So, we’re going AWOL here this weekend. Where are you going?

While we’re at it, Outside Magazine wrote a piece on the AWOL x POLER bike we made for the Oregon Outback. E of Team AWOL spoke to Outside’s Sam Moulton about doing real shit and the ongoing AWOL love affair.

If our sources are right, adventure bikes will be the talk of Interbike, the U.S.’s biggest bike show, which starts next week in Las Vegas.

We’ll have a few editors wandering the aisles to see if the new bikes live up to the hype (last year we were promised lots of cool e-bikes at the show but came away disappointed). In the meantime, the fact that this limited-edition bike, a collaboration between Specialized and Poler, the Portland-based makers of some of our favorite outdoorsy and adventure travel gear, just popped up in our inbox is a promising sign.

The AWOL x POLER bike, which will retail for about $1,960 and comes ready to roll with a pannier rack and two Poler panniers, will be available September 6 in limited numbers through Specialized dealers. The company is having a launch party in Portland Friday evening and recently created a cool little Tumblr site—what they call an “inspirational platform”—dedicated to the collaboration that features a three-day, 368-mile ride across Oregon.

It’s not a brand-new bike—Specialized first debuted their AWOL line of adventure bikes a year and a half ago—so why all the hoopla now? “I just really like the bike,” says Erik Nohlin, the lead designer for urban and adventure touring bikes and mastermind behind the Specialized Lab program, “and I wanted to have some more fun with it. So I basically took command and decided to become the ambassador.”

We’re glad he did. We’ve ridden early versions of the AWOL series and love them for everything from riding around town to rallying up the dirt roads in the foothills outside of town. We’re also happy to see a big, traditionally high-performance oriented company like Specialized invest more R&D into adventure bikes (and let their hair down a bit and chill out with the scruffy dudes over at Poler).

Ultralight carbon fiber road bikes are great, and we love all the new ripping, full-suspension 27.5 mountain bikes with dropper seat posts we’ve been testing lately, but nothing is better than a rugged and versatile bike that’s comfortable enough to ride all day on pavement but can also handle light off-roading. You can race cyclo-cross on one, enter a gravel grinder, or load up the panniers and go bike-camping for the night.

As Nohlin put it, they’re the ideal bike for “doing real shit.” We couldn’t agree more.

The AWOL x POLER is sold out as far as we know. If you’re lucky, you might find one of these gems at your local dealer.

Pedaling For Pints Luke made a review of this AWOL. This is how a real review should be done. Traveling across a continent, 4500 miles from New York to Seattle via Portland, then make an evaluation. Luke is not affiliated with Specialized. He bought the bike with  hard earned money and these are his honest opinions. Thanks Luke!

Review of the Specialized AWOL Deluxe 2014 (UK)

I’ve been living on this bike for over 2 months now. It’s carried me, and everything I’ve needed, 4500 miles from the East coast of The USA to the West; over mountains, through forests and across plains. So it’s time to share my thoughts - good and bad (but mostly good).

READY TO ROLL

There was only one component I changed after buying the AWOL; the saddle, and that was for a Brooks Cambium C17 (which has been amazing). Other than that, the bike is ready for adventure out of the box. The Deluxe version in the UK even comes complete with Tubus racks and mudguards.

I initially thought about upgrading a few components - shifters, derailleur, possibly crankset - but then I (and my bank balance) decided not to. There’s no point spending extra money on a slightly lighter derailleur for the unexpected to happen. When touring, if it works, it works. That’s all that matters.

DISC BRAKES

This is the first bike I’ve owned with discs and there’s no going back. The stopping power is incredible - fully loaded, in the pouring rain, over gravel, descending mountains - no problem.

FAT TYRES

Dave (of The 5th Floor) asked me I’d be riding much gravel on my trip, I answered no. Wrong. Miles and miles of it. From random back roads (thanks Google), rails to trails and highway shoulders - gravel. But the 42c tyres handled it all. I was concerned they would compromise rolling speed but at 90-100psi they fly.

GEOMETRY

I like to do my research before buying anything. Probably too much if I’m honest. There weren’t any reviews of the AWOL but there was a lot of discussion about the geometry. I don’t pretend to know a lot about this topic but it sparked a lot of debate. All I know is, it’s comfortable. I’ve ridden this bike 7 hours a day for 70 days and not once had a sore neck, knee or back.

VERSATILITY

This was how I managed to convince my girlfriend I needed another bike - “it’s not just a touring bike, it’s a commuter, off-roader and all-rounder. So really, I’m buying one more bike instead of four” - or something to that effect.

Before leaving for New York, I’d been riding it to work for a couple of months and it was a noticeably comfier commute than my fixed gear. Then in the Tetons, I whipped off the racks and took to the mountains - so much fun.

Read the full review, the good and the bad HERE

Throwback Thursday to that time when we were field testing (bashing) the first AWOL prototype with a donut breakfast in our stomachs. A late October weekend we spent two full days riding the rugged hills behind Oakland and Berkley in the East San Francisco Bay. At this time, there was only one AWOL in the world. Things got better since and we now have friends all over the world. Thanks!
“Sixteen hours in total and my bike of choice was the first prototype of our new Specialized AWOL. The word I put out on Facebook and Instagram was a gather outside Donut Farm on San Pablo Ave for “A cut-offs, no spandex, shredding session on the fire roads behind Skyline Rd” A non racing session that would end with dinner and a beer or two. 
Five friends showed up, all in cut-off shorts and steel bikes. A Rock Lobster, Rivendells, a Bruce Gordon and My AWOL. All those riders and bikes, including me, are among a not new, but again rising, type of non competitive adventure riding. My friends all have a road specific bike. But, for all the other riding they ride their steel bikes with wide tires, big saddlebags and never ending set-up possibilities. For the all day adventure fire road ride, they ride them as they are. For the weekend adventure they mount fenders, a front rack and panniers and for the long haul adventures they are fully loaded touring bikes.
I love This bike. It is not the fastest or the lightest but that’s not requested by the AWOL riders. Rather it´s a multi purpose non racing adventure bicycle. Reliable, stable and cool. A bicycle for all needs, that ONE bicycle most people need. After sixteen fun hours on the bike during two full days of riding, I`m confident that this bike has a lot of potential and will be the bike for whom ever is into adventure”. 
E

Throwback Thursday to that time when we were field testing (bashing) the first AWOL prototype with a donut breakfast in our stomachs. A late October weekend we spent two full days riding the rugged hills behind Oakland and Berkley in the East San Francisco Bay. At this time, there was only one AWOL in the world. Things got better since and we now have friends all over the world. Thanks!

Sixteen hours in total and my bike of choice was the first prototype of our new Specialized AWOL. The word I put out on Facebook and Instagram was a gather outside Donut Farm on San Pablo Ave for “A cut-offs, no spandex, shredding session on the fire roads behind Skyline Rd” A non racing session that would end with dinner and a beer or two.

Five friends showed up, all in cut-off shorts and steel bikes. A Rock Lobster, Rivendells, a Bruce Gordon and My AWOL. All those riders and bikes, including me, are among a not new, but again rising, type of non competitive adventure riding. My friends all have a road specific bike. But, for all the other riding they ride their steel bikes with wide tires, big saddlebags and never ending set-up possibilities. For the all day adventure fire road ride, they ride them as they are. For the weekend adventure they mount fenders, a front rack and panniers and for the long haul adventures they are fully loaded touring bikes.

I love This bike. It is not the fastest or the lightest but that’s not requested by the AWOL riders. Rather it´s a multi purpose non racing adventure bicycle. Reliable, stable and cool. A bicycle for all needs, that ONE bicycle most people need. After sixteen fun hours on the bike during two full days of riding, I`m confident that this bike has a lot of potential and will be the bike for whom ever is into adventure”.

E

Look at this, pretty amazing. We have AWOL’s on the summit of the highest paved road in Europe. The Pedalours are killing it in Andalucia, southern Spain right now. Follow them on Instagram for some dope inspiration. This is definitely the roof of our trip - highest paved road of Europe 3396m on #picodelveleta Andalucia. See how the storm lift our faces #facelifting #goawol #wearegoingawol

you got some good tips for vegan biker-nutrition? — Asked by butterivenne

/ Hi

That’s a rad question. As kids, we all learn that you need protein to build and maintain muscle mass and that protein = meat. This is true a part from that no one ever mentioned that most greens are awesome sources of protein and in most cases much better for you body and the world in general than meat. Vegan cyclists like: Rich Roll,  Christine Varderos  Laura Kline  Brendan Braizer Zak Covalcik and David Zabriskie  inspire us to go further and seek new ways. We love what Matt Ruscigno is doing, teaching and inspiring rather than dictating the subject. His video web series of vegan athletes and diets is really good. More vegan cyclist inspiration HERE HERE HERE E of team AWOL is a vegan and first class shredder of vegetables, long and short distances

/ Team AWOL

Oh man, starting off the day by looking at the pedaling for pints blog was a bad thing. Too many rad roads to GOAWOL on, too little time. Luke really throws some prime inspiration at us right now. He’s ridden more than 4000 miles transcontinental and have less than 1000 to go through Oregon and Washington. Thanks for the inspiraiton!

YOU KNOW THE DRILL BY NOW. IT’S FRIDAY. GET OUT OF THERE!
#goawol - #wearegoingawol

Are you like us enjoying the behind the scenes section of the DVD’s as much as the movie itself. Not to compare but the “making of” part of the Indiana Jones DVD-box is a masterpiece. We always document the design process and developing the AWOL x Poler looked something like this. Our industrial designer Brian TIG welded the first prototype of the Pizzarack before we rode the shit out of it. Jon perfected the frame patterns by hand, fine tuning every single little detail to look good from all angles while also being feasible in the production of different frame sizes. Erik did the initial bike design with Poler, made the renderings and painted the first bike in-house before we presented it to the team for approval. The Design Group of Specialized have the most amazing facilities at hand. 2D and 3D printers and cutters, full plastic, wood, metal, clay and carbon workshops, state of the art paint facilities and on top of that some great creative minds and personalities, all and everyone being fully dedicated and hard core riders. Can’t go wrong from there.

Chris Conlin is not only a great graphic designer, he’s also a fantastic artist. Well, best case that goes hand in hand…like here… Chris works within TDG / The Design Group of Specialized Bicycles making color and graphics for high performance mountainbikes. When you see a one off color scheme on a down hill world cup rider, most likely Chris painted that bike. We asked Chris to do some ink illustrations for the AWOL x Poler fanzine and this is what he delivered some days later. They blew our minds with their easy going manners and rough edges. Erik Nohlin and John Watson of The Oregon Outback Team AWOL.

We said we would return with the gear choice of The Marin Mountains 200k brevet last weekend. Knowing what San Francisco Randonneurs informed us about in the last post, we opted for exactly that and a bit more. The Full Nuke Peacock AWOL Transcontinental was the bike of choise and it turned out to be a good one. This was acctually the roughest and gnarliest terrain we’ve done with the AWOL (even rougher than The Oregon Outback) but it performed at it’s highest. Giving us a fast rando bike on the long paved stretches and a potent off road bike on the gravel.

The 45C slick and fast Fatboy tires gave a lot of confidence on the gnarly gravel and mud sections. Together with the Shimano hydraulic brakes we had enough stopping power to go all in on the rough downhill sections of Mt Tam. These brakes and levers are something out of this world. The perfection in actuation and tactile feedback enables you to really max out on the descents and leave your fellow Randonneurs with Canti brakes in the dust. There is so much confidence with these brakes. It makes a good combo with the Shimano Alfine 11 Di2 internal gear hub. It might seem a bit overkill and we agree. Alfine also has its own more affordable Di2 shifters but you’ll miss out on the hydraulics.

The Gates Center-track belt drive is set up with 46 x 28 and with the right tension on the AWOL Swinger drop outs, this set up really is one of your best friends in harsh conditions. No sound, no grease and no maintenance. Bomb Proof.

San Francisco Randonneurs provides both a buffet of GPS files and analog cue sheets. Most GPS’s won’t last even the shortest brevet ride, especially if it’s an older one. Our GPS is powered via the Supernova USB plug sitting on the stem. A cool feature that can save Your ass on the long haul but also a vulnerable one on a course with a lot of steep and long climbs like this one. The Plug will only provide power over a certain speed (approx. 14-16 km/h) and unless You’re Contador, it won’t help you. A small battery pack could be a better solution and such one can also provide energy to your smart phone as an extra navigation back-up. If you do dynamo powered lights, the lamps needs all the power so the Plug is worthless during the dark hours anyway. Navigation is like camping. Always bring more than one source of fire. If your matches are wet, there will be no camp fire.

Riding the first hour and a half in darkness requires a good light source. Randonneurs will not accept just any small blinky light. You must show that your lights will last and keep you safe the whole ride and on all the longer distances there is a bike and safety gear check from the organizers before start. Safety gear includes reflecting wrist bands and a reflective vest. This ride didn’t have the bike check. Blinking rear lights are not allowed, it would drive your fellow riders nuts. Team AWOL use Supernova front and rear lights powered by a dynamo hub that also provides power to the Plug when the lights aren’t on.

We were actually set up with 3 bottle cages but one fell of from the shaking about half way. Luckily the checkpoints of the route were at stores and delis so water access was easy which is not always the case. Planing both water and food intake is a crucial part of being a good Randonneur. On a “short” distance like 200k it doesn’t have to be perfect but heading for the 300, 400 and 600 kilometers of the Super Randonneur title, a bit more effort needs to go into a strategy of eating and staying hydrated.

We will continue to do posts about Randonneuring. Doe’s, Dont’s and gear selection. Team AWOL will do another full Super Randonneur title in the spring. 

Last weekend Team AWOL participated in San Francisco Randonneur’s Marin Mountains 200 kilometers mixed surface brevet. SF Randonneur’s informed us:

The Marin Mountains 200K feels more like a mountain bike ride that uses pavement to connect epic stretches of dirt. Most riders will walk once or twice, but the scenery and sense of immersion in nature more than make up for the occasional difficulty.

The distinguishing feature of the Marin Mountains 200K are five long and spectacular unpaved sections.

  1. From Panoramic Highway to the summit of Mount Tam (mile 14). Five miles of well-graded gravel fire roads through mixed conifer forests. On a clear day, you’ll enjoy a commanding perspective on San Francisco Bay. On a foggy day, you’ll break through mist into early morning sun and see the fog roll over the Golden Gate like a giant slow-motion wave.
  2. From Ridgecrest Boulevard to Sky Oaks Road (mile 21). Five miles through mixed forest and mediterranean scrub. Some very steep grades, both uphill and downhill. Mostly gravel and dirt, but also hard-baked clay and challenging rocky sections on aptly-named Rocky Ridge Road. Fine views of San Pablo Bay and the Mount Tam watershed.
  3. From Bolinas-Fairfax Road to San Geronimo (mile 29). Five and a half very tough miles—the most difficult of this ride. Short but steep climbs on Pine Mountain Fire Road precede a long, precipitous descent on Sylvestris Fire Road. Brief sections of loose softball-size rocks are virtually impassable to road bikes. While many cyclists will walk a couple hundred yards of this segment, most will also enjoy a fantastic feeling of wilderness and expansive vistas of northern Marin.
  4. Summit of Mount Vision to Limantour Road (mile 82). Only three miles, but that includes rutted single-track and some difficult rocky stretches. Pause at a sharp right turn in the trail to admire exceptional views of Tomales Bay and west Marin.
  5. Highway 1 to Ridgecrest Boulevard (mile 97). Eleven miles, most of it through wonderful coastal redwoods. One of the prettiest stretches of forest in the Bay Area—a cathedral of big trees. Much of the trail is soft dirt littered with vegetation, and there are only a few short rocky stretches. Two or three short climbs are quite steep: downshift early or you risk walking!

There are also some noteworthy paved climbs, including:

  1. The Marshall Wall (mile 56). 500 feet vertical in a little over a mile, for an average grade of about 9%—but a quarter of that is flat! The road traverses open grassy terrain with hardly a tree in sight, so the wind can make for hard going.
  2. Mount Vision (mile 78). An easy climb (1200ft in 4mi) notable for its remoteness and beauty. In half a dozen pre-rides we’ve only ever seen one car. And on a sunny day the panorama of Point Reyes and Drake’s Estero is superlative.
  3. The “Seven Sisters” on Ridgecrest Boulevard (mile 104). A standard weekend ride for SF roadies, but usually not after a hundred miles and 11,000 feet of climbing. As on Mount Vision, the scenery on a clear day is breathtaking.

The MM 200K is 23% dirt—roughly one mile of trail for every three miles of pavement. The dirt parts are difficult enough that many riders may opt for a mountain bike, but keep in mind that overly knobby tires or excessive suspension will slow you down on pavement. We suggest a suspension-free bike with a low gear close to 1:1 (for example, 50x34 compact chainrings coupled with an 11-32 mountain cassette) and slick to moderately knobby tires in the range of 32-40mm. Also, traditional three-bolt road cleats are not a good idea—bring shoes that are comfortable for walking.

We’re so glad we listened carefully to the advice and brought both wide tires, sufficient gearing, hydraulic brakes, lots of water, walkable shoes etc. The AWOL was the perfect bike for this ride with  a total of 203 kilometers / 126 miles, 4199 m of climbing and an on the bike time of 9:35:20. The shitty pictures above is from a GoPro mounted on the front rack of the AWOL but it gives you an idea of the sometimes disturbingly tough “roads”

More in another post about the gear selection for such a big ride

Hey guys! Is the Awol Pizza Rack available to purchase separately or add as an extra to an Awol Comp? — Asked by tyoughttk

/ Hi.

We’re currently out field testing some development we did on the Pizza Rack. Will be back with the results in 2015.

/ Team AWOL

Marko Sajn of the great PICI-BICI blog met up with AWOL designer Erik Nohlin at Eurobike to ask him a couple of questions. Read the full interview HERE and don’t forget to put on the soundtrack!
…
Marko - Do you plan on doing something similar in the recent future, or was the purpose of attending the transcontinental race mainly for the promotion of the AWOL bikes?
Erik - Nothing we do with the AWOL is only a marketing gig. I’m a long distance cyclist and 4 time Super Randonneur heading for my second Paris – Brest – Paris. If we can combine riding our own creations on long rides it really is the best form of RnD and what makes the best stories. I will always stay true to who I am and what I do, including AWOL gigs; you can’t really fake it today. Kids are too smart. There are a lot of good products out there but what most people fail at is the inspirational piece. Showing the kids what they can do on that bike, that’s the magic. A product without a story is dead, just like a person. Team AWOL will continue to be inspirational and do gnarly rides as a part of making the bike better. The Transcontinental Race led to the AWOL TCR Edition and The Oregon Outback was the driver behind the AWOL x POLER collaboration. We have a lot of fun things happening in a near future, just sit tight and watch!
…

Marko Sajn of the great PICI-BICI blog met up with AWOL designer Erik Nohlin at Eurobike to ask him a couple of questions. Read the full interview HERE and don’t forget to put on the soundtrack!

Marko - Do you plan on doing something similar in the recent future, or was the purpose of attending the transcontinental race mainly for the promotion of the AWOL bikes?


Erik - Nothing we do with the AWOL is only a marketing gig. I’m a long distance cyclist and 4 time Super Randonneur heading for my second Paris – Brest – Paris. If we can combine riding our own creations on long rides it really is the best form of RnD and what makes the best stories. I will always stay true to who I am and what I do, including AWOL gigs; you can’t really fake it today. Kids are too smart. There are a lot of good products out there but what most people fail at is the inspirational piece. Showing the kids what they can do on that bike, that’s the magic. A product without a story is dead, just like a person. Team AWOL will continue to be inspirational and do gnarly rides as a part of making the bike better. The Transcontinental Race led to the AWOL TCR Edition and The Oregon Outback was the driver behind the AWOL x POLER collaboration. We have a lot of fun things happening in a near future, just sit tight and watch!

Summit City Bicycles did a nice post on the Transcontinental Edition AWOL we released earlier this year. With only 100 made, they went fast but it’s projects like this that makes us raise the bar. Looking back at this projects really makes us proud. The TCR AWOL is a piece of art and looking into the pictures you realize the level of detailing and the amount of love that went into the development of this bike. Thanks for the pictures!

We broke the rules again. This isn’t a featured customer bike. It’s actually owned by our assistant general manager, Nate, who was able to get his hands on this limited edition Specialized AWOL Transcontinental. This special edition bike is one of only 100 made, and is a true work of art. The first photo below is one of the coolest feature of the bike. Pictured is the bike’s USB port that is able to charge your smartphone or other device through your own pedal power by way of Supernova’s generator hub. The hub will also power the head light and tail light seen below. The bike also features an 8 speed internal hub, carbon-belt driven drivetrain, wind and air-proof panniers, and TRP hydraulic disc brakes. Unfortunately you probably won’t be able to get your hands on one of these, but don’t worry, Specialized has a line of AWOL’s that will sure to impress any commuter, off-roader, or adventure rider.