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Gravel tech goes unhinged at Unbound: SRAM 13-speed spotted, new bikes from Trek and Giant, aero gravel goodness + more

The aero, bizarre and eye-watering lot of expensive tech from the world's most famous gravel race

It might be that the dust of Unbound, arguably the gravel calendar's biggest race of the year, has started to settle now, but some of the racers are for sure still finding some of that Kansas mud on their bikes - some of which are yet-to-be-released prototypes.

With that, we're taking a look back at all the new tech that we spotted at Unbound 2024. This year's event was perhaps the biggest spectacle to date, with Lachlan Morton setting a new course record for the 200-mile race, and the women finally getting their own, well-deserved start. 

If you're unfamilar with Unbound or have somehow missed all the tech news from it (you'll find plenty over on off.road.cc too), we're here to give you a quick bite-size summary of all the new and interesting tech that debuted at the annual gravel spectacle... 

SRAM 13-speed Red AXS XPLR

sram 13 speed red axs xplr unbound gravel

While Shimano has just about got its gravel groupsets updated to 12-speed, Unbound marked SRAM debuting its 13-speed Red AXS XPLR out in the wild. Currently, only Campagnolo offers a 13-speed groupset (Ekar) and in SRAM's existing lineup things are firmly 12-speed across disciplines. But as the additional cog was seen on not only one but many bikes at Unbound, it seems like SRAM's going to introduce something new to the markets sooner rather than later – the online forums are guessing around August. 

From what we've seen, the main takeaway is that the 13-speed groupset utilises a SRAM Transmission T-Type derailleur, which requires a frame with compatibility with SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH). If you're not familiar with the UDH - the system was initially adopted in mountain biking to simplify the array of derailleur hangers, but we are seeing it now making its way to gravel and even road bikes. SRAM introduced the 1x direct-mount derailleur with (seemingly) unparalleled durability to its Eagle MTB lineup in March 2023. 

The new 13-cog cassette seems to also be a distinct new product, featuring narrow-wide tooth profiling - again something that SRAM first brought out with the Eagle Transmission. This means it's designed to work exclusively with SRAM's new T-Type chain.

If you're wondering what the point of adding another gear? The very short of it: it makes the jumps between the cogs smaller, resulting in smoother shifting. 

The new 13-speed setup was spotted on several bikes at Unbound - including Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Stigmata, Sofia Gómez Villafane’s updated S-Works Crux (with a UDH!), and Russell Finsterwald’s new Trek Checkpoint.

New Trek Checkpoint

And talking of all those bikes with the new 13-speed grouppo, there were quite a few sneak peeks of upcoming bike releases at Unbound. While some brands are not wanting you to take a closer look at their yet-to-be-released (we're talking about you, Ineos) bikes that are being raced in public for hours, Trek is truly juicing out the sneak peeks of its new gravel bike. 

It seems Trek has made it its job to trick us into thinking what we see might not be true (holding our breaths to know about that Emonda-Madone) – so perhaps this isn't a new Checkpoint at all. Time will tell! 

 >Take a look at the smooth-riding Trek Checkpoint SL 6 AXS gravel bike

New Giant Revolt

 

Yet another new gravel bike spotted at the Unbound was the Giant Revolt, which seems to have been updated with similar features to those introduced to the Liv Devote late last year. That includes downtube storage and more internal routing (don't we love stuffing everything inside the frame nowadays) and well, in the case of Brendan Johnston an integrated Cadex cockpit - but that is perhaps not going to be a stock item.

> Giant Revolt 0 2020 review

The last time Giant updated the Revolt was last year, when the Revolt X with a suspension fork and dropper seatpost got launched - things which are become ever more common on gravel bikes, too. 

Skinsuits with hydration bladder sleeves...

Rule 28 gravel skinsuit Danni Shrosbree

Did we expect this to happen.. perhaps not in as many forms as it has? We already told you about Castelli's new Unlimited Pro jersey which houses a hydration bladder at the back of it. Next to release something similar was Rapha, whose new 'Blaerosuit' skinsuit was quite popular at Unbound. On the heels of Rapha, Rule also joined the hydration skinsuit party with its Gravel Suit, worn by the Felt UN1TD team.

The Gravel Suit features a 1.5L rear pouch for a water reservoir, eliminating the need for backpacks in ultra-distance races (though we saw Dylan Johnson slid in another pack on the frontside, and similarly the men's race winner Lachlan Morton stuffed his full). 

 

2024 UNBOUND Men's Elite On Course Images Dan Hughes_4235

 

Rule28 says that though the suit draws inspiration from TT suits, it's designed for a more upright position, with ribbed arm panels for better airflow and larger nutrition pockets for effective fueling. It still uses the same high-performance fabrics as the brand's aero range and is said to be optimised for speeds of 30-45kph. You might be thinking who does that kinda speed on gravel... well it seems quite a lot of folk at Unbound did, and that's why ever more aero helmets were also seen on the fastest racers. 

New Coros Dura cycling computer with 90h battery life

Coros is definitely a brand we're accustomed to linking with sports watches, but it seems the American company is branching out to the cycling computer segment. Its Dura cycling computer made an appearance at Unbound, with what seems to be a pretty exceptional battery life of 90 hours.

The computer is set to launch later this month so we'll get the full details soon. 

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for off-road.cc. She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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2 comments

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2wheelsRbetterThan4 | 1 week ago
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Oh yeah great 👍 just what the bike industry needs. 13 speed. Now all your 12 speed group sets are obsolete. OEM's can't keep up and there are "shortages" due to the proliferation of proprietary "standard" who's only function if for vendor lock in. Only for the vendor to be unable to keep up with demand or straight up stops making the parts.

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marmotte27 replied to 2wheelsRbetterThan4 | 1 week ago
2 likes
2wheelsRbetterThan4 wrote:

Oh yeah great 👍 just what the bike industry needs.

That's right, the industry needs it. As opposed to cyclists.

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