After running into the gang from DEAN Bikes earlier this year and sparking up some conversations, we had the chance to get our hands on their new Antero Cross & Gravel bike. Cyclocross racer, sporty commuter, gravel grinder, club rider and anything else that isn’t mountain biking – you name it. The Antero handled everything that we could dish out including rocky single track, steps and gnarly downhills.
The new DEAN Antero Cross & Gravel serves dual duty; it will tackle back country roads and is aggressive enough for a weekend of cross racing. It also makes a pretty pimped out commuter. Coolest thing is, you can build it up however you want and the bike geeks at DEAN (sorry guys) will be more then happy to help.
Manufactured in China for DEAN Bikes, this titanium frame utilizes a single butted seat tube and straight gauge 3/2.5 tubing throughout the rest of the bike, and hand crafted welds with an aggressive geometry that is great for cross and gravel riding. Our preproduction demo bike came equipped with a SRAM Force 1 group, Stan wheels, TRP’s newest carbon fork and some pretty pimped out DEAN components as well. The frame retails for $1395 and DEAN is taking pre-orders now.
DEAN’s titanium stem is quite nice, made from cold-worked and stress relieved 3al/2.5v titanium and is suitable for road or MTB use. The brushed finish and bead blast DEAN logo create a sharp look and the weight is kept down with titanium bolts. 125g for a 110mm stem and they are Made in the USA. (note: we opted not to cut the stem when the bike arrived)
Production models will come with a head tube badge. We haven’t seen what they look like but if we get our hands on one we’ll let you know. Our guess is it will be the DEAN logo or a fire breathing dragon.
Oversized head tube with a top integrated bearing will not only stiffen up the front end, but allow riders to achieve a lower position. As far as the Chris King headset goes, that will be an option on complete bike orders or as an upgrade.
Tire clearance on our prototype was a tad tight, but speaking with Ari from DEAN, the company plans on adding an extra 1/8″ of clearance per side on the chain stays. DEAN, like a lot of other small frame builders are sticking with a threaded bottom bracket which they claim is more reliable and doesn’t creak.When asked about future plans for BB30 this was their reply “No, We firmly Believe in BSA, Reliable, quiet and its easier to pass on the savings to the customer with its lower manufacturing cost. No one likes a Creaky BB.“
Seat stays are oversized and provide plenty of tire clearance. Cables run down the inside/ front of the seat stay for a nice clean look. Both the rear derailleur and rear brake use full length cables and are routed along the top tube.
Baby’s got back. The guys will be seeing a lot of this view on the group ride this weekend … well hopefully. The seat stays are curved more for tire and foot clearance than ride quality, but this design helps to soften things up on the rear.
Here is a nice close up of the welds around the seat collar, we’ll let you make call. The Antero uses a 27.2 seat post, our test model was equipped with a DEAN seat post which is welded here is the U.SA. The seat tube is single butted.
Even though we were impressed with the welds coming out of China, they still don’t compare to the quality DEAN is welding in their Boulder, CO. location. All DEAN’s custom frames, stems and seat posts are welded in their U.S. facility.
For those wanting to run a double up front, an extra cable stop in located on the down tube. DEAN informed us the production model will feature a full length top tube mounted cable with a stop for the front derailleur.
The TRP cyclocross fork with a 15mm thru axle, internal cable routing, tapered carbon steerer tube does a great job up front and looks pretty sexy. The fork retails for $579.00 and weighs in at around 450 grams.
Cable routing is a zip (pun intended) when running hydraulic disk brakes thanks to the open faced cable guides. Just make sure you tuck the head of that zip tie away. It can do a little damage to the hand.
SRAM’s Force 1 drive train provides performance and reliability. One single ring up front while the wide range 11-36 cassette gives you a ride range of gears whether you are sprinting of hammering the climbs.
Tire clearance will be increased by a 1/4″ on production models. It looks like a little creative tubing design will be required.
An 11-36 rear cassette provides ample gearing for the toughest climbs. SRAM’s 1×11 setup has been proven on the world cup circuit and is ridden by some of the top U.S. cross racers.
Thru axle design upfront helps keep the front end stiff while out of the saddle and under heavy breaking. If you’ve never ridden a thru axle up front, it is a little odd seeing the skewer/axle lock on the opposite side. The SRAM Force brakes work and on occasion that front one worked a little to well. Disk brakes are definitely here to stay in the cross and gravel road world.
We loved the thru axle in the rear as well, but unfortunately DEAN will not be offering this on the production model. They will be using a standard quick release in the rear.
Stan’s NoTubes are always a proven performer.
Overall the Antero cross is a great performing bike with a price that is hard to beat. A titanium frame that comes in under $1,500.00 is bound to turn some heads. Our test bike with the current setup would retail for around $3,900.00 from DEAN. Best of all, Ari and his group are just as passionate about bikes as you are.
If you see us out on the trail, give us a shout and take it for a ride.