Right off I’ll just say that I was attracted to this bike in part because of the company. It’s a small company that sells directly to consumers like several other small bike makers are doing. Of course, at less than $600 the price was excellent for the specs of the bike and I’m on a tight budget so that was important for me personally. But it also struck me that the company seem to be specifically catering or marketing to people of color. In recent months, as the Black Lives Matter movement has been growing there’s been acknowledgement that on the recreational, outdoors side of cycling (mountain biking, bike packing, camping…) there is a lack of access and representation for people of color. The marketing, sales, pricing, etc have, for decades, been oriented towards white middle and upper-middle class cyclists. Perhaps it’s just marketing but I really like this from their website:

Have you ever wanted to get away for a short time? Clear your head for some peaceful moments as you explore the town you have lived in with a completely new perspective. Poseidon Bike takes its name from the God of the sea, a place where you can find serenity, stillness, and at a moment’s notice discover the strength the sea has.

We produce our bikes with all of this in mind using a long family history of custom bicycle manufacturing. You deserve a bike that will not break on you after a few rides and a company willing to be part of your riding journey. We want to change the tide of cycling by making high quality bicycles affordable for everyone. There is no reason for this type of peace to be unattainable, and there is no reason why you cannot have quality and affordability.

If you are feeling down or overwhelmed then let the bike be your stress reliever. Allow your legs to work through what is bothering you as the wind hits your face and the beauty around you opens up. Find a coffee shop you never knew existed, or a youthful feeling you thought was gone forever, discover a trail with trees surrounding you and remember that the world isn’t as scary as we always see. We want you to feel what so many others are feeling. Change the tide with us.

And it’s true that they are selling an excellent bike at an affordable price. Sure, it costs more than a Walmart bike which is about as cheap as can be had but this is a far, far better bike. From what I can tell a comparable bike sold by the larger manufactures such as Trek or Specialized would likely sell for two to three times the cost.

So, about the bike. It’s the Poseidon X, flatbar configuration. It’s what might be best called a gravel or adventure bike. It’s what you get when you cross a mountain bike with a road bike and similar to what would have been called a hybrid 20 years ago. The difference being (as far as I can tell) hybrids always seemed to be a compromise in a bad way. They didn’t seem to be a priority for the companies making them and they seemed to be without a mission. The best I could determine is that they were a slightly more rugged road bike for mostly on-road riding. The gravel bikes of today seem far more capable, more serious. They’re often referred to as adventure bikes or all-road bikes meaning that they are meant to tackle a broad range of road-like terrain. The cut-off point seems to be the kind of rough single track that is really intended for mountain bikes.

Just a quick scan of specs begins to tell the story. The frame is 6061 double butted hydro formed aluminum, internal cable routing, full carbon fork. The frame and fork have an abundance of attachment points for adding water bottle cages and racks, useful for touring and bikepacking . It’s an foundation for a bike that will last.

The components are equally excellent and better than would be typical. This is where the bigger brands would cut corners offering downgrades to keep costs down. But here Poseidon is providing MicroShift’s very well reviewed, highly praised Advent X shifters and 1x10 drivetrain. Out of the box the shifting was nearly perfect. In the first 245 miles of riding I’ve had the chain come off the front chainring twice. That’s the only problem I’ve observed and apparently it’s the most common problem with 1x systems. Both of those chain drops happened on the third ride and I’ve not had the problem again in the 130+ miles I’ve ridden since then.

Before I go any further I should say that the miles I’ve ridden thus far are about half pavement, half gravel. I expect most of my riding to be that same mix going forward. The gravel ranges from silky smooth, hard-packed dirt with very fine gravel to hard-packed with larger, rougher gravel to super smooth dirt to roughly rutted, washed out gravel. These back county roads I ride are generally a great riding experience but they do change and from day to day, week to week, I encounter roads that have been damaged or are being maintained. Sometimes they’re in the middle of maintenance which is to say they can be very, very rough with the dirt churned up and the gravel thickly applied. It get’s quite messy at times. Case in point, today Perry county was grading one of the roads I ride so, suddenly, a very different experience from the past few days of riding. Tomorrow will likely be different again as the maintenance often goes on for a few days with something new being done each day.

The brakes are pretty standard with mechanical disc brakes by Tektro and Tektro levers. The seat post, seat, handlebar, pedals and wheels are either generic or Poseidon branded. These bits are the compromise on this bike but not really a problem because these are the parts that most often get personalized first by a cyclist. The seat and handlebars especially. The tires are Kenda Small Block 8 at 700x35. Fine tires but for the kind of riding I knew I’d be doing they were the first thing on my list to be swapped. I also changed out the seat and handlebars.

The Kenda tires would have been okay to ride on but given my expected mileage and knowing I’d likely be on a lot of pavement as well as rough gravel I changed to WTB Nanos which are 40mm wide and have a center tread that rolls very well on pavement. The added 5mm width is going to be much better when I’m not on pavement.

The saddle Poseidon includes would likely be fine for 10 to 15 mile rides but I’m doing 30+ miles per ride, daily, usually 3.5 hours or more. I swapped the stock seat for a Charge Spoon which has good reviews for being a comfortable but still light, minimal seat.

Perhaps most importantly, I swapped the nearly straight 6° sweep handlebars for On-One Geoff bars. They are a nearly identical knock-off of the more expensive Jones Loop H-Bars. The reviews on the cheaper Geoff bars are good so given the savings I went with those. They are a very different kind of handle bar in that they have 45° of backsweep and have a 2nd bar, a loop, that extends off the front. The benefit here is that this bar provides a great variety of hand positions for not just more hand and wrist  comfort but really whole body comfort allowing for sitting more upright, stretching down and forward, shifting shoulders and arm positions. In fact, I went with the flat bar version of the Poseidon X over drop bar version specifically because I planned to switch to this handlebar.

My upgrades are done for now. I expect that any future upgrade would be new wheels, either a better set at the current 700c size or a change to a smaller 650B wheel set that allows for even wider tires. I’ll be sticking with the stock wheels until they need to be replaced which will be awhile and by then I’ll know whether I want to change over to the 650B or stick to the 700c.

I also added a Rhinowalk seat bag which has already come in handy for bringing some ride snacks and an extra shirt. It has a 5 liter capacity so not as large something for multi-day bike packing but perfect for long day rides when extra clothing, snacks are brought along in addition to the usual roadside tools, air pump, etc.

So, what’s it like to actually ride the Poseidon X? I’ll compare it to riding the 38lb Gravity fatbike I’ve been riding since mid April. The Poseidon X weighs in at about 25lbs so right off, it’s a lot lighter overall. It’s wheels and tires are significantly lighter. The result is that the Poseidon X is much faster on flats and riding up a hill. In general, with the thinner width tires it feels like a faster bike on pavement. On gravel, especially downhill, the fatbike feels faster and more stable which makes sense given the width of the tires. The fatbike, again due to the fat tires, also has a more plush ride, and almost feels like it has suspension. The 4” fat tire is forgiving of hitting larger rocks in a way that the much smaller 40mm tire is not. And on any gravel downhill I especially find myself being more cautious and riding the brakes more. Riding the Poseidon X on gravel (and I’m guessing this is true of any other gravel bike with similar width tires) requires more care and focus.

The 1x10 gearing is perfect for my terrain. The front chainring is 38T and the range on the cogs is 11 to 48. Compared to the Gravity fatbike it’s high gear is a good bit higher for a faster ride on the downhills and it’s lowest gear is very near to the lowest on the Gravity. I’ve now tackled the steepest hills I’d previously ridden on the Gravity and Rad Rover and had no problem climbing. And I’ll add that I don’t find any of the jumps between gears to be too much. It’s both mechanically very smooth but also close enough that I have no problems finding a gear that I’m happy with as I move through the landscape.

Any negatives? One annoyance is the right rear chain stay which bumps out just enough that I find I hit it with my foot if I’ve got my foot too far back on the pedal. Not a huge problem just something I’ve noticed a few times. That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll check back in after I get another few weeks riding it. I’ve also gotten an idea for another post I think I’ll be writing in the next week or so which will explore the idea of what an all-road or adventure bike is beyond what I’ve touched on here. But I think I need more time on this bike and a bit more time mulling over what it is I may be wanting to write about.