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Sorry in Advance but Which Bike is Best???

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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 : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Sorry in Advance but Which Bike is Best???

Old 03-29-17, 07:07 AM
  #1  
smokeycanuck
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Sorry in Advance but Which Bike is Best???

Hey guys/gals, new here 1st post. Was an avid MTBer back in the day, my fitness needs took a back seat somewhat while raising a young family. Now that I have teens who only need a full fridge and WiFi to be happy with me, I've rediscovered fitness. Been doing a lot of running and just completed my first half marathon with another one coming in early May.

Some of they guys and girls I run with are also triathletes and they've been after me to consider a try-a-tri or duathlon - not sure about that yet. Anyways I want a bike again and honestly I'm overwhelmed with options. My last bike bought new was a 97 Stumpjumper Pro so back then, bike shops had 2 options, road or MTB. Now it's almost ridiculous how many options are out there.

So I'm leaning towards a CX or gravel bike (adventure road???). I'm 47 and not looking to race much if at all. I'm looking to mix in the fitness benefits of cycling with my running. I'm interested in doing some distance on road, gravel, rail-trail and/or light trails. Comfort is important (lower back not great). I'd like to be able to ride wherever and on whatever I want to ride. Having said that IF I can be convinced to do a try-a-tri I'd want something with perhaps a tire swap is a reasonable ride. At this point I don't want more than 1 bike, rather 1 bike to serve many purposes.

I'm stuck between a CX vs. gravel bike e.g. Kona Jake vs. Rove. I've rode the JTS and really liked it. I'm going to test a Rove by the weekend to compare head to head. I don't see CX racing in my future but who knows, 2 years ago if you'd asked me about a 1/2 marathon I would have said no too, but I've completed one.

Basically from what I can tell, a CX and gravel bike are very close cousins, CX having a high BB a slightly shorter wheel base and perhaps different OEM tires. Other than that, what's the difference? For what I'm looking at most have leaned me towards the Jake, but I'm intrigued by the Rove or even the Dew line. I'm open to other makers too, just using the Kona line for reference.

Cheers, any thought or opinions are welcome and sorry for asking a newbie question that has likely been asked here dozens of times.
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Old 03-29-17, 07:46 AM
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It's hard to find a bike that can do it all and do it all well, most of the times you'll be giving up something somewhere. Jack of all trades, master of none.

The Jake the Snake is a CX racing bike, features 1x setup (with closer gear ration) and racing geometry, no bosses for fender or racks.

The Rove is on the other side of the spectrum, relaxed (upright) geometry, easier gearing and allows to add fenders/racks. In my understanding, it's more of a monstercross bike, a MTB with drop bars.

Since you are focused on comfort and want to do primarily longer distance rides, I'd go for the Rove. It has more gearing for off-road climbs and picking up speed on the road and the more upright geometry will be more comfortable in long rides, IMO. You could try racing on it too if you want and if you get serious about it get a proper CX bike.
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Old 03-29-17, 08:04 AM
  #3  
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I like the Sutra. But that may be too close to a drop bar mtb for the OP.

I would say Rove ST over Jake for versatility and long ride comfort. I recall picking one up, and it was heavy. But that doesnt bother me at all.
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Old 03-29-17, 12:14 PM
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Puttting this into car terms I would consider CX bikes are like sports cars (ie. Miata, Boxter etc) where you want quick handling and acceleration. Where as a gravel bike might be lean more towards comfort over longer hauls on not-so-good roads (ie. luxury SUVs). In my case I went with a CX bike due to its appeared quickness in handling and acceleration. I'm not doing any races nor taking it out for long rides out in the wilderness. My bike is purely for fun and recreation/fitness.

You might want to think about what you want this bike to do in the future. Sounds like you might want it for more fun over function and that points to CX bike IMO...

BTW, adding to the mix is that many new bike are blurring this fine line between the two.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:46 PM
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I have *no idea* if the Orange RX-9 is "the best" or even suitable for you, but I know I've wanted one ever since I saw this marketing video:


Great job on that Orange!

Cheers
TRJB
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Old 03-29-17, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by kuroba View Post

The Jake the Snake is a CX racing bike, features 1x setup (with closer gear ration) and racing geometry, no bosses for fender or racks.
One small correction (at least as sold in the USA) the Jake The Snake comes stock as a 2x...46/36 rings, pretty standard cyclocross double. The Private Jake is a 1x, however.

I like steel bikes and enjoy riding mine on gravel. The Rove ST is steel, as is the Sutra. I like both bikes and would consider them for myself, but they are both 1x (Sutra LTD anyway), which I wouldn't think is the best choice for a mixture of fast pavement (Tris) and gravel endurance riding, unless if you live somewhere relatively flat and don't mind changing chainrings once in a while.

I agree it's hard to find the one perfect bike for all situations, but I'd be looking at something with a double and good tire clearance for these types of riding.
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Old 03-29-17, 06:39 PM
  #7  
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And then along came the Surly CC.

To think back when I was young, I trained for triathlons, now at 63, I do a couple of triathlons a week as training.

J
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Old 03-29-17, 07:01 PM
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Most CX bikes seem to have a limited tire width and bottom bracket that sits higher. I've been running a CX bike for three years and I'm moving to a more gravel/road specific bike with an endurance geometry and the ability to put really wide tires on.
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Old 03-29-17, 07:05 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by therealjoeblow View Post
I have *no idea* if the Orange RX-9 is "the best" or even suitable for you, but I know I've wanted one ever since I saw this marketing video:


Great job on that Orange!

Cheers
TRJB
Yeah.........something like that seems like a good fit, thanks for sharing. Honestly, I've never seen Orange Bikes in my area - maybe they're around and I've just never noticed.
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Old 03-29-17, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kuroba View Post
It's hard to find a bike that can do it all and do it all well, most of the times you'll be giving up something somewhere. Jack of all trades, master of none.

The Jake the Snake is a CX racing bike, features 1x setup (with closer gear ration) and racing geometry, no bosses for fender or racks.

The Rove is on the other side of the spectrum, relaxed (upright) geometry, easier gearing and allows to add fenders/racks. In my understanding, it's more of a monstercross bike, a MTB with drop bars.

Since you are focused on comfort and want to do primarily longer distance rides, I'd go for the Rove. It has more gearing for off-road climbs and picking up speed on the road and the more upright geometry will be more comfortable in long rides, IMO. You could try racing on it too if you want and if you get serious about it get a proper CX bike.
I think you're thinking of the Major Jake, not the Jake the Snake. The Jake the Snake does have fender/rack bosses. It can fit 40-ish tires. The current model also ships with 2x gearing. It's a pretty good compromise bike, with decent performance on road, CX, or more "gravel" type rides. I would highly recommend it for the OP.
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Old 03-30-17, 12:52 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by therealjoeblow View Post
I have *no idea* if the Orange RX-9 is "the best" or even suitable for you, but I know I've wanted one ever since I saw this marketing video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf8DyAGWfZo

Great job on that Orange!

Cheers
TRJB
Poor Mr. Arkright, still waiting for Granville to f-f-f-fetch his cloth (@ 2:13).
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Old 03-30-17, 06:10 AM
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@prototoast @wheelsmcgee Thanks guys, I stand corrected. I think I saw the 1x model in a shop and extrapolated that to the whole line, sorry.

Still, 46/36 is a bit too close gearing for gravel for my taste, I'd swap the smaller chainring for a 30, if possible. Also, the OP mentioned last bike was a MTB so I think a relaxed/endurance type of road bike would be more comfortable (vs. a race bike like the Jake).

I did a similar transition, from hardtail MTB to my current gravel bike and I think a racier geometry would have put me off of road bikes back then. But this could not be a problem if OP has experience with road bikes.

I liked the Jake when I was shopping for a new bike, but sadly our local distributor only carries the 49.5 size and up and I'm around a size 48, so I couldn't even do a test ride (couldn't reach the pedals lol).
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Old 03-30-17, 12:49 PM
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Another one? nope, it's a competitive market place, at a given price they will be more alike than different.

[probably made in one of the relatively few Taiwan OEM factories] ('Kona' is built in one of those)

The Bike Shop you buy the bike from matters more than the logo painted on the frame, ... so Your turn...


What brands does your favorite bike shop carry ?

or Are you ready to spend really Huge? Hand Made by US custom builder?





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Old 03-30-17, 01:46 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by kuroba View Post
Still, 46/36 is a bit too close gearing for gravel for my taste, I'd swap the smaller chainring for a 30, if possible.
It's not possible, so don't place ideas in his head! Though I agree that a 30t small chainring would be nice, 46/36 means it's a compact double with a 110 BCD. Which means 34t is the smallest ring it will fit (apparently 33t cheater rings exist, but I've never seen them).

There are lots of other threads about "subcompact" gearing. My solution is to use an MTB RD and a 11-34 cassette so I get a 1:1 low gear with the 34t small ring.


@smokeycanuck, you knew you were opening a can of worms with this question, but you're already down the right track.
In my opinion, a gravel/endurance/anyroad style bike is best for many recreational riders. They occupy the middle ground between aggressive race bikes and heavy touring bikes.
Drop bars (not too slammed) give you a good posture for speed and plenty of hand positions for endurance.
Medium width tires allow you to ride dirt and gravel without totally dragging on the road.
Geometry falls in the middle; not too racy but not super slack.

There are so many options now, that you really need to get out and test ride to figure out what's best for you. Test the bike on the paths/trails/streets/roads you want to ride, not just the parking lot. Rent the bike for a day if you need to.


The best bike is the one that you will actually ride. So, it needs to be comfortable enough that you don't avoid it, capable enough to ride where you want to, and fast enough that you cover miles at the pace you want.


Personally, I have four different bikes but I ride all of them on gravel sometimes. If a bike can't handle gravel comfortably, it doesn't last in my stable (which is why I don't own a "road" bike).
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Old 03-30-17, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
One small correction (at least as sold in the USA) the Jake The Snake comes stock as a 2x...46/36 rings, pretty standard cyclocross double. The Private Jake is a 1x, however.

I like steel bikes and enjoy riding mine on gravel. The Rove ST is steel, as is the Sutra. I like both bikes and would consider them for myself, but they are both 1x (Sutra LTD anyway), which I wouldn't think is the best choice for a mixture of fast pavement (Tris) and gravel endurance riding, unless if you live somewhere relatively flat and don't mind changing chainrings once in a while.

I agree it's hard to find the one perfect bike for all situations, but I'd be looking at something with a double and good tire clearance for these types of riding.
Love my Private Jake. Mostly gravel grinder but I race CX with it too. Fantastic bike. Easily fits 40c tires too.

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Old 03-31-17, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa View Post
...In my opinion, a gravel/endurance/anyroad style bike is best for many recreational riders. They occupy the middle ground between aggressive race bikes and heavy touring bikes.

...Drop bars (not too slammed) give you a good posture for speed and plenty of hand positions for endurance.
Medium width tires allow you to ride dirt and gravel without totally dragging on the road. Geometry falls in the middle; not too racy but not super slack.

...The best bike is the one that you will actually ride. So, it needs to be comfortable enough that you don't avoid it, capable enough to ride where you want to, and fast enough that you cover miles at the pace you want.
Thanks to all for the advice.....I found Tim_Iowa's simple and "right to the point" comments really made good sense to me and has made me step back and once again ask myself what exactly will (and likely won't) be doing with this bike.

It's a miserable rainy day here in Southern Ontario so I'll be heading out again this afternoon to look at some rides.

Cheers
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Old 03-31-17, 07:54 AM
  #17  
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True "Belgian style" cross bikes are essentially road race bikes with a bit more tire clearance. They are designed for cross: races with tight corners and not much elevation change. True cross bikes have cross specific gearing (very tight ratio), aggressive positions, steep geometry, clearance for 33mm tires only, focus on light weight at the expense of durability and are not focused on comfort at all. They're meant to be raced all out for one hour. It's ironic because so many people buy cross bikes as an all purpose bike when traditional cross bikes have actually been designed for a very specific purpose and aren't ideal for most purposes.

Recently, however, manufacturers have realized that the majority of people who buy cross bikes aren't using them for cross. This has resulted in the "American" cross bike: more slack, less aggressive, more comfortable, more tire clearance. The introduction of gravel-specific bikes has further muddied the waters as these bikes look somewhat like cross bikes but have endurance road geometry, road gearing (typically 50/34 11-32), room for huge tires and are a bit less focused on weight and a bit more focused on durability.

Finally, adventure road bikes (which have been around forever) have become increasingly versatile and increasingly common. Now there are tons of offerings out there like the Salsa Fargo 27+, Ritchey Ascent, Surly ERC or Raleigh Stuntman that are drop bar mountain bike, gravel, bikepacking, adventure touring... things. At the top end, you've got more racey bikes like the Open U.P. or 3T Exploro. These bikes are all completely non-traditional: mountain bike tire clearances, weird bar configurations, dropper posts on roadish bikes, braze-ons for all kinds of hardware, wacky 1x drivetrains etc. The advent of road disc brakes have allowed designers to fit all kinds of different wheels into these frames, everything from 29+ to 650b road wheels. These bikes offer perhaps the most versatility without being the best any any one thing.

Given the above, I'd assess what type of riding you'll actually be doing and weigh the options. The great news is that there's now an off-the-rack bike out there for every person in every niche. The bad news is that the choices are absurdly overwhelming.
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