And it seems like every trendy, hipster, IPA-swilling, jort- and flannel-wearing seeker of dirt is searching for artsy accouterment to help personalize their steeds so they stand apart from the hordes of production bikes.
I’ve seen custom head tube badges and other frame “jewelry,” hand-painted fenders and pinstripes, custom leather bar tape, and other forms of artistry adorn bikes to make them unique. Gravel bikes and riders seem more drawn to stray from the masses through nonconformist bikes, apparel, and riding routes.
Custom paint is the obvious and most impactful way of making a bike stand out. But it can be costly and fragile. BlackHeart Bike Co. has squarely addressed both issues with its latest release, the Gravel AL. The up-and-coming brand offers the frame in an astounding 137 colors, free of extra charge! The customer also specifies the contrasting logo color.
What Is Cerakote?
Equally impressive is that the BlackHeart finishes the Gravel AL frame with Cerakote. Cerakote is a thin film ceramic coating with widespread use in other industries that demand a tough, heat-resistant exterior finish.
I have personal experience in my past profession as a motorsports trainer. The teams at the highest levels coated exhaust headers and parts like wheel hubs with Cerakote, as other finishes like anodizing and other paint products didn’t hold up to the extreme demands of motocross racing. The ceramic coating is also popular for finishing firearms.
BlackHeart offers the Gravel AL in several builds, including the addition of an ENVE Gravel In-Route carbon fork. For an additional $200, BlackHeart applies matching Cerakote for a seamless look and enhanced protection.
BlackHeart Gravel AL Frame Specifications
BlackHeart uses high-end 7005 double-butted aluminum tubing and employs a dropped and bent seat stay design to enhance vertical compliance. Each Gravel AL chassis includes an FSA ACR headset and Wolf Tooth seat post clamp. The downtube has a Kamm tail profile and integrated cable routing for aerodynamics.
The Gravel AL frame has clearance for a 700c x 47mm tire. BlackHeart doesn’t recommend the use of a 650b wheelset.
BlackHeart Bike Co. uses a threaded T47 bottom bracket on the Gravel AL, and it will clear 48/31 teeth for Shimano 2x drivetrains and 46/33 teeth for SRAM Wide doubles. The frame will accept a 46-tooth single chainring and works with mechanical or electronic 1x systems. For 2x setups, the Gravel AL is only compatible with electronic drivetrains. The front derailleur clamp size is 34.9mm, and the frame uses a UDH for the rear derailleur.
The BlackHeart Gravel AL frame comes in eight sizes from 46cm to 62cm and claims a 1,690g weight for 56cm. The rider weight limit is 220 pounds. The frame carries a 5-year warranty against manufacturer defects to the original owner.
BlackHeart Bike Co. offers the Gravel AL in several build options, featuring almost every available Shimano and SRAM gravel-specific drivetrain. Prices start at $1,999 for a frame and ENVE Gravel In-Route Fork with seat clamp and headset.
The highest-end build carries a price tag of $6,929 and includes a Shimano GRX Di2 drivetrain, ENVE Foundation AG25 wheels, and almost every matching high-zoot component you could want, including the ENVE one-piece bar and stem. BlackHeart claims build weights range from 18 to 22 pounds.
I consider all these prices to be a great value for a current gravel bike, especially one with a custom finish. It is even better that the finish is an incredibly durable Cerakote.
BlackHeart Bike Co. is expecting the initial run of the Gravel AL to arrive in March or April. The California brand aims to deliver custom-finished bikes within weeks of receiving this shipment.
After this first production run, BlackHeart expects the turnaround from order to fulfillment to be four weeks.
Preorder your custom-colored BlackHeart Gravel AL to avoid what I predict is a quick sellout.