I’ve had my eye on this concept for a while; if you want to slot this into some kind of niche, we’re talking adventure bikes but I prefer to think of it as a bike-that-can-do-lots-of-things.
Why would I want something like this? Well, the adventure bike concept is to take a road bike and make it more rugged. Not necessarily racy and rugged – that would be cyclocross – but rugged enough to cope with broken roads and potholes with a high degree of comfort, and rugged enough to actually go off-road as well.
Back in the ’90s, when mountain bikes were starting to take off, they too were rugged versions of regular bikes. The racing scene was all about XC and every jey-boy wanted an efficient bike that could take a beating over what today would be very tame trails. The idea was to get off the tarmac and explore the woods. Over time, that exploration got wilder and more extreme, but for a lot of people, riding XC trails away from traffic remains an end in itself.
Meanwhile, at the simplest level road bikes have split between racy and endurance objectives. The idea of adventure bikes is to extend the endurance part to create bikes that can operate in a much wider range of conditions. People have realised that wider tyres on the road increase comfort and generate more grip without making the bike much slower. I’ve put this to the test running 28mm tyres on my road bike all last year and loving the feel.
So here we are. Take those ideas. Add a few more an you have the Mason Bokeh. It has geometry that’s built around stability and comfort, so with regular tyres would work extremely well as a endurance oriented road bike. But it has disc brakes and enormous tyre clearances as it doesn’t need to worry about accommodating rim brakes – with 700c wheels it comes as standard with 35mm GravelKing tyres meaning it will happily deal with XC trails without concern. Where it gets really interesting is if you switch the wheelset to a 650b setup, because then you can fit 2.0 tyres and ride off-road more seriously. Not gnarly, but certainly you could spend the majority of your ride away from traffic without concern as it’s more like a cross country 29er.
This is why I’m interested. Every year, through the long dark months of December, January, February and sometimes further, commuting on the road, for me, is not that pleasant. Between Dorking and Redhill are some pretty narrow, pretty dark country lanes with rough surfaces for the unwary. Mornings are fine, but coming back at night is quite a challenge, particularly with unsophisticated drivers in the mix. Sometimes it’s icy, always greasy, sometimes it’s very wet indeed and half the time it’s hard to see where I’m going. So my commuting efforts are naturally compromised.
Imagine if, when conditions are bad, or dark, or I just fancy it, I could just use the North Downs Way, which I normally resort to doing on my mountain bike? It’s muddy and wet in places, but it’s safer than dark roads in winter. The problem is that on the mountain bike it’s much slower commuting and pretty hard work – certainly not sustainable over more than a couple of days a week. If I had the Mason Bokeh, when the roads were fine I could use them. When conditions were against me, I could just use the trails – they’re not gnarly in any way and with careful route selection piecing sections of tarmac and trail together I reckon I could maintain a decent enough pace. More importantly, it would be fun.
So, I’m going to be saving my pennies. I have a vision for my bike collection, being: Urban bike; Carbon Road bike, Hardtail MTB, Slack Full-sus MTB. That covers everything from pub, to utility, to fitness, to entertainment. But what’s missing is a fast, efficient commuter that can deal with everything – on-road, off-road, trail, tarmac – without making life boring.
The Mason Bokeh has a bolt-through front fork, internal routing for the cables (including the hydraulic hoses), wide rims with a tubeless ready wheelset, rack mounts, mudguard mounts, is available as a 1x setup, has huge mud clearance and a beautiful Dedacciai frame. It ticks every box for proven, quality modern bike thinking and design.
I reckon the Mason Bokeh would be awesome.