Last August we got a press release about a couple of new bikes from a company called Otso Cycles. We learned of a new gravel/cyclo cross bike dubbed the Warakin. Our “Fresh Gravel” post revealed all the salient features of the Warakin- A stainless steel frame, the “Tuning Chip” rear drop out, and more. Click that link for all the pertinent details on geometry and more.
What It Is: Named after a legendary mythical animal , The Warakin is a stainless steel framed, carbon forked all around gravel, cyclo cross, or light touring rig. Outfitted in an array of Otso Cycles house brand “Lithic” parts, the bike pictured here represents Otso Cycles’ base level complete bike offering. There is a frame/fork and an Ultegra level spec bike also available along with custom spec, which can be handled on a case by case basis. This bike also came equipped with the recently announced Lithic “Hiili” carbon fiber fork.
The main feature most folks notice first is that the frame is metallic and bead blasted with subtle graphics. It is not a titanium frame, as many suspect when they have seen it, but it is stainless steel. The overall look is understated and the bead blasted graphics are tastefully done. The next thing you might note is that the Warakin has skinny tubing. The austenitic stainless steel tubes are striking in their slenderness amongst a world of fat, voluptuous carbon fiber renderings. The aforementioned Hiili carbon fork has gaping clearances around the tubeless Schwalbe G-One tires. I imagine that a fat 650B set up wouldn’t be a problem here, and the rear stays seem to also hint at room for such wheels. I’ll be trying that out in the near future.
Looking closer you might note the three sets of water bottle bosses, (two in the main triangle, one under the down tube), and the rack and fender mounts. These conjure up a variety of possible uses the Warakin is meant for- Commuting, long, unsupported riding, and light touring duties. It’s obvious that Otso was thinking the Warakin was to be truly versatile in function and not just a cyclo cross bike with suggested optional uses. The Warakin is ready to be set up in whatever way that the owner of it envisions. This also extends to cable routing. The Warakin sports full cable housing runs for weather-proof performance. The cable stops are also removable and configurable for 2X, 1X or single speed drive trains.
Probably the most unusual feature of the Otso Cycles bicycles is the “Tuning Chip” rear drop out assembly. This is a clever way that the owner of a Warakin can use to set the bike up for different purposes and handling traits. The stainless steel, captured drop out design has a plate that the rider can flip 180° in the drop out pocket to place the 12mm through axle in a forward or rearward position. This pocket is also angled in such a way that when you choose the rearward setting the bottom bracket is slightly lowered and the head angle is subtly changed as well. This results in a 440mm chain stay length which also gives the Warakin a more stable handling feel. Not to mention allowing for a more rearward pannier mounting position, should you be using the Warakin for commutes with a rack. Let’s say that you wanted to enter a cyclo cross event. The Tuning Chip in the forward position renders a 420mm chain stay length while raising the bottom bracket slightly and steepening the head tube subtly. There is also a Tuning Chip which utilizes a middle position and there is also a single speed compatible chip, both available from Otso Cycles separately.
Obviously, the Warakin here on test is set up in the rearward Tuning Chip position, which is what I would prefer for gravel road riding here. By the way, this is a 58cm frame, and the Warakin is also available in five other sizes ranging from 49cm through 60cm. The Warakin frameset has a five year warranty. Frames start at $1799.00USD and complete Warakin bicycles start at $3199.00USD. To recap- The test bike here at RidingGravel.com represents the base level complete bike. The Lithic component arm of Otso Cycles is represented in the wheel set, handle bar, and fork.
First Ride Impressions: Steel. Check! Many riders know and love steel bicycles because of that certain, springy feeling you get when you ride one. When it is good, the feel you get is one of enjoyment, smoothness, and that feeling that the bike is working with you. When it is bad it is a noodly, frustrating, flexy ride quality that works against you. The Warakin has the “good” qualities so far, and I can say that I instantly felt that smooth, damped ride quality that is prized for gravel riding. Is it the Schwalbe G-One tires set up tubeless? Hmm…… I’m sure that these tires have something to do with what I am feeling, and they are tires I have not ridden before. A tire swap to something a bit more familiar to me will happen soon. But suffice it to say that if you like a smooth feeling bicycle, the Warakin is in that wheelhouse.
The Warakin has also been a “familiar” feeling bike to a degree. It has some very similar traits that my Raleigh Tamland exhibits. The two bikes also weigh similarly, with the Warakin coming in at 24.02lbs with Shimano clipless mtb pedals and Velocity Bottle Traps installed. The Warakin seems to have a fairly stiff bottom bracket. I see none of that swaying, bending motion you see sometimes with steel bikes under heavy pedaling. So that is a good sign. More riding will be coming up soon, so I’ll wait to say more until I’ve rolled some solid miles on some local gravel roads here.
So Far…… The Warakin strikes a skinny tubed profile and looks like a titanium bike. Many people are surprised that see it when they find out that it is stainless steel. The ride is classic steel- Smooth, springy, but not at the expense of a solid bottom bracket. Versatility is built in and the unique Tuning Chip rear drop out only extends that versatility further. Stay tuned to find out how the Warakin handles gravel roads in our Checkpoint update coming soon……
Note- Otso Cycles sent the Warakin to RidingGravel.com for test and review at no charge. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.