Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) 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.

Gravel bike on the road

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Old 03-18-17, 06:57 AM
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dirtydozen
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Gravel bike on the road

How well does your gravel bike on a very good condition flat road ?

I have a nice deal on a gravel bike, i won't do gravel a lot tho.

If you put 28's (or even 25 if they fit in) on a gravel bike, does it make it equivalent to a real road bike ?

Roads are quite bumpy where i live so i would gain in confort, but when i'm in a city the roads are clean, will I lose speed compared to a real road bike?

thanks
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Old 03-18-17, 09:04 AM
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What kind of bike?

Some "gravel bikes" are basically road racing bikes with tire clearance and geometry tweaks.

Others (like my AWOL which I love) are heavy touring tanks.
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Old 03-18-17, 09:19 AM
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I love mine on the road. I do a mix of gravel, chip seal and bumpy country roads. But when I'm on smooth pavement it feels no different than a road bike. Tires make a lot of difference, get a duo tread tire.
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Old 03-18-17, 09:56 AM
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I find my gravel bikes with higher performance slick tires in the 27-33mm range are still slightly slower than my road bikes with 25mm wide tires on smooth pavement.

I've used 700x27 Vittoria Pave, 700x27 Challenge Parigi-Roubaix, 700x30 Schwalbe S-One tires on a carbon fiber Cyclocross bike, it weighs about 20 lb and has moderately light and aerodynamic rims.

It's a insignificant issue when riding alone, but is a potential handicap when riding in a faster group of road bikes on smooth pavement. If the pavement is rough rural chipseal or urban streets with potholes, the Cyclocross bike with these tires is practically as fast and much more comfortable.
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Old 03-18-17, 10:55 AM
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Only a serious cyclist would be able to discern any differences between a gravel bike and true road bike ridden on the road.
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Old 03-18-17, 11:30 AM
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The motor is the same for my gravel bike and road bikes.

Translation- little difference if any.
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Old 03-18-17, 11:54 AM
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I ride both my gravel bikes on pavement a lot. Probably 60/40 pavement to gravel. Key is to pick the right tires. Knobby tires suck on pavement and will wear fast. A good gravel semi-slick will work great on pavement and of course do well on dirt and gravel too. Being kinda a hybrid it will have limitations...but it's a good compromise. Right now I'm running and really liking the Panaracer GravelKing 40c. The bike makes much less of a difference. Like stated above...gravel bikes are really not much more than road or CX bikes with some tweaks. Usually a little longer wheel base, lower BB, more tire clearance. But they work just great no matter the road surface.
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Old 03-18-17, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by NoGears View Post
I ride both my gravel bikes on pavement a lot. Probably 60/40 pavement to gravel. Key is to pick the right tires. Knobby tires suck on pavement and will wear fast. A good gravel semi-slick will work great on pavement and of course do well on dirt and gravel too. Being kinda a hybrid it will have limitations...but it's a good compromise. Right now I'm running and really liking the Panaracer GravelKing 40c. The bike makes much less of a difference. Like stated above...gravel bikes are really not much more than road or CX bikes with some tweaks. Usually a little longer wheel base, lower BB, more tire clearance. But they work just great no matter the road surface.
Once I have my rig built I'll probably try these when they hit the shelves...

New Rubber: Vittoria releases trio of new gravel tires | Gravel Cyclist: The Gravel Cycling Experience
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Old 03-18-17, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
What kind of bike?

Some "gravel bikes" are basically road racing bikes with tire clearance and geometry tweaks.

Others (like my AWOL which I love) are heavy touring tanks.
That would be a Specialized diverge A1 Sport 2016
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Old 03-18-17, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtydozen View Post
That would be a Specialized diverge A1 Sport 2016
Yea...that bike fits into the "road bike with slightly-larger-tires" category. Short roadie chainstays, roadie STA and HTA although not sharp racing angles--can fit a bit bigger than 30s by the looks of it. A roadbike as they used to be before the racer craze.

Not a bad bike at all. But at heart it is still a roadbike. Throw some 25mm slicks on it and you're not at any speed or handling disadvantage relative to a "roadbike" road bike.
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Old 03-18-17, 01:21 PM
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I have a Cat 3 teammate who races his Trek Boone on the road. 25mm tires and a standard road crankset. It's not holding him back.
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Old 03-18-17, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Yea...that bike fits into the "road bike with slightly-larger-tires" category. Short roadie chainstays, roadie STA and HTA although not sharp racing angles--can fit a bit bigger than 30s by the looks of it. A roadbike as they used to be before the racer craze.

Not a bad bike at all. But at heart it is still a roadbike. Throw some 25mm slicks on it and you're not at any speed or handling disadvantage relative to a "roadbike" road bike.
That's what i thought! great!

The geometry is not too relaxed ?
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Old 03-19-17, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtydozen View Post
How well does your gravel bike on a very good condition flat road ?

I have a nice deal on a gravel bike, i won't do gravel a lot tho.

If you put 28's (or even 25 if they fit in) on a gravel bike, does it make it equivalent to a real road bike ?

Roads are quite bumpy where i live so i would gain in confort, but when i'm in a city the roads are clean, will I lose speed compared to a real road bike?

thanks
My Graveler flies on the road smooth 27 inch wheels 1 1/4 tires rides like a bus ...... Actually love the ride so smooth.
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Old 03-19-17, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by dirtydozen View Post
That's what i thought! great!

The geometry is not too relaxed ?
Naw. It is upright and back as you make it with the steer-tube cut and stem and spacers, and saddle height.

Originally Posted by thehammerdog View Post
My Graveler flies on the road smooth 27 inch wheels 1 1/4 tires rides like a bus ...... Actually love the ride so smooth.

LOL...I never associated a bus with a smooth ride before
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Old 03-20-17, 04:26 AM
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I have a cross bike that I use for late season,early season and winter riding. It is a little more upright than my road bikes & it is slightly heavier than my Alum RB. I run 32s on the wheels but have had 28s on them. All and all, it is very comparable to my RBs and wouldn't think twice about making it my daily rider.

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Old 03-20-17, 09:07 AM
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I rode my gravel bike on a 60-mile roadie group ride this last weekend. I had never been on these roads before, so I wanted to be prepared for any eventuality. I mounted 28mm Gatorskins on my spare set of wheels.

The other riders were all on dedicated road bikes -- S-Works Tarmacs & Roubaix, etc., etc. I never felt slowed by the gravel bike. In fact, on one rough stretch and on one 19% climb, I was glad I made the choice I did.

In a road race over smooth roads, is my gravel bike as fast as my road racing bike? No. But it's not far from it. And it's somewhat more comfortable over long distances.
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Old 03-20-17, 09:33 AM
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My gravel bike (2014 Raleigh Tamland) was my only "road" bike for a while. I've done upwards of 60 miles on the road with it for single day rides, and it works just fine. To do so I did eventually settle on 32mm Continental Gatorskins since I use the bike for commuting in addition to recreational riding. I now have a "real" road bike though, and the difference is quite noticeable to me between the two. Of course, the Tamland has fenders, rear rack, lights, and weighs in at 31.3 pounds before I load it down with my commuting bag. My road bike is 18.5 pounds fully kitted and really likes to accelerate. I have fun riding both though.
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Old 03-20-17, 10:11 AM
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Basic differences between a gravel bike, and a road racing bike are going to be: 1) tire width; 2)geometry; 3) position, 4) weight, 5) gearing.

Tire width is obviously manageable just by putting on narrower tires.

Geometry may make the GG a little slower handling, but likely hardly noticeable, and totally manageable.

Position. The typical gravel grinder is likely to more naturally set up in an upright position, and therefore a bit less aero. This is manageable by moving spacers, flipping stems, or at the most simple, just bending your elbows.

Gearing. If you spin a decent cadence, lower gearing on most GG's isn't going to hold you back, can be managed by swapping rings or cassettes, and the lower gears will likely be an advantage climbing.

Weight. The couple of pounds heavier for the typical GG will be a minor disadvantage, but when you do the math fairly nominal.

Back before we got all specialized, a bike that had drop bars, relaxed geometry, clearance for wider tires and fenders, and wide range gearing, was called a bike. As bikes have become more specialized, we've renamed what would have been considered just a regular bike a Gravel Grinder.

No reason not to ride it on the road.
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Old 03-20-17, 02:25 PM
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Depends somewhat on the bike, a Crux or a Boone or something like that will work fine on the road; I know a few guys who ride those on the weekly "worlds" ride, sometimes with fat road tires, like 32s or whatever, and it does not slow them down. Something heavier and more bikepacking-oriented like a Fargo probably won't be as fast.

My Tricross works well as a road bike, but the 50/34 crank vs. the traditional 53/39 on my road bike tends to be a limiting factor, because I can't maintain a 100+ cadence for very long.
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Old 03-22-17, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Depends somewhat on the bike, a Crux or a Boone or something like that will work fine on the road; I know a few guys who ride those on the weekly "worlds" ride, sometimes with fat road tires, like 32s or whatever, and it does not slow them down. Something heavier and more bikepacking-oriented like a Fargo probably won't be as fast.

My Tricross works well as a road bike, but the 50/34 crank vs. the traditional 53/39 on my road bike tends to be a limiting factor, because I can't maintain a 100+ cadence for very long.
50x11 at 90 rpm is 33mph (actually probably slightly above if you're running larger tires)

50/34 crankset should not be a limiting factor.

My race bike has a 50/34 crank. I've raced P,1,2,3 races with it, both crits, and races with mountains, and not been held back by the crank.

Only place, you'd ever be spinning more than 100 rpm would be in a sprint, or downhill. Sprinting you should be spinning a high cadence. So sprinting in a 50x11 should not limit you unless you can get over 45mph or so.

Descending, there's little return in pedaling when you get over 40mph or so. Pedal hard at the top, when you hit 40 or so, quit pedaling and tuck in. That approach will typically be faster, and more energy efficient than trying to pedal continuously on a long steep descent. So again 50x11 is going to be adequately high.

In perspective, back in the day we used to race on 52x13 which is a substantially lower gear than 50x11.

If you're limited by a 50x11, you're either doing it wrong, or are up there with Cavendish and Greipel.
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Old 03-22-17, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
50x11 at 90 rpm is 33mph (actually probably slightly above if you're running larger tires)

50/34 crankset should not be a limiting factor.

My race bike has a 50/34 crank. I've raced P,1,2,3 races with it, both crits, and races with mountains, and not been held back by the crank.

Only place, you'd ever be spinning more than 100 rpm would be in a sprint, or downhill. Sprinting you should be spinning a high cadence. So sprinting in a 50x11 should not limit you unless you can get over 45mph or so.

Descending, there's little return in pedaling when you get over 40mph or so. Pedal hard at the top, when you hit 40 or so, quit pedaling and tuck in. That approach will typically be faster, and more energy efficient than trying to pedal continuously on a long steep descent. So again 50x11 is going to be adequately high.

In perspective, back in the day we used to race on 52x13 which is a substantially lower gear than 50x11.

If you're limited by a 50x11, you're either doing it wrong, or are up there with Cavendish and Greipel.
Wasn't asking for your approval.
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Old 03-22-17, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Wasn't asking for your approval.
Wasn't giving it, or withholding it.

Was pointing out for the OP, that 50x34 gearing is not going to hold him back.

And I think if you really examined it, you'd find that the difference between a 53 and a 50 big ring is not holding you back in any significant manner.

You can go 33 mph at 90 rpm with 50x11. Next to no one, without a Pro Tour contract, can maintain 33mph on a regular road bike for any sustained distance. Thus a high gear of 50x11 just shouldn't be a limiter.
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Old 03-22-17, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by dirtydozen View Post
How well does your gravel bike on a very good condition flat road ?

I have a nice deal on a gravel bike, i won't do gravel a lot tho.

If you put 28's (or even 25 if they fit in) on a gravel bike, does it make it equivalent to a real road bike ?

Roads are quite bumpy where i live so i would gain in confort, but when i'm in a city the roads are clean, will I lose speed compared to a real road bike?

thanks
I ride my gravel bike a lot on the roads. Where I live my roads are terrible in general, with lots of chipseal and poor maintenance. Also, there are a lot of gravel roads in my area as well, so I ride that bike so I can go anywhere and not worry about it.

I have a spare set of wheels that I am going to put 28's on and for the days I need to go faster (group rides) I'll put those wheels on. Otherwise, I just ride around on my gravel (Clement USH) tires all the time.

The geometry difference is so small between my gravel and road bike, that I can't tell a difference when running the same size tires on them.
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Old 03-22-17, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Wasn't giving it, or withholding it.

Was pointing out for the OP, that 50x34 gearing is not going to hold him back.

And I think if you really examined it, you'd find that the difference between a 53 and a 50 big ring is not holding you back in any significant manner.

You can go 33 mph at 90 rpm with 50x11. Next to no one, without a Pro Tour contract, can maintain 33mph on a regular road bike for any sustained distance. Thus a high gear of 50x11 just shouldn't be a limiter.
It's really important for you to be right isn't it. Congratulations, you win.
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Old 03-22-17, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
It's really important for you to be right isn't it. Congratulations, you win.
It shouldn't be about winning or losing. Merlin has his statement in order, gearing is subject to basic math and his data is factually correct. However, if you turn at a slow cadence, below 90 rpm, you might find a compact crankset to be a limiting factor. That's more a matter of your preferences.
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