Meet the Allied Cycle Works Echo, a two-in-one bike; it can ride gravel, it can ride road, its carbon fiber frame and fork are designed and manufactured in Rogers, Arkansas. To better understand how bikes such as the Echo are manufactured, check out our detailed factory tour video of Allied Cycle Works Headquarters, which also covers some of the company’s history.
The Echo is touted as the bike to “go fast everywhere”, pure road performance one day, and gravel the next sans compromises. The Echo isn’t the first bike to attempt this double act, but of the bikes we’ve seen touting these virtues, it could be the fastest of the lot.
Allied Echo Long-Term Video Review
In this video, JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew conducts a detailed video review over the long haul, covering the in-depth tech features including the Echo’s flip-chip functionality with demonstration. Multiple wheel and tire (tyre) combinations are tested including 700c and 650b, but it doesn’t end there. JOM utilized the Echo extensively for his fun ride experiences, in states such as Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, and to the races, at the 2021 SBT GRVL in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Not your average run-of-the-mill gravel bike review!
The Echo accomplishes the switch between road surfaces with pair of flip chips at the fork and dropout of the bike. The chips adjust the bike’s geometry a smidge, about half a degree at the headtube, and change the fork length and chainstay length by up to one centimetre. The chainstay length flips between 415mm and 425mm. The flip process is demonstrated in the video above.
In roadie mode, the Echo will fit a 700c x 30mm tyre, however, JOM ran a 700c x 32mm Goodyear Eagle F1 tyre (under review) on an ENVE 3.4 SES wheelset.
The Echo will fit a tyre measuring 700c x 40mm; we tested with the WTB Byway in 700c x 40mm, Panaracer Gravelking SK in 700c x 38mm, Continental Terra Trail (review coming soon), and a soon to market (under embargo at the time of this article), 650b x 47mm tyre.
Wheels tested with the Echo include the ENVE AR Disc 3.4, ENVE G23 with BERD Spokes, Roval Terra C (Under Review), and American Classic Race 27.5″ / 650b.
A potential deal-killer for some, the Echo will only work with an electronic drivetrain.
More and more bikes for the adventurous road less travelled and so on, are hiding their cabling internally. For SRAM’s eTap wireless electronic shifting bikes, that’s a moot point, but with the hydraulic brake housings, they still exist and you’ll often find them dangling beneath the stem.
Then you have the Echo here, which hides all of that away, in what is arguably one of the cleanest front ends ever seen on a bicycle.
Where exactly are the cables?
The Echo relies on a proprietary stem built in-house by Allied in five sizes, this example is 110mm, which routes the di2 wires in this case, and the hydraulic brake housings, beneath this top plate of the stem, that also does double duty as the handlebar clamp.
Allied’s system requires a 31.8mm handlebar that internalizes everything, meaning the cables exit at the centre rear of the handlebar.
The front brake housing runs through the hollow fork crown and exits right near the front brake caliper, whilst the rear brake, and electronic wires, run through a port in the rear of the steerer tube. The video linked above demonstrates how to disassemble the stem.
The steerer tube is completely straight, has no tapering, and utilizes a pretty traditional integrated headset, by Chris King, also made in the USA.
Because of the proprietary nature and design of the front end, you don’t preload the headset with a top cap bolt.
Rather, we have a throwback to the days of the 1″ threaded headset, where you utilize a 32mm spanner / wrench, to adjust the preload beneath the stem, on a threaded collar.
Above, the proper Allied-supplied tool to set headset tension and remove / install the flip chips at front and rear.
Seatpost size is 27.2mm, and uses a simple expander wedge to keep it in place. There has been no slippage of the Black Inc seatpost, even after multiple insertions and removals of flying this bike to colorado a couple of times.
The bottom bracket standard is the venerable and proven English thread interface.
Because this is 2021, you have 12mm thru-axles front and rear, and the brake calipers are flat mounted.
You may be wondering are the brakes affected when you flip the chips around?
That would be a no, they are part of the interface so assuming your rotors are playing nice, you shouldn’t have to fiddle with caliper alignment once you flip the chips. See the video above for the flip-chip demonstration.
This bike is all performance, and it really isn’t a full-on gravel bike. That means, allied ditched fender mounts, and the option for a top tube mount, but they do have a third bottle cage mount beneath the downtube.
JOM used to think the top tube mount was useless, but he’s a convert, and would much rather have a top tube mount, versus a third bottle cage mount, or at least have both available.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options for mounting bags if you have the need to carry cargo, which will admittedly kill any perceived aero advantages. One such bag ridden and reviewed is the unique BUCK!T UWMiniBARBag Handlebar Bag.
Finally, this review sample is the stock geometry size Small, which in gravelly mode, has a top tube length of 550.3mm, and in roadie mode, 549.8mm. Visit Allied’s website for the geometry chart for all of the sizes.
To see how the Allied Echo rides, along with JOM’s findings, you’ll need to watch the video embedded above.
Links of Interest:
- Allied Cycle Works Factory Tour Video
- 2021 SBT GRVL aboard the Allied Echo
- BUCK!T UWMiniBARbag Handlebar Bag Review
- EVOC Road Bike Bag Pro Case Review (Works great for Gravel Bikes)
- ENVE G23 / BERD Spokes Wheelset Review
- Panaracer Gravelking SK Tire / Tyre Review
- Orange Seal Endurance Formula Review – JOM’s go-to Sealant!
- Gravel Cyclist’s Route Library