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Two wheelsets for gravel and road - possible issues

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Two wheelsets for gravel and road - possible issues

Old 01-25-21, 12:58 AM
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Cyclist0114
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Two wheelsets for gravel and road - possible issues

Hey, I have cx bike (Planet X XLS) and use it also as road and gravel bike. Want to use two wheelsets for better fit each style.
  • Road config - with cassette 11-28 or 11-30 and 700x28c tires
  • Gravel tires - with cassette 11-34 (HG700 or HG800) and 700x35-37c tires (it's max for this frame)
Thinking about possible issues and solutions. I use hydro Ultegra breaks with Rs685 shifters. Frame doesn't have thru axle and still uses QR, I use DT RWS for it.

What about brakes and rear mech adjustments? Brakes are probably not an issue, fast and not complicated. But what about rear mech? Will it be require to adjust it every time?

What should I do to minimalize this issue?
Use the same hubs, maybe also the same rimse (I prefer to use a little wider rims for gravel config), or its not necessary?
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Old 01-25-21, 09:24 AM
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The same hubs and rotors helps ensure minimal adjusting. You can use spacers to get the fit between brake pads exact, if needed.

I have never had to adjust a rear derailleur that shifts a 30t cog cassette and a 34t cog cassette. I've used a 5800 medium cage RD twice to go between an 11-28 and 11-36 cassette on different builds.


If your gravel setup is going to be on dry roads for most of the riding(so you don't need tread), then maybe just a fast quality 37mm smooth tire is good for all your riding.

Im lazy though and recognize that I wouldn't change my wheels out depending on the ride. I would just end up keeping the gravel tires on and calling it good.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:13 AM
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The issues I ran into when trying to use my gravel bike as a combo bike with a second wheelset:

1. What you just described with mismatched hubs / rotors not fitting perfectly. I had a 6 bolt Novatec hub with TRP rotors on one set, and a center lock Shimano hub with a Shimano rotors on the other, and it required re-centering every time I switched. That's just not very practical.

2. Gravel bikes get very dirty, so using it on the indoor trainer when needed was also a huge pain.

3. Fast rolling slick / semi-slick gravel tires like the Specialized Pathfinder and regular GravelKing are hardly any slower than road tires, making the second wheelset somewhat of dubious value unless it weighs much less.

4. If you have a long, slack gravel bike, that's great for comfort and stability off-road, but very boring on the road.

I ended up just buying a decent used road bike for $300 rather than messing around trying to make my gravel bike do double duty.
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Old 01-25-21, 10:54 AM
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I would recommend using the same cassette, 0.2mm rotor shims, and thru axles to ensure ease of transition.
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Old 01-25-21, 11:04 AM
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I know, that the same cassette it's the best option but... I would like to make bigger difference between these wheelsets. Only tires? It's small and not good option probably - with 700x28c slicks cassete like 11-34 may be not comfortable, probably wider, 11-28 will be better becaue of smaller cogs jumps, especially on long road rides (200 km or more per day).
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Old 01-25-21, 11:48 AM
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I've swapped between 11-28 and 11-34 cassettes on the same bike with little/no need for RD adjustment. Just make sure you've got enough chain length to cover the range.
I also don't think it's a big deal to re-center hydro disc brake calipers. It only takes a few seconds to do this on my bike.

I have used multiple wheelsets on disc brake bikes with different rims/hubs/rotors and different sized cassettes, and only encountered minimal fussing to get them working. Usually just a quick re-alignment of the caliper and I'm good to go. YMMV.
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Old 02-01-21, 01:32 AM
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Since this frame uses disc brakes, your gravel wheelset could be 650b instead of 700c, in which case you should be able to fit somewhat wider tires. If it turns out the frame could fit 650b x 42mm, you’’d have lots of nice gravel tire options.

Other posts have suggested bigger differences in gearing, too. If your small front chairing is a 34, as on road compact cranks, then you might like having a bigger rear cog available for gravel than what you describe - say, a 36, 40 or 42. That might require switching to a different rear derailleur.
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Old 02-01-21, 01:59 AM
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Crankset is GRX 48/31 so cassete 11-32 or 11-34 on rear is (for me) more than enough, even in gravel.

650b... probably will not fit. It's not a typical gravel frame, but CX. It has more space in this area, but probably 42 mm will not fit.
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Old 02-01-21, 02:33 AM
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An XC bike is not going to be ideal on road or gravel most of the time. They have a different top tube length and reach figure to make up for the flat bars the intention is to stretch you out in a more roomy cockpit to weigh the front axle over rougher terrain. You dont want that for road use.
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Old 02-01-21, 02:40 AM
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Moisture I wrote CX (cyclocross) not XC (MTB)
: )
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Old 02-01-21, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by lukasamd View Post
Moisture I wrote CX (cyclocross) not XC (MTB)
: )
Oh okay, my mistake .

Gravel tires are not going to be much slower on pavement.

You can save yourself the hassle by simply installing a slick road/urban tire on the rear and leaving the front as a gravel tire.

Or, find a spare rim with a cassette in the classifieds, put a spare urban tire on it, and switch rear rims when needed. The front tire doesn't offer much rolling resistsnce when riding
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Old 02-01-21, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by scubaman View Post
Since this frame uses disc brakes, your gravel wheelset could be 650b instead of 700c, in which case you should be able to fit somewhat wider tires. If it turns out the frame could fit 650b x 42mm, you’’d have lots of nice gravel tire options.
It's worth checking, but also consider that on some CX bikes (many?), 650b doesn't actually provide any more tire clearance on the rear triangle. It depends on the frame, but a lot of carbon frames in particular that were not specifically designed for 650b do not flare out and might actually have slightly less tire clearance for a 650b wheel size.

This is an area where a gravel specific bike has an advantage. CX bikes are typically optimized around a 700x33 size.
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Old 02-01-21, 10:07 AM
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Yeah, my frame is CX-specific and do not provide any flare for 650b tires. It's Planet XLS.

But, it can allows to use 700x35c, about 37-38mm max. It's enough for me.
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Old 02-01-21, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
An XC bike is not going to be ideal on road or gravel most of the time. They have a different top tube length and reach figure to make up for the flat bars the intention is to stretch you out in a more roomy cockpit to weigh the front axle over rougher terrain. You dont want that for road use.
The long front-center on modern MTBs is to allow the rider to put their weight back and away from the front wheel. That's why they're generally used with very short stems. MTBs typically have a more rearward weight distribution than road bikes.
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Old 02-04-21, 05:34 AM
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I'm just about to pull the trigger on a second 700c wheelset. What I did was ask my LBS if they had any "takeoff" wheelsets identical to the one that came on my bike, and they did!

So I'll have two wheelsets with identical hubs. I'm going with an 11-26 (maybe 11-28) SRAM cassette. The cassette isn't important, just the position of the brake rotors relative to the hub.

I'll be using 40mm tires that are faster then my GK SKs. Although I'm tempted to go with say a 32mm GP5k, I will be doing solo endurance and not group rides.

I thought about going 650b/700c but for this year I'll be doing more long rides on pavement. My "gravel wheelset" will get use on my daily gravel out-and-backs and up to 100 mile rides. I've done one gravel century so far, and I thought it might be nice to go 650b. I have some friends that do bike packing on gravel, maybe next year I'll add the 650b wheelset for multiday outings.
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Old 02-04-21, 09:07 AM
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Why not look through the classifieds? Endless supply of cheap wheelsets. Many of them lightly used.
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Old 02-04-21, 09:19 AM
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It is not simple to find good wheelset if you have strict criteria. My are strict, because I want similar wheelset to current

- DT 350 hubs
- centerlock discs
- QRs
- 135 mm road hub on rear

But... today I ordered such custom-build wheelset with DT 470 rims - the only difference is rim, because I use DT 460 on my current setup. Will sue 470 for gravel because they are greater inner width (only 2 mm, but always).
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Old 02-13-21, 05:51 PM
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I had two different wheelsets for my previous bike, a Lemond Poprad CX bike, and there were some minor headaches, mostly with brake alignment (these were rim brakes).

I love the flexibility and the versatility of having both a road and off-road set of wheels, so when I got my new bike I got two of the exact same wheelsets with the same cassettes and the same brake routers. Now switching is easy and completely seamless, and I am really happy with the results.

This gives me a set of 40mm off-road wheels and a set of 32mm slicks for road riding. 32 might sound wide for road but they’re fast. In fact I finished 30 mins faster during a 70 mile organized mountain ride than my previous year’s result on 25mm road tires.
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Old 02-13-21, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The same hubs and rotors helps ensure minimal adjusting. You can use spacers to get the fit between brake pads exact, if needed.

I have never had to adjust a rear derailleur that shifts a 30t cog cassette and a 34t cog cassette. I've used a 5800 medium cage RD twice to go between an 11-28 and 11-36 cassette on different builds.


If your gravel setup is going to be on dry roads for most of the riding(so you don't need tread), then maybe just a fast quality 37mm smooth tire is good for all your riding.

Im lazy though and recognize that I wouldn't change my wheels out depending on the ride. I would just end up keeping the gravel tires on and calling it good.
I have two gravel wheel sets. Same cassettes. But the hubs are different so spacing is different enough that I need to adjust the limit screws a bit. One wheelset has a knobbier tire. And the other is a bit slicker.
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Old 02-19-21, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by KeatonR View Post
32 might sound wide for road....
No. Actually, they sound skinny.
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