Long-Term Review: J.Guillem Atalaya Gravel Bike
Lindarets starts with the beautiful J.Guillem Atalaya Gravel Bike frame and completes it with a thoughtful build packed with value and performance. The result is a ride that inspires you to put in more miles in mixed terrain. With this bike, your time in the saddle will be more comfortable, more adventurous, and more fun.
The Full Review
Oh man, it’s been a heck of a summer on this bike. For the first time, ever really, I put my entire focus into riding. While my fly rod and golf clubs collected dust, I was giving one of my bikes a bath pretty much every week. Now, I didn’t go into summer with that plan. It just kind of happened that way, largely because I came into possession of a new J.Guillem Atalaya Gravel from Lindarets. From day one I was pretty hooked on this bike and the riding possibilities it opened up.
Tarmac, gravel, singletrack: I found myself linking together new and interesting rides around my house in Denver, Colorado, almost every other day. As my fitness improved, I started having more fun on my mountain bike—longer rides, more vert. My 160-mm travel enduro bike was the perfect complement to the Atalaya. I could ride pretty much anything in the Front Range with the perfect tool for the job. The hardest part of my day was deciding what I wanted to ride. More often than not, I pulled out the Atalaya.
Unlike most riders in the gravel discipline, I discovered the excitement of fat tires and drop bars through mountain biking. Thus, my riding style and terrain choice skew a bit rowdier than the average gravel rider. While I found plenty of pavement and hero gravel, I’d often search out singletrack, primitive roads, and lesser traveled spots on the map. My rides tended to follow the classic Colorado elevation profile, long sustained ups, followed by equally long punishing downs.
Over the course of the summer, I logged about 1,000 miles on my J.Guillem Atalaya, including two separate gravel events (one 60-miler -the day after I took delivery- and one 90-miler). I feel like I’ve gotten to know the ins and outs of this bike quicker than any other bike I’ve owned. So I figured I’d compile a few thoughts.
In Praise of Titanium Gravel Bike Frames
The first thing anyone notices about the J.Guillem Atalaya is the quality and beauty of the frame. The cast headtube and bottom bracket assembly and hydroformed titanium tubing are striking, giving the overall frame a crisp, clean, sophisticated look—no lumpy welds or awkward angles. The dedication and craftsmanship that goes into this titanium bike frame are apparent. But how does that translate to the experience of ownership and the ride?
I’ll be the first to say the J.Guillem Atalaya has turned me into a titanium evangelist. Prior to owning this bike, I was riding a homebrewed gravel bike from an old carbon Trek Multi-Track frame. Now if you’re about to say that comparing a 25-year old carbon frame and a modern titanium bike isn’t a fair comparison, you’d be right. But I do have some decent miles on modern carbon and aluminum mountain bikes. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have direct apples to apples experience, but DANG a titanium bike is just soooo smooth AND responsive.
I noticed the benefits of titanium from the first pedal stroke of my J.Guillem Atalaya. The SRAM Force 1 drivetrain spec’d on my bike launches it from a dead stop to cruising speed almost instantly. Every nuanced change in body English or energy output delivers immediate positive feedback. This bike just does what I ask of it in pretty much every situation.
Then there’s the compliance of the Atalalya titanium gravel frame. The 3AL//2.5V titanium absorbs so much terrain chatter and even some of the smaller hits. There’s a calm to this bike, especially at speed, that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve really come to appreciate this feature of the bike on the rough gravel/dirt descents I seem to prefer.
And the geometry? Again, I won’t pretend I have a ton of experience in the gravel category, nor do I often geek out on millimeters and angles, but here it goes. The most notable geometry-related ride characteristics of this bike are the level of precision upfront and a snappiness in the rear. The headtube and seat tube angles give the bike a nice centered feel and a cockpit that responds well to input. While the surprisingly short chainstays (420 mm), courtesy of the incredible cast bottom bracket, inject a ton of playfulness into this bike. I find myself bunny hopping washout sections of road and loading up bermed turns in ways that are probably foreign to the average gravel biker.
The chainstay of the Atalaya is one of the shortest you'll find in the gravel bike category. I think this is the magic sauce of this bike. The combination of the compliant titanium tubing and this short chainstay give the bike unique energy and rebound that’s not often found in this category of bikes. It wants you to pick the most creative lines no matter what surface you’re riding on. I could settle in and grind out mileage, or throw it around like a mountain bike in more playful terrain.
Perhaps my favorite part about the J.Guillem Atalaya is the overall durability, ease of maintenance, and peace of mind offered by this titanium gravel bike frame. I’m a big dude (190 lbs), and I’m not known to baby bikes on the trail. I’m also not super anal about how I transport my bikes. I’ll throw them in the back of my truck or throw them over the tailgate. I don’t always immediately get to washing off the dirt from the last ride.
With a titanium bike, there’s no paint to scratch or carbon to crack. I don’t abuse bikes, but I’m also probably not the kind of person that will baby them either. I’m all about simplicity and dependability, and I feel these are features that set titanium apart. Plus, J.Guillem offers a 100-Year Warranty on their frames. My focus with my Atalaya is on finding new creative areas to explore, and not if it’s in pristine condition.
Overall, I’m super impressed with the titanium gravel bike frame J.Guillem has developed in the Atalaya. But what about the Lindarets spec’d builds?
Thoughts on the build and components of the Lindarets-built Atalaya.
Using a combination of Easton, Enve, Fabric, Hunt, Vittoria and SRAM components, Lindarets has come up with an incredibly high-performing bike at a surprisingly good value.
Let’s start with the rolling bits. My bike came with 700c Hunt 4-Season Gravel Disc Wheels. I knew nothing about these wheels before this bike, and I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised. While not the lightest or the flashiest wheelset out there, it was built with tubeless tires in mind and has proven exceptionally capable in my adventurous, multi-surface riding. As I mentioned, I’m a bigger dude, and I’ve taken some big hits on steep, rutted logging roads with these wheels this summer. After 1000 miles of pretty hard riding just about as true and unblemished as the day I got the bike. Dependable is a word that comes to mind with these Hunt wheels, which, for me, is probably the most important feature of any piece of equipment.
I ran the Vittoria Terreno Dry 38s (which measure closer to 40mm) on the Hunt Wheels for most of the summer. It was an impressive tire with a surprising amount of grip and speed and excellent cornering ability across all surfaces. I was probably most surprised how this tire performed on singletrack. I felt totally comfortable laying the bike over on consolidated dirt as the big side nubs offered more grip than you would expect. I did wear through the tire a bit faster than I expected as most other reviews mentioned their durability, but I also can’t expect a tire to score all 10s.
For the Fall, I have switched out the Vittorias for some Panaracer GravelKing SK 43s. Measuring out at just shy of 43mm on my Hunt rims, the bigger tire fit the Atalaya Gravel frame just fine with plenty of clearance. Heck you could probably even run something another couple mils fatter if you wanted. I've got one solid 40 mile mixed ride of about 60 percent pavement, 20 percent gravel, 20 percent singletrack on this new rubber.
Running these new tires at about 28-30 psi, they delivered the extra squish I was hoping for while sticking with the 700c rim. The GravelKings are smooth as butter on pavement and consolidated dirt and gravel. I felt super comfortable cornering on just about every surface. Running the low pressures really helps you get into the side knobs of the tire. They're a bit sluggish when accelerating, but once they're up to speed, they hum along at pretty much the same speed as the Terreno Dry's. I need a little more time in steep, off-camber terrain to be sure this is my new go-to tire, but I'm feeling really good about this rubber overall for my style of riding on this bike. The only major drawback of the GravelKing is mud performance. This tire struggles to shed mud once it's packed into the little knobs. It'll fling out once it's dry, but if you're riding in consistently wet areas, this is might not be the tire for you.
I think if I stuck more strictly to pavement and maintained gravel, I'd run the Vittorias. But because I'm frequently on singletrack and primitive roads, the GravelKings or similar will be the rubber I run. With both 650b and 700c builds available on the Atalaya, Lindarets is happy to work with you to find your perfect wheel size and tire combination.
For a drivetrain, I have my bike set up with 1x11 SRAM Force 1 components using a 10-42 cassette and a 42-tooth chainring. Over the last several hundred miles, I’ve rarely found myself searching for a gear that doesn’t exist. I’d say 90% of the time I can find a cadence that works. This is probably my mountain-bike-background bias, but I have a hard time imagining why you’d want a 2x setup on a gravel bike. A 1x setup is cleaner looking, easier to maintain (IMO), and has better chain retention when things get rowdy. I’m not often riding in big groups, and my climbs are typically long and sustained, so I’ll happily sacrifice the 10% of the time I don’t have the perfect gear for the ease of 1x gearing on my gravel bike.
All that said, gearing is a super important part of any gravel bike. No drivetrain is perfect so you'll want one that will match you and your style of riding. A good place to start is Marc's detailed breakdown of gravel bike gearing. Lindarets can spec 1x SRAM and 2x Shimano drivetrains on the Atalaya.
As for the smaller components, I’ve been pleased across the board. The Fabric seat has been comfortable on rides up to 100 miles, no chamois butter required. With the amount of singletrack I ride, the Easton AX70 bars might not be quite as flared as I would have spec’d with a little more research, but I also haven’t really felt I’m missing anything. I feel comfortable in the hoods and drops, even when things get super techy. And I can easily see why the Enve carbon gravel fork (or it’s knockoffs) is pretty much the industry standard. Overall the Lindarets build on this bike feels like it was well thought out by someone who knows what they’re doing (spoiler alert...Marc does know what he’s doing). Plus, you can always work with Lindarets to build the exact bike you want through their custom-build program.
My One Small Gripe
When I look this bike over and consider my summer mileage, I think my only nitpicky gripe is that the flat-mount 140-mm disc rotor in the rear feels underpowered for my style of riding. I’d love 160-mm in the rear for the extra stopping power when I’m on long, steep, loose Front Range fire roads. But honestly, if you aren’t exploring steeper (like borderline too steep) and sustained grades of dirt in your riding, you probably won’t even notice. There’s plenty of braking power in the stock setup, and I’ve managed to get by just fine. And I’m sure that if I’d asked, Lindarets would have had no problem spec’ing a bigger rotor.
Holy cow, this J.Guillem Atalaya Titanium Gravel Bike is sweet. Seriously. As a tried-and-true mountain biker, I just think it’s wild that I’ve been having as much or maybe even more fun this summer on a drop bar setup. There’s just something about near limitless ride possibilities afforded by a quality titanium bike with drop bars and a 38c (or more) tire.
In a city like Denver, there are all sorts of diversion ditches and open spaces with quality dirt that can easily be linked by sections of road and bike path. Then, of course, there’s plenty of mountain riding within an hour of the city. This bike has pushed me to see and explore the Front Range in ways I’d never considered, and it’s expanded my riding well beyond the standard MTB tracks we have in the area.
The J.Guillem Atalaya is a beautifully built frame, and the Lindarets build packs in a TON of value. If you’re looking to get out and ride more. This is a bike you should be considering.
Full disclosure on this review: I was given this bike by Lindarets in exchange for help with digital marketing and content support through the summer. However I love it so much, I'm saving up to buy one for my wife. It's a sweet ride at a sweet price when you consider the broader titanium gravel bike market.