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Can I ride with a Roadbike on rougher terrain or is a Gravelbike the better option?

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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 :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Can I ride with a Roadbike on rougher terrain or is a Gravelbike the better option?

Old 02-16-20, 06:11 AM
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Kampf Kaenguru
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Can I ride with a Roadbike on rougher terrain or is a Gravelbike the better option?

Hi,


I'm thinking about buying a Canyon Endurace but now I'm struggling a bit.

I'm pretty obsessed with riding fast but I don't always ride on the road.

I often like to ride on these gravel bike roads.

However I don't know how big the differences between Gravel and Road bikes are. Maybe it's more about the tires.

Perhaps someone could show me his experience.



Thank you for your help.
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Old 02-16-20, 07:41 AM
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In my opinion, itís mostly about tire clearance...how wide of rubber you can fit on the bike. In other words, if you find a bike that works for you on pavement, there is a good chance it will work for you on most gravel roads, provided you can fit a suitable wide tire.Of course, if the gravel roads are very technical, or regularly muddy, or have a lot of washboard or potholes (or regularly get dumped with thick layers of crushed limestone, like they do here) there are other considerations that become important, like geometry and frame compliance.

A quick googling says the Canyon Endurance CF frame clears 33mm max. No way I would want to limit myself to anything less than 40mm wide for the riding I do. Then again, Iíve ridden 30mm tires and if the gravel is nicely packed, they do fine. If I were you, Iíd look at a gravel bike that matches the geometry of what you want for the road, and maybe consider a second wheelset with more road-oriented tires.
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Old 02-16-20, 07:44 AM
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First thing I am going to mention is Paris-Roubaix.

Tire clearance to frame such that gravel doesn't (easily) get trapped, make noise (as much), and of course tire width.
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Old 02-16-20, 08:32 AM
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I don't know what your plan is concerning gravel.

A skinny tire can handle a little. For example, there are two "gravel" races in Colorado that far predate this gravel craze, Boulder Roubaix is your classic flat gravel course and Koppenberg is a nice circuit with a technical rutted out climb every lap. Me and thousands of others over the years have done these on 23's. Just unwilling to bog down our bikes with wide tires.

I'd imagine events like this are ridden on 28-32 tires now, given what we've learned about tire width and speed. Still this puts you easily in the realm of a road bike.

I can't even count the number of times I did a short section of gravel, sometimes rather rough, on 23s to make a nice loop without backtracking. It can be done and is definitely not a guarantee for flats.

I rode The Crippler on a classic road bike with 28s the first time I did it. Much nicer on the climbing and roads but a little sketchy on the wild decent. I survived.

Once I got a real gravel bike, I used it as a mountain bike but for much longer distances and used dirt roads to connect more singletrack. Totally different than riding straight lines on smooth gravel roads.

What I'm saying is that yes, it's totally possible to take a proper road bike on a little dirt. Look at your objectives and decide. If it's mostly road with some dust and gravel thrown in, a race bike that can fit 33's is more than enough. If it's long days on gravel, with Jeep roads, singletrack, and rutted out washboards peppered in, you'd probably benefit from a gravel bike.
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Old 02-16-20, 08:59 AM
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Nobody here will know what width tire makes you comfortable on gravel and nobody here will know what gearing range you need for road or gravel.


in general i would say that a gravel bike is a better option for rough terrain than a paved road bike. That should be a pretty obvious generalization though.
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Old 02-16-20, 09:10 AM
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Beyond tire width, I suggest you consider tires with better than average puncture resistance. One example is the Continental GatorSkin. You'll give up something in rolling resistance resulting in an almost imperceptible speed decline, though, depending on your current tires.
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Old 02-16-20, 11:37 AM
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You can put 28mm tires on a gravel bike but you can't put 40mm tires on a road bike.
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Old 02-16-20, 11:40 AM
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Kampf Kaenguru
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Thank you for so many responses.
Would you say that gravel bikes in general are more "playful", if that's a word that fit's, because i'm from Germany.
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Old 02-16-20, 12:17 PM
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When men were real men that's exactly what they did. Put more politely, that's what we did before commercial niches were created.
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Old 02-16-20, 12:32 PM
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If you're going to ride on gravel, get a gravel bike. Or, a road bike that can accept 32mm tires (and that's the absolute minimum width I would choose for gravel; I prefer 38 or 40mm.

The sad truth is that you might need more than one bike. +1, of course.
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Old 02-16-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kampf Kaenguru View Post
Thank you for so many responses.
Would you say that gravel bikes in general are more "playful", if that's a word that fit's, because i'm from Germany.
I believe, that, to a large extent, the gravel bike category is a solution without a problem. The differences between a road or gravel bike are primarily the extra tire clearance and disc vs rim brakes. It sounds like you have a road bike and, if so, take it out on the trail. I suspect you'll be satisfied. If so, invest in a second set of stronger rims with tires designed for puncture resistance as well as ride and swap them out depending on your where you go.

Having said all that, if you're in the market for a new bike and would like to ride some gravel trails, getting a gravel bike could make sense. But then I'd still get a second set of rims for riding on pavement.

Last edited by Tony P.; 02-16-20 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 02-16-20, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Kampf Kaenguru View Post
Hi,


I'm thinking about buying a Canyon Endurace but now I'm struggling a bit.

I'm pretty obsessed with riding fast but I don't always ride on the road.

I often like to ride on these gravel bike roads.

However I don't know how big the differences between Gravel and Road bikes are. Maybe it's more about the tires.

Perhaps someone could show me his experience.



Thank you for your help.
One of my commuting routes is ~20 Miles on road and 1 Mile on gravel. My road bike is doing just fine, I just go a bit slower, however, that one Mile gravel was enough to justify getting a gravel bike and I just love it. From now on, less road, more fire roads, trails and gravel ;-)
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Old 02-16-20, 01:18 PM
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As Tony P. stated, 2nd set of wheels on a gravel bike.

I did this with a new Cannondale Topstone, new 32 spoke count, 24mm wide rims, they have the 45mm gravel tires and the 11-34 cassette, all set for dirt. 2nd wheels are the stock rims that are 24mm wide, with 28mm tires they are at near 32mm and are great road wheels. I run a 12-25 cassette on the road. 1 bike does it all.
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Old 02-16-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthboundRick View Post
One of my commuting routes is ~20 Miles on road and 1 Mile on gravel. My road bike is doing just fine, I just go a bit slower, however, that one Mile gravel was enough to justify getting a gravel bike and I just love it. From now on, less road, more fire roads, trails and gravel ;-)
.

Which gravel bike did you go with (and is it carbon or aluminum)?

I'm also weighing options for a more 'all road' type of bike. The Trek Checkpoint or new Domane may work, or the Ibis Hakka MX or Cervelo Aspero, among a number of other options (AL or Carbon..).
if money was no obstacle, i'd strongly consider the Moots Routt (Titanium).

As others have mentioned, a road bike that can take close to 40mm or more but maintains a mostly 'road' - but more upright - geometry may be your best bet, along with 2 sets of wheels (one slimmer, another wider) to choose from depending on where you'll dedicate the larger percentage of your ride on a given day...

Last edited by ciclista tifoso; 02-16-20 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 02-16-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
First thing I am going to mention is Paris-Roubaix.

Tire clearance to frame such that gravel doesn't (easily) get trapped, make noise (as much), and of course tire width.
And I'm going to mention Strade Bianche. (
)

Plus, we have a handful of road races in NorCal where the paved roads are rougher than the dirt ones. A road bike handles these fine.
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Old 02-16-20, 02:19 PM
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Go for a gravel bike with shorter chainstays, and maybe get a second wheelset with narrower tires like some suggested if you will find 40mm or wider tires to slow for pure pavement rides, but it think you can ride with wider tires without problems on pavement, be fast and also be more comfortable as someone on dedicated road bike with 28mm tires. I know for sure i will never go back to those skinny tires! Best would be if you could get a test ride before making an investment.
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Old 02-16-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
When men were real men that's exactly what they did. Put more politely, that's what we did before commercial niches were created.
Strong work insulting the current gen.

Technology advances products and opens up opportunities. Wider tires arent necessarily slower, tubeless has shed weight and rolling resistance, and formed tubes allows for increased comfort built into frames.

All this leads to being able to ride faster and ride further than before.
1.9" tires and rigid frames used to be the standard for mtb, but you can ride faster and further with more comfort on 2.3 and suspension. The real men can keep their old tech and ride slower while getting beaten up more.


...and this is coming from someone who has half a dozen 80s road and mtb frames built up at any given time and is about to braze cable guides onto an old frame.
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Old 02-16-20, 02:58 PM
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I've ridden gravel on a road bike with 28mm tires and not much clearance. There is a good argument to be made that you'll learn some valuable things when you use the "wrong" bike for the purpose.
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Old 02-16-20, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
There is a good argument to be made that you'll learn some valuable things when you use the "wrong" bike for the purpose.
Quite right.
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Old 02-16-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Strong work insulting the current gen.

Technology advances products and opens up opportunities. Wider tires arent necessarily slower, tubeless has shed weight and rolling resistance, and formed tubes allows for increased comfort built into frames.

All this leads to being able to ride faster and ride further than before.
1.9" tires and rigid frames used to be the standard for mtb, but you can ride faster and further with more comfort on 2.3 and suspension. The real men can keep their old tech and ride slower while getting beaten up more.


...and this is coming from someone who has half a dozen 80s road and mtb frames built up at any given time and is about to braze cable guides onto an old frame.
guess I should have put a smiley face at the end of my comment. So much for playful sarcasm.
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Old 02-16-20, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I've ridden gravel on a road bike with 28mm tires and not much clearance. There is a good argument to be made that you'll learn some valuable things when you use the "wrong" bike for the purpose.
really depends on the gravel. Around here riding a road bike on the gravel will most likely teach you how hard it is to push your bike back to civilization after you've had enough flats to go through all your spares. I think my record for flats in one ride was 6. Fortunately, someone on the ride I was on took me back to town. Someone showed up with 28mm tires on that weekly gravel ride and ended up walking down a mountain after going through everybody's spares.
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Old 02-16-20, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ciclista tifoso View Post
.

Which gravel bike did you go with (and is it carbon or aluminum)?.
Alu, a Diamond Back, Yes, there are lighter options, but it serves me just well.
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Old 02-16-20, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Strong work insulting the current gen.
Damn right! When I was a kid, we didn't even have tires. Just rode around on steel rims.

And we liked it!
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Old 02-16-20, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
guess I should have put a smiley face at the end of my comment. So much for playful sarcasm.
Sarcasterisks are needed in a bad way on this site.
Put *** at the end of a joke/sarcasm so it can read that way.
...or emojis work, I guess.
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Old 02-16-20, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I've ridden gravel on a road bike with 28mm tires and not much clearance. There is a good argument to be made that you'll learn some valuable things when you use the "wrong" bike for the purpose.
I'm reminded of my adolescent self riding a Sears Free Spirit in rural Kansas gravel roads and cow paths. Long before Dirty Kanza... I simply didn't know any better...
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