The All-City Cycles Gorilla Monsoon Apex brings way more versatility than the majority of gravel bikes on the market, rather than being a slack angled road bike with larger tyre clearances the Monsoon is more of a dropped bar mountain bike. With huge tyre clearances and bolts for guards and racks, this is a machine that can do a bit of everything from a rough commute to touring the world. Strip it back though and it’s a fun bike to ride whether that be exploring your local by-ways or tackling a bit of singletrack in your local woods.
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I normally like the racier end of the gravel scene, after all, I spend the majority of my time over on road.cc testing the latest skinny tyred road bikes, but while poo-pooing the whole gravel scene when it first became a thing, I’ve grown to love it. Basically, because it takes me back to my teens when I was riding rigid mountain bikes and your knees and elbows were your suspension.
The Gorilla Monsoon brings back all of those memories with the comfort and quality ride of a steel frame and fork, yet with the added bonus of probably being able to cope with larger rubber than the bikes I was riding back in the day.
All-City have created a clever balance here with a bike that is stable and trustworthy when laden, but still fun to ride, and should you head out the door with nothing but your jersey pockets carrying your spares, then you can have a right blast on some pretty unforgiving terrain.
The first thing I was worried about was the weight, at north of 12kg how much it was going to affect the ride, and more importantly the fun levels.
It wasn’t really much of an issue if I’m honest.
On the climbs the 34 x 42T bailout gear should see you be able to crest the hill without having to put in too much effort, and then that is where the fun begins.
It’s on the downhills where that heft actually becomes a benefit. The Gorilla feels super planted and thanks to the massive volume of the 2.4” wide tyres you can just let it fly on the descents, mostly thanks to the low pressures you can run them at.
With a 71.5° head angle and 47mm of fork offset the front end feels quick, especially on the looser surfaces, but without ever feeling like it’s on the twitchy side.
Pretty much unladen with just a few spares being carried I found the Monsoon a lot of fun to ride on my usual off-road loop which covers a real range of surfaces, everything from gravel to chalk, mud, grass, road, and singletrack sections.
It rolled along nicely on the flatter and better-surfaced sections, a bit more draggy at times than my own Merlin Malt GX2 with 45mm tyres, but with the Gorilla coming into its own on the more abusive sections where I could just hop and bounce over the roots and ruts, rarely having to call on the brakes to get me out of trouble.
The whole build just feels invincible which does bring a certain amount of smugness to your ride, as you feel like you are just riding through things rather than over them.
I lost a bit of time on the uphills, but I was happy just to sit there and spin. You can get out of the saddle if needs be, but to be honest you don’t really gain a lot of forward momentum compared to the power you are putting out.
For such a slenderly tubed steel frame I was quite impressed with the amount of stiffness around the bottom bracket. With the big tyres fitted it’d be hard to detect any flex anyway, but when trying out some narrower 700c Panaracer GravelKings pumped up hard for road use I could feel that this is quite a tight frame.
It’s the same with the fork. All-City seem to have designed enough stiffness into the legs without sacrificing ride quality, there is still plenty of that steel smoothness there.
The Gorilla isn’t really about hooning around in the woods though, (it’s just good to know that you can) it’s on those longer rides that it comes into its own.
Living about 2 miles away from the Imber Range Path on Salisbury Plain means that I have easy access to 100s of kilometers of wide, hardpacked military gravel tracks.
I’ve covered a fair amount of the huge network of permissive by-ways so to get anywhere new means a bit of trek to start exploring, which let’s be honest can get a bit monotonous.
Loading the Monsoon up with plenty of kit, supplies and spares in Restrap’s bar bag, seatpack and frame bag I could easily switch off on the well-travelled routes before finding somewhere new to ride.
I found it just glides along with very little input from me (apart from the legs obviously) thanks to the geometry and the components.
It’s a really easy bike to ride, but should you want to give it a nudge it’s decently responsive.
Fully loading it up with tent, stove etc. and adding about 6kg to the overall build the Gorilla still responds very well. The added weight never making the steering feel ponderous, and all round quite lively should you want to get a lick on.
Even on the road it’s quite the joy to ride especially if you just want to take in the scenery and avoid the main roads.
With mounts for racks and mudguards it’ll make a very competent commuter or tourer, especially in the winter months.
Frame and Fork
The Gorilla Monsoon’s frame is built using All-City’s proprietary 4130 Chromoly tubing, double-butted for the down, top and seat tubes.
They say that they’ve chosen the tubes for their specific diameters, wall thicknesses, and butting profiles. Now I’ve ridden some very high-quality steel frames from the likes of Condor, Mason and Fairlight and trust me these things really matter.
The ride quality of the Monsoon is great, it encapsulates all of that buttery smoothness of a well-designed steel tubeset marrying stiffness with comfort.
It’s a good-looking frameset too.
The welding is smooth throughout and finished off in what I think is a great paintjob which All-City call Pineapple Sundae. There are loads of neat little attentions to detail too like the AC logos on the rear dropouts, fork ends and pantographed bottom bracket shell.
Also, the points for the three water bottle mounts are all reinforced too.
The bi-plane lugged fork is also a thing of beauty. Like the frame, it’s not light, but brings a certain amount of elegance.
When it comes to the design All-City have shunned modern trends like a tapered head tube and fork steerer, but I wouldn’t say that that really causes any issue here, it’s not the type of bike that requires it.
Bottom bracket wise they’ve stuck with a tried and tested externally threaded setup as you’d expect on a steel frame too.
All the cable and hosing runs externally around the frame held in place via zip-ties and small guides which still allows it to look neat and tidy, and unlikely to snag on anything.
Everything else is bang up to date though with flat mounts for the brake calipers, and 12mm thru-axles front and rear.
The Gorilla Monsoon is available in seven frame sizes of which we have the middle offering, the 52cm.
It has a 545mm top tube, 510mm seat tube with a 155mm head tube length. A good balance of a relaxed fit but still allowing me to get low in the drops when descending or pushing into a headwind.
As I mentioned earlier the head angle is 71.5° with a seat angle of 73° which gives you a slightly forward position to get the power down should you so desire while a 1,021mm wheelbase certainly brings plenty of stability to the ride.
If you tend to go for stack and reach figures you are looking at 579mm and 374mm respectively.
Full geometry details can be found on All-City’s website.
The Gorilla Monsoon can be bought as a frameset for £1,200, but what we have here is a full build offered by UK supplier Ison Distribution.
It’s based around 1x Sram groupset with Genetic components and Halo wheels for £2,599.99.
The gear shifters/brake levers and calipers are Apex while you get a bump up to Rival for the long cage rear mech.
On the spec list it shows a GX crankset (although our model comes with an NX model) with a 34T chainring mated to an 11-42T cassette.
As per usual Sram’s shifting is solid and dependable whatever the conditions and while I do find the shifter levers quite tall and less aesthetically pleasing than Shimano’s GRX, they do give a large amount of material to place your hand against when descending on rough ground.
With 160mm rotors front and rear there is plenty of stopping power and I had no issues with them fading on long descents even when the bike was loaded up. There is plenty of modulation there too for slippery surfaces.
The Genetic finishing kit is quality stuff. I’ve reviewed both the Drove Road Bar and STV stem in the past and found them to over plenty of stiffness and their finish makes them look much more expensive than they actually are.
There is a decent amount of flare at the drops which makes high-speed descending a doddle and with a relatively shallow drop you don’t need to have a huge amount of flexibility to make the most of them.
The Gorilla Monsson also gets a Genetic seatpost in a 30.9mm diameter paired with a Genetic STV saddle and while saddle shape and padding is very individual, I liked it.
Wheel wise, the All-City comes with Halo Vapour 35s in 650b size.
They are a solid wheelset which took a huge amount of abuse over the testing period without showing up any issues.
With a 30mm external width (35mm external) they are suitable for up to 2.8” tyres and are tubeless ready straight out of the box.
The standard Ison build gives you Schwalbe’s https://road.cc/content/review/schwalbe-g-one-allround-evolution-285613 G-One Allround 2.25” tyres but our model has had a boost to 2.4”, the maximum that’ll fit, or you can run 700c up to 42mm.
The Allround tyres are great for dry conditions due to minimal tread depth but unless you are taking on really wet or sticky trails then things aren’t really going to be an issue, especially at this width.
This is a bike that can take everything in its stride, especially if you are thinking of loading it up and heading out into the wilderness. All-City have been clever though in giving the Gorilla Monsoon a huge amount of versatility which means that on those days you don’t want to go exploring you can have a bloody good laugh in the woods.