Gravel Grinder News: The All Things Gravel Expo

Gravel Grinder News: The All Things Gravel Expo- by Guitar Ted

This past weekend in Emporia, Kansas, the Dirty Kanza Promotions Team hosted the first “All Things Gravel” expo in downtown, Emporia. While there had been something of an expo going on for several years on the street adjacent to the DK Promotions headquarters, this was a full-blown expo with several vendors on hand showing new product. Some of which hadn’t been revealed before the expo. I was sent down to check things out. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits and newsy items I was able to ferret out while I was there.

Donnelly, known for its tires, surprised everyone with a gravel bike entry.

Donnelly G//C Gravel Bike And Tire News:

Sitting in the bright Sun on a raised platform was a sand colored bike. This would not normally be anything strange, but it was in this instance since it was a Donnelly branded carbon bike. Donnelly, (formerly Clement), is well known for its tires, and the MSO model is legendary in gravel riding circles, arguably one of the first ever gravel road tires on the market. Now Donnelly has a gravel bike? I had to ask Donnelly’s Donn Kellogg what gives here. But first, more on the bike itself.

The Donnelly G//C features clean, easy to route sleeved internal cabling and subtle graphics.

The “C” in the name of the bike stands for carbon fiber, of course. Donnelly says it is a “high modulus” type. The frame and fork are well executed and nice looking. Flat mount disc brakes mounts give the bike a cleaner look as does the internally routed cabling, which Donn Kellogg said was sleeved. This should make running cables much easier on mechanics that work on these bikes. Kellogg said of the cable routing process, “You push it in on one end and it just comes out the other.” Mechanics everywhere thank you, Donn!

Here are some bullet points from the press release:


  • Lightweight hi-modulus carbon frame and fork
  • Long distance performance geometry
  • 12x142mm thru-axle
  • Flat mount disc brake (front & rear)
  • 700c and 650b wheel compatible
  • Fits up to a 700 x 45mm and 650b x 50mm tire

Geometry seems to be pretty on par for what is becoming “gravel geometry” these days. The bottom bracket drop, at 67mm, may be a touch high though. As with many companies, dual wheel size compatibility is here and may have informed the choice for the bottom bracket drop in this case. Choices were made by a very experienced designer by the name of Rolf Singerberger of RS Development, former Head of Development for both BMC and for Eddy Merckx bicycles. With several European design awards under his belt, Singerberger was tapped to come up with the Donnelly G//C design. Kellogg also mentioned several other key hires and extolled his team’s experience and talent. Expectations are high for this bike and how it performs. Since Donnelly was already doing wheel sets and tires, the availability of the people to Kellogg just pointed to doing bicycles. There is a G//C cyclo cross model in the line as well.

Kellogg also mentioned that a couple new models of tires are on the way. There was nothing to show at the expo, but Kellogg mentioned a Dirty Kanza inspired tread pattern was coming dubbed “EMP”, which is the airport code for Emporia, Kansas which is the Dirty Kanza’s host city. A 38mm and 45mm tire is planned. The word I got was availability would likely be later this Summer on that model.  Then another tire which may be more appealing to touring cyclists, commuters, or for those with more paved roads is the AMS, named for Amsterdam’s airport code. This sounded like a 700c based tire with a reflective stripe and should be in the 50mm range for sizing. More details on both tire models will be forthcoming.

Otso Cycles
The newest Otso Cycles offering, the Waheela S, was on display.

Otso Cycles introduces the Waheela S Gravel Bike:

The Otso Cycles Warakin we tested last year was a fine riding bicycle, but Otso wasn’t  done with gravel bikes yet. In an effort to make gravel bikes more versatile and affordable, Otso designed the Waheela S using Reynolds 520 tubing for a smooth ride quality and durability. But the big news here is that the Waheela S is suspension corrected for 30mm of travel, which accommodates both the Fox AX gravel suspension fork and the Lauf Grit fork, both options on the Pro level build. There is also an Expert and Comp build available which have Lithic carbon forks and a special Wolf Tooth designed and manufactured head set.

Otso Cycles
In keeping with Otso’s other models, the Waheela is named after a cryptid “bear-dog” shape-shifter animal.

The special head set features a removable spacer on the lower part of the headset which accounts for the longer suspension fork axle to crown measurement. Put the spacer in with the optional Lithic fork for a rigid front end or take it out and run some squish. Versatility is also built in with Otso’s “Tuning Chip” rear drop out which can alter the personality of the bike to suit your riding style. Then there is the ability to run rack and fenders, plus there is internal dropper post routing for those who want to run some light single track or more challenging back roads.

The Waheela S is named after a cryptid shape-shifting “bear-dog” and the bicycle version is pretty capable of becoming several different bikes due to the built in options for building it up. Here is a feature list from Otso which illustrates this and a few other points about the frame:

  • Suspension-corrected geometry via custom Wolf Tooth headset
  • Tire clearance up to 700×53 (29×2.1 mtb tire)
  • Patent-pending Tuning Chip dropout system
  • Reynolds 520 tubing
  • Internal dropper routing
  • Electro Deposited coating inside and out for rust protection
  • Rack and fender mounts
  • Available from Otso dealers or direct from Otso Cycles

the Waheela S is available as a frame/Lithic Carbon fork at $899.oo and three spec levels in complete bikes from $1,999.00 and up. The Waheela S is available now.

Salsa Cycles
Several prototypes of the v4 Warbird were on hand to check out at the expo.

Salsa Cycles Debuts v4 Warbird:

One of the earliest “gravel specific” bikes available was the Warbird. In fact, it’s been around long enough that its fourth iteration is about to be made available. Salsa Cycles showed several versions of the bike at the expo in Emporia. The main theme- versatility. Where the original Warbird generations were “race specific” designs, the new Warbird will be far more appealing to those who like their bikes to be tuned to their riding needs or to have options to make the bike they own more wide ranging in use.

Salsa Cycles
Prototypes have been ridden by several engineers and product developers. This one is being tested by long time Salsa engineer, Joe Meiser.

The new Warbird retains the Class V VRS system for its rear triangle, but you will note the dropped drive side chain stay which indicates a shorter rear center than the previous generation had. The new Warbird will also have more standover due to a lowered top tube featuring a bit more slope than before which made the rear triangle more compact. Salsa’s Mike Reimer cautioned that this has not affected the ride quality of this new version.  This was accounted for in the new, ground up frame redesign. Class V VRS ride is tuned for each size in the range as well.

The top tube and front center have grown slightly which lends more stability. Salsa is using a high modulus carbon and with the redesign has been able to shave off 100 grams from the previous generation’s weight. There will also be a new, smaller size added to the size range to accommodate more riders. The frame features fully internalized cable routing and internal dropper post routing. 56cm and above frames will feature three bottle mounts inside the front triangle. All sizes will have one bottle mount under the down tube. Salsa also designed in suspension compatibility with Fox’s AX gravel fork and the Lauf Grit fork.

Dual wheel size compatibility will also feature in the new v4 Warbird’s bag of tricks. Salsa says it will fit up to a 700 X 45mm or 650B X 2.1″ tire. The brake mounts will be the ubiquitous flat mount type, of course, and either 1X or 2X drive trains are supported as well as electronically shifted options.

Salsa Cycles
Here’s a look at a Warbird v4 with 650B wheels and a Fox AX fork. Keep in mind these do not represent final spec and were personalized by each tester.

Salsa’s Mike Reimer indicated that there should be several choices in spec levels with all having carbon frames and forks. No more aluminum Warbirds. Spec levels are yet to be determined, but it sounds like the lowest spec will be in the lower 2G range, and if so it would be a pretty good deal on a fully featured gravel bike with a carbon frame and fork.

Speaking of forks, while Warbird v4 can handle a Fox AX or Lauf Grit, Salsa will also introduce an all new carbon rigid fork with the Warbird which is promised to be available after market. It will be dubbed the “Waxwing” and will have several features which may make it a great choice for any bikes with suspension corrected gravel geo. The Waxwing will have Three Pack bosses, lowrider mounts, fender mounts, and dynamo routing.  By the way, the through axle will be the road standard 12mm size.

The frame will mimic the Waxwing fork with fender and rack mounts as well. All of these new features point to a Warbird with a lot more wide ranging appeal than previous Warbird offerings. Warbird v4 is currently scheduled for a Fall 2018 release.

Industry 9
What do you get when you cross the I-9 road hub and the I-9 mtb hubs? The new Torch Road Alloy, that’s what.

Industry 9 Introduces Torch Road Alloy Wheels:

Industry 9 wheels are widely known for their anodized aluminum spokes and buzzy sounding free hubs on the mountain bike side. Their road hubs are slightly less robust, focusing on shedding weight. However; the minds at I-9 saw a need to find a cross between the burly mtb “chassis” and the flyweight road chassis. Thus now you can outfit your all-roads bike with  Industry 9’s new Torch Road Alloy wheels. Featuring a hub and spoke design mimicking the mountain bike line I-9 has offered for well over a decade, the Torch Alloy Road will have the anodized aluminum spoke and hub chassis that will be made available with several rim choices. Following is a great video featuring Jay Petervary and others riding the new wheels. Enjoy!

Look for an editorial on the new generation of gravel bikes coming soon.

Thank you to DK200 Promotions and their “All Things Gravel” expo production for providing the opportunities to see new gravel related gear. We will certainly be putting this on our itinerary for 2019, and we suggest that you do as well.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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