Rawland’s New Road Bike: A 26-Inch Lightweight Bruiser (Reviews And Buyer’s Guide)

Sean Virnig, Co-Founder of Rawland CyclesIf you haven’t heard of the Rawland brand, it’s a relatively new ten-year cycling company that has a knack for exquisite steel and the ability to produce strong bikes ahead of the gravel and cyclo-cross niches becoming popular.

Sean and Anna Virnig, who reside in gravel country with a desire to explore trails, back roads, and create adventure bicycles, have established a successful niche in cycling with Rawland Cycles.

Rawland’s New Road Bike Review

Rawland produces high-quality, beautiful bikes that are perfect for mountain riding or cyclocross racing. The company currently offers two models—the Ulv and the Ravn—and each bike is made in small batches to ensure quality.

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The Ravn is their second model, and it’s a 26-inch road bike that’s built for rough use and takes excellent care of itself. Rawland was one of the first to develop an all-around bike with a 650B/27.5-inch wheel size, and they like bigger tires and creating bicycles that are ready to tackle anything.

Logo credit: Rawland Cycles
Logo credit: Rawland Cycles

Why Do We Love Big Wheels So Much?

When it came to choosing a three-wheeled bike, I had several options. With three wheel configurations available (650b, 700c or 29er), this was a difficult decision. Sure, I could have purchased three different wheel sets and swapped between them to build virtually three separate bikes. However, I’m aiming for one all-around machine that can take me anyplace without requiring extra wheels. It was critical to select the most flexible singlewheel set possible.


The average person may not know that 700c and 29er wheels have the same rim size. What makes them different is the tire width (29er is 2″ or more). I chose 650b because it would climb better, but after doing research, I found that 700c/29er was a better overall choice for me.

 The fact that it’s less popular didn’t bother me because there are still plenty of wheel and tire options available. In the end, I went with Stan’s No Tubes factory wheel set with Arch rims and ZTR hubs. 
credit bicycle times
Photo credit: Bicycle Times

With Arch rim, you can go for full 29er tire widths or wide 700c touring tires to cover almost the entire spectrum of medium and wide tires (but not those skinny road racing ones). You can use tubes with Arch rims but they are tubeless-ready as well. I also decided to make my bike lighter by going tubeless in order to improve climbing even further (which is mentioned in more detail below under “tires”).

Technical Specifications

bike cog ravn

The frame is made of aluminum and weighs only 4 lbs, 7 oz, while the fork is made of steel and has a weight of 2 lbs, 12 oz. This is more akin to a lightweight bruiser—able to survive many terrains while remaining elegant and powerful. The overall weight is around 24 pounds, however it doesn’t feel hefty due to the swiftness and inflatable tires.


The frame features mounts for three water bottles, fenders, and a rear rack. The replaceable rear dropouts (hooded, like the front) come in handy if you’re prone to breaking things. Like on the fork, the minimum brake rotor size on the frame is 180mm. There’s even a chain hanger on seatstay–a clear sign that Sean and Anna were paying attention when designing this bike.

Additionally, I liked the Rawland spec. The Ritchey handlebar felt natural, especially in 460mm width. The Avid BB7 brakes were strong and required little attention. Lastly, my backside was grateful for the WTB SL8 saddle on long rides.

Unsurprisingly, SRAM’s Rival 1 drivetrain shifted without issue; though I think it would be perfect for a lot of different riding styles if its gear range was wider to support serious touring with lots of luggage. I would give SRAM a lot of money if they were to create a 1x shifter with a cable-pull that is compatible with their Eagle derailers.


The steel (or Staal) is drawn from Rawland’s custom-built mandrels, which guarantee that gauge profiles and butting lengths are correct.

Ravn (right) and the Ulv (left)
Ravn (right) and the Ulv (left)

Frame Build Details: Custom Staal

What separates the Ravn from other bike models is Rawland’s commitment to using only the best custom steel in construction. The Minnesota brand uses a unique, custom-drawn “Rawland Staal” that create a sturdier frame. This Staal is made of chromoly with .8/.5/.8/1 gauge triple-butted profiles in the main triangle of the set–a level on quality above most others.

Custom steel and manufacturing

Chromoly is a steel alloy, consisting mostly of chromium and molybdenum that makes bikes lighter and stronger. Chromoly outperforms aluminum alloys, just like how airplane materials differ from spaceship parts in terms of durability.

 This Staal frame was built with great patience and care, utilizing Rawland’s technique of quadruple butting tubes during manufacturing (versus only twice for most butted 4130 frames). This is a considerably superior construction method. 

By heat treating some tubes and not others, Rawland Cycles has increased the strength of the cycling frame without sacrificing its lightweight feel. If you’ve ever felt that a steel bike was too heavy or unresponsive, know that it’s likely because most production models don’t go through this extra step in manufacturing. The Staal tubing used in Ravn bikes is some of the best quality on the market – meaning you’ll get a great ride every time.

Steep head angle and raked forward fork
Steep head angle and raked forward fork

Terrain Types

The Ravn is one of those rare all-around bikes that are fantastic for riding on almost everywhere: Pavement, Gravel, Trails, Woodland, CX courses, Dirt roads. You can ride on the road or into the wild with this bike, which is why we’ve included it in this week’s bike reviews.


You may be thinking to yourself now: “This is a fantastic bike — but how much will it set me back?” You’re probably expecting an arm and a leg for something this incredible, thankfully Rawland delivers with a good price on such high quality. The Ravn frameset is now available for $950 – this is an excellent price if you enjoy riding and don’t want your bike to let you down. You may personalize it by selecting your preferred component parts.

Final Thoughts

Like the company’s slogan suggests, Rawland provides you with numerous possibilities for “choosing your own adventure”. The Drakkar can be used as a versatile platform for many types of builds. I created an alpine all-rounder, which is able to handle Colorado’s difficult and changeable alpine environment much better than I had anticipated. My Drakkar rides like it could be both a mountain bike and a road bike.

If you’re looking for a bike that can handle any terrain and Roll with the punches, look no further than the 29er. It’s great for climbing as well as single track riding (even moderate to difficult), rough dirt roads, and anything in between like broken pavement–just watch your speed! The relaxed geometry provides a stable and comfortable ride even if you find yourself on multiday tour across some pretty rugged territory. You’ll love how Drakkar handles all sorts of loads while still feeling sporty and responsive–like my favorite 90s mountain bike!