Who actually owns the term “gravel”? Exactly, nobody. That’s what Sblocs thought, too, and that’s why they gave the latest model in their Calderas series the epithet “Gravel”. Anything but commonplace for a three-wheeled bicycle with a transport box. At the same time, it is fitting for the Berlin manufacturer, who thinks unconventionally and builds equally non-conformist vehicles.
It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen a cargo bike with studded tyres that was designed for riding over gravel roads and forest paths. And to be honest, the Sblocs Calderas Gravel is by no means a bikepacking bike. However, it doesn’t want to be. Rather, this bike could be a suitable companion for you if you like to leave the asphalt with some cargo and prefer to take a detour over hedge and ditch.
Everything but a cargo bike
However, be careful, if you think of cargo bikes when you see the Calderas Gravel, please look for another word for it right away. At least according to Marcus Dittberner, founder and managing director of sBlocs. He doesn’t like this term at all. For him, every single Caldera is instead a commuter bike with a boot. Regardless of whether it is designed to be more road-oriented or possesses a certain off-road charm.
Why this insistence on its very own terminology? Well, for Sblocs, the Calderas is first and foremost a bicycle. Perhaps one with an oversized carrier. The only difference is that the cargo can be transported more comfortably and, in many respects, more practically. Nevertheless, it is deliberately not intended to break any volume or weight records. The daily shopping including drinks, things for the job, the toolbox when you want to help friends with a project – this is Marcus Dittberner’s approach. In his experience, this rarely adds up to more than ten kilograms. The 120-litre transport box is designed for loads of up to 40 kilograms. The optional rear carrier can carry another 30 kilograms.
At the same time, you should be able to slip through the after-work traffic jam with the Calderas Gravel without any problems. That’s why Sblocs has stuck to the proven concept with the previous frame geometry. As a result, the bike measures 73 centimetres in width and 205 centimetres in length. If you measure a conventional mountain bike, you will notice that this is no smaller.
Copied from the oxcart
These numbers, together with the two 24-inch wheels at the front and the 26-inch rear wheel, are one reason for the enormous manoeuvrability of the Calderas models. Their unique steering-tilt system has an even greater impact. This combines centre pivot steering with tilt technology that allows the Calderas Gravel to tilt sideways by up to 24 degrees to the right and left. Once you’ve picked up some speed, you’ll be able to circle around pretty much any bend in a relaxed manner. And you can do it in a radius that is almost impossible with other cargo bikes.
However, it will take some time to get used to the Calderas Gravel before you fully master it. Due to its construction, the steering definitely feels different from that of a typical bicycle or other types of cargo bikes such as a Longjohn. With the handlebars of the Sblocs bike, you don’t just move the wheels, but the entire front axle including the transport box mounted on it. Even though this is somewhat reminiscent of steering a Christiania bike or similar cargo bikes such as earlier models from Babboe, it is much more sporty. Bumps, small drops, inclines – all of these can be ridden easily on a Calderas. This is where the tilting technology and keeping the typical handlebars as opposed to changing to a steering arm simply pay off.
The electric drive, on the other hand, should appeal to you right away. The metropolitans’ electric drive system is made in cooperation with a company that is also based in Berlin. We are talking about Brose, whose Drive T motor, with a torque of 70 Newton metres, not only provides decent propulsion, but has also been praised several times as an exceptionally quiet representative of its kind. If you want to enjoy the power of the unit to the full, you should choose the 11-speed derailleur offered when configuring your bike. On the variant with the 8-speed Alfine, the motor setup is slightly throttled back to ensure the stability of the hub gears. On request, however, Sblocs can also install the virtually indestructible Rohloff gears. As always, however, this increases the purchase price accordingly.
For the battery, Sblocs relies on solutions from BMZ. Usually, the bikes come with a frame battery that has a capacity of 635 watt hours. According to Marcus Dittberner, a range of between 70 and 80 kilometres is realistic in city traffic with frequent stop-and-go. This is in line with the findings of the testing company Dekra. In a standardised R200 range test, they determined a value of 62 kilometres. In this test, an ebike is constantly driven with a support factor of 200 per cent at an average speed of 20 km/h. However, Dekra tested a Calderas One. Its tyres have a significantly lower rolling resistance than the Rocket Ron tyres from Schwalbe mounted on the Calderas Gravel.
Wood is the trump card
With regard to the attachments, you can also choose between three options for the Calderas Gravel. Two of them are boxes. The biggest difference between them is the number of potential seats for children. The standard box offers one seat, the “2K” box two. Both boxes are made of waterproof glued wood with an additional black coating. The whole thing goes by the name of flywood. Sblocs also treats the open edges of the box with a wax. A rubber lip runs around the lid of the box to keep out moisture and dirt. With a little care, this should successfully withstand any weather even in the long run.
Although the boxes are specially damped against vibrations, testers report annoying noises from time to time. Especially when driving on bumpy surfaces. Presumably, this is relatively dependent on what you are transporting in the box and how the transported goods can move in it. At least the floor of the boxes is covered with a kind of foam mat as standard.
From the child seat to the boot
The great advantage of the boxes is their versatility. Optionally, there is a kind of mini seat bench and a belt system if you want to use the bike as a child taxi. The additional backrest can be converted into a lockable lid in just a few easy steps. In this way, you can leave various things in the bike for a longer period of time without having to take them with you. Unfortunately, the lid is only available for the box with one child seat.
If you don’t even need a box, you can alternatively choose a platform. The back and half of the long sides are enclosed by a metal band about ten centimetres high.
A small downer: virtually all the accessories cost extra. The child seats, the associated belt system, the lockable lid, the belts for the cargo platform – with everything, the starting price of 6,395 euros rises even higher. Once you’ve fallen for the Calderas Gravel after a test drive, you probably won’t be put off by this.
Hallo, ik ben zeer geïnteresseerd. wij zouden hem willen gebruiken voor onze hond mee te nemen.
Waar zijn er dealers in de buurt van 3650 Dilsen-Stokkem?
As far as we know, Sblocs does not provide any Dutch dealers at the moment. But you can write an email at email@example.com. These guys are not only very friendly but also very capable in finding individual solutions. Maybe you can figure something out.
hallo Lambert, ben je er nog uitgekomen met de hondenbakfiets?
ik heb een hond die 40 kg gaat worden. en zoek ook een fiets oplossing.
de sbloks lijkt mij ook erg interessant