British brand Mason has two new steel models in the SLR, a model designed for long-distance grand-touring, and the Exposure, which is essentially a new version of the Bokeh gravel bike, so let's check them out. To celebrate the release of the new bikes, Mason has created a very special and very limited selection of Launch Edition frames...
The SLR, in Mason's own words, is the "result of our focus on ride quality, long-distance performance, and luxury grand-touring capabilities." This all-road and touring bike features space for up to 700c x 40mm tyres, full mudguard mounts and multiple attachment points for accessories and carriers.
The new bike has been designed and made in collaboration with renowned Italian frame builder Cicli Barco, but more on that in a minute...
The SLR will usually be offered in Mode Red and the same ShutterBlack finishes that we've seen on other frames such as the Definition. However, being an LE (Launch edition) model, the bike above is in a "never to be repeated" DarkRoomRed Metallic finish and the frame below is another LE special DiffuserBlack Metallic.
Other changes to the Launch Edition models include special stainless steel badging brazed to the seat tube and Launch Edition decals.
Anyone who pre-orders one of the 10 Launch edition frames will also get special Launch Edition 1-10 personalised bottom bracket numbering for each model and receive a MASON x Barco card signed by the designer and welder that worked on the frame. The owner also gets a Cicli Barco cap that is signed by the welder.
Both the Launch Edition and production SLRs share a custom shaped, progressively-butted, phosphate-coated Dedacciai Zero/Zero Uno tubeset that is made exclusively for this frame. Mason says that this "offers class-leading compliance and weight, combined with a propulsive, plush ride quality, and maximum pedalling efficiency."
The frame is manufactured using 100% Italian TIG welding and silver-brazed frame construction which features a stainless-steel T47 threaded bottom bracket shell. This allows hoses and cables to be internally routed, exiting through the chainstays which keeps them out the way of frame bag straps.
Other features include silver-brazed bottle bosses, clearance for 50/34T double chainrings and discreet internal dynamo-light routing in the top tube with stainless-steel port reinforcement as standard.
Just look at how pretty the welding is on this raw pre-production frame that is finished with just a coating of beeswax.
Unlike many low-volume brands, Mason has chosen to go to the trouble of designing and making its own full-carbon fork, the RangeFinder AR (‘AR’ for AllRoad). Mason says that this allows it to tune the fork to each individual model, provides full control of the moulded-in eyelet placement, and means there's no need to make geometry compromises.
The RangeFinder AR on the SLR has been tuned for "all conditions riding on firmer surfaces with large tyres." It also has mounts for a front rack or rando-style bag support in addition to an internally-routed dynamo front light.
The rear dropouts are interesting too. Anyone who has been exposed to steel frame building will know that this is an area that regularly causes headaches because, as Mason's Italian frame makers put it, "[Steel bikes are alive when heating and cooling."
Mason's solution is its TiltShift precision-aligned UK-made BEAR dropout design. The dropouts use a clockable stainless steel insert to enable absolute accuracy in alignment during fabrication. Mason says that this allows it to achieve perfect alignment without any cold-setting after welding.
Mason has stuck with its eight-size range which is impressive given the scale of production. The SLR is, as you would expect, a little more relaxed than the Definition with a shorter effective top tube, longer wheelbase to allow for the larger tyre clearances and shorter reach.
The SLR frameset will set you back £1,995 with the Launch Edition model costing the same despite the more expensive paintwork and badging. However, it is limited to just 10 units so you'll need to move fast!
Full pricing and build specs can be found at masoncycles.cc but a SRAM Force eTap AXS build starts at £5,000 and the one that we had a look around complete with racks was specced to £5,435.99.
The SLR LE DarkRoom Red GRX 2x Limited bike pictured above has stainless Berthoud muguards and a Luminance Upgrade lighting setup bringing the total build to £5,253.
The second recently released bike is the Exposure which has even larger tyre clearances – 700c x 50mm/650b x 58mm – and is designed for "fast, long-distance and multi-month adventure touring over very variable and unpredictable terrain." You can liken it to a steel reinterpretation of the Bokeh.
The Exposure has mounts galore, full mudguards, multiple attachment locations for accessories, racks, and extra fluid. You name it, the Exposure has it.
In fact, you'll find four bosses on the top side of the down tube, three underneath, three on the seat tube; two on the top tube and two on either side of the seatstays. That's before we even get into the rear rack bosses, dynamo lighting ports and the exclusive (removable) stainless-steel threaded lower mount for rear mudguard fitment. All of them are stainless-steel and silver-brazed.
With the rigours of multi-day riding in mind, the Exposure uses custom-shaped, progressively butted, phosphate-coated Dedacciai Zero Uno tube set with a Reynolds/BEAR 631 44mm head tube which is shaped exclusively for this frame. Mason says that this steel tubing "offers class-leading toughness and weight, combined with engaging pedalling feel, ride quality, and efficiency."
Like the SLR, the new Exposure uses a T47 bottom bracket and gets a full carbon fork that has been designed and made by Mason, this time a 'RangeFinder AS' (‘AS’ for AdventureSport) - which is said to be tuned for all- surface riding conditions.
The Exposure gets clearance for a 48/31T double chainset or 40T single chainring.
Like the SLR, the Exposure will also be available in the DiffuserBlack Metallic Launch Edition colourway and production colours: Filter Yellow and Optic Green (shown below) which Dom Mason explained were inspired by another versatile machine, the Mercedes Unimog (it's a range of multi-purpose tractors, trucks and lorries).
The geometry on the exposure is designed to provide stable and predictable handling especially when carrying packs and panniers. The stack has also been increased to allow for a more relaxed/upright riding position.
The Exposure frameset comes in at £1,995, the production OpticGreen Exposure bike with Campagnolo Ekar components shown above is £4,250, and the bike shown in the gallery, the Exposure LE DarkRoom Red Force AXS eTap, has a price tag of £5,095.
We're looking forwards to testing out the two new bikes in the coming months so be sure to check back for our full reviews...
What do you think of the new bikes? Let us know in the comments section below...
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...