Sonder, the bike division of the outdoor brand Alpkit, has just launched a new iteration of its popular gravel bike, the Camino.
As before, the Camino is optimised for long-distance adventure riding. It features a host of mounts, including ones on the fork legs, both sides of the down tube – and many others besides. Fat gravel tyres are easily accommodated too, with clearance for up to 50mm x 700c and even 2.2in x 650b.
Another vein that has continued from the previous model is the compatibility for a very wide range of applications. It’s never been purely ‘gravel-specific’.
The flattened tubing around where the driveside chainstay meets the bottom bracket allows for a 2x crankset to be run with and road-sized chainrings. There are also mounts for mudguards and even a rear pannier rack – pressing the Camino into commuting duties wouldn't raise any protest.
But now, let’s get into the things that have changed on this latest update.
The headline tweaks are ones very familiar from the flat-bar world – the new Camino is both longer and slacker than the previous model. In sizes small and medium, the reach has increased by 10mm, while in the large and extra large it’s gone up by 20mm – although in both cases this has been compensated for with the speccing of shorter stems.
Going from a head tube angle of 71 degrees to now 69, the fork has been raked out significantly, making the Camino one of the slackest gravel bikes currently on the market. This change to the head angle has the knock-on effect of lengthening the wheelbase and slowing the steering, which should make the bike a little more stable at high speeds and more controlled in the corners.
The slackening of the head angle also has the effect of lowering the stack height – you can imagine a stick standing upright at 90 degrees is twice as tall as when it’s tilted at 45 degrees. To compensate for this, the head tube has been lengthened by 10mm across all sizes, yet the stack height still ends up 5mm lower than in the previous models.
Neil Sutton, Alpkit’s frame designer said: “I always felt I had too much weight over the front and this showed when cornering quickly on loose ground – the front end was always the first to be overloaded and break traction.”
“The new geometry puts your weight much more centred on the bike, so when traction does break it tends to break much more evenly, giving much more confidence to push on loose terrain.”
Other changes include a new fork with triple bottle mounts on each leg, internal cable routing through the down tube and a move to 31.6mm seat posts – if you want to use a traditional 27.2mm, you’ll need to find yourself a shim.
Interestingly, the underside-of-the-down-tube mounts have seen a shift from just a pair of bosses to now a triplet – which should provide a bit of extra rigidity when carrying heavier loads down there, such as fuel for a stove.
Pricing and availability
Sonder’s emphasis on affordability also remains. Although prices are going up at every point along the supply chain – most evident in the frame-only option, previously £299 and now £449 – the builds are still all competitively priced against the market.
For the full range, you’d be best checking out Alpkit’s website, but some highlights include:
The Sonder Camino Al Apex1 Mechanical, dipping in just under a UK grand at £949 / $1,349, this build gets SRAM’s 1x11 Apex groupset with mechanical disc brakes. Its available to buy now with deliveries expected from March 28.
1x11 drivetrains combined with hydraulic disc brakes start at the Sonder Camino Al Apex1 Hydraulic, which comes in at £1,249 / $1,749 and does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s available to buy now and delivery is expected from March 28. Shimano GRX 1x11 is £50 / $100 more expensive and isn’t expected until mid 2023.
Perhaps the stand-out build is the Sonder Camino Al Rival1 AXS XPLR. At £1,749 / $2,449, that is notably cheap for SRAM’s 1x12 electronic, hydraulic groupset and comes with a monster 10–44t cassette for plenty of range on the uphills and the down.
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