Home
Verdict: 
Smooth and versatile steel frame with wonderful handling on and off-road
Weight: 
10,080g
The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1x
8 10

The Robinson, from British company The Light Blue, offers a really smooth ride, with steady handling and tyres that provide a good balance of fast road riding pace and off-road grip. In this SRAM Rival 1x build with cyclo-cross tyres it's an ideal all-terrain bike, at home on the road or tackling more challenging countryside terrain, or for just tackling rough roads in comfort. The Light Blue also offer a Shimano 105 build of the Robinson which they describe as an audax/light tourer.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

Ride

The Robinson has very assured handling, not darting or flicking about the road. It's more measured than a race bike, with a long wheelbase producing the sort of stability that makes it a very easy bike to ride along back roads and over more challenging trails.

There's a lot to like about a good steel frame with a steel fork, and the Robinson doesn't disappoint. There's a suppleness you just don't get from stiffer carbon and aluminium rivals. The skinny steel tubes go a long way to isolating you from the small vibrations that can intrude into the ride quality, and, combined with the 30mm tyres, result in an ideal bike for making you feel at ease on many of the poorly maintained roads around the UK.

The Light Blue Robinson 1x - riding 2.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson 1x - riding 2.jpg

I like to explore smaller country lanes, avoiding more heavily congested routes in favour of twisting roads that, while maybe not the fastest route, usually take you through some splendid bits of countryside. It's on these sorts of roads, especially at this time of year, that you can encounter all sorts of mud, gravel, debris from storms such as fallen branches, and, typically, lots of potholes.

On these, the Robinson is right at home. The bigger tyres provide more grip when the going is slippery, and the bigger volume, when run at a lower pressure, provides more cushioning. If you're put off riding such roads on a lightweight steed on skinny slick tyres, take a look at the Robinson. Because it copes so well with bad roads and in all weathers it would also make an excellent commuter bike. And the fact that it can take a rack and mudguards also opens it up to touring and audaxing, as well as longer commutes where carrying luggage is essential.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - frame detail.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - frame detail.jpg

Light Blue describes the Robinson as having a 'sport' geometry. What does that mean? A look at the geometry chart for the size 56cm on test here reveals a bike with a 555mm effective top tube, 520mm seat tube, 1,019mm wheelbase, 160mm head tube, 420mm chainstays, 72.5-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle. All that means it's bit more relaxed than a road bike but it's not excessively high. I felt comfortable on the bike, with a good reach, and no changes to the saddle or stem required.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X.jpg

The first couple of outings revealed a very steady and stable bike that simply rides very nicely. I've been riding a fair few cyclo-cross and adventure bikes this winter, and the Robinson can hold its head high against more expensive and lighter alternatives. It definitely leans more towards the gravel/adventure category, with the 72mm bottom bracket drop (the distance the bottom bracket is below the wheel axles) producing a preference for road riding. It's not trying to be a dedicated off-road bike, but is right at home on mellower gravel and dirt tracks.

There are many similarities with the Genesis Equilibrium in the way the Robinson rides, and that's not a bad comparison at all, because the Genesis is a very good bike. Like the Equilibrium, the Robinson is comfortable and fun. A change of tyres could easily transform it into a faster road riding bike, but equally, some more aggressive tyres would see it being even more capable in the mud.

Even if you never deign to go off-road, for tackling rough roads and weekend rides into unknown territory, the Robinson is ideal. Throw in the mudguard and rack mounts and disc brakes, and it's this adaptability that makes it such an appealing choice.

Frame and equipment

The Robinson features a well appointed TIG-welded Reynolds 725 steel frame with a matching chromoly fork. It's a disc brake-specific frameset, and there's clearance for up to 32mm tyres without mudguards. With 'guards, the maximum tyre size decreases to 28mm. 

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - fork.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - fork.jpg

All cables are externally routed, the rear brake and derailleur cables passing along the underside of the down tube. An external threaded bottom bracket keeps things simple and easy to service. There are two bottle cage mounts and two bolts on the underside of the top tube for attaching a bikepacking bag.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - decal.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - decal.jpg

The steel frame and fork might look spindly and delicate, but there's nothing delicate about its ride quality. You can push the bike quite hard down descents and through the woods, and it feels more than capable. There's just enough give in the frame and fork to stop it ever getting ugly when the tyres encounter sharp obstacles or bumps.

Highlighting the versatility of the frame, the Robinson is offered in a number of builds. There's a more traditional touring/audax model with Shimano Sora for £999, which looks the part with mudguards and racks on the company's website, or a Shimano 105 model costing £1,399. Both bikes come with slick tyres, making them ideal year-round touring bikes or second winter bikes.

If you seek a bit of off-road adventure, though, the SRAM Rival 1x build is specced with a pair of 30mm Schwalbe CX Comp tyres. The semi-slick tread pattern makes them a good choice for a bike that is most likely to see mainly road use. They roll fast and you don't really suffer too much in a group of road bikes. For heading deeper into the countryside the tyres provide a reasonable level of grip, but they will struggle in slick mud, especially if you add any gradient to the mix. The more aggressive shoulder tread provides a bit of reassurance when cornering on a slippery surface. Basically, you can get away with quite a lot with these tyres. Run them at low pressures for best results, maximising cushioning on the road and grip on the trails.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - seat stays.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - seat stays.jpg

The Halo Evaura D wheels went mostly unnoticed during the test period, and that's a good thing. They're a very competent wheelset, as we found when we tested the regular non-disc version last year; the spokes didn't need truing and the bearings didn't require any attention. The disc brake-specific rim has a shallow aero shape and the black finish complements the bike well. The extra width of the rims (19mm internally) makes them ideal for fitting wider tyres too.

I've ridden several bikes recently with SRAM Rival 1 (and reviewed it separately here). The 11-36 cassette and 46-tooth chainring strikes a good balance of top-end road speed and low enough ratios for dirt trails. For more adventurous (hilly) trail riding or cyclo-cross racing, a smaller chainring would be desirable. It's unlikely anyone would be looking at this bike for cyclo-cross racing, but if you want to dabble, it's no bother to swap the chainring, and SRAM offers a wide choice of sizes.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - drivetrain.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - drivetrain.jpg

Gear changes come easily. One lever means it's very intuitive to change gear and the range of lever throw and feedback makes it easy to use off-road on bumpy terrain. The compact hoods are more ergonomic than their hydraulic equivalents – you can get your hands over the entire hood more easily, ideal for adopting an aerodynamic position when battling a demoralising headwind.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - bars.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - bars.jpg

The brake levers operate a set of Avid BB7 mechanical cable-operated disc brakes. While not as outright powerful as SRAM's hydraulic discs, the BB7s do work very well and inspire more confidence when tackling challenging descents, whether off-road or on slippery country lanes strewn with potholes and debris from Storm Frank.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - front hub.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - front hub.jpg

The discs work better than rim brakes when the weather is bad, and you can splash happily through muddy puddles safe in the knowledge that the brakes will just keep on working the same.

> Check out road.cc’s cyclo-cross and adventure bikes of the year for 2015/16 here

There's little flair in the finishing kit, but it's all good quality stuff, and, most importantly, it all provides a good fit and comfort. The Gusset Black Jack saddle is a recognisable shape and proved very comfortable for longer rides. A Genetic SLR stem, Syngenic 27.2mm seatpost and Flare handlebar all work unobtrusively.

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - seat post junction.jpg

The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1X - seat post junction.jpg

The complete bike weight of 10.08kg (22.22lb) isn't amazingly light, but neither is it excessively heavy. This isn't the bike to buy if you're a weight watcher. Some bikes manage to hide their weight well, through the way they ride and handle, and the Robinson is a case in point. On all but the very steepest climbs, the Robinson doesn't feel portly or lardy in the way it rides. The tyres are smooth enough to allow you to make good progress on the road, and the width sufficient to run them fairly soft for off-road antics.

Conclusion

The Robinson is a bike for those who value comfort and adaptability, who want some off-road capability and aren't always worried about Strava segments. Even if you never choose to go off-road, for tackling rough roads and weekend rides into unknown territory, the Robinson might be just what you need. It could be the one all-round bike you've been looking for.

Verdict

Smooth and versatile steel frame with wonderful handling on and off-road

road.cc test report

Make and model: The Light Blue Robinson Rival 1x

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Colour Volcano Orange or Airforce Blue

Saddle Gusset Black Jack

Bottom Bracket SRAM GXP

Rear Deraillieur SRAM Rival 1

STI Levers SRAM Rival 1

Stem Genetic SLR

Frame Tig welded Reynolds 725 steel

Wheels Halo Evaura D

Cassette Sram Rival 1 11-36t

Seatpost Genetic Syngenic

Crankset SRAM Rival 1 46t

Brakes Avid BB7

Handlebar Genetic Flare

Fork CroMoly steel

Tyres Schwalbe CX Comp 30c

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Light Blue says:

"The Light Blue Modern frames have been designed with versatility in mind.

"The Robinson's comfortable, but lively geometry and ample clearance is ideal for road sport use, as well as bridleways, fire roads and gravel tracks.

"SRAM's '1x' Rival 11 speed offers a particularly interesting build option for the more adventurous Robinson rider

"Bring on the gravel, bring on the Robinson!"

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Excellent build quality, and attention to detail is good. Lots of mounts for bottle, racks and mudguards.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Reynolds 725 steel tubing and a chromoly fork provide a lovely ride.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Sporty best describes it – a good balance for speedy road cycling and off-road handling.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Fitted me really well with no changes.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The big volume tyres in combination with the steel frame and fork provided a very smooth ride.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

It avoided ever feeling vague when riding more technical trails.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Very well for a steel frame.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Relaxed

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Very stable handling, not as agile as some road bikes, but for long winter rides with some trails thrown into the mix, the steady handling was appreciated.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes worked very well in all conditions, and the Rival 1x drivetrain is simple to use and provides a good spread of gears.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

Not really.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

No changes.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The 11-36 cassette provides enough range for high-speed road cycling and off-road action, and the 46t chainring is better suited to general road use rather than low-speed cyclo-crossing.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

Tyres worked fine on the road and off it.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

No problems with the finishing kit; it's not fancy but does the job well. I liked the shape of the saddle and the handlebar.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Probably

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Use this box to explain your score

The Robinson is a bike for cyclists who value comfort and adaptability, and off-road capability, and aren't always worried about Strava segments. Even if you never deign to go off-road, for tackling rough roads and weekend rides into unknown territory, the Robinson might be the one all-round bike you've been looking for.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

10 comments

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

That looks lovely. And a good price IMO.

 

But, see, 1x and 32c. Or 28c with guards. I dunno, that's quite niche in a very niche world. Had that been 1x and anything up to 40c or above, I'd have said yay!

Avatar
mbrads72 [210 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Another thing to presumably mention is how quiet a steel framed bike is. I'm a bit obsessive about unnecessary noises, and having recently built up a winter bike from a 30 year old 531 steel frame I was surprised how much less general background noise there is compared to the fat aluminium tubes of my summer bike. Must be the smaller resonance chamber.

Avatar
bigshape [167 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

the killer feature for me on this frame is the adjustable dropouts, allowing you to change from geared to singlespeed - i'd love to be able to do this on my current bike!

presumabley you can get a set of track ends for it?

Avatar
cyclisto [196 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Throw an extra 5mm tyre clearance and hydraulic brakes at the same price and you have a dream bike. How hard can it be?

Avatar
jamesfifield [110 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Quote:

A look at the geometry chart for the size 56cm on test here reveals a bike with a 555mm effective top tube, 520mm seat tube, 1,019mm wheelbase, 160mm head tube, 420mm chainstays, 72.5-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle.

This looks like a very pretty bit of kit. Thank you for providing the geometry numbers as well.
Given the nature of the frame (external headset bearings, high clearance disc fork) it might be worth quoting the frame stack rather than the headtube length to allow comparability across as wide a range of bikes as possible. 

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [760 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

bigshape wrote:

the killer feature for me on this frame is the adjustable dropouts, allowing you to change from geared to singlespeed - i'd love to be able to do this on my current bike!

presumabley you can get a set of track ends for it?

 

That's true, and I've added to the review the fact the frame can be fitted with horizontal dropouts for a fixed/singlespeed set up. It can even be used with regular rim brakes if you don't want discs, making it even more versatile. 

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
cyclisto wrote:

Throw an extra 5mm tyre clearance and hydraulic brakes at the same price and you have a dream bike. How hard can it be?

 

Hydros is easy, a matter of cost, that's all. 5mm more? Also easy, from an engineering stand point. But the issue for them is whether they want to do this from a business perspective. If they're happy that their market is 32c then that's great for them, regarldess of whether I, like you, would like another 5mm.

Avatar
Gasman Jim [192 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Reminds me of the Salsa Vaya disc I was riding around on 4 or 5 years ago, right down to the orange paint job. Eventually sold it and bought a Lynskey Sportive Disc. Steel may be real, but it's also really heavy!

Avatar
Fish_n_Chips [512 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

At last a decent paint job.

 

 

Avatar
armb [109 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I was in Townsend's recently looking at the Light Blue range. The single-speed/hub-gear drop-outs for the Robinson are still in development. The derailleur ones have spacers so you can use your choice of 130mm or 135mm axle.
Also available as a frameset: http://www.thelightblue.co.uk/Sport/FMLBR50O/Robinson-Frameset 
The frameset isn't actually disc specific, you could use long drop calipers with suitable rims. (Or so I was told.)

(The Darwin, with sliding dropouts, is disc specific, and will take larger tyres: http://www.thelightblue.co.uk/Sport/5LB5DV12Z/Darwin-One-By)