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What's next? After gravel, what's the NEXT BIG THING?

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

What's next? After gravel, what's the NEXT BIG THING?

Old 10-17-19, 08:06 AM
  #126  
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
So most bikepackers carry full main triangle bags. Why on earth do you need all those bosses inside the triangle? I can see you needing the bosses on the top tube near the seat tube and head tube so you can run 2 bolt on bags on the top but it's missing that.
I think that the manufacturer is trying to provide a large number of mounting points so that the various frame bag designs, etc. can be accommodated.

They are trying to get away from the bag straps going around the frame tubes and instead being mounted to clips that attach to the frame. This helps keep the bags more stable and reduces paint wear under the straps.
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Old 10-17-19, 09:25 AM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
A couple months down the line and I've been thinking. Most of the guys I've been gravel riding with the past 3-5 years are either on the same original gravel bike they got, or they're doing something else. I've rarely talked to another rider that has more than one gravel bike - it doesn't seem to be like road where guys'll get 2-3-4 slightly different road bikes. They buy one gravel bike and that's it. .
Yeah, I can relate to that.... once I got a gravel bike, I realized this one bike pretty much does everything I need from pavement to dirt/gravel. I pulled few 10 speed drive-train parts off my "road" bike to build the gravel bike, with the plan to buy new 11 speed stuff for the road bike.... but then never bothered. I decided I was done with it. Never looked back since.
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Old 10-17-19, 02:57 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
A couple months down the line and I've been thinking. Most of the guys I've been gravel riding with the past 3-5 years are either on the same original gravel bike they got, or they're doing something else. I've rarely talked to another rider that has more than one gravel bike - it doesn't seem to be like road where guys'll get 2-3-4 slightly different road bikes. They buy one gravel bike and that's it. The fast changing specs don't seem to be enticing new purchases either. Seems there's not a lot of churn outside of new customers. I see these sorts of new customers too and by and large they're buying more than gravel, less than MTB bikes. Two recent releases seem to really be backing the ascendant bikepacking bike theory earlier in this thread. Ostensibly a road bike, the new VO Passhunter disc is built like a burly mountain/gravel/bikepacking bike with the frame warts and all:


...


Yikes. Evolution or devolution? Then there's the 2020 Marin Pine Mountain, a great mountain bike infected with bikepacking disease, apparently.



So:

  • Regular bikes with additional bikepacking features
  • E-Bikes
  • Doing something else (attendance for majority of events here in/around Atlanta is down)


Seems to be the near-term future.

How many dirt roads are there in the Atlanta area though? It looks pretty sparse on Gravelmap.com. Does some of this relate to what a riders main interest is? As in; a road rider may have a collection of road bikes and a single MTB for when they feel like a change or a mountain biker may have a collection of MTB's and a single road bike. If riding gravel roads isn't your primary pursuit, then the gravel bike is the N+1 and why would you have multiple, very similar bikes for a type of riding that is a side interest?


I guess I've got four gravel bikes, though only one was sold as such. But, to me they are dirt road road bikes and it's the main riding I do because anything else means putting the bike in the car. You may have heard that Michigan isn't very good at paving things, most of the roads in my area are gravel/dirt/packed sand despite the area being fairly developed. Gravel riding here seems to be going strong because many of the gravel riders are the guys who would be roadies if there was pavement. I think lots of area in the midwest may be similar and gravel riding will stay strong here while it falls off in the areas with more population and more pavement.
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Old 10-17-19, 04:37 PM
  #129  
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But with nice rubber tires and disc brake
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Old 10-17-19, 05:14 PM
  #130  
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@Spoonrobot; how does gravelmap.com define their gravel routes? Not trying to be obtuse, but checked out my area on the site and with few exceptions, most were but a mile or so in length. There many miles of unpaved gravel, rural farm roads surrounding Ann Arbor.
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Old 10-18-19, 04:37 AM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Lots of the map is from user uploads, much being mixed terrain pavement/gravel rides that get uploaded as fully gravel. It's not useless, just unreliable. Near Dallas, GA there are several routes that are barely 50/50 gravel/pavement shown as all gravel as well as several other segments that have been paved as much as 4-5 years ago.
I've noticed the same thing in the N.E. U.S. - somebody did a ride and they show all gravel where only a portion actually is.
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Old 10-18-19, 05:18 AM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Lots of the map is from user uploads, much being mixed terrain pavement/gravel rides that get uploaded as fully gravel. It's not useless, just unreliable. Near Dallas, GA there are several routes that are barely 50/50 gravel/pavement shown as all gravel as well as several other segments that have been paved as much as 4-5 years ago.
Got it. Explains it.
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Old 10-18-19, 07:47 AM
  #133  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
How many dirt roads are there in the Atlanta area though? It looks pretty sparse on Gravelmap.com.
To add to other comments about gravelmap.com, here are screenshots of gravelmap.com and iowagravelroads.com where you can easily see how lacking gravelmap.com really is.
There are over 70,000 miles of unpaved roads in Iowa(gravel, level B). gravelmap is coming up just a bit short of that.


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Old 10-18-19, 08:49 AM
  #134  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
We have a ton, gravelmap.com is woefully under-informed as few have ventured out into the Georgia back-country to really explore. Within an hour drive of Atlanta there are several hundred miles of gravel, 2 hours and you can add another several hundred as you get into GA/TN NF land, 3 hours the same as you get into more NF roads in Tennesse/NC/AL. There are around a dozen gravel events every year within 1-2 hours of driving and another 5-6 within 3 hours. I'll put it this way, the gravel event scene in the Southeast is as varied as the MTB scene and more varied than the USAC Road scene. We have everything from pan flat smooth courses you can easily do on 32s to blown out rock roads where you gain or lose 150 feet a mile that are best on at least a hard tail with 55s. Distances from 21 miles to 105 miles on offer.

Ok, so this is my point exactly, even if Gravelmap isn't accurate. Venturing out into the back country or making a 1-3 hour drive is a big time commitment. Assuming that's a one-way drive, you're talking about enough combined time for the entire activity that I could do a long ride from home. Honestly, I'm not super interested in driving that far to ride unless it's something BIG (Dirty Kanza, MI Coast-to-Coast, etc) because it quickly gets to the point where I could make the same ride on my own from home for less money and in less time. Given that situation, it makes sense that guys only have one gravel bike and/or are falling off. What gravel do you have that you can ride from your front door? I can easily ride as far as I have stamina or time for from my driveway without ever touching pavement except to cross a few main roads. Even planning a century route like this is really just a problem of picking which roads I want to ride. I would say that for SE Mi, Gravelmap looks accurate (it's nearly all the roads outside of the main cities) pan around the state a bit and you'll see what I mean. It's a totally different environment in much of the state where it's honestly easier to make a gravel ride than to make a road ride.
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Old 10-18-19, 05:00 PM
  #135  
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One way to find gravel roads is to use Bing Maps zoomed-in to the 1000 ft/inch level or closer. The gravel roads appear as a slightly darker light gray.

In the image below the gravel road (Kelley Stand Rd.) starts in East Kansas and you can see the subtle color difference. You can then verify the gravel aspect of the road by using the Bing Maps 'Streetside' feature or the Google Maps 'Street View' feature - assuming that the road in question has been imaged by one company or the other.

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Old 10-19-19, 07:46 AM
  #136  
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I was doing gravel 35 years ago, but no one else was interested.
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Old 10-19-19, 09:15 AM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by polyrhythmia View Post
I was doing gravel 35 years ago, but no one else was interested.
We are impressed.
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Old 10-19-19, 03:57 PM
  #138  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
We have a ton, gravelmap.com is woefully under-informed as few have ventured out into the Georgia back-country to really explore. Within an hour drive of Atlanta there are several hundred miles of gravel, 2 hours and you can add another several hundred as you get into GA/TN NF land, 3 hours the same as you get into more NF roads in Tennesse/NC/AL. There are around a dozen gravel events every year within 1-2 hours of driving and another 5-6 within 3 hours. I'll put it this way, the gravel event scene in the Southeast is as varied as the MTB scene and more varied than the USAC Road scene. We have everything from pan flat smooth courses you can easily do on 32s to blown out rock roads where you gain or lose 150 feet a mile that are best on at least a hard tail with 55s. Distances from 21 miles to 105 miles on offer.

But I think you're right, very very few riders down here are focused mainly on gravel. I've met a handful that are passionate about the niche, most are normal flow through or looking for another option outside of road/mtb and are only interested in riding events. TimothyH has done a lot of work getting routes out but even then a lot of times the drive/time investment is turning people off, IME. Factor in marketing is obscuring a lot of the differences and most people don't really understand geometry and how it affects a given bikes riding styles and you end up with a very differentiated market where consumers aren't really sure what's happening. Similar to what MTB went through mid-2000s-2010s and to some extent even now.

I've got 3 different gravel bikes and talking to other gravel riders about the differences affecting ride style and I can see their eyes glaze over. They just don't know. In contrast I go to a road ride and we start talking the much more minor differences and everyone has an opinion. Same with MTB; I think the gravel marketing hasn't done a good job disseminating how to talk about the bikes and geometry changes that have happened. Especially with respect to how trail and tire size are being treated by a lot of the more niche gravel companies. Look at this forum we've got posters comparing bikes with 60mm trail and 80mm trail like they're going to ride even remotely the same.

Your post also brings up another point for the future - more localization of events and gravel riding. Some parts of the USA are much more suited to gravel riding than others, naturally these would see growth or hold steady while other areas flash in the pan.
I'd be curious where some of this gravel is. Having ridden a lot of gravel near Dallas, GA and some in the Cohuttas, there is probably a lot more I haven't ridden. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Lucas lane
Williams Rd
Mt Moriah
Tibbits Rd
Narrowway Church
Benson Lakes Rd

What are some other good gravel roads/segments nearby?

Dave
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Old 10-19-19, 09:30 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Specifically I was thinking of the gravel near Dallas which you are familiar with as well as the Dirty Sheets route. Other than that there's not really anything worth riding too. There were a 1-3 miles of gravel in Alpharetta but almost all of it is gone now and it was mainly composed of a handful of segments less than a half mile long that were extremely time sensitive to traffic. There's a 3 mile gravel loop right off 285 at Cochran shoals and of course the southern section of the Beltline, which will be gone shortly. That's pretty much it for riding to gravel - there's ~3 miles in Gwinnett but no point in making the trek. Dekalb, Cherokee, Cobb, North Fulton, Clayton are pretty bare.

Otherwise the most well known routes are probably ones you've heard of - Red Clay Ramble, Fried Green 50/Sac O Suds 50, Southern Cross, Mt Currahee, Dirt 6 Gaps and so forth. You should be able to find all on ridewithGPS (if you haven't already). Look up the county maps for Haralson, Carrol, Heard, Coweta, Meriwether, Talbot and Upson are all replete with good route possibilities. Jasper, Jones, Butts and Monroe counties are also good riding. TimothyH appears to be reducing his interaction on bikeforums but if I recall correctly you know him in person - he can really flesh out some routes for you as well. Here's a little post from my blog that has some more info about my experience specific to GA planning routes: https://drandalls.wordpress.com/2019...-gravel-route/

I'm not great at creating shareable routes but if you think of anything specific to a county/area, I can help answer questions or help you with a route. I've attempted to compend some of the mixed terrain and grave routes I've ridden but haven't been able to actually find motivation to complete the task.
Thanks! The blog website was very helpful. Going to take a while to digest all of this, but I started looking at Haralson county and it looks like there are a lot of gravel roads. I could probably spend hours looking at all these maps. Will be a lot of fun!

I'll have to look up some of those gravel routes you mentioned, Red Clay ramble sounds familiar, but not many others.

Dave
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Old 10-21-19, 02:53 PM
  #140  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I see that time commitment from roadies/mtb riders every weekend but gravel doesn't seem to have the same pull. Riders are driving 1-2 hours from the city to park at the Bud Plant/Sosebee and ride rural roads or going up to Jake/Bull/Pinhoti mtb systems. There's no real "gravel trailhead" equivalence, locally. Which is where I'm pondering; since to ride mtb in Atlanta, you're mostly driving to ride anything good - and those guys have no problem with seeing the sense in a XC bike, Enduro bike, full-suspension bike, etc. Whereas gravel riders are mainly getting one regular rigid gravel bike that takes 40s and riding it a few times a year. But we have the terrain variance to support every type of gravel class bike including drop-bar full-suspension rigs. It's something I wonder about but like I said, definitely a local flavor to it.



What do these guys ride during the week though? Driving to go ride is true regarding the entire MTB scene, isn't it? Are there other MTB trails closer in? I'm really not that much into MTB stuff in general, so can't comment much on what motivates MTB riders.


For road riding, I assume that the guys driving out to rural areas to ride on the weekend probably ride more local roads during the weekdays. If so they ride local pavement on weekdays, then head into the country on the weekend for a longer ride with less traffic. At that point, if you have paved rural roads to ride, why do you need a gravel bike? You've already escaped most traffic by heading to the country I assume? In these rural areas, if it is easy enough to make multiple varied paved road routes, then the gravel bike starts to lose its use. I think for gravel to be really strong, there has to be a predominance of dirt roads so that it is difficult to keep making interesting rides on a road bike but easy to do so on a gravel bike. I'll be perfectly honest; if Michigan opted to pave our residential roads instead of leaving them dirt, I wouldn't have a need for a gravel bike and would probably be best served by an endurance road bike.



There's a minuscule amount of gravel specific to Atlanta or even within riding distance. Maybe ~25 miles in the actual metro and then another 40-50 within "riding distance" - that ends up being right around 90-100 miles roundtrip by bike. Lots of the non-event riders I know have bought a gravel bike and then been puzzled when the
#roadslikethese instagram shots of nice sweeping gravel roads inside the city of Atlanta turn out to be the same handful of short segments less than a mile long. That can really be done on a regular road bike.



Sounds like a great reason for the gravel market to be shrinking if expectations don't match reality and a regular road bike works. Why buy a second gravel bike when you've seen first hand that you might not have really needed it in the first place? Especially as the gravel bike manufacturers have been pushing more toward a drop bar MTB that is even MORE overkill. Honestly, all I want is a road bike that takes 40-50mm tires. Some of the new endurance bikes are pushing into this segment and are looking good (a bit small on tires, but otherwise...)



But thinking more the event attendance thing is kind of hard to get a handle on. Some events that would seem to be a good seller (moderate course, not too long) barely get 80 riders and have had declining attendance for 2-3 years. Meanwhile there's a brutal 200k that had a ~50% drop rate last year that sold out 200 spots in a couple weeks. But the paved version run by RUSA had ~20 riders. So I don't know if someone asked me how gravel was doing around my area of the southeast I'd say more bikes are being sold but miles ridden are probably holding steady or declining slightly.

Um, duh? Why would I pay money and make a special trip to ride a moderate course when I could just make a regular ride at home? That's nothing special. Now, a 200k event with terrain and challenges that I can't get at home? Yes, that sounds cool. It will challenge me, it will be something worth the time and money invested.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:13 PM
  #141  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I was having a hard time finding the right bookmark last night but here's TimothyH's route list, it's the best one for GA gravel: https://atlantabikerides.wordpress.com/gravel/

Haralson county is my favorite county I've ridden so far. I did a few rides out there this summer and fell in love with the terrain. Here are some Strava links with pics and little write-ups. Send me a PM if you have any specific questions, there's potentially some exploration rides in west georgia coming up this fall/early winter I can update you on as well.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2668434010
https://www.strava.com/activities/2747445363
https://www.strava.com/activities/2728781402
Tim's website is a great resource. I use it fairly often when looking for a new route to ride. We ride fairly often too.

Another resource is the WMAs. There are a bunch in Paulding with gravel, only catch is that you need a land pass. Might get one next year and do a bunch of rides there.

Would definitely like doing a gravel group ride to check out some gravel out west. I bet Tim would be up for it too. He is usually up for anything. PM me when you want to check it out. Usually my long rides are on saturdays, but sometimes Sunday or possibly a weeknight for 30 miles or so with lights. Cold weather is fine too.

Dave
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Old 10-22-19, 07:21 PM
  #142  
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Iowa does have a lot of gravel roads. If doing gravel, I would recommend paraffin as a chain lube.
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Old 10-23-19, 06:20 PM
  #143  
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People are talking about gravel bikes like they are some niche thing. They are anything BUT niche. Pavement bikes (AKA "Road" bikes) are what is niche. Gravel bikes are WAY more versatile and IMO better suited for even a lot of (poorly) paved roads.

They real question should not be "Why get a gravel bike?" It should be "Why buy a paved road bike?"
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Old 10-23-19, 07:04 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
People are talking about gravel bikes like they are some niche thing. They are anything BUT niche. Pavement bikes (AKA "Road" bikes) are what is niche. Gravel bikes are WAY more versatile and IMO better suited for even a lot of (poorly) paved roads.

They real question should not be "Why get a gravel bike?" It should be "Why buy a paved road bike?"
Especially true if you don't try to pigeon hole what a gravel bike is. I would rather call it an "all roads" bike that spans the gambit from streets to non technical trails.
You would then have niche modes that change design or geometry when you want to either race pavement or ride technical off road. Otherwise any endurance capable frame that has larger tire clearance generally fits the bill.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 10-23-19 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 10-23-19, 07:55 PM
  #145  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Especially true if you don't try to pigeon hole what a gravel bike is. I would rather call it an "all roads" bike that spans the gambit from streets to non technical trails.
You would then have niche modes that change design or geometry when you want to either race pavement or ride technical off road. Otherwise any endurance capable frame that has larger tire clearance generally fits the bill.
I do like the term “All Road” for a lot of what is often called “Gravel”.
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Old 10-26-19, 04:08 AM
  #146  
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Perhaps there will be an industry wide push for recumbrant fat bikes?
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Old 10-28-19, 08:27 AM
  #147  
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Growing up, with a Sears Free Sprit Ten Speed about 1977 or so, in riral Kansas, I didn't know any better. Rode that bike everywhere. Pavement, gravel roads, cow paths... then discovered cars...
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Old 11-05-19, 07:17 PM
  #148  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I do like the term “All Road” for a lot of what is often called “Gravel”.
Allroad is actually the industry name for the category. Gravel is just the nickname.

It is a shame that they called tourong bikes "Touring Bikes." If they called them a cool name like an allroad or a gravel bike then the category would have been much more popular and the modern "gravel' bike might have evolved much sooner. Most gravel bikes have touring bike geometry with a bit more vertical compliance, wider tire clearance and lighter frame weights. Gravel bikes are routinely sold as "light touring bikes" these days. The touring bike geometry is really how most typical riders like to ride, relaxed stable handling, tuned for comfort on longer distances, efficient, but these folks never identified themselves as "tourers"....
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Old 11-05-19, 07:30 PM
  #149  
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Bikes: Co-Motion Cappuccino Tandem,'88 Bob Jackson Touring, Co-Motion Cascadia Touring, Open U.P., Ritchie Titanium Breakaway, Frances Cycles SmallHaul cargo bike. Those are the permanent ones; others wander in and out of the stable occasionally as well.

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How about:

Autonomous self-riding drone bikes that you can send out on a ride when you are too busy, but will livestream the ride and post it automatically to Strava and facebook along with made-up quotes from imaginary followers? And bring home a pizza afterwards?
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Old 11-05-19, 07:44 PM
  #150  
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Most gravel bikes have touring bike geometry
Sort of. The front-end geometries run in the same ballpark, but "touring bikes" in the modern sense usually have monstrously long chainstays to maintain decent weight distribution with a heavy rear pannier load. That can be annoying for unpaved riding: it makes it harder to plant the rear wheel on steep climbs, it makes it harder to unweight the front wheel on loose surfaces, and it creates more separation between the track drawn by the front wheel and that drawn by the rear wheel.
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