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Simplon Inissio Gravel 2020

Simplon Inissio Gravel 2020

26.11.20 23:45 3.218Text: Reinhard HörmannPhotos: Michael Meindl (Action), Erwin Haiden (Studio)By adding "Gravel" to their brand new bike's name, Simplon points out what they were focused on when developing the Inissio. Nevertheless, it's more than just a gravel bike.26.11.20 23:45 3.218

Simplon Inissio Gravel 2020

26.11.20 23:45 3.218 Reinhard Hörmann Michael Meindl (Action), Erwin Haiden (Studio) Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarBy adding "Gravel" to their brand new bike's name, Simplon points out what they were focused on when developing the Inissio. Nevertheless, it's more than just a gravel bike.26.11.20 23:45 3217

There is hardly any renowned manufacturer who has not entered the gravel bike segment at some point in recent years. This year, the traditional Vorarlberg-based company Simplon and their Inissio Gravel have also joined the ranks.
When the gravel trend started, it was purebred cyclocross bikes or Gran Fondo road bikes that were used as gravel bikes. But meanwhile evolution has progressed so far that such compromises are no longer a competitive option in this sector. There was a need for more specific bikes. The term "gravel" is misleading though, because riders have come to expect much more versatility in terms of terrain from these bikes than just to move smoothly on gravel.

How bike manufacturers try to answer these expectations varies greatly. Some opt for 28" tyres, others for 27.5" or 29" tyres or for both. Tyre widths range from 30 mm to 50 mm, but at the moment a large tyre clearance seems to be the order of the day to make even more difficult terrains accessible for gravel bikes.
There are also different approaches to geometry. Some allow for a comfortable upright position, some call for a long, stretched position – and then there is anything in between. Apparently, there is no consensus at all on what a gravel bike should be, or in other words: gravel is just another term for all-road bike, and all-road bikes are at best an all-in-one solution. The worst thing that could happen is that you get a bike which is capable of coping with any terrain a little but does not really stand out in any riding situation. That is, why sensitivity is needed in the development process and clear statements in marketing.

Road racing and mountain biking becomes all-road riding

One important reason for switching to such a bike certainly is the traffic situation on our roads. With traffic becoming increasingly heavy, road cycling becomes more dangerous. At the same time, some landowners, lobbyists and politicians are quite restrictive when it comes to opening our country’s forests and mountains for the joy of (legal) mountain biking. It is hardly surprising that many a cyclist wants to retreat to the agricultural roads and field paths of our rural regions, as they allow for escapes from traffic stress as well as from arguments with angry foresters and anxious hikers. Many even discover completely new facets of their immediate vicinity as they ride off their beaten cycling tracks, the end of the tarmac road is no longer the end of the ride, on the contrary.

What is needed for this new freedom are thought-out bikes such as the Simplon Inissio Gravel.

Looks, technology and features

The bike is of very massive appearance and offered in two “colours”: blue/black and grey/black. For the test we chose the matt and pale grey version, and the longer you look at the bike in its natural habitat, the more appropriate this pastel shade seems to be for an off-road bike: a little understatement mixed with some unspectacular elegance and timelessness.

The Inissio Gravel’s frame is built with Simplon’s established triple-fusion technology, i.e., a combination of monocoque, tube-to-tube composite and socket technology, which allows for the use of materials to be optimised. Carbon mats are impregnated directly with epoxy resin in a process called Hot-Melt, so no additional solvent is needed. This way the amount of raisin used is reduced, which in turn saves weight and ensures high stiffness and consistent quality over decades.
Seat tube, seat post and the considerably flattened top tube contain Vibrex fibres, which are to significantly improve comfort. The chain stays are asymmetrical and very massive in design. Together with the voluminous tubes at the bottom bracket, as well as at the down tube and head tube, they provide high stiffness values and thus consistent propulsion. The fork features the also familiar tilted backwards Raptor dropouts. These are a proven means of increasing comfort and for more agility while the steering angle remains relatively flat.
Stainless steel plates protect the dropouts as well as the chain stay (on drive side) in the chainring area from possible damage, while this job is done by transparent foil on the down tube.

  • Chain stays are asymmetrical and very massive in design.Chain stays are asymmetrical and very massive in design.
    Chain stays are asymmetrical and very massive in design.
    Chain stays are asymmetrical and very massive in design.
  • Stainless steel plates on the dropouts and also (on the drive side) on the chain stay protect the frame from possible damage.Stainless steel plates on the dropouts and also (on the drive side) on the chain stay protect the frame from possible damage.
    Stainless steel plates on the dropouts and also (on the drive side) on the chain stay protect the frame from possible damage.
    Stainless steel plates on the dropouts and also (on the drive side) on the chain stay protect the frame from possible damage.
  • Internal cable routing that leads directly through the headset into the frame or fork.Internal cable routing that leads directly through the headset into the frame or fork.
    Internal cable routing that leads directly through the headset into the frame or fork.
    Internal cable routing that leads directly through the headset into the frame or fork.
  • Possibility to mount mudguards and pannier rack at the fork and the rear of the frame.Possibility to mount mudguards and pannier rack at the fork and the rear of the frame.
    Possibility to mount mudguards and pannier rack at the fork and the rear of the frame.
    Possibility to mount mudguards and pannier rack at the fork and the rear of the frame.

Internal cable routing leads directly through the headset into the frame or fork, making the bike look quite clean. There is the option to mount a conventional stem including a flared gravel bar, too.
Other clever details are the possibility to mount mudguards and pannier rack as well as a lighting system that is available ex works as an option.

Geometry

One thing upfront: Simplon keeps the golden mean when it comes to the seating position. The top tube is rather long, but obviously sloped, stack is quite high – a combination that provides a very comfortable seating position when riding with hands on the upper bar.
The raised GRX grips with non-slip texture keep the hands positioned safely also when riding off-road, the dual-control levers are very easy to reach. When riding with hands on the hoods, the seating position remains quite comfortable, but becomes considerably sportier.
While I start adjusting the Inissio Gravel to my individual seating position, I am suddenly very much reminded of the Kiaro test I did. Maybe there is even some Inissio Gravel DNA to be found in the Kiaro frame, as both bikes look quite similar.
No matter where you touch the Inissio Gravel, the excellent quality with regard to workmanship, looks and feel can be felt (and seen) everywhere. The carbon handlebars are considerably flattened, which further improves the comfort off-road. The drop allows for an aerodynamic position without straining the back too much.

Geometry

Frame size 45 49 53 57 62
Seat tube length 430 470 510 550 600
Top tube length 523 535 565 585 605
Steering angle 69° 70° 70° 71° 72°
Seat angle 74.5° 74.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Headtube length 120 135 160 185 210
Chainstay lenght 425 425 425 425 425
Wheel base 1025 1029 1050 1061 1072
BB drop 67 67 67 67 67
Fork length 400 400 400 400 400
Fork rake 48 48 48 48 48
Stand over size 715 748 781 812 843
Stack 535 553 577 604 632
Reach 375 382 394 406 418
STR ratio 1.43 1.45 1.46 1.49 1.51

The frame is available in sizes 45, 49, 53, 57 and 62 cm. If you need a frame size in between these sizes, like I do, it makes sense to take a look at the geometry table. As the dimensions of the 53-cm frame are closer to the non-existent 55-cm frame than the 57-cm frame is, I’d recommend choosing the smaller model if in doubt.

Specs

As usual, also this Simplon bike may be customised according to individual needs and demands via online tool. There are lots of options to choose from for handlebars, stem, saddle, seat post, colour, pannier rack and mudguards, for wheels and groupset – and even an optional lighting system is available.

Specced with Shimano’s GRX 600 groupset, prices start at 3,899 euros, if you choose SRAM’s Force AXS/Eagle you’ll get the bike starting from 4,998 euros. Our test bike was specced with high-end parts only, e.g. DT Swiss’ GRC 1400 Spline wheels (1,220 euros extra charge) and Shimano’s GRX 815 Di2, which raised the price to 6,994 euros.
Of course, a single chainring option is available, too, starting from 4,399 Euros. Depending on the setup, the bike’s weight ranges from 8.4 to 8.9 kg, which is not outstanding compared to competitors’ bikes, but still very solid.

Tech Specs

Frame Inissio Gravel, Shady Grey/Black Fork Inissio Gravel
Frame sizes 45, 49, 53, 57, 62 Wheels DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline, 42 mm
Cockpit Simplon ARC1, 120 mm x 400 mm Tires Schwalbe G-One Allround 40-622
Bar tape Bike Ribbon Spugna black STIs Shimano GRX 815 Di2
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow Crankset Shimano GRX 810-2, 48/31, 172.5 mm
Rear derailleur Shimano GRX 815 Di2 Seat post Simplon Carbon Rod SL, 27.2x400 mm, 15 mm setback
Front derailleur Shimano GRX 815 Di2 Cassette Shimano Ultegra, 11-34Z
Weight 8.82 kg (w/o pedals) Price € 6,994

We ordered our test configuration with (almost) full GRX 815 Di2 groupset, GRX 810-2 48/31 crank with 172.5 mm length and Ultegra 11-34 Z cassette. Furthermore, we changed the saddle to a Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow, the handlebar/stem unit to Simplon’s ARC1 in 120 mm x 400 mm and the wheels to DT Swiss GRC 1400-42 with Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres in size 40-622. Simplon's carbon fibre Rod SL stem with a small diameter of 27.2 mm offers a 15 mm setback. This individuality comes with a price: 6.994 Euro.

  • Simplons handlebar/stem unit ARC1 in 120 mm x 400 mmSimplons handlebar/stem unit ARC1 in 120 mm x 400 mm
    Simplons handlebar/stem unit ARC1 in 120 mm x 400 mm
    Simplons handlebar/stem unit ARC1 in 120 mm x 400 mm
  • GRX 815 Di2 groupset, GRX 810-2 48/31 crank with 172.5 mm length and Ultegra 11-34 Z cassetteGRX 815 Di2 groupset, GRX 810-2 48/31 crank with 172.5 mm length and Ultegra 11-34 Z cassette
    GRX 815 Di2 groupset, GRX 810-2 48/31 crank with 172.5 mm length and Ultegra 11-34 Z cassette
    GRX 815 Di2 groupset, GRX 810-2 48/31 crank with 172.5 mm length and Ultegra 11-34 Z cassette
  • DT Swiss GRC 1400-42 with Schwalbe G-One Allround in size 40-622DT Swiss GRC 1400-42 with Schwalbe G-One Allround in size 40-622
    DT Swiss GRC 1400-42 with Schwalbe G-One Allround in size 40-622
    DT Swiss GRC 1400-42 with Schwalbe G-One Allround in size 40-622
  • The total weight of 8.82 kg is quite low considering the solid overall packageThe total weight of 8.82 kg is quite low considering the solid overall package
    The total weight of 8.82 kg is quite low considering the solid overall package
    The total weight of 8.82 kg is quite low considering the solid overall package

All options are available with disc brakes as well as thru axles (12 mm) at front and rear only. The indicated maximum tyre width is 40 mm, but depending on groupset, rim type and tyres even wider tyres could certainly be mounted.

Riding characteristics

In our field test, the Inissio Gravel proved to be an extremely reliable partner in all situations. Despite its flat steering angle and 40 mm tires (Schwalbe G One TL), the bike is a very nippy ride, the stiff frame remains unimpressed even by quick accelerations, but above all the comfort at rear and front is outstanding and perfectly balanced. Even on rough gravel roads the ride remains very smooth, without sacrificing the bike's responsiveness and ability to rapidly change direction. Due to its comfortable design and the wide tyres, the frame reliably absorbs even heavy impacts. Overall handling is pleasantly neutral and balanced.

Simplon Inissio Gravel
Model year: 2020
Test duration: 1,950 km
Price: € 6,994
+ High-quality paint
+ Stylish look & feel
+ Very comfortable
+ Extremely versatile
+ Responsive, stiff and agile
+ Smooth and balanced
o Rather high priced
o Standard frame height of 55 mm not offered
- Brake discs make noise when breaking sharply
BB judgement: Austrian interpretation of the "jack of all trades".

Shimano’s GRX 815 Di2 groupset works meticulously. The hoods are non-slip, the dual-control levers are very easy to reach. Even though the bike was ridden in harshest weather conditions, there was not a single chaindrop or chainsuck. The GRX groupset worked accurately and reliably, even when things got muddy.

The GRX brakes work exceptionally well, they grip almost aggressively on gravel and, due to the higher brake lever axle, are easy to reach and can be perfectly operated with a few fingers only. The only downer are once again Shimano’s brake discs, as they are quite noisy when braking sharply (and in the wet). Even though this is just for a short moment, this noise is sometimes quite annoying.

Due to the gear reduction in the lowest gear, even long and steep climbs can be ridden at high cadence, and downhill the Inissio shows no weaknesses at all. The GRX Di2 groupset can be adjusted via Bluetooth and app (was retrofitted on the test bike), as well as via cable and PC.
Retrofitting the bike with a Stages power metre turned out to be a matter of millimetres, as there is very little space for a sensor between crank and chain stay so that a 0.5-mm spacer had to be used for acceptable installation.

DT Swiss’ GRC 1400 Spline wheels are a very good choice, even if the 1,220 euros extra charge place a heavy strain on the total budget. The wheels are light, stiff, have an excellent freewheel system and are all in all a great combination of propulsion and comfort, without the slightest tendency to be susceptible to wind.
With narrower tyres mounted, the DT Swiss Spline wheels turn the Inisso Gravel into a very relaxed (endurance) road bike, with wide tyres a lot of luggage may be loaded, this off-road bike even remains unimpressed by easy single trails. If mudguard, pannier rack and lighting system are mounted, too, this gravel bike turns into a perfect and very reliable adventure and touring bike.

Conclusion

After all, the Inissio Gravel is not a competition bike, neither for cyclo-cross- nor for road races. Nevertheless, it does exceptionally well in any field it is intended to do well in. Thanks to the many clever details the bike covers anything from marathons on asphalt to extensive tours on gravel and forest roads to bike travel tours and adventure rides. What it does particularly well, however, is convey the highest level of riding fun on any terrain!