More synonymous with the road less traveled (think gravel), Lauf has decided to take to the tarmac with the launch of its first road bike dubbed the Úthald, along the way redefining how the geometry of a road bike should be configured.
“Why wouldn’t you make race bikes more stable?” asks Lauf co-founder and chief designer Benedikt Skullason. “It descends better, and there’s no downside to all-around handling or performance. The only “downside” (and those are intentionally sarcastic “air quotes”) would be the slow speed parking lot steering test.”
“I think the reason other brands use such steep steering angles on their bikes is because they want them to “feel” fast by having quick, twitchy steering. That gives people the perception that their bike is quick, but in reality it’s making them slower because they feel less confident on the descents,” he adds.
As a result, the Úthald features a slacker head tube angle across all frame sizes in order to create a longer trail figure, thus adding to the bike’s overall stability at speed – i.e. better center of gravity.
However, unlike a typical endurance road bike, which features a relatively tall stack height compared to a race-oriented model, the Úthald strikes a middle-ground with head tube proportions designed to balance aerodynamics and comfort.
Elsewhere, the Úthald capitalizes on Icelandic brand’s ICE (Integrated Compliance Engineering) approach to frame compliance, featuring a streamlined junction where the top tube meets the seat tube, as well as slimmer, dropped seat stays that arch their way to the seat tube and a 27.2 seat post that’s designed to provide the requisite amount of “flex”.
“If we compare the Úthald frame compliance directly to tires… Úthald’s 15mm of compliance is actually in the ball-park of what a 20-23mm wide road bike tire can provide (when pushed close to a “snake-bite”). So, effectively we’re giving you comparable compliance to a 20-23mm tire, in addition to the compliance you get from the tyre you actually are riding”.
When it came to aerodynamics, Lauf’s mantra was “where it makes sense”, focusing mainly on the Úthald’s front-end, as evidenced by its distinctively, sculpted head tube and downward tapering down tube, which are said to ensure ideal “laminar airflow”.
Curiously, the Úthald bucks the trends of fully-internal cable routing and a press-fit bottom bracket, instead opting for external shift routing and a threaded bottom bracket.
Lauf adds, “fully internal routing is mostly an aesthetics thing, best served to cyclists that find it difficult looking at brake hoses entering bike frames.”
Still, the bike has full-length internal guides inside the fork and frame to accommodate brake hoses, which is said to prevent rattle and make maintenance easier.
The Úthald is offered in three guises, the Weekend Warrior Wireless, Race Wireless and the Ultimate, which as their titles imply, all come with SRAM wireless drivetrains.
The Weekend Warrior has a claimed weight of 8.78kg (size M), while the Race Wireless is said to tip the scales at 7.95kg (size M). Details of the Ultimate have not yet been released, with a launch date slated for Summer 2024 with a price of around $7,500.
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