Test: Exotic bikes are always particularly exciting to test - the new manufacturer Vaast relies entirely on magnesium frames and also has a hot Gravel iron in the fire with the A/1 we tested. Perhaps we will see even more manufacturers relying on the new frame alloy in the future?
Vaast A/1: The facts
Frame material: Magnesium
Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 40mm (700c) / 47mm (650b)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): Yes / Yes
bottle holder: down tube up, seat tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.510g / 1.754g / 3.264g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 9,03kg
Price: € 2.599
Magnesium frames on bikes – the next big thing?
Okay, let's not beat around the bush: Yes, the frame of the Vaast A/1 is made of magnesium. Yes, really – magnesium! The manufacturer's full-bodied promises are: Lighter than steel, titanium or aluminium, comfortable, durable and also fully recyclable. That somehow sounds too good to be true - or to put it another way: If magnesium is such a great frame material, why have there been hardly any manufacturers who have made frames from this material? In order to answer this question, however, it is necessary to go a little further.
As with all metals, the same applies here: magnesium is not magnesium, because it depends on the alloy. At Vaast they rely on the so-called AE81 Super Magnesium from the manufacturer Allite, which, like Vaast (and also Niner Bikes), belongs to the investment company UWHK from Hong Kong. That's why it's also possible for Vaast to produce eight models with a frame made of super magnesium right from the start of the brand (two each gravel bikes, MTBs, urban bikes and children's bikes). So far, the main argument against magnesium as a frame material has been its rather poor weather resistance and susceptibility to corrosion - not exactly ideal for a bicycle frame. The AE81 alloy counteracts this point on the one hand with its special composition and on the other hand with a special coating that is applied to the inside and outside of the frame before painting and which Vaast promises to be extremely durable.
The US manufacturer also attaches great importance to the remarkably positive environmental balance of the frame material. Up to 40% less energy is required for production than, for example, with aluminium, and it is (theoretically) 100% recyclable. Aside from the material, Vaast is also very active on the subject of the environment and is a member of 'One Percent for the Planet', for example - 1% of annual sales go to environmental organizations.
The basic technical data of the frame also read extremely promising: Vaast states the weight at approx. 1.100g and is therefore somewhere between a light aluminum and a high-quality carbon frame. Otherwise, it has everything we expect from a modern gravel bike: thru axles, internal cable routing, eyelets for mudguards and luggage racks and generous tire clearance of 40mm for 28″ and 47mm if you prefer to ride small 650b wheels. There are also mostly positive things to report about the detailed solutions: The really very nice, lowered chainstay elegantly guides the cable inside and is supposed to reduce chain slap. Workmanship, optics and paintwork are on a very high level, our only small point of criticism are the functional, but optically quite clumsy rubber plugs on the cable entries. On the other hand: The large opening should make laying it easier.
According to their own statements, the designers paid particular attention to long-distance suitability and a not too sporty seating position when designing the geometry of the Vaast A/1. At least on paper, the A/1 is not a comfortable touring bike - the steering angle is neither particularly steep nor particularly slack, but the struts with an average of 425mm, stack and reach speak for a slightly stretched seating position with a little saddle elevation. This mix is right up our alley because it gives the rider the ability to adjust seating position in either direction of the spectrum. Some caution is required with the sizes: The Vaast A/1 is relatively large - here you should study the manufacturer's recommendations before buying.
Geometry Vaast A/1
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
Good value for money with the equipment
The Vaast A/1 we tested will be available in Germany for a really attractive 2.599 euros - despite the innovative frame material, a quite respectable weight of almost exactly 9kg and a well thought-out, solid equipment. Also worth mentioning here is the optically striking, fairly slim carbon fork, which, like the frame, has eyelets for mudguards and a front luggage rack on board.
Shimano's new GRX group takes care of shifting on the A/1 in a setup with one chainring. To be more precise, Vaast combines the RX812 rear derailleur with the slightly cheaper RX600 STIs, a Praxis Works Zyante carbon crank and the matching 11-42 cassette. Above all, the STIs are not quite at the level of the higher-quality RX800 variant in terms of ergonomics, but this is tolerable in view of the attractive price. A nice detail is the Zyante crank from Praxis Works, which is not only a few grams lighter than the GRX crank, but also looks a bit better in our opinion. The bandwidth of just under 400% is okay, but only conditionally suitable for mountainous areas, also because the chainring at the front is quite large with 42 teeth. So you need a lot of power in your legs for steep gravel ramps.
|AE81 ALLITE Super Mag
|Vaast full carbon
|Stan's Notubes Grail S1
|Maxxis Rambler 38mm EXO 120tpi
|Shimano GRX RX-ST600
|Practice Works Zyante Carbon 42t
|Shimano GRX RX600
|Vaast Carbon 27,2mm
|WTB Silverado Comp
|Vaast Allroad Pro
|Vaast Allroad Pro
The hydraulic brakes also come from the 600 GRX series and, in our experience, do not need to hide from the top 800 models in terms of performance.
A highlight of the Vaast A/1 is the wheel set from Stan's that is installed at this price: tubeless-ready, not too heavy at 1.900g (manufacturer information), but with a decent inner width of 20mm for wide tires - you really can't go wrong here. So it's not surprising that the wheel system is pretty light at 3.264g, even though the installed Maxxis Rambler tires with a width of 38 are a few grams heavier than comparable tires from other manufacturers.
The add-on parts also offer little cause for criticism, on the contrary. A carbon post like on the A/1 is not necessarily a matter of course in this price range, as is the successful WTB saddle. The cockpit is unexcited with an 80mm stem and the in-house handlebars, which have very little flare, which we think suits the orientation of the bike well.
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: The Vaast A/1
The Vaast A/1 comes in a striking but coherent design and made us particularly curious because of its frame material. After all, it's not every day that we get on a bike where the frame material is completely new territory for us. The exciting specs and promises from Vaast also fueled expectations.
The geometry of the bike is very balanced, but it should certainly appeal more to those riders who otherwise feel more at home on sporty bikes. The seating position is slightly stretched, but this could undoubtedly be alleviated with a couple of spacers under the stem. In this way, the manufacturer strikes a very good balance, which is particularly important on a gravel bike. Different areas of use also mean different types of riders - and with the Vaast A/1 you can serve ambitious riders who are perhaps looking for a training device for bad weather as well as touring riders who are looking for a reliable companion for bikepacking adventures.
When accelerating, the stiff frame is immediately noticeable, which, in combination with the relatively light wheels, can convert crank turns directly into propulsion. Although the bike is not one of the lightest at 9 kilograms, it exudes a pleasant liveliness that puts a smile on our faces.
The frame, which is quite long overall, and the basic alignment tend to make the bike more smooth-running than agile in practice. But don't get me wrong - the Vaast A/1 is not a stubborn straight-line runner, but it feels much more comfortable on wide gravel paths than, for example, on a narrow cyclocross course.
But what about the magnesium frame? How does he feel? As already mentioned, it is pleasantly stiff when accelerating and reminds us of carbon. It can't quite keep up this level when it comes to comfort - but whether that's just due to the frame or also to the overall system remains to be seen, but when things get rough, the Vaast does get a little uncomfortable. Striking: It copes very well with fine vibrations and small bumps, but larger impacts are passed on to the hands and buttocks fairly unfiltered. Unfortunately, the carbon seat post only helps to a limited extent.
We really like the Maxxis tires: For us, the Rambler is a very good alternative to the Schwalbe top dog G-One - especially for those who want a little more reserves in the field. There it shows its strengths with its quite pronounced side knobs and conveys comfort and grip in equal measure.
As a small highlight we would see the comfortable saddle from WTB, which should suit many riders well. As a supplement, the in-house handlebars with Shimano's GRX grips are used at the front. This combination does a good job in the upper link, but the ergonomics in the lower link can be improved. For the area of application of the Vaast A/1, however, this should be one of the minor problems. The magnesium gravler is rounded off with the parts of the gravel-specific Shimano GRX group and the Praxis Works crank, which not only look nice but also worked perfectly during our test.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
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