State 4130 All-Road Review: Thoughts on a $900 Gravel Bike
The State 4130 All-Road is a drop-bar steel gravel bike with clearance for big tires, lots of mounting options, and your choice of 650b or 700c wheels, all for just $900. We were curious how such an affordable bike would hold up in the real world and have been testing one out for the last few weeks for this review. Find Miles’ initial impressions here…
I’m the first to admit that the cycling industry, including our beloved world of bikepacking, is inundated with expensive gear that’s out of reach for many people, and the fact that entry-level bikes suitable for bikepacking seem to start at $1,200 is hard to swallow. Of course, the industry-wide price increase we’ve seen in the last few years doesn’t help either, but there’s hope! In 2018, Salsa released the Journeyman, an aluminum gravel bike that’s now offered in 15 builds, including both flat-bar and drop-bar setups and prices as low as $949. More recently, the California-based Poseidon launched their $900 (now $950) aluminum Redwood gravel bike, adding another interesting option into the mix. That same summer, State Bicycle Co. came out with the 4130 All-Road, a drop-bar steel gravel bike that marked a massive departure from their line of single-speed city bikes.
The hard truth is that the majority of sub-$1,000 bikes aren’t really equipped for serious riding. There are lots of options out there from many major bike brands, mostly aluminum mountain bikes and hybrids that are perfect for anyone looking to get outside and have some fun. This new breed of sub-$1,000 bikes, including the three mentioned above, are still based around affordable components but add in the bonus of modern features that bikepackers will surely appreciate. Take the State 4130 All-Road as an example: it’s based around a 4130 Chromoly Steel frame, a 1×11 drivetrain, clearance for 27.5 x 2.1″ tires, and topped off with all the mounting points you’d ever need, including quad-pack mounts on the matching Chromoly Steel fork. On paper, the State 4130 All-Road makes a lot of sense, and thinking back to my days working in a bike shop, it’d probably be easy to sell. But, what gives? I’ll do my best to answer this.
- Frame/fork: Steel/Steel
- Angles (L): 71.5° Headtube, 73° Seattube
- Stack/Reach: 621.5mm/385mm
- BB Drop/Chainstay: 75mm/450mm
- Bottom Bracket: 68mm threaded
- Hub specs: 12x100mm / 12x142mm, TA
- Seatpost: 27.2mm
- Max tire size: 700c x 38mm or 650b x 2.1″
- Price: $899 USD
At the heart of the State 4130 All-Road is a 4130 Chromoly Steel frame and fork. It’s kitted out with rack and fender mounts, two standard bottle cage mounts inside the main triangle, and not three but four bosses and fork crown bosses on each leg, opening up endless options for cargo cages, front racks, and more. State gives you the choice between 700c wheels with 38mm tires or 650b with 2.1” tires for the same price, or you can buy two complete wheelsets for an extra $399 to easily swap between the two. It comes stock with a State-branded Sensah 1×11 drivetrain, a handful of State small parts, mechanical disc brakes, and 12mm thru-axles, a pleasant surprise considering its price tag.
The 4130 All-Road packs in a lot of nice features and specs for $900 USD. It’s no surprise that State claims it’s their “most capable bike ever,” perfect for “long days in the saddle, commuting, bikepacking, and gravel riding.” It’s offered in four sizes, a few colours—including a National Park Foundation collab—and was recently updated with a Sram XPLR AXS build option for $1,999. State also offers a flat bar version outfitted with nearly all of the same parts as the drop bar model, borrows the same geometry, and retails for $900 USD.
A Solid Foundation
Aside from the price, the most appealing aspect of the 4130 All-Road is its steel frame and fork. It’s great to see the durably and smooth ride quality afforded by Chromoly Steel at this price point, and in a lot of ways, it makes sense for newer riders and anyone who’s rough with their gear. In the same vein, it has angles that make sense for what State claims it’s suited for. The 4130 All-Road’s geometry is almost identical to the Salsa Journeyman, sitting somewhere between a racy gravel bike and an upright touring rig. It’s worth noting that State’s size chart runs larger than Salsa’s, so the 55cm State lines up perfectly with Salsa’s 57cm Journeyman. See a comparison below: the 4130 All-Road in white and the Journeyman in black, both with 650b x 2.1″ tires.
The 4130 All-Road has a balanced and stable feel when rolling along at a comfortable pace, and the extra weight of the steel frame maintains this feeling at faster speeds and while descending. The 110mm stem specced on the size 55cm I tested felt far too long and stretched out, so I swapped it out for a stubby 60mm stem for a more casual riding position. This made it easier to keep an eye on what was going on around me and helped keep me from feeling like I was going to launch over my front wheel.
The assortment of modern specs and features, normally only found on higher-end bikes, is great to see. The 4130 All-Road uses a standard 68mm threaded bottom bracket, 12mm thru-axles, externally routed cables for easier maintenance, and it’s hard not to talk about all those threaded bosses to accommodate cages, racks, and the like. The fact that it’s a great looking bike is just the cherry on top. State nailed the colour combos and minimal branding, and the Black Canyon colourway I was sent has a fun sparkly finish that comes alive in direct light. At nearly 28 pounds for the complete build, it’s far from light and has an extra three pounds on the aluminum Salsa Journeyman, but it has a classic and somewhat utilitarian look that’s easy to get behind.
There’s no question that the steel frame and fork are solid and reliable, but things start to get a little blurry when you look at everything attached to it. Budget is the name of the game with the 4130 All-Road build kit, and most of its components are State-branded, heavy, and affordable. Right out of the box, the derailleur hanger was bent and the chain sounded as if it had been ridden on a 10,000-kilometre tour. I’ve spoken with another State 4130 All-Road owner and they voiced many of the same concerns. I had a hard time keeping the stock hanger straight and eventually had to order a replacement. Despite the oddly noisy chain, the Sensah drivetrain actually functions quite smoothly and accurately—at least when the hanger is straight. The shifting, all operated with your right hand, has a light action and fairly comfortable design. Downshifting required a considerable push to get into gear, which interfered with a small basket bag I was running, but otherwise, I have no real complaints.
The 4130 All-Road owner I mentioned above has logged over 2,000 kilometres and has a growing list of mechanical issues, including broken spokes, seized freehub, cross-threaded barrel adjusters (right out of the box), and a derailleur jockey wheel implosion. But this person also insists that they’re a huge fan and would just purchase a frameset if they were to do it again, which leads me to another discussion altogether.
Should sub-$1,000 bikes come with all the fixings, not to mention the promise, for more adventurous riding? From what I’ve experienced so far, I’d be pretty nervous to load this bike up with camping gear and ride out of cell service, and believe it’s much better suited for errands and commuting around town. From what I’ve heard, it’s more a matter of when, not if, something goes wrong, and I just can’t imagine a newer rider feeling that stoked about bringing their new bike to the shop because their derailleur got ripped off the first time it bumped into a stump. Advertising this bike as “an SUV or Swiss army knife of bikes” seems like a stretch to me. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t have potential, because it does. I just think the components and small parts State is speccing on the complete builds don’t align with the capability of the steel foundation they live on.
Build Kit (55cm/large)
- Frame 4130 Chromoly Steel
- Fork 4130 Chromoly Steel, 1 1/8″ steerer
- Headset FSA ZS-4D
- Handlebars SBC All-Road Bars, 18° flare/42cm wide
- Stem Alloy 3D Forged (110mm)
- Crankset SBC All-Road 1 Forged 7075 AL, 42t Ring, 175mm
- Brakes Promax DSK-300R Flat Mount, 160mm rotors
- Cassette SBC 11-42T 11-Speed
- Shifters SBC All-Road 1, 11-Speed
- Bottom Bracket Hollow Axle BSA 68mm
- Chain YBN 11-Speed
- Hubs Sealed-Bearing Thru-Axle, 12x100mm / 12x142mm
- Wheels Aluminum, 19mm internal width
- Spokes 14G stainless steel
- Tires Vittoria Barzo 650b x 2.1″
- Seatpost Alloy 27.2mm, 350mm
- Saddle State All-Road Saddle, Steel Rails
Overall, the build kit makes sense for a bike of this genre. The Vittoria Barzos are an XC mountain bike tire with reasonably spaced lugs that grip well at lower pressures but roll quickly when you want them to. While they aren’t tubeless-ready, the State-branded wheels are, and State also offers an optional tubeless kit for those who prefer the 700 x 38mm build, which happens to come with tubeless-ready tires. State’s All-Road handlebar has a comfortable 18° flare and shallow drop that works well for the bike, but unfortunately only comes in one 42cm (hood to hood) width for all sizes. The stock bar tape is also quite thin and doesn’t cover enough of the bar to provide much comfort. And it was a little strange to see a 110mm stem specced, which was presumably chosen to accommodate taller riders.
While I was surprised at how smoothly the Sensah drivetrain functioned, the 42T front chainring and 11-42T cassette didn’t cut it on a few steeper sections of trail and road I encountered. The weight of the bike itself didn’t help either, and it would have been nice to see lower gearing right out of the box. The rear derailleur had a hard time staying in position, likely due to a weak internal spring, especially when backpedalling or coasting in lower gears, so I was often nervous when shifting quickly under load. The derailleur does have an adjustable tension spring, not a true clutch, which helps keep the chain from rattling around too much. State specs the bike with a simple single-bolt seatpost that occasionally shifted out of position while pedalling seated over bumps.
Components aside, the 4130 All-Road with 2.1″ tires creates a fantastic platform for zipping around pavement, hopping onto some easy trails, and taking the long way home. It’s sporty enough to keep things entertaining without making every ride feel like a race and has a comfortable in the bike quality that feels stable and easy to control. With the tire pressure dropped, it has a reasonably supple feel, but when pumped up for road riding, I found the front end to be harsh and hard on the hands. It would have been nice to see tubeless-ready tires on the 650b build to encourage lower tire pressures, which would help smooth things out. The optional $300 carbon fork upgrade that State offers also seems like a worthwhile upgrade for those with the cash. As mentioned earlier, the geometry works well for a bike in this category. After the stem swap, it didn’t feel racy or too aggressive, and handled predictably in most situations. I wouldn’t say the 4130 All-Road is made for setting speed records, but it certainly feels comfortable rambling around with no goals in mind. With some better performing brakes, a more reliable drivetrain, and a shorter stem, I could certainly see myself venturing slightly further away from home.
So, does this new breed of sub-$1,000 bikes deserve a space in the world of bikepacking? It’s hard to say. From what I’ve experienced with State’s interpretation of a versatile budget gravel bike, I’d say there is room for improvement. Or better yet, I’d say it might be worth looking into a second-hand mountain bike or flat bar hybrid if you’re looking for your first bikepacking bike. However you look at it, more affordable bikes with modern specs are a good thing and will hopefully pave the way for more affordable options for folks interested in getting into bikepacking.
- Sub-$1,000 bikes are a step in the right direction
- Chromoly Steel frame and fork make for a solid platform
- Two wheel options and decent tire clearance
- All of the mounts and ample room for a frame bag
- Budget components won’t hold up to serious riding
- Marketing claims seem lofty
- Hard gearing for off-road riding/steep climbs
- Size Tested: 55cm/Large
- Weight: 27.8 pounds
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $899 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: StateBicycle.com
I haven’t fully loaded the State 4130 All-Road up with camping gear, and I certainly haven’t tested its limits like I do for most of my bike reviews, in part because initial concerns about the quality of the build kit left me feeling somewhat apprehensive about taking it out into the backcountry. Instead, I rode it as its most realistic self: around town on the occasional dirt shortcut. The frame and fork have all the right specs and offer some real potential, but the components didn’t make the cut. So, is the 4130 All-Road the do-it-all bikepacking rig that State claims it to be? In my experience, not quite. Does it have all the fixings for a solid light-duty commuter or relaxed gravel rider? Definitely, and I think it looks pretty good doing so, too.
It would be great to see State offer a slightly upgraded version of the 4130 All-Road, outfitted with some components that match up with the characteristics of its steel foundation. Or better yet, a flat bar version that doesn’t borrow the geometry from the drop bar version I tested here. State has the right idea with their 4130 All-Road lineup, and I’m eager to see where they take it moving forward.
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