The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (2024)

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. How we test gear.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (1)

A drop-bar bike that's for both road racers and gravel grinders.

By Tara Seplavy

Takeaway: Lots of bicycles pass through our test team over the course of a year, but few drop-bar bikes this year have impressed us with their versatility like the Allied Echo. Riding a fast group ride on the road? Go for it! Need to fit some wider tires for a day of gravel? It has you covered! Want to race some cyclocross on an autumn morning? Yep, it can do that too! The Echo easily changes between categories with a couple of tools and a few minutes of spare time. Plus, the frame and fork are manufactured in the USA.

  • Fully US-made frameset.
  • Adjustable geometry via flip-chips at the front and rear dropouts.
  • Excellent shifting and braking SRAM Rival AXS groupset.
  • Plenty of paint and graphic options.

Price: $7,410
19.2 LB (Large)

Allied Allied Echo Rival AXS

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (2)

  • The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (3)USA Made
  • The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (4)Adjustable geometry
  • The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (5)Dialed ride quality
  • The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (6)Pricey for a Rival equipped bike

Allied Echo Rival eTap AXS Build Details

Style: Gravel/Road
Wheel Size: 700c
Fork: Allied Echo Carbon Fork, 12x100mm thru-axle, flat mount disc, adjustable geometry
Frame: Allied Echo, internal cable routing, 12x142mm thru-axle, flat mount disc, adjustable geometry
Drivetrain: SRAM Rival eTap AXS 12-speed
Crankset: SRAM Rival AXS, 46/33T
Cassette: SRAM Rival XG-1250, 10-36T, 12-speed
Brakes: SRAM Rival Hydraulic Disc, 160mm (front & rear) rotors
Wheels: Industry Nine UL250 CX
Tires: WTB Vulpine, 700c x 40mm, Tubeless Ready
Saddle: Ergon SR10 Comp
Seatpost: FSA Energy, 27.2mm diameter
Handlebar: FSA Energy Compact, 42cm width
Stem: Allied Echo, 110mm extension
Chris King NoThread

Whether at coffee stops, on group rides, or even on the car rack in traffic, everyone wanted to chat to us about the Echo. Maybe it’s the bike’s clean lines and satin wineberry paint upgrade? Or the ability to change up the geometry from gravel to road? But often the questions pertain to this being one of the few American-made carbon frames you can buy.

You read that correctly: Allied designs, manufactures, and paints the Echo (and its two other drop-bar models—the Able gravel bike and the Alfa Disc road bike) at its Bentonville, Arkansas, factory, where about 35 employees produce more than 1,000 framesets annually. This includes the frame’s small parts, like the beautifully crafted and intricate hidden-cable stem used on the bike.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (7)

But making a bike in the U.S. doesn’t automatically make it better than a bike made in any other corner of the world. So, how does the Echo ride? In short, beautifully, as should be expected from an over $7,000 bike with electronic shifting. What sets the Echo apart from other endurance road designs or fast gravel bikes is its ability to shapeshift between the two with relative ease. Simply reposition the dropout inserts at each end of the bike and the Echo takes on two very different characters.

On the Road

Based on appearance alone—the dropped chainstays, slightly chunky flip-chips, and satin-finish paint job—the Echo doesn't display the traditional elegance and featherweight appearance of road race bikes; pulling its styling cues from the gravel world. But in road orientation, our first rides on the Echo felt stunningly...normal.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (8)

When paired with 28mm tires and lightweight road wheels the Echo feels fast. It rides lighter and more nimble than its looks and listed weight might suggest. The handling in road mode resembles that of a bike purpose-built for smooth high-speed corners and long climbs. A quick peek at the geometry numbers revealed the reason.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (9)

Aside from slightly longer chainstays and a longer wheelbase length the Echo's other key geometry numbers (stack, reach, headtube angle, seat tube angle) were more in line with some of our favorite road racing bikes than those of endurance road bikes. Thanks to that longer wheelbase and generous bottom bracket drop, the Echo feels planted and confident on the road, particularly when descending.

Flipping the Chips

OK, so Allied made a road bike. With most road bike reviews we would now just talk about the niceties of the drivetrain, brakes, and co*ckpit and then call it a day. Well, this is where things start to get interesting. Not only is the Echo a road bike, but it's a rather capable gravel bike too.

Spending a little time swapping the flip-chips at the rear dropouts and fork transforms the Echo into a more gravel-capable machine. With the chips flipped, stack and reach both shorten by 5mm, while the chainstays lengthen by 10mm and the wheelbase grows 14mm. The headtube and seat tube angles also both slacken by a half degree. Most importantly it allows fitment of tires up to 40mm wide.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (10)

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (11)

Paired with 40mm rubber and some wide rims, the Echo is well suited for those long jaunts across wide-open farmland or even exploring some class-4 roads. But, this is not an extreme gravel bike and certainly not something for singletrack trail use. In gravel orientation, the Echo is plenty suitable for fast gravel riding or racing (like a Specialized Crux or Cannondale SuperSix Evo SE).

The Echo's handling still feels quite similar to a road bike in the gravel setting. This is largely due to the short, 48mm offset and steeper headtube angle as compared to other bikes in the fast gravel sub-category. If you like your gravel bikes to feel like road bikes, and you're not concerned with fitting super-wide tires or adding lots of racks and bags, the Echo is worthy of consideration.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (12)

For the Groadies

We often ended up riding the Echo set up in between the two published positions. Riding with the front end in gravel position and the rear in road mode, the Echo has a balance of upright positioning and fast handling. The folks at Allied were happy to send over the geometry details for this configuration as the brand does not list this info on its website.

This groad configuration felt like unlocking a cheat code to a bike that could ride as spirited as a pro tour–style road bike but with the poise of a purpose-built gravel machine when conditions got dirtier. The more time we spent on the Echo, the more we liked this position of the flip-chips. It just felt right; the type of bike you could comfortably ride any day and almost anywhere. Not a race bike, not an extreme gravel bike, just a great all-around road bike. In a further example of the Echo’s versatility, one of our test riders raced the Echo in this groad setup to the top step of the podium in a pair of local cyclocross races.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (14)

Allied lists clearance up to 30mm with the rear dropout in road position, but we comfortably ran up to 35mm width tires. Though we did find on one particular ride that 36mm tires on wide rims combined with some thick mud did not go over so well and removed some paint from the back of the seat tube.

The Build

Allied offers various build kits for the Echo, including our test bike's almost-flawless SRAM Rival AXS 12-speed groupset. Though a tad heavier than pricier drivetrain offerings, it's hard to find fault with Rival for shifting or braking performance, as the stuff just plain works. The power and feel of the Rival hydraulic discs remained good throughout our test period with the Echo. We also like the hood shape of the Rival levers a little more than the pricier Force and Red versions.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (15)

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (16)

The Echo's co*ckpit parts were functional, but aside from the stem, just not flashy. The bar and seatpost were aluminum models by FSA and the saddle was from Ergon. No real issues there.

Compared to the rather staid bar, post, and saddle, the Allied internally cable stem is a piece of functional art. Unlike some other hidden cable systems where the brake lines route through the stem and swapping stem lengths requires rerouting/bleeding of brakes (I'm looking at you, Cervélo), Allied's design allows for quick stem swaps. It's a particularly handy feature if you're the type of rider who might want to change stem lengths to compensate for geometry differences when changing between the Echo's road and gravel positions.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (17)

As described by Allied: “The cables run through a channel on the top of the stem and are concealed by a faceplate, top cap, and the steerer tube. Headset adjustment is moved from the traditional position at the top of the stem to a threaded portion on the bottom of the stem that effectively increases the steerer clamp length to provide headset preload, much like a threaded headset. The Echo stem comes in 5 sizes from 80-130mm in 10mm increments and is a -6 degree.”

Since the headset preload functions like a traditional threaded headset, Allied ships the Echo with a headset wrench—just in case your toolbox no longer carries such a tool. On two of our initial rides on the Echo, the headset loosened up. After taking the system apart, reassembling, and retightening we did not encounter the issue again.

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (18)

Rolling on aluminum-rim Industry Nine UL250 CX wheels with 700x40c WTB Vulpine tires set up tubeless, the Echo weighed in at just over 19 pounds. Not flyweight, but not too heavy either. The Industry Nine wheels remained problem-free throughout our ride testing, not even needing to be trued. We did slice a sidewall on one of the stock WTB tires, though admittedly, it happened from a jagged piece of shale when we ventured onto some singletrack.

To have sufficient rear tire clearance during road and groad configuration testing, we set up the Echo with Zipp 303 S wheels and Challenge TLR tires. This shaved some weight from the bike and added some additional liveliness to its ride characteristics. Unless you plan to ride strictly on gravel, go with one of the lighter wheelset and tire options that Allied offers when you configure your bike.

Lots of bikes are designed to meet very narrow usage parameters, so much so that their limitations quickly become noticeable when ridden outside of their element. Other bikes seem to be marketed across different riding categories but fail to adequately deliver exceptional performance in any one of them. The Allied Echo stands out from the crowd and is unique in its ability to morph between categories in a meaningful way.

If you need a very specific bike for a very specific set of riding needs (for example, if you only race crits or you ride lots of chunky gravel and singletrack), then the Echo probably won't be for you. But if you're the sort of rider who dabbles in different types of drop-bar riding depending on the particular day or season, then take a closer look at this bike.

At over $6,700 for the least expensive Rival build (our test bike cost $7,410), the Echo is not a cheap bike. But, with Rival-equipped carbon bikes from large brands now extending into the $5,000-$6,000 price range, an American-built bike from a smaller-scale builder costing not that much more is reasonable. Plus, Allied offers numerous options to make your bike truly unique rather than riding the same bike as thousands of other riders.

If you are seeking a bike that can do the skinny-tire road thing, then get dirty on some gravel, or even throw in a little cyclocross fun on an autumn weekend, then this is one of the best choices out there. With the Echo and an extra wheelset, you really can have two, or even three, bikes in one.

Allied Echo Gallery

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (19)

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (20)

Tara Seplavy

Deputy Editor

As Deputy Editor, Tara Seplavy leads Bicycling’s product test team; after having previously led product development and sourcing for multiple bike brands, run World Championship winning mountain bike teams, wrenched at renowned bicycle shops in Brooklyn, raced everything from criteriums to downhill, and ridden bikes on six different continents (landing herself in hospital emergency rooms in four countries and counting). Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Tara spends tons of time on the road and trail testing products. A familiar face at cyclocross races, crits, and bike parks in the Mid Atlantic and New England, on weekends she can often be found racing for the New York City-based CRCA/KruisCX team. When not riding a bike, or talking about them, Tara listens to a lot of ska, punk, and emo music, and consumes too much social media.

Watch Next

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (21)

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

Member Exclusive

Lightweight Gear for Heavyweight RidersThe Best Mobility Exercises for CyclistsAll About E-Bike Tax Credits and Rebates6 Benefits of Riding Outside

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

The Cheapest and Most Expensive Bikes at the TDFHow to Do These 5 Common Bicycle Repairs10 Underrated Strength Exercises for CyclistsThe Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists
All About Cycling EconomyTested: Trek’s Eighth-Generation MadoneIs Visma-Lease a Bike Good Enough for Vingegaard?How to Master Your Zone 2 Rides

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

The Shapeshifting Allied Echo (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner

Last Updated:

Views: 6840

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner

Birthday: 1994-06-25

Address: Suite 153 582 Lubowitz Walks, Port Alfredoborough, IN 72879-2838

Phone: +128413562823324

Job: IT Strategist

Hobby: Video gaming, Basketball, Web surfing, Book restoration, Jogging, Shooting, Fishing

Introduction: My name is Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner, I am a zany, graceful, talented, witty, determined, shiny, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.