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Wilier Jaroon gravel bike review

6 Jun 2018
Verdict:

Distinctive looking adventure bike that will go anywhere but the lack of speed may deter some

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,199
For 
• Stable handling • Good tyre clearance •Excellent braking • Confident descending • Mudguard and rack mounts • Tidy welds and smart looks
Against 
Heavy compared to rivals • Some may prefer quicker steering on technical routes • Speed on tarmac

Wilier has been building bikes since 1906 and whilst the brand is synonymous with road bikes the range has expanded over time. The Wilier Jaroon is the brand's answer to the burgeoning gravel/adventure scene which has seen brands like Open, Trek and Specialized, amongst others, launch specific models to meet demand.

Whilst the UK might not have the same gravel roads as the USA, there are plenty of bridleways, fire roads and tracks to explore.

With the advent of bikepacking luggage, more UK cyclists than ever are crossing over in search of new horizons and challenges, so the Wilier Jaroon is built to meet these challenges.

Buy now from Wiggle

In typical fashion, Wilier has opted to offer something different to its rivals. The steel frame stands out from the carbon and aluminium mainstream offerings with its distinctive polished appearance.

The frame is internally welded which affords an even smoother aesthetic; one that garnered many admiring glances and compliments from other riders.

Clearance for 42mm tyres, rack and 'guard mounts front and rear, thru-axles and hydraulic disc brakes marked this bike out as a serious go anywhere machine.

The SRAM Rival 1x groupset paired a 44t chainring with 11-42 cassette, enough to get me up all bar one slope I encountered which would have been a challenge for fully fledged mountain bikes.

The flared bar allows room for baggage and the tall headtube provided an upright position that seemed odd at first but perfectly suited to riding off road and encourages fast descending off road.

Promax components make up the bars, stem and seatpost while in-house wheels run on 40mm Kenda Happy Medium tyres which have a file tread centre and knobbly shoulders which dig in to sand and mud when the going gets tougher.

Ritchey provides the headset and the Velo saddle provided a comfy perch.

The ride

Riding the Jaroon on the tarmac it has a tendency to drag its heels a little, something which was exacerbated by a misaligned caliper and bent rotor on my first ride.

A few tweaks in the Cyclist workshop provided a few extra kilometres to my average speed, but it still badgered me continuously to go and play off road.

Give in to its requests and you’ll be rewarded with a bike that takes on gravel, mud, sand and bridleways with boorish abandon, like Jeremy Clarkson in some kind of suped-up off-road machine.

I could hear my inner holigan shouting 'power!!' as the bike demolished hard packed mud, fire roads and single track with what seemed like an insatiable appetite for the rough stuff.

I even took it down a local mountain bike trail - Barry Knows Best - which I managed to get down in one piece, although to say it was enjoyable might be a step too far, but even then the bike coped admirably and it was only my bike handling skills that slowed me down.

The wide 40mm tires and long wheelbase provide excellent stability across all surfaces whilst the 160mm rotor and hydraulic calipers provided more than enough braking power.

Overall the bike exudes a feeling of unshakable solidity especially at the front end which shrugged off any input from my 90kg frame.

The trade-off was some harshness on certain surfaces. Dropping the tyre pressure down to the minimum recommendation - 50psi - helped a little but I would have liked to test this bike with a tubeless setup and gone down much lower into the 20s and 30s to see how that affected the ride.

It is hard to review this bike without mentioning the weight and the performance on road. Tipping the scales at just under 12kg for this XL (size 58), the Jaroon is hardly a lightweight, but off-road I never felt the weight impeded things too much.

On the road, the lack of acceleration and difficulty in maintaining a similar rolling speed to a road bike was at times frustrating and I wondered if a different set of wheels might elicit a significant improvement in this regard.

I’m reticent to lambast the Jaroon for its road manners as it does so many other things really well and never gave any indication it would be a swift tarmac cruiser from the outset.

This bike is at home on the rough stuff letting you explore new tracks and will happily carry all your gear with you.

The extra weight and beefy construction bodes especially well for those who enjoy heading downhill. Give the Jaroon a whiff of a negative incline and it takes off with a surge of enthusiasm.

Descending off and on road was a very stable affair with the stiff front end and large volume tyres offering such traction in the corners that I felt like a Weeble when leaning through the bends.

Building a bike that is meant the bridge the gap between road and MTB is always going to be a challenge and ultimately a designer will need to decide how far along the scale to lay their cap.

Do you keep the on-road performance and sacrifice some versatility or do you build a go-anywhere bike that struggles to keep up on the road?

In this instance it seems that Wilier has opted to settle closer to the MTB end of the scale.

Summary

Wilier has created a bike that is capable of riding across nearly any terrain. If you are looking for an adept all surface machine that will allow you to explore, do some bike packing and generally mess around in your local woods, this is a great option.

The only compromise is road riding and potentially the weight, but if you can recalibrate your expectations there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from this bike.

Buy now from Wiggle

Specification

Wilier Jaroon
Frame Chromoly Steel, 12mm Thru Axle, rack and mudguard mounts
Fork Carbon Monocoque 12mm thru-axle
Groupset SRAM Rival 1x Hydro 44t x 11-42
Bars Promax
Stem Promax
Headset Ritchey
Seatpost Pormax
Wheels Wilier DD28
Tyres Kenda Happy Medium 700 x 40mm
Saddle Velo
Weight 11.9kg (size XL)
Contact Hotlines Europe