Skip to content
Icon of bike
in Gear reviews

Bike review: Sonder Camino AL Rival 1

The time has come to say goodbye to my dear Pinnacle and replace it with something a little bit more serious and built for purpose. Introducing Sonder Camino by Alpkit.

At the time of writing this post it's been 3 months already since the delivery guy dropped a box with a very precious cargo at my door. I think I've ridden my Camino long enough to write a review that hopefully can answer some of the questions you may have before ordering yours on Alpkit's website.

For full spec, information and online ordering, head over to Alpkit website.

The model I'm writing about is here: Camino, Aluminium frame, with SRAM Rival groupset and hydraulic brakes.
I added a custom handlebar by Sonder, called Bomber, 56cm, making this bike the most badass thing you can imagine. Combined with a black frame, it really is looking awesome, and the geometry of the whole bike reminds me of a "cafe racer" style of motorbike. However, it's versatility goes way beyond visiting your coffee shop...

PS. This is not a sponsored article but an honest review from a happy owner :)

Looking awesome, riding even better.
Looking awesome, riding even better.

1. Is it worth the money?

Absolutely yes. The pandemic created incredibly high demand for bikes and bike parts and to this day some sellers have troubles completing orders, especially when customisation is offered. At around £1.5k mark you get a spec which I couldn’t match anywhere else and believe me, I do my due diligence when it comes to spending money on things I use for years.

2. How does it feel riding?

Solid and agile. The longest ride I had was only about 5hrs, but I can see myself on Camino's saddle on a multi-day adventure. The carbon fork with aluminium frame works great on gravel, nicely muting the shocks from the road. The absence of front derailleur and Sram levers give you less "loose" elements, the whole system feels very integrated. I really wasn't sure about the Bomber handlebar when I added it to my order (is this angle not too much?) but oh boy, I made the right choice as it gives plenty of grip options and takes the fun of downhill sections to the next level.

Bomber drop bars. This is definitely the right name for it.
Bomber drop bars. This is definitely the right name for it.

3. I'm between the sizes, what frame have you got?

I'm 5ft 10, got large and it's perfect 👍

4. Is it good for bikepacking?

There's so many mounts everywhere (including the fork!) you'll be able to load it with bags of all kind and in a myriad of configurations. I loaded it it a couple of times with a seatpost bag, frame bag, 2 bottle cages on the frame and a handlebar bag.

5. SRAM or Shimano?

I always used to have Shimano fitted on my bikes... so I thought let's give this double-tap system a try for a change. I'm not going to lie, it does take some time to adjust and even now I find myself occasionally misfire the gear, but other than that it actually feels a lot more reliable having the brake lever dedicated to brakes only, and not playing a do-it-all role. For Shimano fans, Sonder has options too of course.

6. What terrain is it best for?

Camino is a true representation of what gravel bike should be like. Versatile. Smooth and easy on tarmac and agile, fun to ride offroad. I don't hesitate to enter the trails I used to tackle on a mountain bike years ago - with a little bit more caution it nicely cuts through the drops and rocks. It's designed to shred - you'll re-discover your old trails for sure.

Photo of Marek, founder of Bikes and Bacon

Donate to World Bicycle Relief

Hi there! I hope you enjoy my blog and the content I write is helping you in some way. If you think just like me that this world needs more balance and that one way to do that is through popularisation of two-wheels, consider donating to this awesome charity called World Bicycle Relief. Ride on!

Marek, Bikes and Bacon Donate to World Bicycle Relief

Signup for some extra bacon

Subscribe to my not-so-regular newsletter