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  1. #1
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    hey you-- are you a gravel grinder? I has questions!

    I'm curious about this whole, "road bike on dirt" thing, and as the year starts to turn towards cooler temps and fall colors it's natural to start exploring less "training" rides and more "just ride" rides. Wandering around the Colorado back-country without having to pick out pavement-only routes would be nice.

    To that end, I tried 28mm tires on last night, and they don't fit (bah). Commence search for new bike! --In the meantime, what are you guys running for tires on dirt --I'm in the Denver area, so I'm talking about the nice dirt roads we have around here. For example, the Wife and I drove up Boreas Pass last weekend, and a road bike would be fine.

    Have you found disc brakes a worthy investment (frame, wheels, brakes)?

    Are 25s wide enough --for a 200-pounder? (to note, I have been on Griggs Rd a few times with what I have, but not the most confidently)

    Do you worry about random bike explosion? (without a cx or gravel bike) --I'm a little hesitant with my road fork, mostly (carbon w alum steerer)


    And hi! it's been a while, but I'm still here lurking every once in a while...

  2. #2
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Hey Dex, great to hear from you again!!

    I run 32 tires on my gravel bike and they work great, especially when you hit those soft spots of deep dust or sand. The big advantage is in ride, they are a bit smoother and absorb some vibrations. I run them at 65 -70 lbs. pressure.

    Disc brakes give great stop power and with dust and grit, they don't wear the rims like rim brakes.

    A touring frame or cx frome will be better since they have a longer wheelbase, so more stable and comfortable. I went with a touring frame, it's very solid and perfect for down hill rides. I also have a triple crank on it for the climbs on some of your roads and rough spots.

    When you get started take your bikes to Colorado Springs and ride Gold Camp road. Loads of great gravel roads all over Colorado, get out and see the Aspen trees turn gold.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  3. #3
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Gravel roads sound like fun. I should get some different tires for my Miyata and go exploring.
    My Bikes: 2010 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  4. #4
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Thanks Shifty - I think I was drifting towards that conclusion, just wanted that little push. Whee!

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superdex View Post
    I'm curious about this whole, "road bike on dirt" thing, and as the year starts to turn towards cooler temps and fall colors it's natural to start exploring less "training" rides and more "just ride" rides. Wandering around the Colorado back-country without having to pick out pavement-only routes would be nice.

    To that end, I tried 28mm tires on last night, and they don't fit (bah). Commence search for new bike! --In the meantime, what are you guys running for tires on dirt --I'm in the Denver area, so I'm talking about the nice dirt roads we have around here. For example, the Wife and I drove up Boreas Pass last weekend, and a road bike would be fine.

    Have you found disc brakes a worthy investment (frame, wheels, brakes)?

    Are 25s wide enough --for a 200-pounder? (to note, I have been on Griggs Rd a few times with what I have, but not the most confidently)

    Do you worry about random bike explosion? (without a cx or gravel bike) --I'm a little hesitant with my road fork, mostly (carbon w alum steerer)


    And hi! it's been a while, but I'm still here lurking every once in a while...
    I'm a little late to the party but generally speaking, you'd do better...and be happier...with a hardtail mountain bike with a lockable suspension fork on most of the "gravel" rides here in Colorado. While you could ride up Boreas Pass on a road bike with a 25mm tire, riding back down again is going to take some skill and cause some pain. I've done Boreas more times than I care to count and it is a relatively easy ride but it does have lots of rocks and pot holes through out the entire route from the Rock Cut to the top and down to Como. A unsuspended road bike with narrow tires just isn't going to be all that pleasant at high speed. You have to keep the tires pumped up to avoid destroying your rim which makes for an uncomfortable ride. More importantly, a high pressure tire is going to be like a billiard ball when it hits a rock. It won't roll over it but will just bounce from rock to rock. I suspect that you'd find you have to maintain the same speed down as you would up and that's no fun at all.

    Shifty mentions Gold Camp Road as a good choice. It is, indeed a great ride, however it suffers from a different problem than Boreas Pass does. Gold Camp has lots of decomposed granite on the route which a 25mm tire would just dig into and make the ride harder both up and, again, down. A wider tire...50mm or 2.2"...does much better and floats you over the sand. It's more fun as well.

    It's been a while since I've been up Griggs Road but it's a cakewalk compared to either of the above. You don't have to ride single track with a mountain bike. Mountain bikes make great vehicles of discovery and we have lots and lots of roads that are fun to explore with them without having to do the whole single track thing. I can think of about 100 roads right now that are from easy as pie to "what the hell was I thinking". But a mountain bike does a better job on gravel than just about anything else. And really good ones can be had for not a lot of cash.
    Stuart Black
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  6. #6
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    I agree, 25 --or even 28mm tires are pretty narrow. Trying to dip toes in with what I have. At this point --realizing my current set up is ill-equipped and I really need to get a new bike if I'm going to get serious about it-- I'm thinking either a 29er hardtail or a 'gravel/adventure' specific bike, discs, 42mm tires and all. Hm. Or maybe just abuse the BikesDirect SS I bought as a trainer-only bike and head to Deer Trail and back.... Of course this is all daydreaming and far down the priority list. Nice to daydream, though, right?

    like the Niner RLT. Nice.


  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superdex View Post
    I agree, 25 --or even 28mm tires are pretty narrow. Trying to dip toes in with what I have. At this point --realizing my current set up is ill-equipped and I really need to get a new bike if I'm going to get serious about it-- I'm thinking either a 29er hardtail or a 'gravel/adventure' specific bike, discs, 42mm tires and all. Hm. Or maybe just abuse the BikesDirect SS I bought as a trainer-only bike and head to Deer Trail and back.... Of course this is all daydreaming and far down the priority list. Nice to daydream, though, right?

    like the Niner RLT. Nice.

    Assuming that you are using slicks on your 1x9 mountain bike commuter, why not use that bike? All you'd need are tires. Personally, I use a 3x9 but that's if you just want to go with what you've got, it would work. If you want you could get a separate set of wheels for the commuter and just swap out the wheels when you want to go gravel riding. You can get a set of used wheels and even tires at the Bike Depot in Park Hill for $10 to $25 per wheel depending on what you want. They have stacks and stacks of used wheels. If you wanted you could probably find a good used mountain bike for $200 or less there.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  8. #8
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    that's a great idea; the bike is a hair small and works for commuting (and pulling the kiddos), but longer rides it's not really fit well. I'm running Panaracer Urban Maxes at the moment and they would probably work; I should throw some discs on there and make it work. And a Brooks.

    https://www.benscycle.com/p-3845-pan...bead-tire.aspx
    Last edited by superdex; 09-16-14 at 12:59 PM.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superdex View Post
    And a Brooks.
    Be careful about the Brooks. I love mine...for road riding. Off-road, not so much. The saddle is comfortable enough for off-road use but Brooks are very slick and you slide around a lot. Another problem with them is that even the B17 Narrow flares out too much on the back and makes getting off the back of the saddle more difficult for steep downhills. I use Selle Italia Flites for off-road.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  10. #10
    DLifer EricL's Avatar
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    I'm thinking about doing a route this weekend that includes Grapevine Rd from Genesee to Idledale. The other ~50 miles of the route will be all road so I'll be out on my skinny bald tires. Is Grapevine doable at a decent speed down. I don't mind slowing down a bit but don't really want to go down a rough damaged road for 4 miles either.

  11. #11
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    Grapevine is easily rideable on 25s or even 23s. The better climb is south to north, but either direction the road surface is fair to good the whole way.

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