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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 03-25-14, 11:25 AM   #1
Noonievut
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Multiple Bikes - Ideas re: gravel/dirt roads

I have four bikes and I'm struggling with how to make the most out of two of them, or whether I only need three bikes. Thought I would put this out there to hear how others have made their bikes either specific, or general duty machines. I'm not looking to get rid of a bike, or make space for say a fat bike (?), but thought I would toss this out there for discussion...thanks!

- 26" full suspension bike for typical singletrack. That's all I want it for...
- skinny tire road bike that I use only on roads (with the very odd dirt road when it's en route). Again, it's the typical road bike and I'm good with it.
- norco cross bike with avid bb7 and tiagra components. I use it as my winter bike with winter tires, and in the summer on gravel with clement mso tires. It is very versatile and has taken a beating and works well. It's a little heavy, but with nothing too good on her I don't mind riding it on wet, salty, snowy roads.
- masi steel frame bike I built up myself. It has a mix of shimano components, 32mm tires, tektro road brakes...it's the bike that can do road at a decent speed (between the road and cross bikes in terms of weight and efficiency), and can also do gravel if not too choppy or steep (not great tires for washed out, steep gravel roads). Clearance for slightly larger tires but not the mso tires I use on the norco. The bike is very comfortable. I a sentimental connection as it's the only bike I've ever built up.

Not an issue...though enough to get this post out of me, as I'm wondering how to get the most out of the norco and masi. Several options: winter vs summer gravel bike; slow vs fast (put lighter components on one of the bikes...but not sure this will benefit me); etc...
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Old 03-25-14, 12:22 PM   #2
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As always N+1 is the right answer.. spend money buying the perfect bike .

the Gravel-grinder clubby big events are soon as much as about showing off the bike to the other riders
as it is about riding those long unpaved farm roads out there ..

And the bike industry has another segment of riders to target their designs and marketing towards.

enjoy shopping and riding ..
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Old 03-25-14, 12:39 PM   #3
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That's a nice group of bikes for a wide range of riding. The tire you use on each of these bikes will determine the performance achieved more than changing the assortment of bikes.

Where and what roads and trails do you ride, and what tires are You using?
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Old 03-25-14, 01:01 PM   #4
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I am not convinced that your three bikes need changing at all. The full suspension is a single purpose bike with no compromises. The Norco cross serves double duty depending on the season, which is great. Your last bike, the Masi, you could leave it as is, or lighten it up for a go fast bike. I would be inclined not to do anything. they all serve a purpose and do it well.
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Old 03-25-14, 02:17 PM   #5
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That's a nice group of bikes for a wide range of riding. The tire you use on each of these bikes will determine the performance achieved more than changing the assortment of bikes.

Where and what roads and trails do you ride, and what tires are You using?
In the winter the Norco has Conti winter tires...rest of the year clement MSO (outside of Toronto). I ride this on chip/seal roads that connect with gravel roads (mix of well compacted with some loose gravel a little larger than a marble) and rail trails. I've even ridden trails (not quite singletrack, more flowy double track with rocks/roots mixed in).

Just finished building up the Masi last fall. It has 32mm tires with light tread (more about clearing water than gravel). Wanted to tour with it, and may still, but I don't have lots of time for touring. I've used it on rail trails and gravel roads, just like the Norco, but it is less effective on loose gravel with climbs/descents. It feels like a road bike that isn't very stiff or light, and wants to play in the dirt/gravel but isn't as good as the Norco. I've even thought of selling both the Norco and Masi and replacing with one do-it-all bike (maybe lighter, higher-end components, plenty of clearance, but not too good in that I don't ride it in winter). But the higher-end bike will cost more and just doesn't make sense...
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Old 03-25-14, 09:53 PM   #6
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The gravel grinders in this region are populated with a variety of bikes with very few of the dedicated "gravel bikes" that are showing up on the market. Cyclocross bikes appear to be the most popular. Hardtail 29ers, older 26" and 700c rigid MTBs or touring frames with CX tires are also pretty common.

IMHO, unless you are looking to N+1 a dedicated gravel bike, dual purposing the Norco a a gravel grinder in warm weather and a winter bike the rest of the year makes good sense.
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Old 04-04-14, 04:36 AM   #7
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The gravel grinders in this region are populated with a variety of bikes with very few of the dedicated "gravel bikes" that are showing up on the market. Cyclocross bikes appear to be the most popular. Hardtail 29ers, older 26" and 700c rigid MTBs or touring frames with CX tires are also pretty common.

IMHO, unless you are looking to N+1 a dedicated gravel bike, dual purposing the Norco a a gravel grinder in warm weather and a winter bike the rest of the year makes good sense.
Well, I thought I was resolved to keep my current stable of bikes, but a recent experience has me thinking...

Was cold and snowy here in Ontario so I headed down to Virginia last week for five days of cycling. I brought the Masi (mentioned above). First day, climbed a popular road to 4000 feet, it was a good workout, and unique experience compared to the riding available where I live, but other than the scenery it was kind of boring. Day two I headed out to these tiny roads in the country where I found a mix of chopped up pavement and gravel. I couldn't stop smiling. Was one of the best rides of my life. I realized at that moment, and after coming home, that I really like riding gravel/dirt roads (mixed in with other surfaces for an overall ride of varied surfaces). I think it's a combination of: the challenge (unlike typical road rides on nice pavement you have to pay attention to your line, descending is challenging as is climbing...so you're more involved in the ride), the varied terrain (can head out on paved roads from my house, hit a rail trail, double track, gravel, fire roads, etc.), less traffic, scenery, exploration, etc.

I'm now re-thinking my bikes and wondering if a dedicated, high performance?, gravel-like bike would be useful (and 'much' better than what I have). My Masi served me well on this trip. One option - keeping it and maybe putting on some Clement X-Plor USH tires...there is clearance for these tires, plus they will allow me to explore more terrain with the bike. The current semi-slick tires are ok, but more for roads and channeling water as a commuter bike.

The norco is a great winter / bad weather bike. It is heavy though. I think I would keep it for winter riding as it's aluminum, has disks, is inexpensive, and has proven a good winter bike.

The other idea is to sell the Masi and replace with a lighter, more gravel-ready (???) bike. The Masi, being chromoly steel, is a bit heavy. I can save some weight with a lighter frame and components. Plus, the brakes on there are Dia-Compe callipers with tektro levers...they don't offer great stopping power like the Avid BB7 on the Norco. It fits me well though, and is a soft ride that I like on gravel.

Thoughts...help!
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Old 04-04-14, 07:49 AM   #8
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Since my earlier post I've given this more thought (it was morning and I hadn't had enough caffeine ).

I'm using the Masi as my main gravel bike. I will get some salmon-type brake pads for a bit more bite...the existing ones worked in Virginia on some steep descents, so maybe I don't need disks (added weight). This bike has worked well and I built it up myself...can't part with it and go through the selling/buying experience as there is a good chance I end up with a new bike that isn't necessarily better (but likely more expensive).

I'm going to go home and hug her, tell her I was just acting crazy and that I would never sell her
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