Russ Roca's Path Less Pedaled channel embraces the non-competitive side of bicycle riding...especially touring and gravel riding.
We sent him a 49cm partially built bike with gearing he is partial to on his rides in Missoula. We weren't able to get him a set of wheels, but Russ was nice enough to swap in DT Swiss set off of his personal Crust rig. The wider 50mm tires Russ used, the trail was about 41mm. Trail can be low as 34mm depending on the tire and frame size you get. For comparison, the average trail on a performance road bike is 55-60mm.
Check out the video to see what he thinks of the GR as a road bike and gravel bike.
The Grand Randonneur Disc is one of our most unique frame offerings. Its tubing is skinnier than our other 700c frames. It is designed for 650b tires, not 700c. It requires a quill stem, which is consider antiquated by some. But it is also designed for more wet weather capable disc brakes and modern thru-axle hubs.
Even with the updates, it still aims to replicate the classic randonneur bicycle with its low trail geometry(higher fork offset) designed to carry a front rack bag or bar bag efficiently and comfortably on randonnées -- timed, but not competitive, long distance, self-supported road ride events. While these events have unique rules and restrictions, these days you can ride just about any road-capable bike you choose. It doesn't have to be steel or look vintage. Your gear doesn't have to be carried in the front. The bike can have rim brakes or disc brakes.
So does that mean the classic rando bike is obsolete?
Hardly. We think it is an awesome day-ride set up where you carry snacks, small lunch, rainshell and other gear in a front bag which gives easy access without dismounting your bike. And with the Grand Randonneur's low trail geometry, this set-up works exceptionally well. That is not to say normal road bikes cannot carry a front load safely and efficiently with practice, but on the Grand Randonneur steering with a front load is less jerky and more pleasant.
Disclaimer: Soma sent the bike at no charge to The Path Less Pedaled. The Path Less Pedaled does not take payment for reviews. Soma does offer a store discount to "Team Supple" Patreon supporters of the Path Less Pedaled channel.