Specialized AWOL


We love a bike that knows it's purpose - that goes for a specific niche and hits the spot perfectly. The AWOL is one of those.

Cr-Mo steel frame and forks, mudguard and rack mounts, internal cable routing for lights, even a kickstand plate. This is an adventure bike for those of us who want to travel long distances, often fully laden, and with absolute reliability.

It also makes the basis for a great winter commuter or all-round city bike - the combination of flared drop bars and a relaxed riding position are ideal for nipping around city streets, and it can carry shopping, commuter gear, you name it, with aplomb. Potholed roads are no obstacle for the chunky tyres, and the steel frame will last and last (and happily endure daily bumps and scrapes).

The predominantly Shimano Sora groupset isn't going to set anyone's pulse racing, and the wheels are workmanlike (but perfectly sound), but everything has been chosen to be functional, sturdy and trustworthy at the £1200 pricepoint.

The looks are suitably understated in military matt green, and some nice touches like the hard-wearing fabric saddle add a touch of style without compromising on the overall sensible feel.

29in wheels roll well on rough surfaces (with 45mm tyres for shock absorption) and offer a good turn of speed on the smoother stuff, and the relaxed geometry and low centre of gravity make for stable handling and excellent load-lugging capabilities.

It may not be the most cutting-edge bike in our build gallery, but it's perfectly judged for what it needs to do.


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