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  1. #26
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by el nicho View Post
    In that case do you still recommend a Surly Cross Check or Bianchi Volpe? I'm having a hard time finding either of those used. Any more main stream recommendations?

    At this point after trying to gather information I'm torn between a hardtail 29'er and a CX bike.
    I'd go with the Volpe. I prefer the geometry. I suspect it's a bit lighter as well. A 29er isn't necessary, but if you find a good one cheap it'll work fine.
    Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.

  2. #27
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
    Get a cyclocross. A 29er hardtail is wasted on gravel.
    Like normal road riding, gravel riding is about speed and a cx bike will give you just that with the road bars, aero position and quicker stiffer handling. A 29er is designed for singletrack and much much rougher terrain than mere gravel. Also a 29er is not going to be as comfy on longer rides since it has less hand positions, much wider bars and a more upright riding position.

    I have both and for gravel riding I would always take the cx. And a shorter headtube on cx bikes is a flexibility issue. Flexibilty can be quite easily be attained by stretching. At least for younger folks.
    No. It's a fit and intended use issue.
    Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.

  3. #28
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
    Get a cyclocross. A 29er hardtail is wasted on gravel.
    Like normal road riding, gravel riding is about speed and a cx bike will give you just that with the road bars, aero position and quicker stiffer handling. A 29er is designed for singletrack and much much rougher terrain than mere gravel. Also a 29er is not going to be as comfy on longer rides since it has less hand positions, much wider bars and a more upright riding position.

    I have both and for gravel riding I would always take the cx. And a shorter headtube on cx bikes is a flexibility issue. Flexibilty can be quite easily be attained by stretching. At least for younger folks.
    You aren't going to get a concensus here...which is best OP. I feel exactly the opposite of the post above. I live on a dirt/gravel road and nothing beats a flatbar 29er for it. A cyclocross doesn't have the control that a flatbar does due to lack of leverage on uncertain road surfaces. I am faster on a 29er because of the control and riding position on dirt roads with some loose gravel. My do it all rough and tumble bike of choice is a rigid 1 x 9 29er with flat bar...Ergon grips and Cane Creek bar ends. There is no comparison in comfort of riding this type of bike versus a cyclocross on gravel. I own several different tires and choose the tire based upon time of year. A 29er will generally fit a wider tire than a cyclocross. I have no problem keeping up with cyclocross guys on this bike..from gravel to pavement.
    Either bike will work...personal preference.

  4. #29
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    You aren't going to get a concensus here...which is best OP. I feel exactly the opposite of the post above. I live on a dirt/gravel road and nothing beats a flatbar 29er for it. A cyclocross doesn't have the control that a flatbar does due to lack of leverage on uncertain road surfaces. I am faster on a 29er because of the control and riding position on dirt roads with some loose gravel. My do it all rough and tumble bike of choice is a rigid 1 x 9 29er with flat bar...Ergon grips and Cane Creek bar ends. There is no comparison in comfort of riding this type of bike versus a cyclocross on gravel. I own several different tires and choose the tire based upon time of year. A 29er will generally fit a wider tire than a cyclocross. I have no problem keeping up with cyclocross guys on this bike..from gravel to pavement.
    Either bike will work...personal preference.
    Like campag said, it's a preference thing. Then again my 29er is set up for singletrack (very very slippery ice/snow singletrack atm) so the shorter cockpit and wider handlebar makes it a bit "twitchy" on straights. With a longer stem and narrower bar I'm sure it would make a great gravel grinder.

    But I stand by my opinion. Gravel riding rarely requires the grip offered by mtb tires. Plus that if you are not riding in sand the extra float won't be of use either. Some good seriously knobbly cx tires will give all the grip one needs on gravel. Leverage should rarely be a problem on gravel. At least I have never felt that I can't throw the bike around fast enough when encountered with loose sand on tight corners.

  5. #30
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
    Like campag said, it's a preference thing. Then again my 29er is set up for singletrack (very very slippery ice/snow singletrack atm) so the shorter cockpit and wider handlebar makes it a bit "twitchy" on straights. With a longer stem and narrower bar I'm sure it would make a great gravel grinder.

    But I stand by my opinion. Gravel riding rarely requires the grip offered by mtb tires. Plus that if you are not riding in sand the extra float won't be of use either. Some good seriously knobbly cx tires will give all the grip one needs on gravel. Leverage should rarely be a problem on gravel. At least I have never felt that I can't throw the bike around fast enough when encountered with loose sand on tight corners.
    Gravel roads can represent real challenges to balance in my experience. With hands wider apart, I feel I have better balance. This is somewhat the premise of a mtb on irregular road surfaces. A 29er can be set up to be fast...as in a XC 29er. Mine has a long top tube and is light. My position is only a bit more upright...purposefully so...than my road bike for the simple reason that the rump can handle rough road riding better than the beating of the hands...especially if riding a drop bar positioned lower than the saddle as is the case with some cross bikes.
    I like the variety of different 29er tire sizes...from big apple or nanoraptor 2.1 inch floaters to 28c road tires I put on in the summer when roads are more hardpack. I also believe a 29er makes a better snow bike...may or maybe not in the equation in this case.
    Good to have choices and personal preference all said. If only two bikes, my personal preference is a road bike and the versatility of a rigid 29er...either single speed or 1 X 9.

  6. #31
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    "Obviously, I dont want or plan to take my road bike on gravel..."

    Why? Bicycles are wonderfully versatile machines. Try it, you might be surprised.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  7. #32
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    The salient point is the nature of the gravel roads the OP wants to ride.
    Some gravel gets packed so well into the dirt that normal road tires are fine. Some is so loose you want a MTB tire to float on it.
    Riders at on the mixed course of the Strade Bianchi this year chose 25mm tubulars. I suspect the same would be true if the whole course were on the white roads. They're made of fairly fine aggregate and pack well.
    If I, for example, were recommending a budget priced bike for those specific roads, I'd suggest an older steel frame with a modest new group, nice wheels and some nice 25-28s to go on them.

  8. #33
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
    The salient point is the nature of the gravel roads the OP wants to ride.
    Some gravel gets packed so well into the dirt that normal road tires are fine. Some is so loose you want a MTB tire to float on it.
    Riders at on the mixed course of the Strade Bianchi this year chose 25mm tubulars. I suspect the same would be true if the whole course were on the white roads. They're made of fairly fine aggregate and pack well.
    If I, for example, were recommending a budget priced bike for those specific roads, I'd suggest an older steel frame with a modest new group, nice wheels and some nice 25-28s to go on them.
    As salient, to use your word, as type of gravel roads is expectation due to comfort versus speed. Make no mistake, a higher volume tire at a lower pressure will manifest more comfort...and more control in the cases of loose gravel. This is the flexibility that a 29er brings...opportunity for a wider tire when conditions permit or when maximum speed isn't the highest priority. A dual suspension mtb will be the most comfortable in fact...just won't be the most efficient tool for the job. The reason why a 29er came into being is because it is a hybrid of road bike with 700c rims + mtb geometry. A cross bike will beat you up more on rougher roads...there is no mistaking this because of lower volume tires. Some in fact will not ride as fast when getting beaten up...another vote in favor of a 29er. A cross bike is a mild departure from a road bike. If more comfort on irregular road surfaces is preferred than a more mtb style bike is better for negotiating gravel roads as higher volume tires will manifest more cushion and in some cases, a bigger footprint and more control.
    Last edited by Campag4life; 03-07-13 at 11:56 AM.

  9. #34
    Senior Member rowebr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Singlespeed92 View Post
    Sweet CC,my friend! (I have nothing new to add to the OP,there are some great suggestions on here already )(rowebr,for the record,CX bikes are not just "road bikes that can fit 37mm tires"...)
    Singlespeed92, I'll defer to you on that because I don't know anything about CX bikes. My suggestion for the OP is that an older steel road/touring bike that can fit fatter tires would be a fun and low budget way to ride the gravel roads.

    I also think the examples from IthaDan and garysol1 are really sweet.

  10. #35
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    Clearance for 33mm tires (sans fenders):




    Easily handles pavement, dirt, and gravel.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  11. #36
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    You aren't going to get a concensus here...which is best OP. I feel exactly the opposite of the post above. I live on a dirt/gravel road and nothing beats a flatbar 29er for it. A cyclocross doesn't have the control that a flatbar does due to lack of leverage on uncertain road surfaces. I am faster on a 29er because of the control and riding position on dirt roads with some loose gravel. My do it all rough and tumble bike of choice is a rigid 1 x 9 29er with flat bar...Ergon grips and Cane Creek bar ends. There is no comparison in comfort of riding this type of bike versus a cyclocross on gravel. I own several different tires and choose the tire based upon time of year. A 29er will generally fit a wider tire than a cyclocross. I have no problem keeping up with cyclocross guys on this bike..from gravel to pavement.
    Either bike will work...personal preference.
    Actually, among people who do a lot of miles on gravel, a consensus has formed around a somewhat modified cross bike style which is why gravel-specific bikes look the way they do. There's variance in the particulars, of course, but the compromises tend coalesce around a common design. Your 29er preference is just a bit of an outlier. Perhaps the road you live on is particularly treacherous or you only ride gravel to get to pavement or singletrack.

    Anyway, here is my bike after a ride on gravel with packed snow, ice and mud. No handling issues here.
    Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.

  12. #37
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    Wrote this a while ago, but it's still applicable for those wanting to try unpaved riding:

    http://www.gravelbike.com/?p=202
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

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