Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. Review
We’ve seen many bike manufacturers launch drop-bar mountain bikes with high-volume tire clearance in recent years, including UK-based Pipedream Cycles, who recently released their third iteration of the A.L.I.C.E. In our latest video review, Neil introduces the A.L.I.C.E., highlights its unique features, and talks through everything else you need to know about this blue beauty…
Back when there simply weren’t many options on the market, the Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) was one of only a handful of drop-bar mountain bikes that cleared big 29er tires. We first posted about it back in 2017, and even then it had been out for a year. Recently, UK-based Pipedream Cycles revamped A.L.I.C.E. with a slightly different geometry, dropper post routing, and your choice of a carbon, color-matched 420mm flat mount or 430mm flat mount CrMo fork. Neil got ahold of the Wonderland Blue version for this full video review. Watch it below, then scroll down for more photos, specs, pros and cons, and a geometric comparison with other bikes in its class.
The A.L.I.C.E. frame was designed in Scotland and made in Taiwan from 4130 Chromoly tubing, and it comes with an internal ED surface treatment to prevent rust. Aside from the flat mount fork options, the 2022 Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. also gets dropper post routing in the seat tube and three new colors—British racing green, Wonderland Blue, and Desert. Here are the full frame specs:
- CrMo 4130 heat-treated main frame tubes
- Oval top tube for vertical compliance and comfortable shouldering
- 44mm (internal) head tube compatible with either tapered or straight steerer tubes
- Sliding/replaceable dropouts (post mount brake)
- Compatible with flat mount brakes (with adapter, included)
- Split dropout on the drive-side for Gates Carbon Drive compatibility
- Frame includes dropout sliders, bolts, and cable clips
- Three sets of bottle bosses on the frame
- Rear rack mounts
- Metal headbadge
- Supplied with axles (142×12 rear and 100×15 front)
- Max recommended tire size for the frame, 29 x 2.4″ (27.5 x 2.4″)
- Carbon or CrMo steel fork (flat mount)
- Max recommended tire size for the fork, 29 x 2.8″ (27.5 x 2.8″)
Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. vs. Others
As mentioned in the video, the Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. may look like a lot of the “divide” style drop-bar 29ers that are currently on the market, but there are a few significant differences. For comparison, here’s a chart with several of them, showing some key geometry measurements (in millimeters): PA=Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. (Medium); SF=Salsa Fargo (Medium); SC=Salsa Cutthroat (size 56); TS=Tumbleweed Stargazer (Xtra Medium); KS=Kona Sutra LTD (latest, 54cm). These are all comparable sizes to the medium ALICE, as tested.
If you look at the head tube angle, seat tube angle, and overall Length, the A.L.I.C.E. might not turn heads, but if you dive deeper into the numbers, there are a few significant differences. The biggest differentiator is the amount of trail. With a 42mm offset fork, the Pipedream has 97mm of trail. This is a lot for this style of bike. Trail is more important when we talk about riding on rougher surfaces because it gives you more stability at higher speeds. Pipedream accomplished this by slackening their head tube to 69° and pairing 2.2” tires with their 42mm offset fork.
For reference, my Cutthroat has identical tires and head tube angle, but a 51mm offset fork gives it 86mm of trail. My downcountry mountain bike has a 98mm trail. The Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. has the highest trail measurement I’ve ever pedaled on a drop-bar bike. It also has a relatively long wheelbase that is adjustable to 1,103mm, which is longer than any of the bikes listed, save the Xtra Medium sized Stargazer. Lastly, it also has the steepest seat tube of the bunch, with only the Salsa Cutthroat coming close. As mentioned in the video review, this adds up to the A.L.I.C.E. having a little more mountain bike DNA than others in its class.
- Model/Size Tested: Pipedream A.L.I.C.E., size Medium
- Actual Weight: 25 pounds (11.34kg)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: £960 (frame + carbon fork)
- Manufacturer’s Details: PipedreamCycles.com
- Massive tire clearance
- MTB-focused geometry
- Adjustable and split dropouts
- Quick and lively ride quality (in the forward position)
- Loads of mounts and plenty of front triangle space
- Some odd frame specs (post mount rear, 100×15 front)
- Sluggish in the long position
- No top tube mounts
- High trail takes some adjustment on a drop-bar bike
From video: So, did the Pipedream A.L.I.C.E. distinguish itself from other bikes in this category? It stands out, not just because of its beautiful Wonderland Blue matte finish, which is stunning, but because it’s different enough. It’s a pretty good value, too. The A.L.I.C.E. is available in sizes small to XL as a frame and fork “bundle” with a CrMo fork option starting at $937 and with the carbon fork around $1,100.
As a mountain bike brand first, it was clear Pipedream was looking for a specific ride quality. The bike climbs very well, and it’s stable and grounded, which translates to it being a great descender. Yes, the higher trail did take some getting used to, but I didn’t find myself in a situation where it bothered me all that often. The highlights here were that it handled chundery, rocky roads like a mountain bike yet maintained a quick and snappy ride when the dropouts were pushed all the way forward. And it still has an all-day-comfortable ride.
The longer the ride on the Pipedream ALICE, the more rewarding and fun my day was. And, paired with some of the simple yet practical bikepacking features, this bike is ready for the road less traveled. I tip my cap to Pipedream for designing one of the first drop-bar mountain bikes back in 2016 and continuing to evolve it today.
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