First Look: Cairn BRAVE – a back road adventure vehicle

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As you might have seen in Fresh Goods Friday, we recently took delivery of the new Cairn BRAVE, the latest bike offering from the Cairn branch of The Rider Firm family. It’s a drop bar bike with e-assist, but comes with much chunkier intentions that Cairn’s other bike, the Adventure 1.0 that we tested a while back. Available to pre-order now for December delivery the drop bar BRAVE we have here is £2,549, while the flat bar option is £2,189. Let’s take a closer look.

Cairn Brave

The Cairn BRAVE started out as the BRAV, taking its name from the acronym Back Road Adventure Vehicle. Then, since it’s an ebike, it got the e added to make it the BRAVe. But then, do you say that as the ‘bravvee’ or the ‘brave’? And do you write it as BRAVe or BRAVE? It seems the proofreading/design team is still fighting this one out over rock paper scissor. Anyway, why does this matter? Well, it doesn’t much, but the ‘Back Road Adventure Vehicle’ title goes a long way to explaining this bike’s intentions.

Cairn’s other bike, the Adventure 1.0, was designed to be fast and light, and ridden with either ‘just enough’ assist from the Fazua motor, or even leg-powered alone with the battery removed. This BRAVE however comes at the trails from a different perspective. With an 6061-T6 alloy frame, huge tyre clearance and Shimano Steps E7000 motor system, this bike is for the chunkiest of trails that your skills and nerve will allow, however far from home they might be.

Assist comes in Eco, Trail and Boost modes, controlled on the drop bar model by the button on the display unit, which also gives you all your usual data such as distance, speed, and cadence. The flat bar model comes with a separate shifter, but this isn’t compatible with drop bars and as yet Shimano don’t make one of the diameter needed to fit on a drop bar set up. The battery is a 630wH model, giving plenty of miles in the tank. We’ll give you an update of how far we manage in the full review, but early signs are that it’s the human that will be tired before the battery is drained! The battery can be removed or left on the bike for charging.

The Cairn BRAVE comes fitted with a pair of 29×2.35 Maxxis Rekon Race tyres with tan sidewalls and EXO casing, though there is room for a 29×2.5in tyre should you want to go larger. Plenty of scope for cushioning and comfort, no matter how much knobble you might want to add – the Rekon Race being on the faster side of things, but offering a good balance of grip off road and speed on those smoother transition sections and link paths.

The bars on this model are flared as well as dropped – Ritchey Beacon Comps with an 80mm Drop, 65mm Reach, 36 Degree Flare, and 4.5 degree Backsweep – putting you in control on the descents and giving you a nice range of hand positions to choose from on longer rides.

Brakes are SRAM Apex 1 Hydraulic disc brakes, with 180mm rotors for extra stopping power. The drivetrain is SRAM Apex 1 shifters and rear derailleur, with a Shimano E800 crankset with Shimano 38t chainring mated to a Sunrace 11-42t cassette.

As you’d want in an adventure bike, the frame has mounts for mudguards, racks, kickstand, bottle cages and top tube bag. The small frames miss out on one set of bottle cage mounts, but on the other frames you will find two pairs of mounts inside the triangle, and one under the downtube – plus your top tube pair and the triple mounts on either side of the fork. Pack your kitchen sink?

Cairn BRAVe

A few key details are printed on the inside of the fork, which suggest that you could perhaps go for an even larger 2.6in tyre up front if you wanted – though Cairn tells us that clearances at 2.6in tyres are very tight, and they advise a 2.5in maximum.

Cairn Brave

In the realm of more numbers, the Cairn BRAVE is available in four sizes. We have a Medium on test, with a reach of 410mm for our 175cm tall tester. It’s slacker and longer than a typical gravel bike, with more of an influence from mountain bike geometry than road.

Cairn Brave

With the obvious battery-on-the-frame set up, it’s quite a shift from the subtle Fazua equipped Adventure 1.0. We’ll be taking to the trails…OK, as you can see from the mud splatters, we’ve already been out to play… but we’ll bring you a full review once we’ve ridden it some more. No, we’re not done testing yet… there’s a trail over there we think we just have to take it on first… and another over there… please be patient!

For more information or if you don’t care what we think and you just want to take the plunge and pre order, head to the Cairn website.


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