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  1. #1
    Junior Member kclark987's Avatar
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    Any Gravel Grinders out there?

    I'm new to this forum and was a little surprised to not find a dedicated category for gravel riding. This version of cycling is getting WAY BIG up here in Minnesota, and I know it's growing elsewhere, too. Gravel races/rides like the Almanzo 100 ( see http://almanzo.com -- well over 1000 riders signed up for the 2013 edition!) are popping up everywhere around here, and some mega-distance rides like the Dirty Kanza and Trans-Iowa are out there for folks who really want to test themselves with 200-300 miles of gravel non-stop.

    So, I figured since many gravel types are riding cross bikes, I thought I'd ask the question here: Are there any gravel grinders out there???

    Kevin near Rochester, MN

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Yes, we are here. This forums draws a mixture of CX racers and members who like CX bikes for multiple uses. Every month a few gravel oriented threads emerge.


    Last edited by Barrettscv; 03-09-13 at 10:17 AM.
    When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

  3. #3
    Senior Member calstar's Avatar
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    "The older I get the better I was" (from Old Guys Rule t-shirt)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity, what are the "best bikes" for gravel grinding? Recommended tire sizes and types?
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  5. #5
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Salsa thinks that this is it: http://salsacycles.com/bikes/warbird

    Challenge thinks that this is it: http://www.challengetech.it/products...zo-open-030/en

    I'd go with a Carbon Fiber bike for better ride comfort: http://pedalforce.com/online/product...ducts_id=21005

    ...and a larger slick tire in dry conditions, a tire with some puncture resistance: http://www.vittoria.com/product/touring/

    Last edited by Barrettscv; 03-17-13 at 02:08 PM.
    When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Interesting. Does a carbon fork as Salsa (and others) really offer "comfort"?
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  7. #7
    idc
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    I think it's generally accepted that carbon gives a certain amount of flex/damping during vibrations/bumps, etc. that offers some "comfort".



    Most of my CX bike's miles are from gravel grinders. Typically 40-80 mile routes, with a small portion of it being on paved roads. By the end I'm pretty tired so I have no idea how people do these 200 mile+ monsters.

    I have the stock "city" tires that came with the bike, plus a set of CX race specific tires, but I keep my gravel grinder tires mounted most of the time - I chose the Ritchey SpeedMax Cross Pro 32s, seemed a good balance of tread/low weight for my riding style (not very aggressive), and not too expensive. If I was heavier I'd maybe go with 35s. My next upgrade may be the Stan's Iron Cross wheelset.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    How would the Kona Rove compare to the Salsa Fargo or other bikes typically used for gravel grinding?
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Johan Museeuw, the Belgian Classics specialist, has formed a company in Belgium
    and uses a Carbon-Flax blend cloth to build composite frames , to increase the comfort
    over thos Ancient cobbled farm roads they run the Racers over..

    Can A Carbon-Hemp composite be far behind?

  10. #10
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Not much in the way of organized gravel grinder events so far here in Georgia, but there are more and more here and there developing a portfolio of routes on dirt/gravel roads. Hard to find routes with just unpaved roads where I live, but there are plenty of good dirt roads connected by low traffic paved roads like the 70 mile ride I took today about half paved and half dirt/gravel. http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1174861...trip&mode=auto
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluesda...64918897/show/

    I ride a steel Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross bike with 40mm Clement Xplor MSO tires. I previously ran Vee Rubber 12 29 x 1.95. The Clements are a better solution for the mix of paved and unpaved roads I ride, but the Vee 12s were better at floating on uneven dirt and deeper gravel.


    IMG_3203 by BluesDawg, on Flickr


    IMG_2412 by BluesDawg, on Flickr


    10sp new controls 2 by BluesDawg, on Flickr
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    I'm curious because although I probably won't be doing any hard core gravel grinding, I'd like to do more gravel trails, roads less traveled, etc.this summer which I didn't get to last summer since I hadn't gotten my Rivendell Sam Hillborne.

    By accounts, my Sam should be more than up to the task of gravel grinding. I was riding it along the shoulder today: lots of pebbles, gravel, and some ruts, and the bike seemed to handle fine. I'm thinking any problems are more the rider than the bike!

    It has 700X35 tires right now. They're kevlar lined, but not the most aggressive tread. I think the bike can go up to 38 mm, even 40 mm without fenders. I'm thinking that changing tires might be useful.

    The other reason why I'm curious and inquiring about something like the Kona Rove is because I travel periodically to interior British Columbia to visit family, and last summer, I discovered that there is a rail-to-trail literally behind where my in-laws live in the Kootney Mountains (after almost 20 years of visiting I just find this out!), in addition to a more well known trail - Kettle Valley Trail - where my parents live (Kelowna). I go often enough that it might be worth picking up a second bike and just leaving it there, rather than hauling my Rivendell back and forth.

    I can't afford another Rivendell, but something like a Kona Rove might be justifiable if it suits my needs of general road riding and trail riding. My only concern is that some locals mentioned the trail in Kelowna has some pretty rough spots and some active suspension might be useful. I thought of a cyclo-cross, but the suspension fork option on a Salsa Fargo seems enticing. However, the "Never Ending Road" video by Kona promoting their Rove is, ironically, filmed in the same area and highways that I've driven many times, so I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and wistful!
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    It's picking up in Australia too: http://melbournegravelgrinders.blogspot.com.au/

  13. #13
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    In my neck of the woods the Rivendell guys are sure their bikes are the best gravel grinders. They are wrong, of course. Anybody with a brain realizes that a French-style randoneur with a Rohloff hub is the best.



    But then there's this other local fellow who seems to think that any old thing works just fine. http://www.xo-1.org/

    And being as I can't actually keep up with him regardless of what we're riding, he may have a point.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Too funny! Well, if his post is "xo-1", that was a Bridgestone, the precursor to Rivendell.

    Now I just have to find more gravel... not a whole lot where I am it seems....
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  15. #15
    Yup pyze-guy's Avatar
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    I use mine as a gravel grinder at my cottage. Lots of dirt/gravelfire roads. 42 conti cyclox tires.
    After a 60 k P2P race.
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  16. #16
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    I attached some pics of my '08 Poprad Disc, in full gravel grinder mode.

    Just the frame was stock. Here is the menagerie of franken-parts that I am currently running:

    • Kona Project 2 Rigid Fork
    • Tower of spacers to get the bars to saddle height
    • Shimano 105 brifters
    • Shimano 105 standard triple crankset 53/39/30
    • Shimano Tiagra Triple Front Derailleur
    • Shimano SLX RD-M662 Rear Derailleur
    • Avid BB-7 Road disc brakes
    • SRAM PG-990 11-34 9-Speed Cassette
    • Salsa Woodchipper bars
    • Kenda REDLINE Kross Supreme Tires 700 X 35C
    • Velocity A23 rims w/ SRAM 9.0 Disc hubs


    I love the True Temper OX Platinum frame, it rides so nicely for a clyde like me (6'-4" & 220 lbs). The overall build is not lightweight (mainly due the front fork and wheelset), although I haven't weighed it; just know it is pounds heavier than my Cannondale CAAD9 cyclocross bike. But this is the most fun bike I have for gravel, general urban riding, and light singletrack. It also makes for a cyclocross "pit" bike for the few races that I do per year.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #17
    Rides Majestic
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    I ride my Nashbar touring frame that I built up on gravel and dirt often. It's an aluminum frame and fork, but with the smaller diameter tubes, 40mm WTB pathways, and upright position it's comfortable. It also feels super stable under you, which I like. I've ridden it on crushed limestone with 35mm panaracer paselas which were fine, and they don't have a lot of tread. I'm planning to get out more this year in the dirt and will be actively searching for new roads to explore. I'll keep you posted as to what I find in the western Massachusetts/Connecticut area.


  18. #18
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Not pretty but it grinds gravel. This is my last summer's project which doubles as my winter bike. I call it The Goat.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    I don't know... looks like a pretty fine bike to me! I love the nickname though... "the Goat"!
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  20. #20
    Rides Majestic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post


    Not pretty but it grinds gravel. This is my last summer's project which doubles as my winter bike. I call it The Goat.
    Nothing wrong with that ride. Looks like it gets the job done just fine. IMHO, The goat would be killer with a drop bar.

  21. #21
    Junior Member kclark987's Avatar
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    Someone asked about tire size... This is a case where one size definitely does NOT fit all!

    It largely depends on the "gravel" you are riding. In SE Minnesota, we have very fine gravel that packs down and at times to the point that these roads could be ridden with a road bike and 23c's! Most here ride 30-35c tires with the lighter guys going a little narrower than the big boys.

    I did the Heck of the North gravel century north of Duluth and what a difference! Larger gravel and WASHBOARD in many places. I ran 34c tires, but if I do that ride again I'll be looking to go up to 40c! I've also ridden some oil field roads in Oklahoma with cattle guards and mid-size gravel in where I think 38c would be the best fit for me, and sandy roads in Kansas where I'd probably stay up around 40c running them very soft so I "float" over the deep stuff.

    Bottom line... Don't worry too much about what someone in a different part of the country is riding...talk to the locals and figure out what works best for you.

    One more thing--don't overdo it on tire pressure. I'm 160 lbs and run 40 psi front and 45 in the rear most the time. In that Duluth washboard, I'd back it down another 5 psi's from there if I ran 40c's! As long as you don't have big roots and rocks, you don't have to worry about pinch flats with these wide tires as they're taller, too, and you'll love the comfort and control you have. Nothing's scarier than a fast gravel descent with 65 psi when you hit some deeper stuff and start cutting through it instead of rolling over it!!!

  22. #22
    Soapy Goodness
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    Hey, people from my neck of the woods!!

    I am from ND and I love riding gravel! So far, all I have for a bike is a '74 ladies Raleigh Sports 3speed. I have managed to do ok on that, surprisingly. I have limited time to ride (while the kids are in summer programs) and have maxed out at about 25miles of gravel in that time frame.

    I am toying with the idea of working up a mixte frame with some 650b wheels (think soma mixte) and see how that does. I think I would like a more road-bike like geometry, and well, I wouldn't balk at a 10 or 12 speed at this point.

    Any ideas on that? I am wondering if it would work, for the gravel we have out here I think it might.

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    out here its riding the Logging roads , but they're rarely so flat.

  24. #24
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    This does me just fine on long gravel and mixed-terrain rides: http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/salsa-vaya-11157

    I love the Clement MSO 700x40c tires.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FKMTB07 View Post
    This does me just fine on long gravel and mixed-terrain rides: http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/salsa-vaya-11157

    I love the Clement MSO 700x40c tires.
    Reminds me of my son's La Cruz a bit.

    Just about finished the build here a couple of weeks ago.


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