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Charlie Allenby

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: a gravel bike that punches above its weight

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review in a sentence: if you’re after amazing componentry and aren’t too fussed about a big-name brand, this is the gravel bike for you. Great on the rough and smooth, it is as comfortable keeping up with road bikes on the asphalt as it is tackling technical singletrack. Throw in a £2,500 cost, and it’s difficult to find a fault in Evans Cycles’ all-road option.

The focal point of any bike is its frame, and this is where Pinnacle has been able to make its savings. Aluminium is significantly cheaper than steel or carbon, which is why it’s used on most bikes under £2,000. That said, it’s still a durable, strong material, and at no point during testing did I wish I was on a steel or carbon alternative.

The frame’s geometry leans towards slacker, relaxed angles, which helped to keep things comfortable on longer rides and aided bike positioning on off-road descents. It has three bottle cage mounts – two inside the frame’s main triangle and one on the underside of its down tube – and pannier rack mounts, which means it could be used for the daily commute or multi-day bikepacking epics. It also has mudguard mounts – handy if you’re not just a fair-weather cyclist. Finished in metallic green and complete with integrated cabling, it certainly doesn’t scream ‘budget’.

A carbon fork is found up front, and its vibration-dampening qualities were noticeable across mixed terrains. The inclusion of dynamo routing (where you’re able to power front and rear lights, and charge devices during rides by using a specialist dynamo hub) on the fork adds to the bike’s bikepacking credentials. Able to take 700Cx47mm and 650Bx50mm wheel set-ups, there’s plenty of clearance for any gravel tyres.

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: Price and availability

The Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review was released in November 2022 and is available to buy now from Evans Cycles for a recommended retail price of £2,500.00 (although it’s currently available for £2,249.00). The bike is designed as unisex and is available in sizes M, L and XL. The bike is currently not available in the US or AU.

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: Features

The biggest draw of the Pinnacle Arkose X is arguably its inclusion of Shimano’s GRX Di2 groupset. The electronic version of the Japanese brand’s gravel-specific drivetrain and braking componentry, it would set you back £1,879.99 RRP to buy on its own, making it a bargain on a £2,500 bike.

The Arkose X features the 1x11 drivetrain set-up – meaning one chainring on the front, and 11 cogs on the cassette. A trend carried over from mountain biking, one chainring means no need for a front derailleur, making the bike lighter (and meaning there are fewer things to go wrong). The 42 tooth chainring is paired with an 11-42t cassette, providing a wide range that keeps you rolling at 40kph on a smooth, flat road without pedalling like crazy, and a low-enough gear for technical off-road climbs.

Moving from the standard, cable-based shifting of my own bikes, the electronic alternative was noticeably smoother and faster to change up and down. It was a lot easier to make adjustments and tweaks to the rear derailleur too; it possible to use the shifter buttons rather than break out the multi-tool when the chain wasn’t aligning correctly with one of the cassette’s cogs. Although an electronic drivetrain does come with the danger of running out of charge (and therefore leaving you stuck in one gear until you get home from a ride), at no point did I have battery anxiety. Checking remaining levels was as simple as holding a button on one of the handlebar plugs while recharging was quick and easy with the supplied cable.

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

The GRX brakes, too, were incredibly reliable. Whether it was on a fast, flowing descent or the stop-start nature of city riding in the wet, I had full confidence that they would get me stopped in time, while the levers’ progressive braking allowed me to apply just the right amount of pressure to the rotors for the situation – and kept over-zealous skids to a minimum.

The Shimano GRX Di2 on the Pinnacle Arkose X isn’t perfect though. If you’re used to a 2x set-up (which is standard place on most road bikes), you might find the jumps between the different gearing ratios a bit extreme. Plus, as it was originally released in 2019, the current GRX range is due an upgrade – although this only matters if you must have the latest, shiny toy.

Away from the groupset, the rest of the bike is finished in a smattering of WTB and Pinnacle components. The 650B WTB Proterra i23 wheels are tubeless-ready (although I rode with the supplied innertubes) and are similarly a great inclusion at this price point. Paired with the brand’s 47mm Venture tyres, you’re left with a comfortable combo that is fast-rolling on tarmac but has some grippy side lugs in wet, muddy conditions. For full versatility, you could also invest in a set of road-focused 700C wheels, turning the Arkose X into a do-it-all road and gravel bike for less than the price of two individual bikes.

The other notable component is the handlebar. Flared and gravel-focused, the idea is that it allows for superior control on off-road descents. In practise, I found it an ergonomically sound design that worked on and off-road, although it might not be to everyone’s tastes. One thing you will want to replace though is the bar tape, which is on the thin side and doesn’t provide a lot of padding to your paws.

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: Riding performance

I rode the Pinnacle Arkose X extensively for a month and used it for all sorts of rides – from short blasts to the shop to a 100km, Paris Roubaix-inspired slopfest. It handled everything I threw at it – even staying comfortable after four hours of bridleway bashing.

On tarmac, it was surprisingly nippy for a gravel bike. Its wide, chunky tyres don’t exactly scream ‘aerodynamically optimised’, but it was incredibly easy to hold averages of 32kph (20mph) on the flat and I had no trouble keeping up with others on road bikes.

Off-road though is where it really shone. Light and agile, it helped me leave others in my dust when the trails got technical, and its high-volume tyres took the sting out of rock-strewn gravel paths.

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: Verdict

Although it might not have the same credentials as other big-name brands, the Pinnacle Arkose X is one of the best gravel bikes I've ever ridden. Fast, fun and confidence-inspiring, it's a do-it-all rig that feels at home on the road as it is off it. Moreover, the high-spec componentry and pocket-friendly price make it one of the best pound-for-pound adventure bike options.

Pinnacle Arkose X Di2 2023 review: Also consider

While you won’t get a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset on a complete bike for anywhere near what the Pinnacle Arkose X costs, there are a handful of viable alternatives for a similar price. The CGR SL Sport build from Ribble combines a carbon fibre frame with Shimano’s standard 105 groupset to create a ride that is ideal for roadies who want the option to dabble in the rough stuff.

For a smidge more than the Pinnacle Arkose X, you can pick up the carbon fibre Boardman ADV 9.4 and enjoy SRAM’s wireless (literally) take on shifting courtesy of its 12-speed Rival eTap AXS. Alternatively, if you want a gravel bike that also packs some front suspension, the Canon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by is tough to beat (even if it is hard to say).

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