Working exclusively with titanium, Oregonbased Sage has sent many an impressive bike our way over the years. We’re not quite sure precisely what elevates Sage in our minds so much—other than the bikes riding very well, of course. Partly, it’s about the expertise that comes with working with just one material, learning its ins-and-outs and how to eke the most from it. But another thing that elevates Sage for us is the obvious amount of thought that goes into the design of every frame. The Storm King, a gravel bike leaning heavily into the exploration ethos of gravel riding, is no different.

THE DETAILS

connoisseur gravel ride

At the core of the Storm King is 3/2.5 titanium tubing, an alloy that Sage thinks delivers the ideal blend of stiffness, durability and weight. It also resists corrosion better than any other metal tubing, so it’s truly ready for the river crossings, coastal riding and other unknowns that lie ahead.

But a quality ride is not guaranteed by just having the best material. it’s about tube shapes as well and how they come together. A “bi-ovalized” downtube, a Sage design hallmark, creates larger welding contact patches at the head tube and bottom bracket. The vertical oval at the head-tube junction resists twisting for more precise steering, while a horizontal oval at the bottom bracket creates lateral strength for consistent handling, even under heavy accelerations. A subtly curved seat tube plays a keystone roll in this bike’s geometry, allowing for shorter 425mm chainstays that clear massive 700 × 50mm or 650 × 2.4-inch tires.

connoisseur gravel ride

But the Storm King doesn’t crimp your drivetrain options in the name of maximizing tire clearance. It leaves room to run up to a 50/34 compact 2x crankset, whereas some gravel bikes max out at a 42-tooth 1x chainring—and still clear less volume than the Storm King.

When we later found out that this test bike happens to be the exact build that David Rosen, owner and designer at Sage, rides, it made perfect sense. We like every component choice on it. It’s a package that, while not quite sparing no expense, comes close to it, with Enve gravel wheels, handlebars and stem, a Chris King headset, Shimano GRX 1x mechanical, and a PNW dropper post. As built, our size 56 weighs 20.01 pounds (9.09 kilograms) and costs a cool $9,800. But you can pick up a frame alone for $3,500 and create your own complete build.

connoisseur gravel ride

THE RIDE

When a meticulously thought-out frame comes together with quality components to match its craftsmanship, something beautiful happens. We’d be content if the Storm King build we tested rode half as well as it looks. It far surpasses that benchmark.

On flat tarmac, you notice that the Storm King’s position is more upright than the fastest gravel racing frames out there. But that’s not a bad thing in our book. For the epic, long days that gravel racing calls for, being in a more comfortable position is probably the strategy that is going to be faster for many people over 12-hour days. That position also means this bike has the versatility to go more places with more confidence. With highly capable off-road components, like a PNW dropper post and Enve G Series Gravel handlebars that measure a full 12cm longer at the drops than at the hoods, the Storm King has been subbing in for what used to be mellow mountain bike days for us. Only now, instead of shuttling to the trailhead, we use the road riding as a warm-up to the dirt.

connoisseur gravel ride

Even 5-mile-long dirt climbs will leave staunch flatland lovers with some soul searching to do, asking themselves, “Am I enjoying this!?” Thanks to the bi-ovalized downtime and curved seat tube that accommodates shorter chainstays, the Storm King accelerates quickly out of tight single-track corners. When things get so steep that you can’t think about accelerating anymore, the Storm King maintains great traction. And its 20-pound build weight encourages digging deeper and eking out every last watt uphill.

At the top of hills, engaging the dropper post prepares you for a fun descent back down. The more relaxed, upright position we noticed on the flats quickly becomes a huge boon for agile descending of more technical roads—even some light single track.

Simply put, this bike is a ton of fun.