This article first appeared in the Oct./Nov. 2021 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine.
When I had finally committed to purchasing my first brand-new bicycle from my local bike shop, someone in some Big Cool City told me that any new bike worth buying should cost at least $2,000. Anything else wasn’t worth my time — the components would be garbage and I’d probably regret not spending a little extra for a nicer bike. Six years later, that story is changing.
As the pandemic-influenced industry boom left bike shop shelves unstocked indefinitely, seemingly everyone I know was asking me how they could buy a cheap gravel bike. Folks were hungry for outdoor exercise, and gravel riding seemed to be the thing that drew many out of their homes during 2020. My answer was usually a sigh, followed by a rundown of the sad state of the industry, with no real answer.
If you’ve never heard of Poseidon Bike, a direct-to-consumer company based in La Habra, California, you’re not alone. Their website boasts, “We want to change the tide of cycling by making high quality bicycles affordable for everyone.” That’s a mission I can wholeheartedly support.
Released in the summer of 2020, the Redwood is one of four bikes Poseidon currently offers — it was designed as a “beefed-up” version of their first gravel bike, the X. Judging by their entire lineup and the language on their website, Poseidon wants to make bikes for folks who are still figuring out what their nitty-gritty preferences are when it comes to components and riding style. Poseidon created the Redwood out of a desire to mimic the ’80s mountain bikes they were finding on Craigslist to convert to dropbar bikes.
The Poseidon Redwood is a $950 aluminum gravel bike with disc brakes, thru-axles, and not-too-shabby components. I ran into friends on the bike path all summer long who asked with intrigue what kind of bike it was. Had I known about the Redwood in 2020, I would have recommended it to all the folks who sought my advice because even though it’s not my preferred gravel bike, it’s a hell of a deal for a super-capable gravel workhorse.
On first impressions, this bike gave me a whole range of emotions and ideas — the Redwood is full of small negatives and small positives that ultimately cancel each other out in light of its affordability and versatility.
I didn’t find the microSHIFT Advent X brifters (integrated brake levers and shifters) very comfortable at first. Riding in the hoods felt unwieldy — and the angle of the reach is awkwardly far down to pull the lever— not inspiring my confidence. However, whenever I switched to riding in the drops, my lack of control and awkward handling melted away, likely because I had a better, closer angle at the brakes. The mechanics of the plastic shifting levers felt pretty clunky.
That said, given enough time with any bike, I know that I’ll eventually adapt and these small nuances won’t matter as much, which is what happened with the Redwood. Although I wasn’t initially in love with the feel of the brifters, the cable-actuated Tektro brakes and discs provide adequate stopping power, even on singletrack descents. While cable brakes are what help keep this bike at a lower price point, they’re also a good option for people using this bike for longer rides on gravel roads as they are easier to fix trailside than more expensive hydraulic brakes.
For aluminum, I wouldn’t call the Redwood lightweight by any means, but it’s about as heavy as a comparable steel Surly — and you can’t buy a new Surly for $950. This bike feels sturdy, which is more than I can say for its few price-point competitors. The internal cable routing is a really nice and unexpected touch that makes this bike appear way more expensive than it is.
The Redwood sports Poseidon’s very own Adventure Bars with 24° flare. I love riding in the drops on steep descents and these bars are so comfortable in those situations. The handling is much more stable than zippy with the Adventure Bars and a short stem, which is funny to me because the short stack and long reach suggest a racier riding position. It’s an odd mashup, but I think Poseidon built a bike that checks a lot of boxes for folks who are gravel-curious.
The Redwood comes stocked with 27.5 x 2.35in. tires, which felt pretty sluggish when cruising around town on pavement but gripped dirt and gravel just as I’d hoped. Considering our trails and fire roads can be steep in the Rocky Mountain West, I found the 11–48T cassette to be a bit limited paired with a 38T chainring. For a bike that looks like a mountain bike, I definitely had to push it up a climb that my riding partner, sporting an actual mountain bike, cruised up without looking back. I just wish it had one more gear! Or perhaps a double? Remember folks: this is a gravel plus bike, don’t be fooled by the biiig tires.
I imagine if you were looking for a bike to put to the test in the Flint Hills of Kansas, this would be an excellent option (though the Kenda Kadre tires it comes with would never hack it out there). The chainstays are a bit longer than one might expect, which makes for more stable handling at speed. And let me tell you, it is really nice on speedy descents. If I could zoom down rolling dirt hills on the Redwood forever, I would. Ultimately, this bike is comfortable and capable.
The Redwood is almost all set up for your dropbar dropper post dreams, too — there’s internal routing through the downtube. You can even get a left dropbar brake lever with an integrated dropper lever as part of microSHIFT’s Advent line (so cool). As far as I can tell, it can be run with the Advent X setup that the Redwood comes spec’d with, but I can’t attest to whether the Advent brifters look or feel slightly different from Advent X. If you have tested this out and know, write in and tell us your experience!
With some small upgrades, the Redwood could really be someone’s dream gravel bike. A new saddle and better tires would go a long way here. And if you couldn’t guess, I would personally prefer different brifters in terms of riding comfort, but the Advent X gets this bike close enough. It comes tubeless-ready, and I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of that.
I will note: a small but not insignificant factor that keeps this bike affordable is less-than-bombproof paint. After riding it consistently for a few months, I started noticing small chips missing from the matte green paint job, especially on the headtube where cables easily rub. I highly recommend investing in some protective tape for your frame.
What I really love about the Poseidon Redwood is what a good foundation gravel bike it is for touring. Though decidedly different bikes, the Redwood reminds me of the Salsa Fargo, another dropbar touring gravel bike with clearance for chunky tires. It’s a bit of a stretch to compare these two because their geometry is so different (the Fargo has a much higher stack, which makes it feel more upright, and a suspension-corrected fork), but they function similarly in that they’re both built to handle whatever dirt roads your heart desires. Mountain bike–influenced, we’ll call it.
With three mounts on each fork and eyelets for a rear rack, you’ve got plenty of options for panniers and Anything Cages. They definitely designed the Redwood for adventure — it feels like it could withstand the Great Divide if its rider was equipped with the guts for it. Despite the small things I would change about this bike, I’m thrilled that next time someone asks how they can get a “good, cheap gravel bike,” I have a company to emphatically recommend.
Sizes available: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Size tested: M
Weight: 27.9 lbs. (without pedals)
Head tube angle: 69.2°
Head tube length: 138mm
Seat tube length: 520mm
Seat tube angle: 73.5°
Top tube: 537mm
Top tube (effective): 553.5mm
Bottom bracket drop: 63.4mm
Fork offset: 45mm
Frame: 6061 double-butted hydroformed aluminum, rack and fender mounts, two bottle mounts on size XXS, three on XS, S, and M, four on L and XL
Fork: 6061 aluminum, triple mounts, rack and fender mounts
Handlebar: Poseidon Adventure Bar, 24° flare, 31.8mm clamp, 460mm width
Stem: Hudski 50mm
Rear derailer: microSHIFT Advent X 10spd, clutch
Shifter: microSHIFT Advent X
Brake levers: microSHIFT Advent X
Brakes: Tektro MD-C550 mechanical disc
Rotors: Tektro 160mm
Bottom bracket: 73mm threaded, square taper
Crankset: Prowheel, 170mm, 38T
Cassette: microSHIFT Advent X, 10spd, 11–48T
Chain: KMC 10spd Headset: Sealed bearing
Seatpost: Promax Alloy 31.6mm with 20mm setback
Saddle: Poseidon X Hubs: Quanta, 100 x 12mm front, 142 x 12mm rear, thru-axles
Rims: 32h, Poseidon tubeless compatible
Tires: Kenda Kadre 27.5 x 2.35in.