The Katahdin: a true do-it-all carbon gravel bike

After riding the Katahdin for more than a year for her training, an ultra-distance race, for bikepacking, and even bikerafting, Louise Philipovitch, Brand Manager at Panorama Cycles, shares her thoughts on this unique model.

From Steel to Carbon

As a bikepacker keen on riding in remote areas, I had always opted for steel when choosing a new bike. I wanted to be able to carry several days' worth of food, be comfortable while spending many hours in the saddle, and, most importantly, not to worry about the bike's ability to withstand the weight of the bags or the impacts on rugged terrain.

When Simon from Panorama suggested I try the Katahdin, a carbon gravel bike, I was excited at the idea of having a lighter bike with better power transmission, but also a bit skeptical about the strength and reliability of carbon.
Would my loaded bikepacking bags end up damaging the bike?
Would I find this bike uncomfortable on long sections of rocky paths?

After using this bike for more than a year for ultra-distance riding, bikepacking, and bikerafting, I can now say without hesitation that it's the best bike I've ever ridden. The Katahdin exceeded my expectations and proved to be extremely versatile, just like all Panorama bikes.

How the Katahdin Differs from a Classic Carbon Gravel Bike

What differentiates this gravel bike from other carbon bikes is that the carbon has been reinforced and tested according to mountain bike standards. This means it will be slightly heavier and less focused on pure performance than a typical gravel race bike, but it will be significantly more resistant to both weight and impacts!

It is the perfect compromise to benefit from the charactieristics of carbon without having to worry about the fragility of the material.

Field Test

As an ultra-distance enthusiast, I started the 2023 season training for a 1000 km gravel race in Iceland, the Westfjord Way Challenge. I spent countless hours exploring gravel paths and forest trails in the Eastern Townships, South of Quebec, Canada. That's when the concept of "comfortable geometry" all made sense: the bike's positioning allows for hours in the saddle without any issue. The steering angle increases the wheelbase of the bike, placing the rider in a stable and comfortable position, which was particularly appreciated during technical descents where I wanted to maintain my speed.

The Katahdin accompanied me to Iceland for the race, where its paint and colorful illustration earned me some nice compliments. And every cyclist knows it—there's no greater compliment than someone telling you how beautiful your bike looks.
The advantages of carbon really stood out: responsive and lively, my power was perfectly transmitted with each pedal stroke.

I opted for the 2x11 GRX, which allowed me to never be undergeared and to go fast on flat or downhill sections while still being capable of tackling steep hills. For tires, I opted for René Herse, which proved perfect in terms of grip and rolling, but unfortunately a bit too wide for the Katahdin frame. The good news is, the next version of this bike will have more tire clearance and will be able to accommodate up to 700 x 50!

After the race, I had planned a week of bikepacking in Iceland with a friend. I carried a large amount of food: an average of two full days' worth of provisions, which was especially heavy since I was always hungry after the ultra-distance event. I wanted to make sure I would never ran out of food!

In addition to that, I had more layers of clothing than usual: Iceland's unpredictable weather demands preparedness for any eventuality, such as icy rain or snow, even in summer. With all this, my bikepacking bags were packed to the brim! Yet, the Katahdin once again impressed me with its ability to handle loaded bags while traversing rocky paths.

Following that, I had the pleasure of using this bike for gravel rides and bikepacking trips with friends. I even had the chance to experience bikerafting for the first time with the Katahdin! Between the weight of the equipment and the winding canoe portage trails, the Katahdin proved once more that its geometry and reinforced carbon make it the perfect equation for the ideal adventure gravel bike.

To follow Louise's adventures: @louise_philipovitch on Instagram

Photo Credits:

  • Photos of Louise on the bike: Jeanne Lepoix
  • Photos of Louise during the race in Iceland: Josh Weinberg from The Radavist
  • Photos of the bike: Louise Philipovitch