We first got hold of the Women’s Pinnacle Arkose 2 just as winter was settling in for the long haul. I was after a ride that ate up easy miles on the commute, didn’t look out of place on the off-road ride and could manage some fire-road dashes when the mountain bike trails were just too boggy to handle.
I also wanted the pricing to be on the more attainable side of things, seeing as this would be playing second fiddle to my first love - the mountain bike. At bang on £800, Evans' in-house brand Pinnacle offered the Arkose 2 and the little alloy frames adventure bike fitted the bill perfectly.
The Arkose 2 sits in the middle of a three-bike range that feature smaller sizing options and different geometry to that of the men’s version of the Arkose. The women-specific Arkose will fit riders down to 5ft / 152cm tall but only up to 5ft 9in / 175cm, whereas the unisex bikes will cover a range of heights from 5ft 4in / 162cm to 6ft 4in / 193cm.
The standover height was comfortably low on our small-sized tester
I tested a women’s Small bike, which with hindsight was maybe a touch undersized for my 5ft 4in frame. The small-sized bike has a reach of 327mm, and I never felt too cramped when seated, only feeling like the bars were too close when standing and pedalling. The seat tube length, produced a low standover and the shorter head tube keeps the stack height down, keeping a good sense of proportion.
The Arkose has a seat tube angle of 74.5 degrees (0.5 steeper than the unisex bike), an angle designed to place rider weight centrally over the bottom bracket. The women’s Arkose has chainstays that are 3mm shorter than the unisex bike at 422mm, but still longer than the average road bike making for more stability at speed. The relatively slack head angle (71 degrees on our small example) gives a nod to the off road capabilities of the Arkose.
On point kit
At this price point you get carbon bladed forks slotted into the 6061-T6 alloy frame. A smooth-shifting 10-speed Shimano Tiagra 4700 drivetrain with Samox alloy cranks takes care of the gears, with the added touch of shorter crank lengths in the smaller sizes.
The 170mm Samox cranks are a nice nod to smaller riders
The budget Tiagra 4700 group features cable routing that's hidden under the bar tape and compact hood and levers, which keeps the front of the bike looking neat and tidy. The 50/34t front chainrings give a good range of gears, and I never felt in need of more (or less for that matter) whether on the commute or a fire road spin. The changes are crisp and the levers are easy to move with a reassuring clunk denoting the change.
Braking is handled by Tektro Spyre cable disc brakes, a mechanical stopper with two moving pads clamping evenly onto the disc. While these are some of the best mechanical items around, being used to hydraulic MTB brakes I found them a little underwhelming in their power.
I adjusted the brake so less pull on the lever was required before the brake bit, which did improve things, but still felt that the spongy feel and lack of bite left a little to be desired. They are of course though a marked improvement over cantilever brakes in muddy or wet conditions.
TRP's Spyre disc brakes may feel a little weak if you're used to hydraulic MTB stoppers
Elsewhere on our Arkose 2 were narrower handle bars (380mm), with a nod to slimmer shoulders, which I for one found comfortable. The stem of the Akrose is 10mm shorter than the 80mm one the unisex bike uses, giving a shorter cockpit reach for smaller riders and also lending a lively and direct feel to the handling.
Rider inputs are translated to the ground via Kenda Small Block tyres mounted to Alex XD rims. The rims have withstood a fair amount of abuse from rumbling over pea gravel and roots, not to mention bouncing down the odd kerb or steps, and three months into their use have not required any maintenance. The 35C Kenda rubber is fast-rolling and grippy on gravel, tarmac or grass, though it will struggle to retain grip on muddier trails.
The 35c Kenda treads coped well in all conditions except mud
The Arkose also features full mudguard and pannier rack mounts – helpful if you're pressing it into service as a commuter workhorse. Finally, Pinnacle has adorned the Arkose with a female-specific saddle – although I found it overpadded and bulky, so if you prefer a more minimal perch it’ll likely be one of the first upgrades you make to this bike.
Living up to its go-anywhere billing, the Arkose 2 is happy to be ridden pretty much wherever you please. On the commute it’s a smooth ride, the sturdy wheels and bigger volume tyres working together to even out the bumps and cracks in the tarmac and brushing off the challenges of debris-strewn roads with nothing more than a shrug.
There's potential to fit tyres within the 25-40c volume range, meaning you can transform this bike’s personality from gravel grinder to nimble roadster. On the road, the Arkose 2 handles a weekend spin with surprising ease given its 10kg weight. We stuck with the 35c Kenda tyres and although the bike might not be the most efficient roadie, it remains very comfortable in the process. Road riding becomes a game of trying to hold momentum so as not to have to slow down and winch up to speed again.
The 10spd Tiagra group provided an ideal range for the on- and off-road situations we tested the Arkose in
Charging off road and onto a gravel shortcut the Arkose copes with ease, taking to the rough stuff as well as any adventure road-style type bike in this price bracket is going to be. We found the Arkose’s relaxed geometry confidence-inspiring, but again just had to employ the ‘momentum’ tactics to keep us moving steadily along!
What ever the reason or purpose you have for buying this ‘do it all’ bike, you are unlikely to be disappointed. With a ride that's comfortable and confident in a range of different spheres, it’s easy to forgive minor shortcomings in each, safe in the knowledge that the inadequacy is advantageous in other situations.