BIKE TEST: OBED GVR
Obed's race-ready GVR
Obed is a carbon/gravel-specific bike brand that was born out of the American Bicycle Group, which has been home to iconic road brands like Litespeed and Quintana Roo for two decades. Like its stablemates, Obed, too, is a consumer-direct brand on a mission to provide better value for bikes that enjoy legacy engineers and product managers. They continue to set themselves apart with their built-to-order menu and custom paint colors that are painted in their Chattanooga, Tennessee, facility.
Right out of the box, the all-new Obed GVR catches the eye with a striking custom Highlighter Yellow Matte finish. The sleek look is aided by fully integrated cables that run through the FSA ARC headset system. The only cables seen are the short amount that exits the frame to the appropriate component.
Our size-medium frame has a 57cm stack with a 38cm reach. The 14.6cm head tube is at 71.5 degrees for a 60cm front center. The wheelbase is on the short side for a gravel bike at 101.4cm, while the 42.5cm chainstays are on par for a gravel frame with room for 48mm tires. The threaded T47 bottom bracket has a drop of 71mm and offers the compatibility of BB30 with the advantages of having a threaded interface. Overall, the geometry is not drastically different compared to most modern gravel race bikes.
The GVR has a very clean look at the handlebar and stem as the cables and hoses run internally through the alloy FSA parts. It is worth noting that the FSA A-Wing AGX alloy ACR handlebars are not compatible with most out-front computer mounts. Unfortunately, there is too much of a “D” shape before clamped to the stem. There is also an FSA SL-K carbon 31.6mm seatpost with WTB saddle.
The drivetrain is courtesy of a Shimano GRX 2x crank with 48/31t chainrings that are paired to an 11-34t cassette for great range no matter the terrain. Our bike had the upgraded HED Vanquish RC4 carbon wheelset that added $1175 over the stock Sun Charger wheels. The tubeless HED wheels have a 21mm internal width and are paired with a set of 38mm Panaracer Gravel Kings tires.
Most of our rides aboard the GVR were over mixed terrain. We’d push the 38s on the road with slightly less speed but more comfort over bumps than our dedicated road machines. For this bike, the speed was not diminished when we hit the dirt. Luckily, there is plenty of clearance to run up to 48mm tires in case you want a bit more cushion. For our purposes and what this bike is intended for, we kept the stock Panaracers on in order to blend speed on pavement and traction on dirt. Worth a mention, although compatible with 650b’s, we kept the 700c wheelset from HED.
We felt like the Obed GVR was stiff but not ultra-stiff. Nevertheless, our GVR test bike still performed when putting the power down to effectively traverse rougher terrain with confidence and not being harsh. To be more specific, all of the snappy compliance we experience was at the rear, with the front being rather stout. Yes, the alloy handlebars are stiffer than carbon. Compared to the rear of the bike, the sturdier front feels secure to control, while the back has just enough compliance to keep a rider comfortable and holding traction.
Through our testing, we felt the GVR had a great balance between the front end and rear of the bike. Road riders looking to jump in for a good time on the dirt and potentially race gravel events will be thankful it’s not their stiff, skinnier-tire carbon bike. It’s still a gravel race bike, so there is a limit to how rough you’ll want to go. Given its comfort and confidence when we tested the GVR, we’d gladly recommend this as a great option if you only want one drop-bar bike for gravel and road, as it can hold its own in a group ride with no fuss.
When it came to the fast dirt section, the GVR performs as intended—a full-pull gravel race bike. Although we had a blast on the tarmac, the GVR’s capabilities come to life on the dirt. With the choice of Shimano’s GRX 2x drivetrain, we could slow spin up loose fire roads or put down the hammer to keep up within a fast-paced group. At just around three-quarters of a pound heavier than a Cervelo Aspero 5 (18.62 pounds), the GVR is not the lightest gravel bike we’ve tested, but it is still considerably light and priced nearly $2000 less than the Cervelo.
The GVR geometry speaks to the ride feel that we experience. Time and time again we just felt confident and could predict what the bike was going to do before an obstacle was reached. The bike sits low enough to feel grounded and has a slack-enough head angle for stability down the steep bits on loose dirt. Overall, it wants to be raced but has a ride quality that can be used for more than just getting podiums.
The new Obed GVR offers a race-ready carbon gravel bike with an impressive value to the rider. It has secure and stable handling beyond its gravel racing intent. We are hard-pressed to argue with what Obed offers in terms of customization, as it can be built to meet whatever a rider is looking for in a gravel bike. Some riders will likely look to run a dropper post to gain a little more stability when descending. If you run a dropper, you’ll likely want to go with bigger tires, but keep in mind that this will change the “race bike” feel.
Speed isn’t everything for some, and Obed made sure that the GVR could appeal to more than just a podium seeker. As a small brand in a big world of bicycle manufacturers, Obed has stuck to its direct-to-consumer route in order to deliver their fully customizable bikes at a considerable value to the end user than many of its major competitors. Builds start at $3795 for 1x Shimano GRX, and there is a Campy Ekar 1×13 option that starts at $4945.
In fact, we kept having to do a double-take and check the price. It’s impressive that our custom-selected paint, with Shimano GRX 810, fully integrated cabling, top-of-the-line FSA components and the latest upgraded HED carbon wheels, was only $5275. The a la carte menu that Obed offers had us building bikes for half the day with countless options; you can truly build the bike that fits your needs. Bottom line, the GVR likes to be raced, but it can inspire a rider to do more and go further than just being fast on a fire road.
Race-ready your way
Could use a carbon cockpit
2x means it’s great on- and off-road
Weight: 19.31 pounds
Sizes: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
Helmet: Specialized Prevail II
Jersey: Cuore Awffle House Custom
Bib: POC MTB Air Layer
Shoes: Scott RC SL Supersonic
Socks: TASCO Fantom Ultralite
Glasses: 100% S2