Test: The Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel is a very special gravel bike because it is closer to the classic racing bike than any other bike in our test field. The small Bavarian manufacturer promises as many racing bikes as possible, as much gravel as necessary. Does the approach work?
Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel: The Facts
Frame material: Steel
Wheel size(s): 700c
Maximum tire clearance: 33 mm
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: No
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): No Yes
bottle holder: down tube up, seat tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.210g / 1.364g / 2.574g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 9,33kg
Price: € 5.023
Beautiful steel frame with clear road bike DNA
Since 2013, the name Rennstahl has stood for high-quality, state-of-the-art steel wheels. The manufacturer is at home under the umbrella of Falkenjagd Bikes - it is, so to speak, the steel offshoot of the titanium forge from Bavaria. Rennstahl also shares the basic understanding of bicycles with Falkenjagd: sustainable, classic, emotional, but still state-of-the-art. At Rennstahl, the know-how for processing the pipes not only comes from many years of experience with falconry, but also from the previous employment of the brains behind it as engineers in large industrial companies. So you dare to look beyond the bicycle box.
With the Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel, we tested a new 2020 model, which is to a certain extent the high-speed counterpart to the existing 853 Gravel. Of course, the frame is also made of steel and follows the motto "as many racing bikes as possible, as much gravel as necessary". This principle is evident from the looks alone: Narrow tyres, steep angles, compact wheelbase - looks like a racing bike! Of course, a few concessions are made to the Gravel market: the rear end comes with eyelets that allow you to mount your own luggage rack (made of titanium, cost: 290 euros) so that you can also take smaller tours under the tires with the Speed Gravel . Speaking of tyres: our test bike came with 30mm tyres, a maximum of 33mm is possible. In our opinion, this is not enough for a gravel bike - even if you want to stay close to the racing bike. Rennstahl also does without mounting points for mudguards or other accessories.
The cables for the rear derailleur and front derailleur are routed completely openly on the down tube. Although they are not very noticeable visually, they are unfortunately also fully exposed to external influences. The brake line, on the other hand, is routed inside the frame - we would have wished the same for the shift housings.
The racing bike genes also become clear when looking at the geometry data: A very steep steering angle, short chainstays and significant saddle elevation leave no doubt: The Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel is primarily a case for racing cyclists!
Geometry Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
High-quality equipment including Campagnolo group
There are no off-the-shelf bicycles at Rennstahl: instead, the small, traditional manufacturer relies on a modular system with a basic variant that is already extremely well equipped, which can then be adapted according to one's own wishes. Our test bike with all the modifications comes to something for 5.000 euros - the basic model, on the other hand, costs a little over 3.500 euros.
A large part of the surcharge goes to the groupset installed on our test bike: a current Campagnolo Record 12-speed group. The components of the manufacturer from Vicenza in northern Italy have become rare, which is certainly also due to the price - in our case you have to pay a whopping 1.000 euros more than the standard Shimano Ultegra equipment. In return, however, you get optically and technically outstanding shifting components: the crank alone can probably also be described with the word "carbon work of art". The same could be said for the minimalist rear derailleur. The STIs are unfamiliar for Campa newcomers with their thumb switch, but on the level of other top groups. The "problem" in our case: The Campagnolo Record is a thoroughbred road bike group. With 50-34 chainrings and an 11-29 cassette (maximum 11-32), the lightest mountain gear may be sufficient for the road, but if you want to tackle a long, steep gravel climb, even well-trained riders should work up a sweat come.
The brakes also bear the Campagnolo logo, but were developed together with the Magura specialists. Not only do they look good, but in our experience their performance is at least on the level of Sram Force, Shimano GRX and Co.
|Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel
|Racing steel Carbon Race
|Tune TSR 22
|Schwalbe G-One Speed 30mm
|Campagnolo Record 34/50
|Selle Italia SLR TT Titanium
The built-in wheels from Tune are definitely a highlight on the bike: With carbon rims and Tune King/Kong hubs, it is one of the lightest in the entire test field, although the rim width of 20mm is pleasantly generous and allows the tires to develop nicely. The Schwalbe G-One Speed mounted on it have a reserved profile and measure 30mm in width.
Of course, on such a bike for enthusiasts, no savings are made on the other attachments either: the seat post and stem come from Falkenjagd and are – of course – made of titanium, and the Syntace handlebars have a really pleasant backsweep.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel
For some riders, the Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel could almost pass as a classic racing bike or at least as an endurance bike at first glance. It more or less is, although the Rennstahl also has some useful Gravel features. We were particularly excited about the performance of the Campagnolo Record shifting system in gravel, because the high-quality groupset is almost something you want to handle with kid gloves. Nevertheless, this fits very well to the steel frame from Germany and gives the whole thing a noble touch, which should particularly attract real enthusiasts.
Compared to most of the other gravel bikes in our test field, the tires are of course the first sticking point and have a particularly strong influence on the handling characteristics of the Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel. Because with the 30mm Schwalbe G-One Speed, the light version so to speak, the area of application of the racing steel is clearly specified and hardly allows for harder off-road adventures. On the other hand, the bike offers a brisk companion on routes with alternating asphalt and gravel sections, as the tires have very good rolling characteristics.
Thanks to the balanced geometry, you can also breathe a certain sportiness into the bike or use spacers to defuse the slightly sloping frame in order to be nice and relaxed on the road. The driving comfort of the Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel is a little less relaxed, because the bike quickly seems very hard off the road, but the question here is how far you want to go with such a bike and tires, since it is definitely suitable for the already mentioned routes with alternating asphalt and gravel.
Although the Rennstahl 853 Speed Gravel can be ridden quickly on most sections, the liveliness is not quite as impressive. Unfortunately, the bike needs a bit of time to get up to speed, which is not least due to the heavy weight of 9,3 kilos.
Finally, let's take a closer look at the Campagnolo Record group. Here we were particularly surprised by the first-class disc brakes in off-road use. Because these not only have a lot of power, but can also be dosed well, which should give many drivers a pleasant feeling of security. In terms of shifting performance and ergonomics, in our opinion the Record can't quite keep up with the Gravel-specific groupsets, but it can still be shifted crisply as usual from Campa.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
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