State Bicycle Co. Warhawk: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
The last time we looked at this bike we had snow on the ground yet. Since then we’ve gone from late Wintry conditions through “shoulder season”, Spring, and lately it has been like Summer. Plenty of opportunities to check out this single speed rig in varying conditions. If you missed the last post, check that out here.
The Changes: The Warhawk’s stock bar, stem, and especially the saddle were not agreeing with me, so I made a swap to an Easton EA70 AX stem, EA70 AX drop bar, an old Salsa Shaft seat post, (for more set back) and my favorite WTB Pure saddle. (Look for a review on the bar and stem soon.) Once the cockpit had been sorted, the Warhawk fit me a lot better and the riding resumed.
Initially the weather was colder, wetter, and the Warhawk was set up in fixed gear mode. I used the disc mount on the stock hub to affix a cog, (a Tomi Cog in my case) and rode it that way for a while to start out with. Those who know- know, and, you know that fixed gear riding gives you more control in the slop, and is a different beast to climb with. It has to be experienced, but that said, the Warhawk was well up to the task for fixed gear use. This recommends it as a Winter hack, or for conditions where training fixed is desirable. I certainly enjoyed the Warhawk in this mode.
In freewheeling mode, the Warhawk was great as a single speed. The track ends and those nuts on the axles hold everything right where they need to stay. Although using a nutted axle system is a pain in that you need to carry a 15mm wrench of some sort in the event of a flat, the system is great for single speed use. Security of that axle is paramount. The track ends are integral to making the system work well also. Kudos to State for making sure this was all quality hardware.
The Warhawk was a good rig on rough gravel, and it handled looser, sandier sections well. I noticed that it has a bit of a quick turn in, suggesting that there is something a bit different here from most gravel rigs. In fact, the wheel base on the Warhawk is a full one inch shorter than most bikes built for gravel, so this would have a bit of an effect upon handling.
I loved the steel chassis on this bike and the fork has that unmistakable steel smoothing effect upon the rough gravel roads I rode on. Coupled with the tubeless WTB Riddler 37mm tires, the ride was acceptably smooth. I imagine a nice, high quality seat post would go a long way in making things even smoother on the Warhawk, but as it stands, even with the stock post, I thought the ride quality was right in the pocket.
The Warhawk’s brakes did a fine job stopping me and slowing me down. However; the traditional cyclo cross inspired canti lever can contact your calf when standing up out of the saddle. Not everyone will notice that, but I did. If this were my bike, a set of low profile cantilevers would be going on in the rear brake position.
One thing your calf muscles and heels won’t be hitting is the chain and seat stays. The design of these frame components is right out of the classical handbook of road bike design. Beautiful, but antiquated, and too limiting. I had the rear wheel slid back into the track ends, but there still was minimal clearance for the stock rubber. If I could have a frame like this that had some strategic massaging done to the chain and seat stays, and that would allow 40mm tires, and have copious amounts of mud clearance, I would cry “hallelujah!”
So Far….. In the configuration we received the Warhawk in, it retails for $729.99. What can you even compare this bike to? There are not many single speed gravel bikes! I mean, we are talking a very niche segment of the market. I feel that for what the Warhawk has shown me, it is a good value, with a couple of downfalls. The gearing out of the box was too low, and the tire clearances in the rear are too tight. You can fix the gearing, but you are stuck with the minimal tire clearance. Riding on gravel shows that the Warhawk has stability and smoothness. Find the right gearing combination and this bike could be ridden all day, as long as that day is a dry one.
Stay tuned for the “At The Finish” post coming soon.
NOTE- The State Bicycle Co. Warhawk was sent out for test and review to Riding Gravel 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.