Testing the $800 All-Road Gravel Bike From State Bicycle Co.
Gravel bikes are great for the indecisive rider—instead of choosing pavement or dirt, you can ride both with one bike. Normally, you’d need to pony up well over a grand to get a decent one, but that’s changing now that State Bicycle Co., an Arizona-based brand known for its single-speed bikes, has jumped into the gravel game. This spring, State unveiled the 4130 All-Road, a steel frame gravel bike that retails for $800. Affordable and capable, the All-Road makes gravel riding accessible to just about anybody.
What It Is
The 4130 All-Road is State’s first gravel bike, sure, but it’s really better described as a jack-of-all-trades. It’s designed to handle any road surface and even light singletrack, so you can use it as a commuter and then load it up with supplies for bikepacking on the weekend.
“It’s kind of like an SUV or Swiss army knife of bikes,” Mehdi Farsi, State’s co-founder, told Men’s Journal over the phone. “It does it all.”
One look at the spec sheet shows you get considerable value for your money. The All-Road’s frame is made from chromoly steel (also found on a few other State offerings) for strength, durability, and a somewhat forgiving ride. It comes equipped with features you don’t often find on a budget bike, including thru-axles, mechanical disc brakes, drop bars, and lots of mounting points for racks and fenders—14 on the fork alone. Whether you’re taking it on a grocery run or a camping trip, you’ll have no shortage of options for carrying gear.
Drivetrain and tires are two important considerations for any gravel bike, and the All-Road doesn’t disappoint there, either. It uses a 1x drivetrain—simpler and lighter than the 2x or 3x setups many cheap bikes use—with a 42T front chainring and an 11-42T cassette out back for excellent gear range on hills and flat stretches. Farsi and his team spent a great deal of time working on the State-branded derailleur. To nail the balance between affordability and performance, they ultimately chose a Sensah mountain bike derailleur and tweaked it specifically for this bike, Farsi says. He also notes that the drivetrain is compatible with SRAM components for those looking to upgrade.
As for the wheels, you’ll have some decisions to make: You can spec the All-Road with a 700C or 650B wheel-set (or get both for $350). Although originally equipped with Panaracer Gravelking rubber, State switched to Vittoria—Terreno Zero 700C x 38 tires or Barzo 650B x 2.1 tires, both tubeless-compatible—because of production delays at Panaracer, Farsi says. Mine came with Barzos, and they are massive. At 2.1 inches, they’re bigger than the tires on my vintage mountain bike.
If steel isn’t enough to grab your attention, you can also upgrade the All-Road with a carbon-fiber fork, and Farsi says that an aluminum All-Road is in the works, among other upgrades. Keep an eye out for new options in the coming months.
Why We Like It
The All-Road lives up to its name. It happily went anywhere I pointed it, and it rides much better than its bargain price point would indicate. From tooling around town to tackling steep fire roads and mountain singletrack, the bike was energetic, agile, and just plain fun to ride.
My test bike was a Sonoran Tan version spec’d with 650B wheels. The Barzo tires have beefy lugs, so I was surprised at how smoothly they rolled on the pavement during my first shakeout ride—no harsh feedback or road noise here. Not surprisingly, they handle the dirt with aplomb. I had excellent grip while ascending rough fire roads, and the bike easily climbed through banked turns on downhill singletrack.
The derailleur and brifter shifted smoothly, and the 11-42T cassette provided plenty of gear range for cruising around my neighborhood and tackling longer climbs. I rarely used the lowest two gears, but it was nice to know that I had them to bail me out when things got steep.
With its big tires and steel frame, the All-Road rode confidently and felt reasonably compliant on most surfaces, including trails. The frame geometry offered a relatively upright riding position, which I liked, and the drop bars allowed for more aggressive positioning as well. The saddle felt comfortable every time I hopped on the bike, and the Promax brakes delivered good stopping power and control in turns.
Rocky stretches of trail tested the bike’s limits, though. Without suspension, the bumps became really jarring and quickly fatigued my hands and arms. But that’s mountain bike territory, and although I was a little shaken up, the bike rolled through with no issues.
Overall, the All-Road felt lively and capable no matter where I took it. It accelerated quickly on climbs (when I had the energy), and it was agile even when grinding up tight switchbacks. The best part, of course, was the trip back down: As I powered through the winding turns, the bike put a huge smile on my face. It was one of the best rides I’ve had all year.
I love the idea of owning one set of wheels that can do it all, but I haven’t yet come across a bike that offered that kind of capability on a freelancer’s budget. Up until now, that is.
The bike shifts up seamlessly, but downshifting into a lower gear took some getting used to—you have to really jam the brifter hard to the left, and it’s a bit awkward. I missed a few shifts while trying to get a feel for it. Unfortunately, if you don’t push it far enough, you’ll shift up into a higher gear, which can quickly grind you to a halt on a steep trail. If you’re used to SRAM’s DoubleTap shifting system, you likely won’t have an issue, but I’d definitely prefer separate upshift and downshift paddles.