The first question you may have is, who or what exactly is Why Cycles? Based out of Ogden, Utah, Why Cycles popped into the scene last year (2016) with three bikes in their arsenal — the TF dirt jumper, the S7 27.5+ hardtail, and the R+, a dirt road drop bar bike — all of which are made from the same high grade titanium. This year also sees the launch of a fourth bike, the Wayward. A 29er + big tyre bike that has adventure and fun written all over it.
While talking with Adam Miller, the man behind Why Cycles, I was made aware that each of their bikes have a specific purpose and a lot more careful detail than one might notice upon first glance. Adam was formerly the owner of Borealis Fat bikes and after he sold the company he took some time out to answer his personal question of “WHY” he loved building bikes for people. With that thought held in a high regard, he ultimately decided to start Why Cycles and create bikes that are in his words “incredible in all types of cycling disciplines and ones that customers will keep for a lifetime.”
The R+ is Why Cycles’ take on the all-road adventure bike, yes another one to add to this new craze of bikes entering the market but what makes this bike stand out from the crowd?
In their words, it “extends the limits of what other drop bar bikes can do”. Like the other bikes in their lineup, the R+ is constructed of a combination of 3/2.5 and 6/4 titanium and decorated with a few subtly etched graphics. The frame features 1.5 to 1 1/8″ tapered headtube with an integrated headset, a threaded 68mm bottom bracket, and internal routing for all cables including routing for a dropper post. The frame features 142×12 rear hooded thru-axle dropouts, and a 1x Sram drivetrain, saying that it does have provisions for a clamp-on front derailleur with 50/34t clearance.
Attention to detail is obvious at all angles. For off-road adventure, the R+ features multiple bottle cage mount positions (including bosses on the underside of the down tube), tyre clearance for 700×44 or 27.5×2.1 tyres, and standard rack and mudguard mounts. The R+ geometry tends toward off-tarmac adventure. It has a slightly longer frame length to help eliminate toe-overlap and a marginally lower bottom bracket height for increased stability, as well as a short stem and moderately wide bars to help with handling.
I have now ridden near 1500km on this bike taking it bikpacking, on road rides, off road and even tackled the tough Dirty Riever 200 race. It inspires a confidence off road I hadn’t expected on a drop handlebar bike and the only limiting factor really would be tyre size. Saying that, the frame will accommodate 650b 2.1 tyres. The Enve forks are nice and stiff but at the same time seem to take a lot of the off road buzz away from your hands. Pop a little more air in the 40mm tyres and its no slouch on the road either. It takes corners and climbs as well as many road bikes I have tested over the years. For me the only thing that causes a disadvantage is the 1×11 drive train when hitting the steepest of road climbs.
Attention to detail is obvious at all angles, with multiple bottle cage mount positions including mounts on the underside of the down tube, tyre clearance for 700×44 or 27.5×2.1 tyres, internal routing for all cables including routing for a dropper post, marginally lower bottom bracket height for increased stability, thru axels front and back, standard rack and mudguard mounts, slightly longer frame length to help eliminate toe-overlap coupled with a short stem and moderately wide bars to help with handling. Another noted detail was that it was set up tubeless out of the bag. I say bag, because all Why Cycle bikes get delivered in an Evoc Pro personalised bag (now that’s a nice touch). The rims are Knight Composites 29 Race, which are laced onto Project 321 hubs front and rear using Sapim CX-Ray spokes. These wheels are light and super stiff. Although I had not heard of Project 321 before, a little research shows that these hubs should be easily serviceable should they need it. The sram 1×11 is faultless and the hydraulic disc brakes do everything they should and more. Then there is the etching detail on the frame itself, when I first saw this in the pictures I was worried that it may look a little OTT but in the flesh it’s a subtle detail that helps this machine stand out against the rest. I particularly like the quote on the inside of the chainstay.
In all honestly, I have struggled to pull faults out of this bike, anything that I did find was easily remedied from adjusting riding style and familiarising myself with it. At first I was rubbing my heels against the flared rear chainstays, this hasn’t really happened since and may be due to the fact I run my cleats slack on off road bikes. My biggest issue would be the tyres, but in all honesty this was probably due to my riding style. I was hacking it down trails as though I was on my MTB, after a few slices in the tyres and changing the sealant to Stans no tubes tyre sealant I have had trouble free riding for a few hundred km now. I missed having a granny ring once or twice on those steep killer hills but 95% of the time the sram 1×11 got me over all but the steepest terrain. It comes with a 42T front and 11-36 rear cassette. If top speed isn’t a priority maybe changing to a 40T front chainring could help out on the steep accents.
What is the R+ like once loaded up with bags and additional weight?
The first noticeable feature is all the clear space on the frame, with all cables neatly routed internally and the lack of a front mech, possibilities are endless. For me, this is where Titanium comes into its own for Bikepacking and why my Bikepacking MTB is also made from this beautiful material. No need to protect your frame and if you do end up with some abrasion marks, they can be easily polished out in seconds.
With a full set of bags attached and the bikes weight pretty much doubled it truthfully had no ill effect on the way it rode. I still rode fast on all but the most technical terrain and relished in how many km’s I could cover in a short period of time. It was at this point I started to really see the potential in these gravel/adventure bikes. I love my MTB but it can be slow on the roads and even at times on long gravel sections but on this bike I was flying along and the thought of long days in the saddle no longer tormented me.
Why Cycles brand this as an extremely versatile bike and I would have to agree, not often have I jumped on a bike and loved pretty much everything about it. If you are after a do it all bike, this could be it. Its light weight, fast on the road and slots into the adventure/bikepacking world perfectly. The only thing I changed was the saddle but that is pretty much a personal item on any bike. Its ticked that many boxes for me, I have pretty much only ridden this bike over the last six months.