What a fun bike to do multi surface adventures on. This bike truly can handle just about any discipline of riding well. It isn't meant for conquering one expertise of riding , but can be taken out for any sort of adventure and be fun.
Steel is real, but on the heavy side as expected. For someone thinking of a race bike, this won't be the best option, but is suitable for many other riders. I did a few mixed surface rides starting out on pavement and on to gravel and singletrack and the fun factor was there. The compliance of the steel frame was noticeable and cornering felt relatively springy and had some pop. I rode it like my hardtail and it can get down some loose and rocky technical trails no problem. And, the classic and clean look of the thinner tubing looks great.
I found myself in the drops on the singletrack descents for the extra leverage and the 160 rotors with Rival brakes stopped me on a dime even for not being the best out there. The loose and rugged singletrack was not as bad as I anticipated for only having 33mm tires, but would suggest going wider if you plan on doing significant singletrack miles or steep descents.
One of the best and most unique things about this frame is all of the rack mounts for the true adventure rider. With mounts on the fork, top tube, and seatstays, it's ready for week+ long self supported tours with the right accessories and gear. If you ever think you might be interested in that, its nice to know the rack mounts are there.
For the price, you get so much value and versatility in the bike. It won't break the bank and has the ability to do just about anything. At 5ft10in, the 56mm frame I demo'd was too big, so I would go with the 53 if I were to buy the bike. Who doesnt like a handy Swiss Army Knife added to their collection.