Review: Carver Ti All-Road
Tester: Karl Rosengarten
Weight: 150 lbs.
Carver’s Ti All-Road is a mountain biker’s road bike. With a design aimed at mixed- surface comfort and stability, the All-Road stands ready for rough road rambles, gravel grinds, and singletrack shortcuts.
Built from 3/2.5 titanium alloy, the All-Road comes with a lifetime warranty and crash replacement discount. Stock frames come in 2 cm size increments and retail for $1,400. For $200 additional, you get the option of making custom geometry tweaks and/or adding a few braze-ones (typical 6-8 week turnaround). Our size 56 cm frame features the optional $500 Pinion drive interface.
The Pinion P1.9XR gearbox provides nine speeds spanning a 568 percent range. Carver’s rear sliders permit proper tensioning of the Gates Carbon Drive belt. All-Road frames come with the customer’s choice of Paragon dropout inserts. Ours features vertical wheel slots, making it a breeze to remove and reinsert the quick-release wheel while maintaining proper belt tension.
The All-Road fits tires up to 700×45, and with WTB Riddler tires of that size, the bottom bracket sits 11 inches off the ground. The belt drivetrain determines the chainstay length, which measures 18.3 inches on our setup. Frames come standard with a rack, fender, and three water bottle braze-ones, though, with the Pinion drive, only a small bottle fits under the downtube (and inserting/removing requires turning the front wheel to the side).
Carver’s 710 mm wide MyTi Carbon bars, lifted with a 1.5-inch stack of stem spacers, put me in a comfortable, heads-up riding position that inspired confidence, even in sketchy conditions. The All-Road felt at home zipping down gravel roads and romp- ing over roots and rocks on local singletrack. The titanium frame and Carver Carbon CX Disc fork combined to provide a supple ride over uneven surfaces without feeling flexy or imprecise.
I dig flat bars, but If you prefer your road bikes with drop bars, the All-Road’s stack and reach are on par with other “adventurous” road bikes. Spec’d with drop bars and skinnier tires, the All-Road should make a fine gravel race bike, or a sporty scoot for everyday escapes.
The low-slung, central location of the Pinion gearbox made its 4.9 pounds weight less noticeable than the rearward weight bias of internally geared hubs. I appreciated the balanced feeling, especially when venturing onto dirt or skittery gravel. Speaking of low-slung, the bottom bracket height is suitable for mild, but not gnarly, singletrack, so don’t think of the All-Road as a mountain bike surrogate.
The Pinion changes multiple gears with one twist of the control, and it allows shifting while at a standstill or with the cranks rotating backward. While the transmission upshifts (to higher gear) under load, the design prevents downshifting if the pedaling pressure is too high, so plan on soft-pedaling or coasting while downshifting.
When transitioning from coasting to pedaling, the gearbox would often emit an audible “click” or “thunk” as the gears engaged. When I asked, Pinion told me: “With a draggy freehub body the belt or chain drives the output shaft a few degrees forward, unloading the pawl from the tooth it is engaged with. When you get back on the gas the pawl pops back into place producing a thunk or click. Pinion has made a rolling design change to the shape of the pawls and teeth they engage to mitigate this feeling and sound.” Good to hear it’s being addressed, as the thunking got annoying at times.
Carver designed the Ti All-Road to fill the popular gravel grinding, light touring, and bikepacking niches. I’d have to say “mission accomplished.” The All-Road is a very versatile platform, and I can envision builds ranging from fast and furious to rough and ready. With both stock and custom options, your road to adventure could be named Carver.
Specs (based on size tested):
Top tube: 21.7”
Head tube: 71°
Seat tube: 73.5°
BB height: 11”
Chainstays: 17.9-18.7” ( min-max, with Pinion drive option)
Weight: 25.1 lbs. with pedals
Sizes: 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56 (tested), 58, 60, 62, 64, 66 cm
Price: $1,900 Pinion-compatible frame ($5,672 as tested)