A bike’s stance dictates how you’ll ride it. When you see bikes like this, you don’t think of speed and efficiency. Coming off of a lightweight carbon gravel bike review and jumping back onto this Bombtrack Beyond 2 made me think about my headspace while riding a bike. For me, bikes like the Beyond 2, AWOL, Sutra ULTD, and Otso Fenrir instill a feeling of unintentionality when riding. They’re machines for meandering. While they are all touring bikes, designed for front and rear racks, they are so much more. I’ve put in many meandering miles on this bike and am ready to break it down for you, so read on below.
Above and Beyond 2
The Beyond 2 is a continuation of the Beyond model, first announced in 2020 by Bombtrack. After a year of field tests, Bombtrack received feedback from its customer base and sponsored riders to make the Beyond 2 even better. Rack, fender, and cargo bosses are ample throughout the frame, while its upright riding position and parts spec enable it to “roll right from the box.” It even comes with a porteur-style front rack, which I opted out of for this review period. Unlike many of its competitors, the Beyond 2 is specced with a Supernova dynamo light setup, perfect for those sunset chasing dirt road rides. The Beyond 2 is intended for the long haul, yet as I found, it’s fitting for exploratory rides.
The Beyond moniker falls within the “Adventure Touring” Bombtrack catalog, which includes a 2x crankset, stripped-down Beyond, a Beyond + flat bar rigid MTB, a Beyond + ADV rigid MTB with a carbon fork and even a Beyond Junior for the kids.
Specced and Equipped
With the rising popularity of bicycle touring and bikepacking, it’s relatively common for people to strap bags onto their carbon gravel bikes and go out on a S24O, bicycle camping trip, or a bikepacking event. Yet, there’s something to be said about robust touring bikes. I’d much prefer to tour on a bike engineered to take the additional weight of bags and racks. It’s also really convenient to have legit rack bosses, not just cargo cage, 3-bolt bosses. Rack mounts don’t have to be just for racks. They can also be used for bag stabilizers like the Pec Deck and the Fab’s Chest. Remember, in the end, companies designing carbon gravel bikes aren’t often designing them to be tourers, they’re often designed for gravel riding and racing.
Touring and adventure bikes are often designed with all of the above in mind. The tubing is engineered to take the additional weight of racks and bags, is robust both loaded and unloaded, and is in general, a more capable machine overall. The Beyond 2 is just one of many options in this space and while I’ve reviewed a great deal over the years, I must say its part spec is the most thoughtful. There are a few missteps, as with any spec build, but overall, the Beyond 2 is very well equipped.
For starters, the contact points on this bike are all exemplary, even the Bombrack-branded “Fuzz” saddle. 50mm Gravel king tires perform quite well on hardpack gravel, rocky doubletrack, and singletrack. The 30° flare Bombtrack Beyond handlebars have a nice, shallow drop, which make it ideal for lots of time steering this beaut from the drops, while still being comfortable on the hoods for a more casual riding position.
The Supernova lights, both front and rear, are industry standards for touring lighting. The lights are powered by the KT dynamo hub and laced to WTB rims for easy tubeless setup and maintenance. As for the gearing, the Beyond 2 relies upon a SRAM cassette that offers 11-42t range. For cranks, Bombtrack once again specced its own parts: 24mm spindle Ames cranks and a 36t narrow wide ring. I’m not sure how much smaller you’d be able to take the front chainring down as the BCD limits the more hyper-compact ring sizes that have been popularized by direct mount offerings.
As mentioned before, the Beyond 2 comes with a porteur-style “Deck Front Rack,” but knowing I wouldn’t be able to use this bike on a legit, fully-loaded tour during this review period I opted out of using one. If the platform rack ain’t your thing, the Beyond 2 is equipped with plentiful rack mounts for your Tubus, Tumbleweed, Surly, or just about any other rack platform.
The Beyond 2 comes in two wheel size options. Extra small and small frames use a 27.5 wheel, while medium to extra large roll on 29″ wheels.
It’s impossible to not compare the geometry of the Beyond 2 to the Sutra ULTD (review here), which I quite loved for similar reasons. Let’s look at the trail numbers for the Beyond 2 first. Mapping the size XL’s fork offset and wheel diameter, we reach 67mm of trail, which is not exactly a mid to low range you’d expect for a touring bike. Comparatively, the Sutra ULTD carries a trail of 78mm if using the same size tire. The chainstay numbers above reflect the different wheel sizes offered across the size run. The XL I rode has a 450mm chainstay length, 10mm longer than the Sutra ULTD. The bottom bracket drop is 70mm on the Beyond 2, versus 72mm on the ULTD.
While I haven’t ridden the Sutra ULTD in some time now, I did ride the Beyond 2 on the same terrain and never felt like the front end was too twitchy. That includes twisty turny, juniper-lined singletrack, 10-mile dirt descents through wide-open forest roads, or slow-moving doubletrack traverses.
My theory on this has to do with the longer chainstays and higher bottom bracket, allowing you to rely on a bit more rear end stability while shifting your line quickly due to the higher bottom bracket and higher trail. Stability is all about re-centering the bike under you while riding and the Beyond 2 achieves that with ease.
Big Bikes for Big People
Before I jump into the riding qualities of the Beyond 2, I just want to say how elated I am to ride a proper XL. The Beyond 2 came specced with a 100mm stem, which fit me great but put me in a long, stretched-out position. Instead of using it, I swapped in a 30mm long stem to keep me more upright and casual. Still, being a long and leggy bastard, It’s always hard feeling like production bikes “fit” me in the way they should, which is probably why I opt for so many custom bikes.
On the flip side, I’d like to commend Bombtrack on offering a proper size XS for shorter riders!
A Bike for Exploration
Still relatively new to the Southern Rockies and the areas surrounding Santa Fe, I often find myself out solo, examining a dotted line on a map and seeing if/where it goes. This often results in either a locked gate (boo) or a long afternoon chasing meandering double track (yay!). In my experience, these sorts of rides benefit the most from a more upright riding position; one where you’re sitting more in the bike, rather than atop it.
I feel like I’m able to control the bike more comfortably, descend rocky trails in the drops with ease, and rally around tight singletrack with a riding position such as this. Ultimately, this chassis design speaks more to my riding style these days, where I might do 30 miles of slow-moving mixed-terrain versus 60 miles of hardpack gravel.
My feeling is a bike like the Beyond 2 is closer to a rigid mountain bike, especially with the wider bars than a road or gravel bike. There are similarities between this and an early 80s dirt drop bike, equipped with flared WTB handlebars, a Cunningham “LD stem”, and an otherwise MTB chassis. These bikes didn’t really have a name. Even when Steve Cook left his cruiser behind in 1981 for a Cunningham with drop bars, people didn’t really have a name for this unique platform that was pioneered by garage tinkerers like Cunningham and Potts.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the term “ATB” surfaced, which even then referred to flat bar, rigid 26″ MTBs. Still, these funky dirt drop mountain bikes didn’t have a designated nomenclature but that didn’t stop them from gaining notoriety. In the 80s, Potts, Cunningham, and even Ross Shafer, of Salsa fame, built plenty of dirt drop MTBs. The Salsa above is from 1984 and used to don a “LD stem” before it was replaced by a Salsa P7 stem. This experimentation continued throughout the mid-late 80s. Later, in the 90s, Tomac would popularize the platform with his wild style and mid-race stunts.
Nomenclature is the quagmire for any media outlet. Here at The Radavist, it took me some time to call a fat-tire road bike a “gravel bike” and I still tend to call any drop bar bike with a road-ish geometry a “road bike.” I mean, gravel roads are still roads, right? In my mind, the Beyond is a true-to-form touring bike and when it’s not loaded down with racks and bags, I’ve accepted the nomenclature of “adventure bike.”
We’ve got a lot of dirt drop bikes from the 1980s on the way here on the site, as well as some deep nerdery about this platform, so stay tuned!
What I Loved About the Beyond 2
Right out of the box, I was impressed at not only the size of this bike but the weight. A steel rigid “adventure” bike that weighs under 30 pounds is a win-win. As shown here with cages, pedals, and a saddlebag, the Beyond 2 XL weighs 29lbs on the nose. Not bad!
I love the parts spec, especially the contact points, and would like to commend Bombtrack on speccing the Beyond 2 with a dynamo lighting setup. I feel like this is commonplace with European brands moreso than US-based companies, so this makes sense but still, having to not worry about bringing lights on a ride is crucial for truly experiencing the explorative nature of a platform like this. The way all the dynamo cable routing is integrated into the frame design internally really shows the level of detail Bombtrack included in this bike. I.e. the dynamo wasn’t an afterthought, it was a motivating factor.
The ride quality of a steel fork, combined with stable geometry, with even an albeit higher trail than expected, created one of the most dynamic riding experiences of any bike within this space I’ve had the opportunity to pedal.
Can I just shout out the paint job too? I can’t get over how good it looks in the sun. It also matches our Strata bottles quite well, don’t you think?
Lastly, the retail price of $3,665 seems quite fair given the platform you get. You could literally buy this bike, acquire some bags, and take off on a tour. Or just do what I did and have it for a capable all-rounder.
What I Would Change About the Beyond 2
I have a few tiny qualms that I’d love to see changed with the Beyond 2 and the first is the gearing. With a 36t front chainring and a 42t rear cassette, I was pretty pinned going up a steep dirt road that marks the start of a wonderful dirt climb through our national forest. Add in camping gear and 6-8 liters of water and suddenly, that gearing would feel drastically undergunned. While the obvious move is to equip the Beyond 2 with Eagle GX or, *gasp* a triple, I could see how this would add to the pricepoint but it is worth noting. If you wanted to change the gearing up with the least upfront cost, I’d move to a direct mount crank and a 26t chainring. Or perhaps switch the driveline to MTB boost, which would enable bigger tire clearance.
My other critique is the infestation of flat-mount brakes on touring bikes. Why? Please, someone, explain this to me. Even unloaded, I experienced a lack of brake power while descending and had to adjust the brake calipers due to heat-induced “walking.”
Our parent company, The Pro’s Closet, carries new Bombtrack bikes, including the Beyond 2 and we’re now offering free shipping on all Bomtrack models with the code BOMBBIKES. The retail for the Beyond 2 comes in at $3,664.83.
Got questions? Drop ’em in the comments!