Let’s get a couple of things straight — if you purchase this bike, you’re unlikely to see another out on the roads, as Engineered Bicycles is a small, UK-based bespoke bike brand. Secondly, the Lauf Grit fork supplied with the Gezel frame is guaranteed to split opinion.
Engineered is a design house that produces a range of steel, aluminium and titanium bikes, which are currently built in Italy but some of the company’s manufacturing will soon move to the UK. You can custom-tune stock models, such as the Gezel, to fit your needs, from geometry, braze-ons and paint jobs, to cantilever or disc brakes and quick-release or bolt-thru axles.
The Gezel is Engineered’s go-anywhere, do-anything bike — from a winter hack for the serious roadie to a steel (or titanium, for the flash) long-distance bike. The quick-release frame and fork model costs £2,050, while the Grit fork adds £400 and if you want the bolt-thru frame and fork that’ll be an extra £200.
The Gezel’s long-distance roots become clear as soon as you jump on. The handling doesn’t give the same point-and-shoot accuracy that a race bike might, but Engineered has managed to provide a ride that maintains a fun, sprightly feel while still offering comfort and high-speed stability.
The 72-degree head and 73-degree seat angles are middle of the road, but our 58cm bike’s wheelbase is a longish 102.8cm. This is combined with a steel frame that takes out the worst of the road buzz, without feeling particularly woolly. If you want a bike to take KOMs on, this isn’t it, but having spent hours tackling rough, loose gravel roads on the Gezel, the frame’s slight softness is a bonus.
We ran 40mm front, 35mm rear Schwalbe G-One tyres, mounted to Novatec CXD wheels. The G-Ones are superb tyres, offering the magical mix of grip, stability and puncture protection, while feeling fast on the road. We set them up tubeless, which made the most of their width, and didn’t have issues with flats. The tyre clearance on the Gezel we had wasn’t brilliant for this width of tyre. However, along with a shift in build location, Engineered is moving from Deda Zero XL tubing to Columbus Life and Zona.
The company says that with the same tube profiles the feel should stay the same, but as the Gezel is custom-built, extra clearance can be added to the back-end on request, which is no bad thing. The rest of the build suited the bike’s application, although the non-compact SRAM Force gearing was tough on big climbs.
Deda provided the bar and carbon seatpost, while Prologo took care of the saddle. The painted stem, which matched the frame and fork, was a nice touch.
The Lauf Grit
Ah, the Lauf Grit fork. Yep, it looks odd, but it works. The leaf springs provide 30mm of travel, to take the sting out of the road, improving comfort and control on rough surfaces. The spring is stiff enough to minimise annoying movement when pedalling out of the saddle, and the lack of seals means it’s the most supple suspension on the market.
Although you can still feel what’s going on under the wheel, the Lauf smooths the sharp edges of potholes and rocks, and chattery washboard surfaces take far less out of you. The Grit can be caught out at speed when encountering a strong sidewind or if you brake heavily on rough surfaces while cornering, which results in a touch of lateral twist, but otherwise it’s a genuine, gravel road-taming bonus.