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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 02-16-17, 10:47 AM   #1
floridamtb
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Thinking of adding a gravel bike

Starting to think about adding something like a city/hybrid/gravel bike. Around here it's nice to get out in the Everglades and ride the levees, a few good routes take you on the road and the levee. Considering either a Trek FX S 6 which is carbon with ISO decoupler on the seatpost, 105 components and a flat bar. The the other option is a Trek Crossrip 3, aluminum, 105, with a drop bar. I really can't make up my mind (and haven't ridden either yet as well). The FX has the advantage of carbon and a more relaxed position with the flat bar. The Crossrip has the advantage of the drop bar so I could use it also as a rain bike withe discs and wider tires. I want to put the SPD pedals with clip on one side and flats on the other on so I can ride with MTB shoes, SPD sandals or plain ol' Nikes. Other than the levee or maybe on wet days I'd use it as a bike to take a leisurely ride to the beach, some commuting etc.

Curious about others thoughts on these types of bikes if anyone else has ever had to make a similar decision. I know a lot will be answered when I ride them, but just starting to do some homework.
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Old 02-16-17, 12:25 PM   #2
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i've never ridden or had interest in flatbar road bikes, i don't understand them, but it seems to me, if properly setup, they will have a similar bar drop as a properly set up road bike. so i'm not sure how that would be more comfortable. i don't think my hardtail or my fully are more comfy than my roadie machine. that said, if you set up dropbars so that the drops are at the same level flatbars would be, then the hoods and flats would be higher....

anyway... i do own a 'city bike' delivered with dirt drops which i bought specifically for commuting. it happens to have clearance for 40mm tires, which i have mounted, and i have ridden it on gravel and single track. i've never had more fun on a bike than when i took that thing offroad. something about a rigid bike with drops that just seems so wrong makes it so much fun.

the only problem is that it is a city bike, so aluminum frame and fork. it would be better for dirt in steel. that doesn't stop me from riding it off road, but it has triggered research into frames. not sure why you're fixed on trek, but there are a thousand options other than those two bikes. i would rec a steel (or CF) dropbar gravel bike to meet all of the needs you've listed in the job description.

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Old 02-16-17, 12:37 PM   #3
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not sure why you're fixed on trek
Been a loyal Trek guy going back to my days riding a Klein. I've test ridden other road and mountain bikes but it always comes back to my LBS, it's those guys that have EARNED my business over and over. If they stopped selling Trek and became a BMC or Cervello dealer tomorrow I'd probably switch brands. Now that being said I will ride others to see how they compare, but unless it's a huge crazy difference in performance & price etc I'll stick with Trek.
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Old 02-16-17, 12:45 PM   #4
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I just went through this, I didn't want to spend a lot on a gravel bike because I mainly ride road. So I ended up finding a nice sale on a new 2016 Jamis Renegade Exile. I really like it, I still need to decide if I want to lower the stem. Yeah its aluminum and has 8 speed Claris and its the bottom of the line but its more than enough bike for me and I can always upgrade later if needed.




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Old 02-16-17, 01:01 PM   #5
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I just went through this, I didn't want to spend a lot on a gravel bike because I mainly ride road. So I ended up finding a nice sale on a new 2016 Jamis Renegade Exile. I really like it, I still need to decide if I want to lower the stem. Yeah its aluminum and has 8 speed Claris and its the bottom of the line but its more than enough bike for me and I can always upgrade later if needed.
How's it ride? You sound like me, I mainly ride road because in south Florida "mountain biking" is confined to a few parks/trails. But the levee rides are nice and I could take some road trips and use this new bike up in Ocala etc. My hangup is the bar, do I want drops or flat? Really don't know. Going to test ride this weekend.

And Go Navy! LOL
FWIW my son is a Navy rescue swimmer and step son is a Devil Dog himself. Semper Fi Marine
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Old 02-16-17, 01:12 PM   #6
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those guys that have EARNED my business over and over.
nice! in that case, i'd rec adding 520/720/920 to your dance card... maybe remove the racks.
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Old 02-16-17, 01:32 PM   #7
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Drops vs flat bars:

Drop bars offer more hand positions, including an aerodynamic position (down in the drops)
Flat bars offer one hand position. More if you add bar-ends, but no aerodynamic position.

Historically, drop bars have been set up below the saddle height, which is too low of a position for many recreational riders. But modern gravel/adventure/whatever bikes are using geometry that allows for a higher bar position (closer to saddle height) that is more comfortable for most rec riders.

Personally, I recommend drop bars at saddle height for the best combination of comfort and efficiency.

Trek's Crossrip is a good candidate, but in my opinion it's a bit heavy.
The upper FX series are nice bikes, but flat bar only.
Trek's touring line (suggested by @kevrider) is another good option. The 520 is comfortable but heavy duty (for loaded touring), the 720 is faster (but can't carry as much, and make sure it has the recall-replacement wheels), and the 920 is burlier than the others (MTB inspired).

Whatever you decide upon, I'd also recommend changing out the heavy, stiff stock tires for some that are as wide as you can fit and are lightweight/supple. That change would allow you to ride the most comfortably on soft surfaces like crushed lime trails (because of the width) and faster/more comfortably on all surfaces (because of the lightweight/supple construction).

If you're heavy (250 lbs or larger), I'd ask your shop some pointed questions about the wheels. Some of Trek's stock wheels are using fewer spokes than most of us would recommend, especially for a heavy rider.
If you're light (200 lbs or less) than you may not need to worry.

Regarding dual-sided SPD pedals: Most of Shimano's "campus" pedals are mediocre. The M324 is cheap and has good grip, but is incredibly heavy. The A530 has terrible grip on the platform side. Most of the Click'R pedals are similar, with smooth ungrippy platform sides. The T780 is only slightly better.
Perhaps there's a Wellgo option that works? I drilled my A530's and added grip pins to the platform side, and now they're pretty decent.
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Old 02-16-17, 01:51 PM   #8
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520 Disc gets my vote..
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Old 02-16-17, 02:18 PM   #9
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I've haven't done anything in the glades, but I've ridden the trails around Lake Apopka, Piggy's Revenge in the Carlton Preserve near North Port, and I'm doing a 50k gravel ride this weekend at the Babcock-Webb area in Punta Gorda. My advice would be drops over flats. It's easy to run into long straight sections (flat kind of goes without saying) with a good solid headwind and being able to get more aero in the drops is nice. I also find that a wide grip (even on drops) on long rough but non-technical stretches gets really fatiguing. Flat bars make sense on singletrack where you need the control, but that's rarely an issue on FL gravel (and even a lot of our singletrack is rideable on a CX bike with conventional drops).
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Old 02-16-17, 02:56 PM   #10
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I've haven't done anything in the glades, but I've ridden the trails around Lake Apopka, Piggy's Revenge in the Carlton Preserve near North Port, and I'm doing a 50k gravel ride this weekend at the Babcock-Webb area in Punta Gorda. My advice would be drops over flats. It's easy to run into long straight sections (flat kind of goes without saying) with a good solid headwind and being able to get more aero in the drops is nice. I also find that a wide grip (even on drops) on long rough but non-technical stretches gets really fatiguing. Flat bars make sense on singletrack where you need the control, but that's rarely an issue on FL gravel (and even a lot of our singletrack is rideable on a CX bike with conventional drops).
Good points. Lots of long straight windy sections of levee down here, right now I do them on the mountain bike. I never really thought about the bars in those cases, more thought went into the gearing, the MTB isn't geared for spinning efficiently on those stretches.
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Old 02-16-17, 03:41 PM   #11
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I was looking for an all-around bike with a wider tire & disc brakes - something I could do most anything with. I ended up getting a Raleigh Tamland1 - I have added fenders to extend my season. One of my co-workers picked up a Trek 520 disc and is happy with it as well... Good luck
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Old 02-16-17, 04:07 PM   #12
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How's it ride? You sound like me, I mainly ride road because in south Florida "mountain biking" is confined to a few parks/trails. But the levee rides are nice and I could take some road trips and use this new bike up in Ocala etc. My hangup is the bar, do I want drops or flat? Really don't know. Going to test ride this weekend.
some thoughts:
A lot of people tell me "I never ride in the drops." This tells me their drops are too low. The real benefit of drops is the wide range of hand positions and the ability to ride into the wind (if you are willing to use the drops). Its a personal thing whether you like to be more upright (flat bar) or lower. If you ride less than an hour at a time, the limited hand positions on a flat bar probably aren't bad. More than that an you are going to want to move those hands around on a drop bar.

Like Tim said, drop bars at saddle height is a good starting point - if you are limber you can go down a cm or two.

I would also pick a bike around tire size. I think something between 30-40mm is the best if I'm not racing. These are not going to lose anything in rolling resistance over a 23mm tire, but they may be heavier (I'm guessing hill climbing isn't critical for you). A 40mm tire will perform best at 30-45psi (depending on weight and road surface). That is going to do more for ride quality than your frame type. 25mm tires on the Trek will be limiting or need replacing.
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Old 02-16-17, 04:21 PM   #13
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some thoughts:
A lot of people tell me "I never ride in the drops." This tells me their drops are too low. The real benefit of drops is the wide range of hand positions and the ability to ride into the wind (if you are willing to use the drops). Its a personal thing whether you like to be more upright (flat bar) or lower. If you ride less than an hour at a time, the limited hand positions on a flat bar probably aren't bad. More than that an you are going to want to move those hands around on a drop bar.

Like Tim said, drop bars at saddle height is a good starting point - if you are limber you can go down a cm or two.

I would also pick a bike around tire size. I think something between 30-40mm is the best if I'm not racing. These are not going to lose anything in rolling resistance over a 23mm tire, but they may be heavier (I'm guessing hill climbing isn't critical for you). A 40mm tire will perform best at 30-45psi (depending on weight and road surface). That is going to do more for ride quality than your frame type. 25mm tires on the Trek will be limiting or need replacing.
I was thinking of replacing tires and going with about a 32, should work on either. The Crossrip comes with 30 and the FX with 28. I could use the 28's on my Emonda. As for bar position, I ride my drops all the time in the headwinds here, I think I have 5mm maybe 10mm of spacers right now so all is good there.
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Old 02-16-17, 04:26 PM   #14
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I ride the levee roads out from Atlantic, Markham, and Lox in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Over the last few months I see flat bars 10 to 1 (maybe more) over drops on these trails - and the majority of folks I encounter are riding full suspension or front suspension hard-tail MTBs with MTB tires. I see a few Hybrid style bikes as well with about 50/50 front suspension and some seatpost suspensions too.

Some of the doubletracks get pretty rough - they are pretty eroded with lots of sharp coral rocks and not comparable to what I've seen on gravel roads in other parts of the country. The North-South roads seem to be smoother in general than the East-West roads (that is relative though). The last person I saw riding a drop bar bike with 28 or 32c tires did not look happy - they were getting beat up pretty bad.

My son and I ride Giant Roams with 700c x 40c tires at present. Neither one of us is over 165 lbs and I've found that about 45psi is about the minimum for these tires to prevent pinch flats and/or rim damage. We run them at 50 to be safe. These bikes are pretty effective at maintaining a nice leisurely pace of 10-15 mph depending on the wind and are relatively comfortable. Not terribly expensive or sexy but they serve us both well for now. Although even with the front suspension there are areas that can be pretty brutal on the arms and back.

I'd go with what you are comfortable with - drop vs flat - but you might want to pick up something used/cheap and ride it around out there for a while first before you invest some serious $. Get a feel for the levees and then decide what style of bike will work best for you.

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Old 02-16-17, 07:42 PM   #15
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I'm liking my Macho King 853 steel for gravel and rural chip & seal


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Old 02-16-17, 08:26 PM   #16
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The levees around here are not really roads at all. They have been closed to vehicles for many many years and they are not maintained as such. There is no grading or scraping done at all on them and no benefit of constant traffic smoothing out the tracks. A single canal or pump station maintenance vehicle may drive on them a couple of times in a month. These are not at all like "gravel roads" elsewhere in the country that get regular use by cars. There is nothing out there to smooth out the embedded rocks - only the wind and rain and an occasional fire.

They are probably closer to abandoned logging trails or fire trails without the elevation changes. Not quite 4-wheel drive trails but far from smooth.

They have only recently been opened for public use and there are many many miles of them coursing throughout the Everglades. Lots of fun to ride and really cool and unique scenery (I saw 3 gators just last weekend) but they can be very hard on both the body and equipment.

There are quite a few LBSs around this area and most of them do organized Levee rides at least once a week. To the OP: I would check in with Alex's, Performance, Big Wheel, B&J, one of the many Trek stores (Lauderdale Cycle or Trek of Sunrise), or even a Bike America and find out what most folks that do the Levees use and like for tires, etc. Maybe even go on a ride with one of the groups and see what works for you. Some of these stores even have demo bikes that you might be able to check out and take on one of the rides.

You've been road biking in the area for a while so I'm sure that I'm not telling you anything that you haven't thought of already...

I work in Ft. Lauderdale and live out west by the Levee accesses and one of the great things about this area is that there are literally dozens of bike shops within 15 miles of home/work. Great resources and a wonderful source of local information.

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Old 02-16-17, 09:28 PM   #17
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For the budget you're looking at your best choice is the GT Grade Carbon 105. It's on sale right now and a few hundred more than the two Trek's you're looking.

Imo most aluminum bikes are too harsh for gravel use for extended periods of time, including the Crossrip. Notable exceptions are Diverge DSW and potentially CAADX. I've not ridden the CAADX, but CAAD10 and CAAD12 ride great if that's any reference.

All said I don't think one can do better than the GT Grade in the $2000-2500 range.

Edit: the 2016 GT Grade Carbon 105 is available for $1749! That is a killer deal if one of those three frame sizes suits you.

http://www.competitivecyclist.com/gt...o3Omd0IGdyYWRl

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Old 02-16-17, 09:47 PM   #18
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I'm in South Florida and I just added a cyclocross/gravel bike to my collection. You need drop bars for it to be a proper gravel bike. I do two rides per week of ~25 miles at night and it is awesome! We have a ~5 mile section where we call it the hammerfest and being able to average 20-22 mph in that section makes it worthwhile. I've only had it for three weeks And I have put around 200 miles and enjoy every minute of it.

I did not want to spend too much money but found a decent one on Craigslist.

If you are getting a gravel bike I say you get one with drop bars. That is my vote.



I am ridding 40cm tubeless maxxis ramblers and the 11 speed sram rival group set. It is a BD Mobecane CycloCross pro. I made some changes to it but it rides really well.

Good luck.

Edit: I ride with the people at Bike America WPB. Every Wednesday they have a levee ride at night. They also have one most Thursday's.

https://www.facebook.com/Bike-Americ...7561022308255/

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Old 02-17-17, 05:39 AM   #19
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Worth a look

I rode a hybrid for 20 years because I would ride 30% of the time on trails. I decided it was time to pull the trigger and get a new bike.

I bought a 2017 specialized Sequoia and am in love with it. Steel frame, disc brakes, 42c sawtooth tires, and drop bars. It is very comfortable and It does everything well, road, tow paths, singltrack. I converted tires to tubeless so I can ride at lower pressure and it is so much fun on and off tarmac. I find myself looking for rides that combine both. I will be putting panniers on it and touring from San Francisco to LA in may.
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Old 02-17-17, 08:24 AM   #20
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I just went through this, I didn't want to spend a lot on a gravel bike because I mainly ride road. So I ended up finding a nice sale on a new 2016 Jamis Renegade Exile. I really like it, I still need to decide if I want to lower the stem. Yeah its aluminum and has 8 speed Claris and its the bottom of the line but its more than enough bike for me and I can always upgrade later if needed.




How do you like? I've got my eyes on a 2016 Jamis Exploit at the LBS. Took a test ride last night. A really plush ride. Probably not a rocket ship, but not a rocking chair either. What size do you have? They have it in a 58, but my road bike is a 56. I'm an odd body type. 5' 10" with long arms, legs, but small torso.
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Old 02-17-17, 08:35 AM   #21
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Curious about others thoughts on these types of bikes if anyone else has ever had to make a similar decision. I know a lot will be answered when I ride them, but just starting to do some homework.
Trek is, in my view, struggling to keep up with most everyone else in the adventure bike market. That opinion excludes their 520 touring bike as that continues to be a benchmark for quality and affordability at the LBS retail level.

The 920 is an abomination and should be put down. The 720 is a glorified roadbike for almost twice the cost it should be.

$2100 for the CrossRip 3? Good lord. Its just an aluminum frame carbon fork 105 shifting adventure bike with hydraulic brakes.
- Here is 105 and hydraulic mated to aluminum and carbon for $1050. Mongoose Selous Expert Gravel Bike

- Or this costs $1455 on DB's corporate discount site which is free to sign up for and order from. Its full Ultegra with hydraulic brakes. Diamondback Bicycles - Haanjo Trail

- Or this costs $1750 on DB's corporate discount site which is free to sign up for and order from. Its full carbon frameset, 105 drivetrain, and quality mechanical disc brakes. Diamondback Bicycles - Haanjo Comp Carbon



There are a lot of options in the adventure market. Some really cool designs and looks.

Jamis Renegae Exploit is the same price as the Crossrip 3, but with a Reynolds 631 steel frame, some Ritchey parts, good quality tires(vs those hardcase things by Trek), a carbon seatpost, and still has hydraulic brakes.

Then you have Raleigh bikes(owned by the same company as Diamondback) which has some great adventure bikes for less than that Crossrip with the same quality level.





Sorry, that turned into a long post. There are just so many neat brands and options for $2000, and there is Trek doing its slow boring thing. This is even more true if you suddenly decide hydraulic brakes arent necessary on flat canal paths and that mechanical disc brakes or even cantis(gasp!) will stop you safely. You can get into some really cool options for less than $2k.
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Old 02-17-17, 09:27 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
some thoughts:
A lot of people tell me "I never ride in the drops." This tells me their drops are too low. The real benefit of drops is the wide range of hand positions and the ability to ride into the wind (if you are willing to use the drops). Its a personal thing whether you like to be more upright (flat bar) or lower. If you ride less than an hour at a time, the limited hand positions on a flat bar probably aren't bad. More than that an you are going to want to move those hands around on a drop bar.

Like Tim said, drop bars at saddle height is a good starting point - if you are limber you can go down a cm or two.

I would also pick a bike around tire size. I think something between 30-40mm is the best if I'm not racing. These are not going to lose anything in rolling resistance over a 23mm tire, but they may be heavier (I'm guessing hill climbing isn't critical for you). A 40mm tire will perform best at 30-45psi (depending on weight and road surface). That is going to do more for ride quality than your frame type. 25mm tires on the Trek will be limiting or need replacing.
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Originally Posted by dbf909 View Post
The levees around here are not really roads at all. They have been closed to vehicles for many many years and they are not maintained as such. There is no grading or scraping done at all on them and no benefit of constant traffic smoothing out the tracks. A single canal or pump station maintenance vehicle may drive on them a couple of times in a month. These are not at all like "gravel roads" elsewhere in the country that get regular use by cars. There is nothing out there to smooth out the embedded rocks - only the wind and rain and an occasional fire.

They are probably closer to abandoned logging trails or fire trails without the elevation changes. Not quite 4-wheel drive trails but far from smooth.

They have only recently been opened for public use and there are many many miles of them coursing throughout the Everglades. Lots of fun to ride and really cool and unique scenery (I saw 3 gators just last weekend) but they can be very hard on both the body and equipment.

There are quite a few LBSs around this area and most of them do organized Levee rides at least once a week. To the OP: I would check in with Alex's, Performance, Big Wheel, B&J, one of the many Trek stores (Lauderdale Cycle or Trek of Sunrise), or even a Bike America and find out what most folks that do the Levees use and like for tires, etc. Maybe even go on a ride with one of the groups and see what works for you. Some of these stores even have demo bikes that you might be able to check out and take on one of the rides.

You've been road biking in the area for a while so I'm sure that I'm not telling you anything that you haven't thought of already...

I work in Ft. Lauderdale and live out west by the Levee accesses and one of the great things about this area is that there are literally dozens of bike shops within 15 miles of home/work. Great resources and a wonderful source of local information.
I do levee rides on the MTB a lot with CSP and have put many many miles in on the levees. Years ago I rode an older MTB with tires similar to whats on the Crossrip (Bontrager H2). I'm looking for something lighter than the MTB, something that I can do a loop from Lox, down to Markham or Atlantic and then back up via the roads. Hence the FX or Crossrip. When I do decide then I'll be headed to Trek Sunrise, been working with Jeff there for since 2013 when he was at the Fort Lauderdale store.

Have you ridden Shark Valley? Great place to see lots of gators
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Old 02-17-17, 10:25 AM   #23
dbf909
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Originally Posted by floridamtb View Post
I do levee rides on the MTB a lot with CSP and have put many many miles in on the levees. Years ago I rode an older MTB with tires similar to whats on the Crossrip (Bontrager H2). I'm looking for something lighter than the MTB, something that I can do a loop from Lox, down to Markham or Atlantic and then back up via the roads. Hence the FX or Crossrip. When I do decide then I'll be headed to Trek Sunrise, been working with Jeff there for since 2013 when he was at the Fort Lauderdale store.

Have you ridden Shark Valley? Great place to see lots of gators
Shark Valley is one of the coolest places I've been on a bike. This is the best time of year to go - no mosquitoes or deer flies, the water is down, and the gators and other wildlife are out.

My son an I did the loop there about 3-4 weeks ago and no exaggeration we saw at least 100 alligators between the parking lot and the tower (7 miles). Many were literally a couple of feet from the paved trail and some were actually lying with their tails out in the roadway. You had to avoid riding over them! It was a little unnerving at first but once you realized that they were very used to people and were totally non-aggressive. They would just open an eye and look at you as you passed.

I have yet to ride the entire 25 mi levee loop in Broward - Altantic W to Sawgrass Rec Park (27), down to I-75, in to Markham Park, back up to Atlantic. I've ridden most of the route individually though - all except the 2 mi stretch on the narrow shoulder of 27 (kind of scary with cars and trucks passing at 70-80mph) and the western half of the trail from 27 back to Markham.

There are some great trails south of Markham as well although I've not explored them all yet. Also some great trails north and west of Lox. I've done a few of them but not all. So far the roughest ride is the stretch from Atlantic out to SR27. If you do the loop clockwise and the wind is out of the east, that can be a brutal 10 miles.

There are some other trails in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress that I plan to do before late spring (when it starts getting hot and the bugs come out). If you take SR41 (Tamiami Trail) west there are some great places to explore in Everglades City and Chokoloskee. Also, the 38 mi road from Homestead to Flamingo is really cool with lots of smaller loops. Much of this is far less visited than Shark Valley.

I seriously considered both the Trek DS and FX as my first bike for the levees. However, I found a mint 2011 Giant Roam 1 in a Pawn shop that looked like it had been ridden maybe 5 times and stored in the garage for $150 so I figured I would try it. I made the mistake of letting my son ride it and he loved the bike so I gave it to him and figured I would find another one. I ended up buying another Roam new from Bike America for not much money and figured I would ride it until I figured out what would be better. So far I haven't felt like I need to upgrade it but am actually looking at buying a road bike ???

Last edited by dbf909; 02-17-17 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 02-17-17, 10:45 AM   #24
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How do you like? I've got my eyes on a 2016 Jamis Exploit at the LBS. Took a test ride last night. A really plush ride. Probably not a rocket ship, but not a rocking chair either. What size do you have? They have it in a 58, but my road bike is a 56. I'm an odd body type. 5' 10" with long arms, legs, but small torso.
I love it, I can't find a negative thing to say about it. As I ride it I'm trying to figure out if I want narrow road bars and maybe drop the stem, because that's what I'm use to. But I kinda like the position. I'm 5'9" and got the 56cm, it feels a little big, but I like taller seattubes, the stock stem is a 90mm and I ordered an 80mm to shorten the reach a bit. The bike rides exactly like a road bike, but with wider tires.
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Old 02-17-17, 11:55 AM   #25
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If you like the FX try an H bar from Jones Bikes. It would make for a versatile bike.

I'm putting the H bar on my FX for more liesurly gravel and MUPs.
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