Earlier this week a couple of the guys from 1816 Cycles dropped into the office to talk about their L’enfer Du Nord gravel bike and as luck would have it, they left one with us for testing. This high-end gravel bike comes dripping with top shelf kit, enough to get any curly bar lover’s mouth watering.
1816 Cycles is a small start-up based in Berkhamstead made up of three blokes, Tink, Jonty, and Stuart who've joined forces to create a bike that they actually wanted to buy, having previously struggled to find something to meet their discerning demands. The team of two engineers and a designer have since spent five years employing their backgrounds in motorsport and design developing the L'enfer Du Nord resulting in what we have here.
Before getting into that proper blingy spec, the L’enfer Du Nord is littered with neat little nods to the history of bikes and the team’s background, and passion for motorsport. With that inspiration, along the non-drive side chain and seat stay and on the fork there are cool graphics, influenced by the shape of the first-ever Draisine bicycle. Of course, the bike's name is a glaring reference to the Paris-Roubaix.
The L’enfer Du Nord also contains references to motorsport. For example, the bike we’ve nabbed for testing rocks the Nardo Grey colourway a shade of grey that’s often found coating Audi’s RS Series cars.
Onto the frame, the brand’s first production bike is built around a Toray T700 and T800 carbon frame and 1816 has designed it to be ridden all day, every day for north of 10 years. The guys said that they wanted to create a bike that looks clean and fast but one that’s not afraid to get bikepacking. Though, rather than kit the frame out with tonnes of mounts 1816 has opted to take advantage of the vast range of strap-mounted frame bags in order to retain the sleek look of the bike.
It’s said to be compliant too and to the brand's own admission, it might be too compliant for some riders. However, it’s a bike for those who want one bike to do everything, be it cyclocross, gravel, or simple commutes. We're excited to see what our tester has to say about that.
Heading back to that frame, it’s finished with a hydrophobic treatment. That’s to make cleaning easy and hopefully, mud will fall off of it before it even sees a hose. There’s also a threaded bottom bracket, eliminating the potential creaking of its pressfit counterpart and making maintenance as simple as it gets.
The single-piece bar and stem on this bike is a pre-production unit and it’s pretty tall. We’ve been told that this is in the name of comfort, given that this bike isn’t an out-and-out racer. It’s made using the same materials as the frame and it’s internally routed, aiding the clean look of the bike.
Thanks to an indent on the drive side of the frame, the L’enfer Du Nord is two-by compatible but our test bike comes sorted with a SRAM RED 1x D1 AXS Direct mount crankset, and 12-speed shifting is made up of SRAM RED eTap AXS D1 shifters, instructing a SRAM Eagle XX1 AXS mech. The 'mullet' in the title refers to the drivetrain here, rather than the wheels, with this bike being kitted with road shifters with MTB hardware at the rear. Then, a pair of SRAM RED eTap AXS hydraulic disc brakes slows the bike.
As for the wheelset, it comes from ZIPP in the form of the 303 S Carbon Tubeless 700c hoops with ZIPP 76D hubs. Those wheels are wrapped with a pair of Panaracer GravelKing 5K+ tan wall tyres that measure in at 700C x 43.
All of that tips our scales at 8.57g. That’s pretty respectable. Oh, and the price, that comes in at £6,700. If that’s a bit too rich for your blood, the Shimano Di2 equipped model is priced at £6,000.
So that is the 1816 L’enfer Du Nord. Now it’s off to our tester, Stu who’ll thoroughly put the bike through its paces. Be sure to check in soon for a full review.
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