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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.

Entry Level Gravel Bike

Old 03-24-20, 09:22 PM
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cnrdrn7
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Entry Level Gravel Bike

Hi Folks,
Having some trouble deciding on an entry level Gravel Bike and hoping to enlist some help. For some context, I havenít owned a bike since I was in school and now in my early 30ís, my team sports days almost over and running/jogging not so appealing, Iím eager to buy a bike and keep the fitness up that way. Iíll be using the bike primarily on roads, paved trails and gravel trails. I donít think Iíll be hitting too much rough terrain just yet but would the bike to maybe have the ability to handle it if I did. Based on the that and the bit of research Iíve done, Iím figuring an entry level Gravel Bike is the best route to go. Iíve narrowed my choices down to a few options that Iíve listed below, open to other options too of course, but honestly donít have much knowledge about the specs & components and thatís where I was hoping for your advice based on your knowledge/experience. Thanks


Salsa Journeyman Claris 700C Ė This bike continually comes up when searching for best Gravel Bikes at this range and I like the look with more upright riding position. Not so sure about the quality of the components and non-compatibility with tubeless tires

Giant Revolt 2 2020 Ė Seems to be a decent spec at that price point

Trek Checkpoint AL 3 Ė I really like the look of this bike and thereís one available in my size at a local Bike Shop. Just unsure if the other options are better/similar for a lesser cost
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Old 03-24-20, 10:01 PM
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Ah, the springtime and the help me buy "______"

Kudos for thinking on how you intend to use the bike.

My thoughts are this: If you don't know the differences, then by definition all options & thus outcomes are the same.

I'm not a fan of Claris. But to be sure there's nothing wrong with it. My experience is that the groupset is heavy, clunky, & unrefined. But as with all things, cheap/low grade of today is the best, most top of the line was few product generations ago. My experience may be dated. I'm sure it's fine.

Things you might want to look for are rack & fender mounts. Tire clearance, overall gear range & general bike fit.

Some guys in the local cycling group have the Trek Checkpoint Al 3. They seem to like them. As far as road at least, it doesn't seem to hold them back. I think they run 25mm wide tires for spirited group rides & have wheels with 35 or 37 mm wide for running on forest service roads.

Seriously, it's hard to buy junk at the price point you are at. Go with what feels best during the test ride. Tires, rims, offer huge character to a bike & as a bonus they are essentially wear items to be upgraded & changed as experience & preference dictate.

I'd go for the Trek. Sora level shifters are a tier better than Claris. Also I had bad luck with the FSA Vero crankset (on the Giant) once having a bent spider arm that colors my judgement. The Trek's Spyre brakes are reasonably decent, as well.

Last edited by base2; 03-25-20 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 03-24-20, 10:06 PM
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If you willing to expand your search, very good deal here on a good all around gravel/commuter/touring bike. Runs 650b wheel set.

https://www.the-house.com/qbzdoppro5...zer-bikes.html
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Old 03-24-20, 11:07 PM
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The Trek is local, have you tried testing riding it?

Notable Differences
The Trek and Giant have Sora components while the Salsa has Claris (Sora is 1 tier higher and 9sp vs 8sp)..
The Trek and Salsa (I think) have a threaded bottom bracket while the Giant is press fit.
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Old 03-25-20, 06:22 AM
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A bit of a wildcard, but for $500-$800 you could pick up a Lemond Poprad. 2004 and up models will have Shimano 105 components or better. Reynolds 853 or Platinum OX steel tubing(excellent tubing..great ride quality). Lightweight, fits up to a 38 or 42mm tires(depending on make), great road bike and can handle gravel too. The later year models (2006, 2007?, maybe 2005) had disc brakes. A Poprad would be a heck of a "entry level" ride..one that you'd probably keep if you ever felt the need for another bike. It'll hold it's value over time as it has a very strong reputation.

There's a somewhat "hip" one on ebay right now. There's lots of them out on the used market..in you're area one will pop up..
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Old 03-25-20, 07:36 AM
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I thought of the Lemond route. They are rare around here, and don't go for less than $800. That is a lot for a bike that is 15 years old. It may be worth the money, but isn't entry level. But if I could find one in good shape for $500, heck yeah...
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Old 03-25-20, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cnrdrn7 View Post
Hi Folks,
Having some trouble deciding on an entry level Gravel Bike and hoping to enlist some help. For some context, I haven’t owned a bike since I was in school and now in my early 30’s, my team sports days almost over and running/jogging not so appealing, I’m eager to buy a bike and keep the fitness up that way. I’ll be using the bike primarily on roads, paved trails and gravel trails. I don’t think I’ll be hitting too much rough terrain just yet but would the bike to maybe have the ability to handle it if I did. Based on the that and the bit of research I’ve done, I’m figuring an entry level Gravel Bike is the best route to go. I’ve narrowed my choices down to a few options that I’ve listed below, open to other options too of course, but honestly don’t have much knowledge about the specs & components and that’s where I was hoping for your advice based on your knowledge/experience. Thanks


Salsa Journeyman Claris 700C – This bike continually comes up when searching for best Gravel Bikes at this range and I like the look with more upright riding position. Not so sure about the quality of the components and non-compatibility with tubeless tires

Giant Revolt 2 2020 – Seems to be a decent spec at that price point

Trek Checkpoint AL 3 – I really like the look of this bike and there’s one available in my size at a local Bike Shop. Just unsure if the other options are better/similar for a lesser cost
How much is the Trek? Assuming it's $1200 like their website states then this would be my choice. Because 1) you can test ride it, and 2) you already like it. The extra couple hundred bucks over the others will mean NOTHING in a few months, but having a bike you really like will mean everything for the coming years you'll be riding it. I've gone the cheap route and it's just not worth it unless you love the bike.
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Old 03-25-20, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Ah, the springtime and the help me buy "______"

Kudos for thinking on how you intend to use the bike.

My thoughts are this: If you don't know the differences, then by definition all options & thus outcomes are the same.

I'm not a fan of Claris. But to be sure there's nothing wrong with it. My experience is that the groupset is heavy, clunky, & unrefined. But as with all things, cheap/low grade of today is the best, most top of the line was few product generations ago. My experience may be dated. I'm sure it's fine.

Things you might want to look for are rack & fender mounts. Tire clearance, overall gear range & general bike fit.

Some guys in the local cycling group have the Trek Checkpoint Al 3. They seem to like them. As far as road at least, it doesn't seem to hold them back. I think they run 25mm wide tires for spirited group rides & have wheels with 35 or 37 mm wide for running on forest service roads.

Seriously, it's hard to buy junk at the price point you are at. Go with what feels best during the test ride. Tires, rims, offer huge character to a bike & as a bonus they are essentially wear items to be upgraded & changed as experience & preference dictate.

I'd go for the Trek. Sora level shifters are a tier better than Claris. Also I had bad luck with the FSA Vero crankset (on the Giant) once having a bent spider arm that colors my judgement. The Trek's Spyre brakes are reasonably decent, as well.

I was definitely a little sheepish about posting as a newcomer with a 'help me buy' thread but I really appreciate your detailed response, it's the exact type of feedback I was looking for. I have done some comparisons and considered the things to look out for but as you say, I think the bike fit will be what it comes down to between the Trek and Giant, and which feels best
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Old 03-25-20, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Cpn_Dunsel View Post
If you willing to expand your search, very good deal here on a good all around gravel/commuter/touring bike. Runs 650b wheel set.


Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have a look into this one

Last edited by cb400bill; 03-25-20 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 03-25-20, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
A bit of a wildcard, but for $500-$800 you could pick up a Lemond Poprad. 2004 and up models will have Shimano 105 components or better. Reynolds 853 or Platinum OX steel tubing(excellent tubing..great ride quality). Lightweight, fits up to a 38 or 42mm tires(depending on make), great road bike and can handle gravel too. The later year models (2006, 2007?, maybe 2005) had disc brakes. A Poprad would be a heck of a "entry level" ride..one that you'd probably keep if you ever felt the need for another bike. It'll hold it's value over time as it has a very strong reputation.

There's a somewhat "hip" one on ebay right now. There's lots of them out on the used market..in you're area one will pop up..
Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I thought of the Lemond route. They are rare around here, and don't go for less than $800. That is a lot for a bike that is 15 years old. It may be worth the money, but isn't entry level. But if I could find one in good shape for $500, heck yeah...

Thanks for the suggestion. Going to do a bit of digging and see if there's one local I could check out!
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Old 03-25-20, 01:04 PM
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In my opinion you would need something with both front and rear hand breaks.
Apply the front and squeeze the rear.
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Old 03-25-20, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PureFix View Post
In my opinion you would need something with both front and rear hand breaks.
Apply the front and squeeze the rear.
I'd far rather have something with front and rear BRAKES. I don't like any breaks on my bicycle or components. LOL

Cheers
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Old 03-25-20, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Cpn_Dunsel View Post
If you willing to expand your search, very good deal here on a good all around gravel/commuter/touring bike. Runs 650b wheel set.

https://www.the-house.com/qbzdoppro5...zer-bikes.html
That's a heck of a deal.
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Old 03-25-20, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I thought of the Lemond route. They are rare around here, and don't go for less than $800. That is a lot for a bike that is 15 years old. It may be worth the money, but isn't entry level. But if I could find one in good shape for $500, heck yeah...
It would be "entry level" with respect to the price point he's considering in the other examples he offered. I picked up my Poprad for $550 with Ultegra shifters, derailleurs, brakes..with a triple crank on it. Love the bike..I have other "nicer" steel and titanium bikes, but I spend more time on the Poprad than any of them. Great all-rounder bike...road, gravel, or touring.

As for being pricey for a 15 year old bike..well..the way I viewed buying the three Lemonds I have..compare them(tubing, components, appearance, performance..) to new steel or titanium bikes, and the modest premium is actually a pretty good deal, in today's dollars. A 2007 Poprad listed for $1650 (in 2007 dollars). In 2019 dollars that would be $2000. New steel gravel bikes go for a good bit more than that from what I saw a couple years ago(when looking for a Poprad).

In any event..a Poprad is one option among many.


Good reference/comparison for steel gravel bikes:
Reynolds 853 Steel Gravel Frames?

Last edited by fishboat; 03-25-20 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 03-25-20, 06:47 PM
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A gravel bike is a great choice for a do it all bike. With road tires, it'll be just as fast as the any of the non-aero road bikes. With the right tires, you can go pretty far off road. Those are all fine, get the one with the nicest paint job.
Tires, normally I would just toss the stock tires. They are usually high rolling resistance. For about $75, you can put on a set of these, for example, and go 10% faster - https://amzn.to/3akTmxo That's how they make the expensive bike seem faster - $5 difference in tire.

You might want to throw a https://www.specialized.com/us/en/di...ext=95420-4244 in there too if you can find one on sales.
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Old 03-25-20, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post


In any event..a Poprad is one option among many.


Good reference/comparison for steel gravel bikes:
Reynolds 853 Steel Gravel Frames?
i agree. I'm just jealous you found a nice one for $500!
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Old 03-28-20, 08:16 PM
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Keep in mind that the Giant Revolt has standard tubeless wheels/tires, in case that means anything to you.
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Old 03-31-20, 10:24 AM
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I think somebody mentioned it already but the Journeyman also comes with 650b and a Sora 2 x 9 option and a 650b Apex 1 x 10. You might want to have a look at Jamis Renegade, its similar to the Journeyman but think it might come with Tiagra groupset. Not sure if there is a 650b option. I've been looking at these bikes too, just can't make up my mind. 650b is appealing to me and the Journeyman can handle 2.1 maybe slightly wider tire. Also the Sora has a cf fork but I dont believe the Claris build does. A nice do anything kind of bike.

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Old 03-31-20, 12:49 PM
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Treks are good bikes, but for $200 less... a Motobecane from Bikes Direct can be had with superior components Shimano 105, 40c tires, frame capable of 45c tires, etc.
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Old 03-31-20, 01:18 PM
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In that price range I'd definitely consider Kona's Rove line. For just a few $ more you could get the steel Rove ST, which is simply an excellent all-arounder, go-anywhere bike. I rented the aluminum NRB on a trip last year and it was great too (but steel is real!).
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Old 04-14-20, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by cnrdrn7 View Post
Hi Folks,
Having some trouble deciding on an entry level Gravel Bike and hoping to enlist some help. For some context, I havenít owned a bike since I was in school and now in my early 30ís, my team sports days almost over and running/jogging not so appealing, Iím eager to buy a bike and keep the fitness up that way. Iíll be using the bike primarily on roads, paved trails and gravel trails. I donít think Iíll be hitting too much rough terrain just yet but would the bike to maybe have the ability to handle it if I did. Based on the that and the bit of research Iíve done, Iím figuring an entry level Gravel Bike is the best route to go. Iíve narrowed my choices down to a few options that Iíve listed below, open to other options too of course, but honestly donít have much knowledge about the specs & components and thatís where I was hoping for your advice based on your knowledge/experience. Thanks


Salsa Journeyman Claris 700C Ė This bike continually comes up when searching for best Gravel Bikes at this range and I like the look with more upright riding position. Not so sure about the quality of the components and non-compatibility with tubeless tires

Giant Revolt 2 2020 Ė Seems to be a decent spec at that price point

Trek Checkpoint AL 3 Ė I really like the look of this bike and thereís one available in my size at a local Bike Shop. Just unsure if the other options are better/similar for a lesser cost
Start by finding retailers in your area that carry what you want, and go for some test rides. If you're seriously looking at Salsa, try the Journeyman 650b Sora dropbar bike, and the flat bar version, back to back. I wouldn't spend much time evaluating he Claris versions personally. The Sora units are worth the cost, and I'd go 650b out of the box. Clearance for a 2-1/8" tire is a nice feature. You can pick up a 700c wheelset, should you choose to, later.
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Old 04-20-20, 01:10 AM
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Hi, I would suggest to pick up a mountain bike from the beg. of 1990s (no front suspension etc) if you are looking to dip your toes into the sport and do not want to spend too much money (200-300 USD should get you something good). You will get the same feel for the ride and if you decide after one season that this is for you upgrade. Enjoy and I hope that you will start to love your ride
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Old 04-21-20, 06:13 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
Start by finding retailers in your area that carry what you want, and go for some test rides. If you're seriously looking at Salsa, try the Journeyman 650b Sora dropbar bike, and the flat bar version, back to back. I wouldn't spend much time evaluating he Claris versions personally. The Sora units are worth the cost, and I'd go 650b out of the box. Clearance for a 2-1/8" tire is a nice feature. You can pick up a 700c wheelset, should you choose to, later.
This is good advice. Also you should put the Jamis Renegade A1 or A2 on your list as I feel t is a bit more value for what you spend. I definitely would go for a Sora above the Claris group as it is a big step up for just a little money more dough. Ride 20 miles on the Claris and you will instantly be willing to pay a little more for the upgrade to Sora. The low end Revolt is good (though really crappy tires, may as well be solid rubber), but I would put the Jamis above it slightly as Jamis really has even the low end gravel category really nailed.
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Old 04-22-20, 11:46 PM
  #24  
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I purchased a 2019 Checkpoint Alr4 around Christmas time with the intent of adding a commuter to my lineup, and give me a taste of gravel riding. Basically being able to go where my Road bike could not. There are soo many points for mounting just about anything you would want to put on it. Its a nice ride. Comfortable, very predictable. Def. not the fastest or lightest thing out there, but its not supposed to be. The Alr 4 up until this new 2021 came with the Tiagra level groupset. Rock solid. If you can, go get a good test ride on the one at your dealer and see what you think.
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