Last year we tested the Snowdon Paradox, the first flat bar titanium road bike from the new Bristol-based brand, and this year it has followed up with a gravel version called, rather simply, the Paradox 38. We’ve just taken delivery of the new bike to review, but here’s a first look at all the important details before young Mat swings a leg over it.
We’re used to gravel bikes having a geometry that is different to the road bikes they are loosely based on, but in the Paradox 38 we find the exact same geometry as the road-focused Paradox 28 we tested last year. The key difference between the two is found when examining the tubes: thicker walled titanium tubes boost the strength and stiffness to suit the rugged terrain this model is intended to be capable of conquering.
By far the clearest difference between the two models is in the tyre clearance. The new gravel bike accepts both 700 x 38mm or 650b x 50mm, easily accommodating most of the new gravel-specific tyres that have come onto the market in recent years.
As with the bike we tested last year, this new one is made from 3AL 2.5V seamless double butted titanium, with the manufacturing taken care of by British company Engima Bicycle Works. It’s finished with an Enigma C-Six carbon fork.
Comfort is a big factor for Snowdon, and along with the firm belief in wide tyres and titanium’s legendary compliance, the compact frame design ensures a healthy length of exposed 27.2mm seatpost for more flex at the saddle.
It’s one of the few (in fact, it’s the only one we know of) gravel bikes designed around a flat handlebar. Snowdon specs up to a 600mm (23.6in) width handlebar which it reckons “open up the rider’s chest and enable them to breath deeper and thus take on more oxygen.”
There is a good case for flat bars, as Mike explained in his review last year: “Not everyone wants or needs drop bars. For some it's health reasons – maybe arm, shoulder or back issues prevent placing a lot of weight forward. Perhaps they want a more upright stance for dealing with traffic, or neck issues come to the fore with more bent-over positions. Maybe they just want to enjoy the view, or prefer thumb/grip shifters.”
Snowdon only offers the frameset, with prices starting a £2,150 and there are plenty of optional extras like custom geometry, additional braze-ons and a choice of disc or rim brakes. Each frame takes 60-120 days to be built and comes with a lifetime warranty.
To let us put the new bike through its paces, Snowdon kindly provided a fully built bike, centred around the brand new Shimano Ultegra R8000 mechanical groupset with Metrea hydraulic disc brakes and shifters, and Mavic Kyrsium All Road wheels shod with Schwalbe G-One 40mm tyres.
Frame weight is a claimed 1,350g and the complete bike as pictured here is 9.74kg (21.47lb).
That’s the first look then, watch out for a review soon, and in the meantime, you can find more information at www.snowdonbike.co.uk
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.