A quicker, lighter and more refined gravel bike that’s versatile enough to be raced, ridden to work, or pedalled around the world.
Seems a pipe dream doesn’t it, but that’s what New Zealand bike brand Chapter 2 seem to have created with their new KAHA race gravel offering.
A frameset-only company, the KAHA is Chapter 2’s second gravel-specific bike after the AO, a more upright and traditional endurance gravel steed. Like its road-focussed siblings the RERE, HURU, TOA, TERE & KOKO, the AO and new KAHA showcase the brand’s signature point of difference – stunning attention to detail. The paintwork and artwork on these bikes needs to be seen to be believed, and although it’s designed for hardcore events like Unbound Gravel, the blue / grey finish on our review KAHA is sublime.
Picking up a KAHA review bike during January’s Tour Down Under, we’d arranged for the test rig to be built up with a SRAM Force AXS 1x drivetrain with a 40T up front and 10/44 cassette. Wheel wise, we selected Black Inc’s Thirty Four carbon gravel wheels with 40mm Challenger Getaway tyres set up tubeless.
To the saddle and round 27.2mm post, we fitted a carbon post with lightweight frame & saddle clamp along with Fizik’s impressive Vento Argo power-style gravel saddle.
8kg Build With Pedals & Bags
The review bike is also fitted with a new gravel-specific flared one-piece carbon bar and stem from Chapter 2, the MANA GRVL bar. At 330gr, and combined with the 1099gr frame and 409gr fork, helps keep the real build weight down to just under 8kgs – and that’s with MTB pedals, a bottle cage and frame bag fitted.
That impressive build weight compliments the bike’s aero credentials and overall ‘go fast’ look, feel & stance. The KAHA definitely takes aero design cues from its road-oriented siblings the RERE and particularly the KOKO, the race gravel machine featuring subtle sculpting throughout the frame, integrated cabling through the one-piece MANA cockpit and a lean, less is more type overall look.
Tyre and fork wise, there’s space for up to 47mm of rubber on either 650b or 700c wheels. Talking the forks – and just about the entire frameset for that matter – and the bike is absolutely riddled with attachment points for bottle cages, fenders and luggage racks. In fact, we counted 24 of them! Yes, this race gravel bike screams versatility and is ready for pretty well any customisation idea or adventure trip you can conjure up.
Staying on the storage side, the downtube incorporates a sealed compartment. Flick a small lever alongside the downtube bottle cage, and a removable black hatch can be lifted off. Inside is the included neoprene bag that’s designed to hold a spare tube, tools and / or accessories. The padded nature of the neoprene bag allows for secure storage and protection of the inner frame.
To the underside of the downtube, and there’s a rubberised protective plate to cushion and deflect wayward rocks and gravel. Mounting holes are also fitted to allow the rider to carry a third bottle in that underframe area. To the all-important bottom bracket – with sealing & reliability more critical than ever when it comes to dust & gravel – and the KAHA takes a T47 threaded BB.
To the ride, and more a performance / race platform than its sibling the AO which is more adventure-oriented, this KAHA feels fast from the outset. Like all Chapter 2 framesets, the naming convention follows Maori lines and KAHA translates, quite appropriately, to ‘Power & Strength’.
Couple that aforementioned review weight of 8kg with a stomp on the pedals, and the KAHA is quick to respond and accelerates with surprising ease. You can feel the stiffness of the bottom bracket and beefiness of both dropped chainstays through the frame. But there’s also a feeling of comfort and compliance through the upper sections and ergonomic carbon bars.
The medium-sized review bike has a 571mm stack, 395mm reach and 72-degree head angle, plus a wheelbase of 1024mm. Stability and overall comfort have been two of the standout points – it’s a well-balanced bike that feels firmly planted on a variety of surfaces. With fully concealed cabling, the aero handlebar, and a lower front profile, the bike is fast and feels efficient on both road and the wide range of gravel surfaces we’ve used it on.
We are yet to test the bike with narrower more road-specific tyres such as 28 or 30mm. But given the overall feel of the bike with 40mm tyres on the road, you get the distinct impression the KAHA would be a capable and surprisingly versatile all-rounder.
Summing up, and having ridden and tested a very wide range of gravel and all-road bikes over the past few years, Chapter 2’s KAHA certainly stands out from the pack. While the New Zealand-based bike company is far more boutique than a bigger, mainstream brand, Ch2 certainly have a knack for creating world-class bikes. That’s precisely what they have done with the KAHA. It’s up there as one of the most versatile, comfortable and capable gravel bikes currently available.
Frameset: 100% Made in Japan by Toray
Frame Sizes: XS, S, M, L & XL
Frame weight: 1099gr in M
Fork Weight: 409g
Handlebar/Stem (MANA-GRVL) : 330gr (100m)
Headset: 1.5” C2 Integrated System
Brakes: Disc Only (140 & 160mm)
Tire Clearance: Up to 47mm
Bottom Bracket: Internal T47 (85.5)
Thru-Axles: FR 12x100mm, RR 12x142mm
Chainring Size: Dual dropped stays & max 1x Chainring size 42T
Frameset RRP in Australia: $5,799 with one-piece MANA GRVL handlebar.
More at https://www.chapter2bikes.com