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Lauf Cycles Factory Tour and Initial Lauf Úthald Review

As a cyclist and coach, I'm always on the lookout for gear that not only performs but also adds a little something extra to the ride experience. This is why I was very excited to hear about the launch of the Lauf Úthald; it intrigued me.

Fast forward two months, and I found myself touring the Lauf Cycling Headquarters in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with founder and CEO Benedikt Skulasson, Coach Scott Moninger, and BaseCamp athlete and Lauf distribution manager Kae Taekshita. The day was a deep dive into the why behind the Lauf brand and company and the design reasons that brought the new Úthald to life.

The Tour

The tour was awesome! The Lauf Cycling facilities and warehouse are an engineer's dream. How do I know? Benedikt designed it and took a very hands-on role in bringing it to life. Why is this important?  I think it shows at the core why Lauf Cycles is such an amazing company and produces such unique bikes. Benedikt loves to build things, and I don't mean just designing; he seems to truly love rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty as part of that design process. One other kudo to Lauf Cycles: instead of building a shiny new building in some industrial park, they chose to revitalize an older building right in downtown Harrisonburg. I wish more businesses had this type of integrity and commitment to both minimizing their footprint and working toward being part of their community.   

The Bike

The big news of  the last few months has been Lauf's journey into the realm of road bikes with its debut offering, the Úthald, which is "endurance" in Icelandic. Positioned as a performance-oriented machine, the Úthald combines a nominally aero carbon fiber frame with a surprisingly plush, ride-quality stock 32mm-wide tires and an emphasis on user-serviceability. The bike features some unconventional aesthetics that are core to their unique design goals. 

First Impression

After a full morning tour and fun lunch with the Lauf Cycling team, we were presented with the bikes. My first impression was wow. I know this sounds a bit shallow, but the paint and coloring of the bikes are amazing. My bike was the Thingvellir Sky (spangly purple), and Scott had selected the Borealis (blue, teal, and green). Simply put, these are beautiful bikes. So why does this matter? To me, the devil is in the details. Lauf goes through a lot of work to make sure all the little things are right; this is very telling of their commitment to quality.

The Bike

What sets the Úthald apart is its unique blend of performance and comfort. Lauf isn't just chasing aerodynamics and stiffness; they're prioritizing rider comfort without sacrificing speed. It's a refreshing approach, and one that I think many cyclists will appreciate. I was excited to see how this would play out during the afternoon test ride, as these goals could be seen as contradictory. 

The Ride

Due to limiting weather, I have only been able to ride the Úthald for two short rides, so consider this an initial review. Here are some of my key initial impressions:

  • Smooth: It is silky smooth. The combination of the compliant seat tube design and the 32mm tires make a bike that is silk. Our test ride covered some rougher roads and about five miles of gravel, and the Úthald shone over all surfaces. I will project (with confidence) that it will be my favorite long-ride bike of all time.

  • Lively: I will start with a confession here. I was concerned with the approach to the frame build, that it might feel slightly "dead" or "sluggish," but both Scott and I were impressed with just how lively it was. The excellent design and shorter seat stays produce an excellent balance of liveliness and responsiveness without that rigid and harsh feeling.

  • Handling: The handling was a change for me. Over the last eight years, I have been riding very high-performance, top-end race bikes designed for ultra-responsive handling at the price of some comfort. The Úthald's more slack approach is a change for me, but after about 45 minutes of recalibrating my brain, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Some may read this and think I am saying the handling is slow, but that that is not accurate; it is just different. As an example of what I felt different but I ended up liking, let's talk cornering. The Úthald does corner a little slower, but it is more steady. This often makes people think "slower through the corner," but that is not necessarily true, and it was not true for me after some adjustments. Why? At high speeds, entering a corner is a little slower (you need to adjust your entry point), but the exit was faster due to the design's ability to hold a line. Faster exits from corners are faster, period. It is often points like this that get lost in discussing bike handling, as it is easy to over-compartmentalize elements of a bike's performance in a review. I cannot wait to ride this bike in Mallorca on long descents, as it my guess is it will be faster than my previous race bike.    

I plan to write an indepth follow-up review after our Mallorca camp, but you can always ask questions now!

So if you're in the market for a road bike that dares to be different – one that balances performance with comfort in a way that few others do – the Lauf Úthald might just be worth a closer look.


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