Lauf True Grit: Checkpoint

Back in June, I introduced you to the Lauf True Grit gravel bike I’ve been testing (read the Getting Rolling post here). Since then, I’ve logged nearly 1,000 miles on the bike on all sorts of Midwestern gravel, and the experience has given me good perspective on the True Grit’s capabilities. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Lauf True Grit
Hero shot… The True Grit is one of those rare bikes that looks even better when it’s dirty. (Photo: J. Petersen)

Head Turner

It’s been a long time since I’ve had so many people ask me about the bike I was riding. The True Grit is just that striking, even in a relatively subdued off-white (I call it limestone) tone of the bike we’re testing. In fact, I still catch myself staring deeply at the frame’s lines.

When painted in neon green, orange or any of the other custom colors Lauf offers (for an extra charge), the bike’s visual appeal is off the chart. Long story short: don’t buy this bike if you’re trying to keep a low profile. It’s a conversation piece as much is it is a performance machine.

Smooth is Fast

On the road, the True Grit doesn’t disappoint in any situation. That said, it clearly has a preference for going fast, so if you like an upright position, this isn’t the bike for you. The long reach and low stack put you into a great position to hammer, and the stiff carbon fiber frame puts every watt of power you generate directly into the rear wheel.

Lauf True Grit
The True Grit has a long, low front end, perfect for folks that like an aggressive position. MG had to run a 25-degree rise, 75mm length stem to dial the fit in for his preferences. Taking time to set the True Grit up right is worth the effort.

The frame geometry reinforces this preference for speed. In fact, at lower speeds, the front end can feel a little floppy at times. Once the speed picks up however, the handling of the True Grit springs to life.

That said, the Lauf doesn’t steer itself. It demands your involvement. You have to tell it what to do, in much the same way you have to do with a modern trail bike. Once you adjust to its mellow demeanor, the True Grit is an incredibly capable handler. Overall, the geometry makes the True Grit a predictable, stable ride in every gravel condition encountered to date.

Lauf Grit SL fork
Showstopper… With 30mm of travel and the ability to quickly respond to bumps, the Grit SL fork is a huge asset on the road.

Lauf’s unique Grit SL suspension fork has just 30mm of travel, but I’ve found it to be a great asset on pretty much any ride. Compared to the Fox AX fork on the Otso Waheela S Guitar Ted recently tested, the Grit SL’s lack of hydraulic damping and stiction-free action makes it much more competent at absorbing the washboard and stutter bumps so common on gravel roads here in the Midwest. Not only that, but the sub-1000g weight of the Grit SL is more than a pound lighter than the AX. I’m sold.

At the outset of the test, I wondered if the ride quality of the rigid frame would seem unbalanced with the Grit SL suspension fork up front. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. While the rear of the bike clearly doesn’t have suspension, it’s certainly not harsh.

I’ve ridden the True Grit with the stock seatpost, and also with the Kinekt isolation post from Cirrus Cycles I’m currently wrapping testing up on. While the Kinekt post does indeed offer a smoother ride than the stock rigid post, I’ve found that I like the bike just as much with the lighter rigid post, and that’s impressive.

Component Check

SRAM Rival 1 lever
The SRAM Rival 1 disc group included with the ‘Weekend Warrior’ build worked well and keeps MSRP to just $3,690. That’s a lot of performance for the dollar.

Overall, the components Lauf specs on its ‘Weekend Warrior’ build are serviceable, particularly given the sub $4,000 MSRP for the complete bike.

The SRAM Rival 1×11 group shifts and brakes well, for the most part. Shifts to smaller/harder cogs are a little crunchier than with a Shimano drivetrain, but it gets the job done without too much fuss. The Rival hydraulic disc brakes have been smooth, consistent and powerful throughout the review. They do tend to squeal under light trailing braking, but the noise quiets down quickly as braking forces increase.

I had two issues with the stock build, however. First, the stock midrange American Classic wheels are simply too heavy to let the bike’s true greatness shine through. Second, the size large True Grit I tested came with 172.5mm cranks.

While just 2.5mm shorter than the 175mm cranks I’ve ridden my entire life, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the True Grit with the stock cranks. Fortunately, I was able to swap in a set of 175mm SRAM Force cranks from the parts bin and all was better. For riders of small or medium Lauf frames, the shorter cranks likely won’t be as much of a problem, but for my 34-inch inseam they’re simply too short.

Cantu Rova wheelset
The Cantu Rova gravel wheelset unleashed the potential of the True Grit frameset. It shed more than a pound of weight in the best place to save weight on the bike – the wheels. Of all the parts I changed on our test True Grit, the Cantu wheels were by far the best upgrade I made.

The Cantu Rova wheelset I’m testing for Riding Gravel slashed about one pound of rotating weight from the True Grit, and this truly woke up the acceleration and handling of the bike. There are few upgrades that can have as profound of an impact on the performance of your bike as wheels, so while $1,595 is a lot to spend on wheels, their performance on the road is well worth the investment for seasoned cyclists.

In Conclusion

Lauf has a winner on its hands, no question. I’ve ridden a lot of gravel bikes over the past dozen years, and the True Grit ranks as among the absolute best I’ve ridden. The only downside is if you simply don’t fit on the three sizes Lauf currently offers. If there was anything I’d recommend they do, it’s to broaden its size range.

You can check out my Getting Rolling post for the Cantu wheels here, and I’ll talk more about their performance and value in my upcoming Checkpoint post for the wheelset. Look for that to come soon.




Author: MG

Matt Gersib is the 2014 Gravel World Champion in the Fatbike category. He's also finished some of the most challenging gravel events in the country, including the Dirty Kanza XL, TransIowa and the Dirty Kanza 200, among others. In 2015, Gersib was an inaugural inductee into the DK200 "1,000 mile club" of five-time finishers. In addition to his gravel cycling, Gersib is an accomplished mountain bike racer, with numerous race wins and championships, including the 2012 Nebraska State Marathon MTB Championship.

Related Articles

9 thoughts on “Lauf True Grit: Checkpoint

  1. You and Corey make these things fly. It’s both inspiring, and disheartening.

    At this point in the composites game, do you ever worry about abrasion damage from bags or grit riding carbon frames long distances? With the Lauf being so comfortable, it seems like it’d be a winner for long distance gravel touring.

  2. The leaf (Lauf) spring fork and the Gravelbike appear to be a match made in heaven. As a Gravelbike is somewhere between a Roadbike and a Mountainbike, a leaf spring fork is somewhere between a rigid fork and a Mountainbike fork. For shorter travel, the leaf spring forks light weight and low tech design seems much more appropriate than a chopped down short travel Mountainbike fork. However, because I prefer comfort over speed, I would prefer the 60mm Lauf Trail Racer fork, 650×47 tires, and a more upright geometry. The leaf spring fork equipped Gravelbike is an evolution I can get behind.

  3. Thanks for the input guys. @Henry K: Provided it fits, which for you I think it would, I don’t think the Lauf would be a bad choice for long-distance gravel touring. That said, you’d need to be bag-based, or use hose clamps on your beautiful carbon frame to custom-fit some racks. If you’re running bags, I don’t think the Lauf is any better or worse than any other painted bike. Some of the local cyclists that have bought the upgraded paint option on their True Grits have chosen to protect their frames with 3M vinyl in the spots where wear may occur. This is probably a good call. I still believe however, that titanium is the ultimate material for long-distance loaded touring. The ability to buff out strap wear with a Scotchbrite pad is priceless. That said, I think the Lauf would be a fast, comfortable choice, as long as you and your gear don’t weigh more than the 240lb rider/gear limit. I think you’re safe there…

    @Plusbike Nerd, I like what you’re thinking, though personally I skew toward 700c wheels. At 6’1″ tall, I feel like 650b wheels are an answer to a question I’ve never asked. For perspective, I spend most of my mountain bike time on 29+ wheels, so I’m all in on the big wheel deal. I’ve never felt the need to reduce the effective diameter of my wheels. I’ll just get a bike that fits the tires I want to run, and these days, nobody needs to compromise. We all win, regardless of what we want to run, really. You just have to know what you want in a bike.

  4. i’m 5’10” and have ridden a small and medium and having a tough time getting the fit dialed in. The medium is comfy but feels slow and a little big. The small feels too small – crunched up but very lively. Stack feels to low. love the fork and want to like the bike so much. I jumped on a Warbird and it just fit. Any suggestions?

  5. @DBG – Based on your height, you should really be on a medium. If reach is an issue, I’d try it with a shorter stem – even a 60mm stem wouldn’t be out of place on this bike, IMHO. Most cyclists can ride two frame sizes within a line, but my gut tells me that, at 5’10”, the medium should be your starting point. It’s designed to run a short stem, and I run a stem that’s a full 25mm shorter than the one they sent with the bike (a 100mm).

    All that said, if you ride both bikes and the Warbird feels/fits you better, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to put a Lauf fork on the front of the Warbird. You’ve gotta go with what fits, but in this case you really don’t need to compromise. Buy the bike that fits you best, even if it’s not the Lauf. You can always run a Lauf fork.

  6. … Also, when you’re 175 miles into the DK200 (for example), a lively bike isn’t what you want. You want it to be stable and comfortable first, because when your brain is faded and you’re running on autopilot, you need a bike that’s not keen to put you on the ground if you give it a slightly wrong input.

    1. That’s a bummer… I didn’t realize there was an incompatibility there. I’d still recommend buying the bike that fits you the best. Maybe wait for a 2019 Warbird???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.