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Video Just In: Mason Bokeh adventure bike

Hands-on with the brand new Mason Bokeh

This is the brand new Mason Bokeh adventure bike, and as you can see from the video above, we’ve managed to get our hands on it so we can put it through its paces and see how it performs. After the successful debut of the Resolution and Definition disc-equipped endurance bikes, it is fair to say we have very high expectations for Dom Mason’s latest bike. 

The new Bokeh essentially builds on the solid foundations laid down by the Resolution and Definition, and there are many shared features and details, but the Bokeh pushes the brand firmly into the adventure and bikepacking market. It’s initially only available in aluminium but a titanium version is in the works. It features clearance for up to 50mm tyres, disc brakes, 12mm thru-axles, internal cable and brake hose routing, provision for a dynamo front hub and rack and mudguards and a gold old external threaded bottom bracket. 

Mason Bokeh gravel bike

Both the aluminium frame and new carbon fork are made in Italy to Mason’s exact specification - you won’t find this fork being used by any other bike brand. The down tube has the same D-shape profiles as the Resolution and Definition. One of the interesting talking points is the fact Mason has designed the bike to accept two wheel sizes: 700c and 650b. With the former, it’ll take 41mm tyres and with the later, it’ll take a 50mm tyre. Of course, 650b is nothing new; old French touring cyclists were riding this wheel size a century ago, and more recently the mountain bike industry has switched from 26in to 650b wheels (though it’s more commonly and confusingly called 27.5in). 

- Buyer’s guide to gravel and adventure bikes plus 16 of the best

But Cannondale really set the internet alight when it launched its Slate all-road bike with 650b wheels last year, and there have been a few smaller brands dabbling with 650b for a good few years. So it's nothing new, but there's much talk about its place on bikes designed for comfort and tackling more than just smooth road surfaces.  What’s the point of 650b? Quite simply, by shrinking the wheels you can fit a bigger tyre but maintain the same outside diameter, and that means you don’t have to make any major geometry changes. You can read more about 650b in the article below. 

- Is 650b the future for road bikes? road.cc investigates

Mason Bokeh - head tube badge.jpg

Mason is offering a choice of four complete builds around the two wheel sizes. Two Shimano bikes roll on 700 x 35mm wheels and tyres and two SRAM 1x11 bikes are equipped with the 650b wheels. We’ve got this range-topping ElementGrey 650b model with SRAM Force 1x and new Mason x Hunt AdventureSport wheels, shod with Panaracer Comet Hardpack 2.0in tyres. It costs £3,100, but you can step down to SRAM Rival 1x for £2,795. Or you could buy the frameset for £1,150 and build your own bike. Mason kindly supplied the test bike with two sets of wheels. We intend to spend time on both wheel sizes and see how they compare.

Mason Bokeh - rear disc brake.jpg

Is that good value? Mason isn't a big company and doesn't have the economies of scales to compete with the big brands, but taking into account the Italian manufacturing and the high level of detail clearly present in the frame, and the impressive finish quality, it stacks up reasonably well. It's certainly not the cheapest, but then it's not trying to be.

For example, you can get a GT Grade with a carbon frame and Shimano Ultegra build for £2,899, and it’s a very good bike, but I know the looks are decisive. Also combining an aluminium frame with a SRAM Force groupset is the Raleigh Roker Race (£2,500), a bike which in a cheaper SRAM Rival build we found to be excellent. The Mason is certainly cheaper than the £3,499 for the Parlee Chebacco frameset. A more realistic option is the Genesis Bikes Datum LTD (£3,199), which gets also uses a carbon frame and fork with big tyre clearance with a Shimano Ultegra groupset. 

Mason Bokeh - down tube decal.jpg

The Bokeh is a bike for riding fast over any sort of terrain, from a smooth road to inhospitable gravel tracks in the middle of nowhere. Mason calls this sort of riding AdventureSport, and to be fair to him, most brands are coming up with their own names to describe this type of bike and style of riding, so we won’t hold it against him. But we are seeing adventure as a category tag starting to stick.  We owe a lot to the US gravel racing scene, and manufacturers seeing it as an opportunity to develop a new category of bike, for these bikes, but ignore the hype and these bikes are really well suited to UK riding, especially with cyclists that favour comfort and versatility over speed, stiffness and weight. And given many roads are deteriorating into gravel tracks anyway, these bikes are better suited than most to deal with them.

Stay tuned for a first ride and review soon. More at masoncycles.cc

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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