What do you do if you sort of wanted a mountain bike, but at the same time, also wanted a road bike? Well, you get both, of course. But what if you absolutely had to have just one bike? It’s perhaps from this dilemma that the gravel bike was born, and indeed, in many ways, gravel bikes are just reincarnations of the mountain bikes from the 90s – rigid-framed road bikes adapted for off-road terrain.
Now, what if you had your gravel bike, but wanted to go faster and further without getting tired? You get the electric gravel bike – the next big thing in the world of recreational e-bikes. Indeed, recent years have ushered in countless new electric gravel bikes, all rocking fancy tech, responsive compact motors, and lightweight frames. All the big players – Trek, Cannondale, and Giant – have their own interpretation of the ultimate e-gravel, and inevitably, they cost quite a pretty penny. This is where so-called B-tier players enter the picture, with the latest of which being French outdoor and sports retailer Decathlon.
Decathlon's Van Rysel E-GRVL AF MD electric gravel bike.
Decathlon specializes in all sorts of sports, with cycling being one of its strong suits. It has a number of bike brands under its umbrella with Rockrider catering to mountain bikers, Triban catering to urban cyclists, and Van Rysel occupying the performance-oriented road and gravel space. It’s under the Van Rysel brand that Decathlon has chosen to unveil its newest e-gravel bike, the aptly named E-GRVL AF MD.
On the tech side of the equation, the Van Rysel E-GRVL AF MD is powered by a Brose Drive T Mag mid-drive motor. It produces a decent amount of power with a 250-watt nominal rating and 70 Nm (51.8 pound-feet) of torque. It draws power from a compact 400-watt-hour battery pack. While the bike’s powertrain is indeed impressive, it wants to draw even more attention with its rather fancy components.
Decathlon's Van Rysel E-GRVL AF X30 electric gravel bike.
Van Rysel’s newest e-gravel is rocking a Sram Apex 12-speed drivetrain, and rolls on Michelin Power Gravel tires. It gets a carbon fiber fork to keep the front end light, but lets its budget-focused build shine through with an aluminum 6061 alloy frame. The price for this premium bit of kit? 3,500 euros, or about $3,800 USD. The bike is indeed expected to be made available stateside, although pricing and availability info has yet to be released.
Now, what if the specs of the E-GRVL AF MD just aren’t good enough for you? Well, you could consider the E-GRVL AF X30, which is markedly more premium than the MD, although pricing has yet to be revealed. It’s rocking the German-built Mahle X35 rear motor, which, although lower in power output, is lighter and more responsive thanks to a built-in torque sensor and three assistance levels. The setup draws power from a compact 244-watt-hour battery pack.
Brose Mag T-Drive motor found in the Van Rysel E-GRVL AF MD.
Mahle's compact X35 hub motor found in the Van Rysel E-GRVL AF X30.
Motor aside, the X30 is even better when it comes to components, with a Sram XPLR Transmission, Sram brakes, and Hutchinson Touareg gravel tires. It weighs in at 30.8 pounds, and receives the same alloy frame and carbon fork as its more affordable sibling.