The Lauf Anywhere is an all-road gravel bike from the company that made its name with quirky leaf spring forks.
In a radical departure for the brand, the Anywhere doesn’t make use of the signature fork design, instead sporting a conventional rigid number.
The bike is built around a full carbon frameset with big clearances and plush 40mm tyres as standard. It’s available in four builds starting at $2,690, or as a frameset if you prefer.
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Lauf Anywhere frameset: long, stable and fast
If the Anywhere’s frame looks familiar, that’s because it’s shared with Lauf’s leaf spring-equipped True Grit, the brand’s first bike. Because it's identical, riders have the option of upgrading to a sprung fork down the line if their riding demands more bounce.
The Anywhere's frame weighs a claimed 1,070g while the JAF (Just A Fork) fork comes in at 450g. A full frameset including axles, seat clamp and that bottle opener (see below) is 1,620g according to Lauf.
Lauf calls the Anywhere’s geometry Long-4-Speed, which entails a shortish head tube, long top tube, slack (for a road bike) head angle, and short chainstays. On paper the reach figures look gigantic (399mm on a medium), but the actual reach is kept in check with a short stem (80mm on a medium).
Similarly, while the head tube sounds short, the long axle-to-crown needed to create tyre clearance makes for unintimidating stack figures.
Lauf says all this makes for a bike that’s stable at speed and on rough terrain, and one that’s conducive to an aero position.
By default, the Anywhere is a 1x machine with a bottle opener above the cranks, but the Beer or Gear system will accept a wireless front derailleur should the rider demand two chainrings. (There’s no routing for a cable.)
Practical touches: bosses, threads, but no guards
The Anywhere should be quite mechanic friendly. In addition to the threaded bottom bracket shell, the In-N-Out cable routing offers full-length internal cable guides, so there’s no need to fish around inside the frame when it comes time to replace cables. Lauf claims this avoids rattly cables and my testing backs this up.
There are three sets of bottle bosses: two inside the main front triangle as usual, plus an extra set under the down tube. Fans of eating will appreciate the bento box bosses on the top tube, while there are a further three bosses on each leg of the fork which you can use however you fancy.
With so many places to bolt things to the frame, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the Anywhere is designed to take mudguards. Alas, it is not, sticking more to the racy side of things, but Lauf tells me that mounts aren’t being ruled out for future versions of the bike.
The build — Rival shifting, wacky bars
This is Lauf’s Weekend Warrior build, one level up from the Core base model. This model starts at $3,340 but would cost an extra $600 in this colour scheme because this isn’t the standard paintjob.
The Smoothie apparently makes use of the same glass fibres that Lauf uses for its leaf springs to offer vibration absorption and strength. It’s fairly wide and the drops flare outwards dramatically for forearm clearance and control, while the tops are slightly swept to ease wrist strain.
The Anywhere officially has clearance for 45mm tyres and in this build it ships with 40mm Maxxis Velocita AR tubeless rubber with a semi-slick tread.
This build tips our scales at 8.6kg / 19.0lbs which is respectably light for a bike with discs and chunky tyres.
The ride: fast Anywhere, within reason
On a mixture of roads, fire roads and well kept trails, the Anywhere makes a lot of sense. As with any gravel bike, the choice of tyres makes a huge difference to the bike’s abilities.
The Maxxis Velocitas that Lauf offers as standard are a solid all-round option. They’re fast enough on tarmac that you can easily forget that you’re not riding skinny road rubber, but the extra width and the option to run them softer give you considerable latitude on gravel and dirt.
Saying that, no one tyre can do it all and as you’d expect, they’re pretty useless in mud or the slicker varieties of dirt.
As long as you’re realistic about what the bike is, the Anywhere is a delight. It’s emphatically not a mountain bike; the tyres are too slim for anything rocky and while the Smoothie bars are wide for drops, they’re still better suited to relatively smooth gravel roads rather than technical singletrack.
As it happens, I remain somewhat sceptical about bars like this in general. The radically flared drops place your hands considerably wider than they are on the hoods, which in principle is good for more technically demanding riding (and it gives you maximum leverage on the brake levers), but in practice forces you into a much more aggressive position, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to stay behind the bars on a steep descent.
Also, they can feel ungainly for pushing hard on the flat because the flare opens your arms out into a much less aero position than a traditional set of drops would.
Whatever you think of the bars, they don’t detract from a rewarding ride. The frame is stiff where it needs to be and it feels taut and stable at speed.
The Anywhere puts me in mind of the 3T Exploro. While Lauf’s bike doesn’t make any aero claims, the combination of a very up-to-date feeling carbon frameset and big balloon tyres offers a similar experience. With semi-slicks it’s virtually a road bike when it needs to be, but the squish on offer lets you tune ride quality and adapt to a variety of surfaces.
There’s little to fault with the build too. Rival 1 offers no surprises and the gear range on offer is sufficient for most general riding. The only time I found it lacking was on seriously steep climbs when walking was arguably the more sensible option.
Lauf Anywhere overall
If you have access to good fire roads, smooth-ish singletrack or proper gravel, a bike like this is perfect. It’s barely compromised on tarmac with the right tyres and it’ll fly along unmade roads with gleeful abandon.
Lauf Anywhere range pricing and availability
The Anywhere will be available in four builds or as a frameset from March 2019 onwards. Head over to Lauf’s website to find out more. Pricing as follows:
- Anywhere Core: SRAM Apex 1, MSRP $2,690
- Anywhere Weekend Warrior: SRAM Rival 1, MSRP $3,340
- Anywhere Race: SRAM Force 1, MSRP $4,640
- Anywhere Race Di2: Shimano Ultegra/XT Di2, MSRP $5,340
- Anywhere frameset: includes Lauf bottle opener, FSA Orbit headset, hangers, seat collar, axles, Lauf Lush bar tape, MSRP $2,340