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Why has gravel bike brand Lauf reinvented the road bike? New Úthald model is "aero where it makes sense" with 35mm tyre clearance

The Icelandic bike brand Lauf, known for its funky gravel suspension forks, is bringing off-road tech to road bikes with the launch of the new Úthald (or 'Endurance' in English)

Lauf has completed the transition from off-road.cc to road.cc, starting out with mountain bike forks, progressing to gravel bikes and now road bikes. The Icelandic bike brand has introduced an endurance road bike, the Úthald (which literally translates to 'Endurance'), incorporating gravel technology on the road. It supports wireless shifting only and tyre clearance is up to 35mm, while pricing starts at $3,490 (around £2,850).

2024 Lauf Uthald road bike

Lauf initially introduced mountain bike forks, which were developed to enhance gravel bikes, before launching its inaugural frame, the True Grit gravel bike, back in 2017. 

Lauf believes that a fast bike and stable handling shouldn't be mutually exclusive, emphasising that "when you are stable and confident, you can ride faster". The brand applied these principles to the True Grit gravel bike, and has now extended its innovation to reimagine road bikes in a similar fashion. 

The latter part of 2023 has seen an influx in speed-orientated endurance road bikes such as the Specialized Roubaix, Canyon Endurace CFR and Giant Defy, and the Úthald, which is Icelandic for Endurance, is designed to be fast, rather than solely to feel fast or look fast, according to Lauf. This means 'stable' geometry, and 32mm tyres as standard with clearance for up to 35mm rubber. 

Compliance

2024 Lauf Uthald frame Rubus Red

> Best endurance road bikes

Lauf also drew inspiration from the Seigla gravel bike when developing the Úthald road bike, claiming that it integrated comfort, compliance and suspension into the Seigla without introducing additional weight, maintenance requirements, or complexity. Lauf felt this approach could be applied to road bikes too. 

Lauf refers to this as ICE'd (Integrated Compliance Engineering) which uses pivot-free rear suspension. The slim rear portion of the top tube converts the junction between the top tube and the seat tube into a virtual pivot, and the slim seatstays allow twisting up and down. 

Lauf claims the offset and tilted seat tube contributes to a more favourable downward suspension path for the saddle, as well as providing increased tyre clearance. 

2024 Lauf Uthald road bike seatstay

With the evolution to wider tyres, it could be argued that frame compliance no longer holds the same importance. In response to this, Lauf says:

"If we compare the Úthald frame compliance directly to tyres... Úthald’s 15mm of compliance is actually in the ball-park of what a 20-23mm wide road bike tyre can provide (when pushed close to a “snake-bite”). So, effectively we’re giving you comparable compliance to a 20-23mm tyre, in addition to the compliance you get from the tyre you actually are riding". 

Can you compare frame compliance with the compliance of a tyre? That could be difficult to quantify, so we'll take it with a pinch of salt for now... 

Aero

Lauf acknowledges the significance of aerodynamics, stating it has focused on aero at the front of the bike "where it makes sense". 

2024 Lauf Uthald frame
Exposed cabling = aero?

On the Úthald frame, head tube and top part of the down tube, are slim and deep, tapering inwards towards the back which is said to maintain laminar air flow. The down tube widens further down, offering shelter for water bottles and enhanced bottom bracket stiffness.

> How to get more aero

The seatstays are slim and dropped for some aero benefits, but Lauf has opted for a standard round seatpost for robustness and serviceability. 

The Úthald fork is said to combine strength and aero gains with a slightly deep shape that also enhances structural integrity, striking a balance between weight and performance. Going deeper would increase fork weight while going shallower would require more material for the leading and trailing edges.

Geometry 

2024 Lauf Uthald geometry table

> How to read a bike geometry table: the numbers made easy

Lauf claims the fit of the Úthald is optimised for weekend warriors and racers alike, balancing "aerodynamics and long-distance comfort". 

Let’s take the medium-sized model as an example. It has a stack of 564mm, a reach of 389mm and a head angle of 71.5 degrees. The bottom bracket is dropped 73mm, and the wheelbase is 1,003mm. 

This is similar to a size 54 Specialized Roubaix, which has a reach of 381mm and a head angle of 71.5 degrees. The bottom bracket is dropped 78mm, and the wheelbase is 1,005mm.

The chainstay length of the Úthald is 405mm, compared to 420mm on the Roubaix. Lauf says, "we designed the chainstays to give you the maximal sense of involvement. So... we can then turn around and inject more stability to the front, while keeping the bike engaging". 

Essentially, it made the stays as short as possible whilst still supporting SRAM drivetrains and a tyre clearance of 35mm. 

Everything else: internal cable routing = overrated, says Lauf

2024 Lauf Uthald handlebar

> Best road bike handlebars

Lauf's gravel bikes come equipped with the Smoothie handlebar, featuring an unusual flared shape that effectively reduces vibrations for gravel riders. The Úthald, on the other hand, is equipped with the Smoothie Road handlebar, which, according to Lauf, enhances the ride quality significantly. The Smoothie Road handlebar is said to weigh 270g (size 40cm). 

Lauf has bucked the trend for internal cable routing stating that "fully internal routing is mostly an aesthetics thing, best served to cyclists that find it difficult looking at brake hoses entering bike frames". 

2024 Lauf Uthald front end

However, the Úthald has full-length tunnels in its fork and frame to guide its brake hoses which is said to prevent rattle and make maintenance easier. 

The Úthald road bike also features a threaded bottom bracket like the True Grit gravel bike. 

Builds and pricing 

2024 Lauf Uthald road bikes

The frame will be available in XS, S, M, L and XL in four colourways: Obsidian Black, Rubus Red, Borealis and Thingvellir Sky. You might be surprised to find that the latter three colours cost a premium - Rubus Red adds $190 and Borealis and Thingvellir Sky add $390. 

Lauf offers three spec options: Weekend Warrior Wireless, Race Wireless and Ultimate all with wireless shifting only. The Weekend Warrior Wireless gets SRAM Rival AXS and DT Swiss E 1800 SPLINE wheels and the Race Wireless comes with SRAM Force AXS and Zipp 303S wheels.

The Weekend Warrior and Race Wireless are available to order now with shipping in January and these builds come with a power meter, Lauf's Road Smoothie handlebar and Fizik Aliante R5 saddle. 

2024 Lauf Uthald road bike obsidian black

> Your complete guide to SRAM road bike groupsets 

The Weekend Warrior has a claimed weight of 8.78kg (size M) whilst the Race Wireless is said to weigh 7.95kg (size M). They are priced at $3,490 (around £2,850) and $4,690 (around £3,850) respectively.

These prices seriously undercut competitor's options of similar specs. For example, a SRAM Force AXS Specialized Roubaix costs £8,000 and the Canyon Endurace CFR SLX is priced at £5,249. 

However, the Úthald is not without competition at this price point. For example, the Vitus Venon EVO-RS Force AXS All-Road Bike has a claimed weight of 7.7kg (size M) and will set you back £4,399.99. Albeit, this build does not include carbon wheels or a power meter. 

 

2024 Lauf Uthald Sram Force

The Ultimate will be available in summer 2024. The componentry list for this is unreleased but we do have a claimed weight of 7.2kg and an approximate price of $7,500 (around £6,150). 

Given that it features the same frame and fork, we can only imagine that it's waiting for a new groupset. Perhaps the new SRAM Red which we have already speculated will be arriving at around this time... 

For more information visit www.laufcycles.com. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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7 comments

Avatar
check12 | 4 months ago
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interesting but flawed, bars/stem/cables are the most effective at reducing cda and they've just gone for a wonky head tube and round spacers on the strarrr tube? Ok..  I'm sure the rear end is compliant looks like a strange too far back location for the saddle meaning a long effective top tube etc etc 

Avatar
Pot00000000 | 4 months ago
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Classed as aero yet has exposed cables and a round handlebar 🤦🏼‍♂️

Avatar
cyclisto | 4 months ago
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$390 for Thingvellir Sky color sounds like a bargain.

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jn46 replied to cyclisto | 4 months ago
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And 700usd tax on the entry level model for shipping to UK.

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Miller | 4 months ago
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"Supports wireless shifting only" - does that even rule out Shimano 12sp di2 which is wired at the rear of the bike, or does it just mean they don't provide a wire route through the down tube?

Not that I'm going to buy it or anything.

Avatar
thrawed replied to Miller | 4 months ago
1 like

They mention "wireless-cockpit Shimano Di2" at #6 on this page https://www.laufcycles.com/product/uthald so presumably it must have some way for a cable to route along the drive-side chainstay.

Avatar
joules1975 replied to Miller | 4 months ago
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Miller wrote:

"Supports wireless shifting only" - does that even rule out Shimano 12sp di2 which is wired at the rear of the bike, or does it just mean they don't provide a wire route through the down tube?

Not that I'm going to buy it or anything.

Side photo of red bike - there appears to be what is likely a blanked off Di2 exit port for the front mech visible.

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