable, it will do it with speed at its heart.
It is a shame that the JAF fork limits the bike’s compatibility with road and gravel wheelsets because the bike is just a wheel and tyre change away from being a wildly different ride experience.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition long-term review update one
I’ve spent the last six months riding the Lauf Anywhere from my first taste of self supported bikepacking to my first gravel race in Iceland and most recently my first open hill climb race.
It has been a season of ups and downs for me with many incredible new experiences and also some injuries too, but I have managed to rack up 4,500km on the Anywhere and I am happy to report that the bike has more than lived up to its versatile intentions.
At the beginning of June I headed out to Ireland to ride the Transatlantic Way – a self-supported ride from Dublin to Kinsale, Cork – via the wild west coast. At around 2,000km distance and roughly 15,000 metres of elevation, I had to make sure that the bike could go the distance.
I mentioned in my initial review (see below) that I would be getting a dynamo wheel to remove the need for heavy batteries and keep myself visible at all times, well I chose the Hunt Superdura Dynamo Disc wheel paired with an Exposure Revo Dynamo front light and Redeye rear light.
Unfortunately, the Lauf JAF fork uses a 15mm thru-axle and therefore was incompatible with the SONdelux hub on the Superdura Dynamo Disc wheel.
This was a slight oversight on my behalf which meant that I had to switch the fork to one with a 12mm axle.
Instead of the JAF I used the No.9 CX Disc fork from Whiskey Parts Co. This fork had the right axle size, flat-mount disc compatibility and tyre clearance for up to 42 x 700c, ticking all the boxes. And, on top of that, it is a beautifully designed bit of kit with a claimed weight of 485g with its axle and an uncut steerer.
Despite the extra weight and the slight resistance added by the SONdelux hub, the setup worked flawlessly and the feeling of reassurance it gave, particularly when riding at night and in poor weather conditions, far outweighed the negatives.
I really liked that the light stayed on for up to an hour after stopping pedalling because it gave me a chance to set up camp in the light, and if I needed to stop on the road I was still visible.
I have previously used a battery powered Hope R2 front light for night riding, which produces a claimed 1,300 lumens. Compared to the 800 lumens from the Exposure Revo, the extra power of the R2 is certainly useful when riding faster, however for the kind of road riding I have been doing I felt the Revo was bright enough.
Around day five I accidentally put the Exposure Redeye rear light cable into the input port instead of the output port of the Revo and after that the rear light no longer worked. I did put some tape on the port to remind me, but obviously that wasn’t enough – I’ll put it down to a lack of rest!
I swapped the front chainring from a 42-tooth to a Hope 38-tooth narrow wide model. This meant I could achieve a lower gear, which was essential for me because the bike was loaded up with everything I needed for the ride – in other words it was very heavy!
Having suffered from knee pain at the end of day three it was clear that the lower gearing was a good choice and suggested that I should have spent more time in those lower gears to help reduce the load going through my knee. I also swapped the cassette from an 11-42t to 10-42t in order to increase my top-end speed.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t complete the ride due to acute knee pain, which I later found out was an overuse injury of the tendon. However, I was pleased to report that the bike held up far better than me.
The experience, organisation of the ride and the people I met were something very special and I intend to do similar events in the future.
Six weeks after the Transatlantic Way, I was off to race The Rift – a 200km gravel race in Hvolsöller, Iceland. I was a bit unsure how my knee would take it, but thankfully it held up with only slight pain around the 100-mile mark.
I did make some changes to the bike, but not that many, which is testament to how versatile the Anywhere is.
The most obvious changes were the wheels and tyres. I was running Hunt’s Mason X Hunt 4 Season Disc wheelset during the summer months when I wasn’t using the dynamo wheel. These aluminium wheels are 27mm deep with a 19mm internal width and come in at 1,588g for the pair.
The internal width of the rims isn’t particularly wide nor built for the demands of gravel racing, so I changed back to the DT Swiss X1900 wheelset that the bike came with.
These wheels, built for XC racing, have an internal width of 22.5mm and combined with the tubeless 700 x 40c WTB Nano tyres, the bike had lots of grip and a more confidence-inspiring wheelset.
Having said that, the X1900 wheels aren’t light at 1,721g for the pair and the internal width of 22.5mm isn’t very wide.
As this was my first gravel race, I drew some experience from my mountain biking background and couldn’t believe how well the Lauf handled on some of the gnarlier descents. I also highly recommend the WTB Nano tyres for gravel racing because they gave me no problems during the race and provided me with plenty of grip and confidence over the 200km route.
Riding a fully rigid bike meant that my body felt pretty beaten up by the end of the ride (it took me 12 hours to complete), and watching many other competitors on mountain bikes I definitely could have done with some form of suspension.
I was using Lauf’s Smoothie handlebars, which are developed in house and made from the same carbon as its leaf sprung suspension fork. Lauf says the Smoothie bars are some of the best drop bars available for reducing vibration, but it’s very difficult to say how much the Smoothie bars actually helped.
However, outside the race venue Lauf had a number of handmade jigs with several other bars from different brands as well as the Smoothie attached. I was able to push down on the tops of each bar and measure the degree of flex in each one.
It was clear the Smoothie had considerably more flex than the other brands. No matter how much flex the Smoothie bar promised, I was still very much aching after the constant vibration – more press ups needed, perhaps?
After the Rift, it was only a matter of time before BikeRadar’s hill climb extraordinaire and video manager, Joe Norledge, and assistant editor, Jack Luke, roped me into taking part in an open hill climb. September marks the start of the UK hill climb season and it was exciting to be a part of the event.
It was a local race for us, put on by Salt and Sham Cycle Club, and took place on Chew Hill; a modest little climb about 90 metres in elevation and an average gradient of about 10 per cent. Having not ridden properly for over a month due to (a non-cycling) injury and attending Eurobike, I had absolutely no pressure on me.
It also meant that I didn’t actually change anything specifically on my bike, and much to the amusement of Joe I even kept on my third down-tube bottle cage and 32mm gravel tyres.
All things considered, I was actually fairly happy with my effort, and although the bike was probably one of the heaviest on the day, it didn’t detract from the fun.
Obviously, a lighter drivetrain and wheelset/tyre combination would drop a significant amount of weight should I start getting more serious about riding uphill.
With the colder months upon us I am very much looking forward to getting some consistency in to my riding and building on my fitness because I have plenty of endurance events that I want to enter in 2020.
In terms of future upgrades to the bike, I think it would really benefit from a lighter, wider gravel wheelset because the DT Swiss X1900s aren’t the lightest or widest out there.
The SRAM Rival brakes require a re-bleed and a clean up of the pads and discs because they are lacking in power and make a horrendous noise when riding in the wet.
And, finally, I will swap back to the Hunt Superdura Dynamo wheel and re-install the lighting system for winter training and to tackle a 300km audax that I have just signed up for – but more on that in my next update.
Lauf is well known in the gravel and adventure cycling world for its unusual leaf sprung Lauf Grit Fork, found on the True Grit. However, the Anywhere doesn’t feature the suspension fork, instead it uses what Lauf calls Just A Fork (JAF), which is essentially a rigid, full carbon fork.
The Anywhere is marketed as an all-out gravel race bike, and its versatile nature lends itself to a whole host of different riding styles and terrain. This suits me as I intend to ride this bike in as many different ways as possible. Think ultra endurance road racing, gravel racing, a bit of touring and possibly the odd local time-trial.
Thanks to the clearance of up to 700 x 45c tyres, and lower, slacker geometry, the bike also promises to be pretty capable off-road, despite its clear all-road intentions.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition
The frame is a size medium and weighs a claimed 1,070g, in a striking Racing Rocket colourway. The bike sits in the middle of the Anywhere range and is referred to as the Weekend Warrior Edition.
The 1×11 drivetrain is predominantly made up of SRAM Rival 1, including the brakes, shifters and rear derailleur, but comes with an S350 crankset. It sports a 11-42t SRAM 1130 cassette and chain that is coupled with a single X-Sync 42t chainring up front.
Since this bike is not using a wireless 2x drivetrain (the frame is incompatible with wired 2x drivetrains), you might have also noticed a nifty Lauf Bottle Opener taking the place of the front derailleur.
Weighing a claimed 450g, the Lauf Anywhere’s Just A Fork (JAF) has a full carbon construction, triple cage mounts on each leg, and is based around a 15 x 100m thru-axle.
Also developed in house by Lauf is the flared drop bar, which is called the Smoothie Composite. It has Lauf Lush bartape and is 420mm wide on the medium size.
The bike comes with tubeless-ready DT Swiss X1900 wheels and is specced with a Shimano-style freehub body. These roll on large volume Maxxis Velocita AR 40c 120 TPI tyres.
The bike’s finishing kit includes a premium FSA SL-K 27.2mm carbon seatpost, Easton EA70 stem and a Ritchey Comp Streem saddle.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition geometry
The Lauf Anywhere’s geometry has been designed specifically for riding fast over unpredictable terrain. Lauf calls it Long 4 Speed geometry, which is essentially a recipe for a longer, lower and slacker road bike.
The relatively slack 71-degree head angle and short 80mm stem is said to help increase stability at high speeds over rough terrain. A particularly long reach of 399mm for the medium is combined with a short head-tube (133mm) to promote an aerodynamic position on the bike.
- Head angle: 71 degrees
- Seat angle: 73 degrees
- Chainstay: 42.5cm / 16.73in
- Seat tube: 54.2cm / 21.33in
- Top tube: 56.9cm / 22.40in
- Head tube: 13.3cm / 5.24in
- Bottom bracket drop: 6.8cm / 2.68in
- Wheelbase: 1,034mm / 40.71in
- Stack: 55.8cm / 21.97in
- Reach: 39.9cm / 15.71in
Why did I choose this bike?
It’s only in the last five years that I’ve started riding gravel and road, before that I was more of a mountain biker. My road riding really took off after touring Japan in 2017 and I now enjoy bikes designed with adventure in mind.
Many of the routes I cycle involve either narrow and rough roads or gravel bike paths in order to avoid heavy traffic areas, or to open up new places to ride.
So, when the Lauf Anywhere arrived for testing by Matthew Allen I was quite interested in it, and after working on the bike’s first look video, which suggested that the bike could become the perfect mountain biker’s road bike, I was keen to ride the bike myself.
This year I’d also planned to ride the Transatlantic Way, which is a 2,000 to 2,500km self-supported road ride around Ireland, and thought the Anywhere would be a great bike for this event.
It’s a relatively lightweight, but tough, carbon disc frame with large tyre clearance, mounts galore and designed with an emphasis on comfort with slightly relaxed geometry and even a vibration reducing handlebar.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition initial setup
After riding a 100km audax, I decided to set the bike up tubeless after sustaining a puncture – thankfully at the bottom of a very fast descent! This was a relatively pain-free process, although having initially tried to pump the tyres up without removing the valve core, I quickly learned that it was not going to inflate without taking this step first.
Unfortunately, on that aforementioned first ride, it became apparent that the SRAM Apex rear brake had, at some point, become contaminated. The wailing sound whenever I squeezed the levers hard gave it away.
Cleaning the pads and rotor carefully with disc brake cleaner and sanding the sintered brake pads with a fine sandpaper seemed to sort out the problem, and after a few heavy braking sessions to bed them in it was much better (although not quite like a factory feel).
The Maxxis Velocita AR tyres are by far the widest I have ridden on a road-biased bike. At 40mm wide and on the DT Swiss X1900 22.5mm (inner width) rims, they are really fun to rail around corners without feeling the bike could lose grip.
Although I haven’t ridden the bike off road yet, setup tubeless and with 30 psi in each tyre I have no doubt it will be a blast. Unless I end up riding the bike more off road I will likely swap the tyres to something a little lighter for more road-focussed riding.
The frame is built around a conventional threaded bottom bracket, which means I can remove it easily at home if it needs replacing or cleaning. I haven’t yet experienced any creaks or play issues either.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition ride impressions
I rode the Lauf Anywhere on my biggest challenge yet – a 2,000km self-supported road event called the Transatlantic Way. As such, the bike was not only used for the event but for all my training, as well as a considerable amount of time spent kit testing in the lead up to the event in early June.
Initially, the bike felt fairly long and low, and while it took a few rides to get a feel for it, I actually really like the position. It feels rock-steady, particularly at speed, which gives a huge amount of confidence when picking a line down a potholed lane or gravel descent.
I played close attention to my position on the bike because in late 2018 I picked up a knee injury, which I have been trying to fix ever since, and I have been wary of riding a new bike because I don’t want to damage my knee further by riding hard on a different setup.
I found the bike to be very comfortable and more forgiving than both the aluminium and steel bikes that I rode previously. Perhaps not surprising because this bike has, as claimed by Lauf offers “Copious amount of microscopic comfort”.
This is the first bike I have ridden with flared handlebars, though, and as yet I haven’t found a natural and comfortable position on the hoods. The Lauf Smoothie handlebars are designed to “eat vibrations” and are made from the same flexible carbon as the Lauf Grit leaf sprung fork.
I thought the stock 40c Maxxis Velocita tyres were a bit overkill for the road riding I was doing, so I borrowed a fetching pair of tan wall WTB Exposure 32 tyres.
Like most people, I ride road bikes with at least two gears up front, but the Anywhere uses a 1×11 SRAM Rival drivetrain. I thought the 42t chainring up front and the 11t rear cog would reduce my top speed dramatically and that I would struggle to keep up with my riding companions. This was not the case, however.
I actually think this combination suits my riding perfectly, especially as I’m not a natural road racer with years of riding a 53-48t under my belt.
In late March I rode out of Bristol at 7pm, fully loaded with sleeping gear to see how both the bike and I would get on with the experience of a mid-week over-nighter. The ride took me south on a mostly flat, traffic-free route and I planned my bivi spot at around 35km.
The bike felt pretty heavy and the first few corners a little unsteady – I hadn’t ridden a loaded bike for a while – but after the first hour I was already used to the change in handling.
Was I nervous about hitting potholes in the dark with a carbon frame? Not at all. The frame is actually rated to the ISO standard for mountain bikes and I believe the bike will handle a life of adventures without carbon paranoia.
Was I still happy with the gearing choice after adding all that weight? I would say that for a relatively short ride the gearing is fine. I got out of the saddle on most of the climbs and spent less time spinning on sharp hills. If I had the choice of a lower gear I would have definitely taken it, and I think the bike would benefit from an upgrade in the gearing.
The bike is running an 11-42t cassette on a standard Shimano HG style freehub. This could be changed to a 10-42t if the freehub was also changed to an XD driver to accommodate the smaller 10t cog.
My reasoning for this isn’t because it will give me a faster top-end speed, but rather would allow me to run a smaller chainring up front without sacrificing too much of the top-end speed being lost from the smaller chainring. When the bike is loaded with gear the smaller chainring would be really beneficial for spinning up those steep climbs.
I was a little disappointed that the frame doesn’t accept mudguards because training in the winter/spring means having to accept that I’ll inevitably get wet. I might install clip-on mudguards in the future if I feel it’s necessary.
Lauf Anywhere Weekend Warrior Edition upgrades
I am hoping to change various parts of the bike in order for it to be ready for a long self-supported ride. I already mentioned the gearing, which I intend to gear down for easier climbing when the bike is loaded up.
One of the biggest changes to the bike I intend to make is swapping the front wheel for a dynamo-equipped model. This is so I don’t have to worry about charging heavy batteries on the longer rides I have planned and to give a bit more visibility in all lighting and weather conditions.
I’m also considering fitting my old-faithful WTB Volt saddle, although it might be a relative downgrade in spec it’s an upgrade in comfort for me.
Depending on how bad the weather is and whether I can stand getting wet on rides, a set of clip-on mudguards could be a worthy addition, as mentioned above.
I’m also considering swapping the current DT Swiss X1900 XC wheels for a lighter wheelset because I will mostly be riding the Lauf Anywhere on tarmac roads. This would be a great way to liven the bike up a little and to drop some weight.
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||SRAM Rival 1 flat mount hydraulic (160mm rotor front and rear)|
|Cranks||SRAM S350 42T|
|Fork||Lauf JAF 15x100mm TA|
|Handlebar||Lauf Smoothie composite (420mm for the size medium)|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Rival 1|
|Saddle||Ritchey Comp Streem|
|Seatpost||FSA SL-K 27.2mm, Carbon|
|Shifter||SRAM Rival 1|
|Tyres||Maxxis Velocita AR 40c Tubeless (120tpi)|
|Wheels||DT Swiss X1900|