The Obed Boundary is a Lightweight Carbon Gravel Bike that Feels at Home on Singletrack [Review]

Photos: Matt Miller

Gravel bikes are usually not our first love, but for many mountain bikers, they are a secondary or tertiary romance and another reason to either cross-train or continue pedaling on dirt when the trails are snowed out.

Ride impressions

The Boundary came pre-assembled for the most part. The bike was packaged carefully and cleanly, and all I really needed to do was mount the handlebars to the stem and equip the wheels. I swapped the 90mm stem the Boundary came with for a 70mm stem, and after setting the saddle and stack height, it’s felt like a perfect fit since.

I went into the feathery, carbon Boundary from an aluminum gravel bike and the responsiveness and stiffness of the frame were immediately apparent. The Boundary snaps to attention and accelerates with ease.

I live down the street from Bear Creek Lake Park and these trails are a perfect match for a gravel bike. They are all a fairly moderate grade, swoopy, and buff, and mostly rockless. In about an hour, I can depart my front door, ride the system, and return, making it a perfect lunch loop. The Boundary has been clutch here, especially since there’s a mix of gravel and doubletrack throughout the park.

The seated position on the Boundary is still fairly upright, like most gravel bikes, but it hasn’t been an issue getting weight over the front on steeper climbs. Traction uphill has been great, signaling that the chainstays and seat tube work well in conjunction since there’s no rear suspension working to keep the rear wheel glued to the ground.

Tire pressure optimization has been crucial for a better ride quality on dirt, especially singletrack. If I’m only riding on trails I’ll usually drop the tires down to the mid-30s. For a full carbon rigid bike, things can get a little shaky on dirt. A slightly wider, more flared set of bars like these Spanks we tested a while back would be a welcome addition since the Boundary can still feel a little stiff on chunkier, rockier dirt or trail.

Otherwise, the Boundary descends admirably well for a lightweight gravel bike on singletrack, and on stretches of wide open and smooth dirt, the bike feels plenty stable.

About the Boundary

Cockpit hosing is simple and clean.

The Boundary is a full carbon gravel bike, available in either 1x or 2x drivetrain options, or with a 1×13 Campagnolo drivetrain. Where bikes of a bigger brand name might start their pricing for a full carbon gravel bike at $4,000, Obed sells the Boundary frameset for under $2,000, and complete bikes with a Shimano GRX600 groupset start at $2,900. The Boundary 810 GRX 810 we reviewed sells for a relatively modest $3,300.

The Boundary can be run with either 700c or 650b wheels. With 700c, the max tire width in the frame is 45mm, and with a 650b, that increases to 53mm.

There are bottle cage mounts inside the front triangle on the down tube and seat tube, and on the underside of the downtube. There is another set on the top tube and along both sides of the fork. There’s also a fender mount on the fork. The max loaded weight on the Boundary is 300lb and with all the available mounts, that may be easy to reach. The frame uses non-Boost axle standards, with a 12×142 in the rear and a 12×100 axle in the front.

There’s no suspension on this bike to speak of, but more suspension forks for gravel bikes are starting to emerge, such as the MRP Baxter.

I’m 5’8″ and opted for a size M Boundary, which roughly translates to a size 54, with a 540mm seat tube length. The medium has a 73° seat tube angle, a 71.5° head tube angle, a 1,026mm wheelbase, and a 376mm reach.

SIZEXSSMLXL
Top Tube Length (mm)520535550565580
Head Tube Length (mm)120140150170190
Seat Tube Angle74.5˚74.0˚73.0˚73.0˚73.0˚
Head Tube Angle70.5˚71.0˚71.5˚72.0˚72.0˚
BB Drop (mm)6767676767
Chainstay Length (mm)435435435435435
Wheelbase (mm)10201021102610371052
Front Center (mm)594595600611626
Standover Height (cm)75.978.680.382.384.3
Fork Axle to Crown (mm)395395395395395
Fork Rake (mm)5050505050
Seat Tube Length (mm)490520540560580
Reach (mm)371375376385394
Stack (mm)537557568590609

The GRX 810 build came equipped with Shimano’s upper-shelf gravel drivetrain, however not the electronically controlled version. The build also comes an FSA cockpit; bars, stem, a carbon seat post, and a WTB Volt saddle. Buyers get a Sun Charger Comp Tubeless wheelset, or they can upgrade to a different wheelset during checkout. I opted to skip wheels completely and used a set of Hunt’s X-Wide carbon gravel wheels I had laying around, which are a steal at $1,000.

All together, my GRX 810 Boundary build with carbon wheels weighs 19.2lb.

Component check

I’ve put more miles on the Boundary ahead of the review than any other bike and have had zero issues with the frame or any components, despite some harsh encounters with rocks and compressions. The Shimano GRX drivetrain has been flawless, but is getting a little more finnicky in certain gears lately, so it may be time to adjust the cable tension and check for chain stretch soon.

Braking from the hoods is pretty simple on the GRX and it feels like you can get more power from higher up on the lever, which is important if you’re already to deep into a descent to move to the drops.

The cockpit; stem, handlebars, and saddle can be personalized when making an order through Obed, so if you have a prior bike fit to look back on, that’s very helpful.

If there is one thing that concerns me on the Boundary, it’s the decals. They are adhered to the frame well, but they are just decals, and over time may start to peel. The smaller Boundary decals on the top tube seem like they’ll go first, but not one corner has started to dog ear yet, so it may be a while.

About Obed

Obed might not be a familiar name to many readers, but they are under the American Bicycle Group and share the tent with Litespeed Titanium, and Quintana Roo, which respectively make titanium bikes and triathlon bikes.

Obed falls in the middle and makes a carbon full-suspension trail bike, a road bike, and their gravel bike, the Boundary.

Obed and their sister brands are all based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Obed uses an open mold frame design and holds a strong relationship with their factory overseas. Though you might find frames that look damn near the same as the Boundary in other areas of the internet, or under another name from other brands, the bike is still prototyped and tested like it’s their own, and the carbon layup across the frame is tweaked for their own compliance goals.

Engineers and designers also serve as another layer of quality assurance for Boundary frames and add details like frame protection and mounts aplenty. Obed receives their frames unpainted from the factory and examines each one thoroughly before they are painted and stickered with colors that the buyer can choose.

“We’re really picky and critical about the full recipe of the bike — the fasteners on the bike — you know, all the little picky details,” explains Obed’s head designer Brad Devaney.

The frames are covered by a 6-year manufacturing defect warranty, and paint and decals are covered for one year. In the event that a frame is subjected to harsh impact, Obed offers carbon repair and even a crash replacement option.

Closing thoughts

Overall, the Obed Boundary has been a surprisingly great gravel bike considering the price. I’ve ridden carbon gravel bikes that cost $1,000 – $2,0000 more, and there doesn’t feel like any sacrifices on the Obed. The Boundary is durable, light weight, and has stood up to singletrack rigors just as well as it stands on gravel roads.

Party laps

  • Excellent value
  • Very versatile
  • Lightweight and responsive

Pros and cons of the Obed Boundary gravel bike.

Dirt naps

  • Some may not like the sticker graphics