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How much of gravel bike do I need?

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How much of gravel bike do I need?

Old 03-08-21, 12:40 PM
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How much of gravel bike do I need?

A little of a background: I do both road and mountain biking, with the latter mostly being enduro/downhill. There are tons of fire roads around North Tahoe area, where I am planning to spend bunch of time this summer, so I want a bike, which can do well on asphalt as well as ridable on those fire roads. My current road bike is Cervelo R3 and it is does not do well there... For anything technical I have my mountain bikes, so this is just riding not well maintained fire roads. I also want to use that bike to go bike-packing in Europe once it is open. Trying to decide between Cervelo Caledonia, Cervelo Aspero and an open mould Chinese frame build up. I guess the real question is how much clearance do I need and what is the threshold for 650b wheels. Thanks!
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Old 03-08-21, 02:15 PM
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- No idea which COM frame you are looking at, so that is easily ignored.
- The Caledonia, to me, is an endurance paved road bike. I could see buying a Caledonia for road riding and slapping some 32s on it. Comfort and performance in one for recreational riding.
- The Aspero is a go fast gravel bike that can handle up to a 42mm tire.


Between the Aspero and Caledonia, I just dont understand what the market is for the Caledonia. In my size, the geometry of the two is almost exact. 5mm chainstay difference, 2mm bottom bracket drop difference, and the Aspero actually has LESS trail even. I really dont understand the Caledonia's market. An Aspero could just have 32mm tires and for all intents and purposes it would be a Caledonia.


I wouldnt say either of the Cervelo bikes are ideal of bikepacking. The Aspero is even marketed as a go fast gravel bike designed to 'haul ass, not cargo'. There are no mounting points on either bike for racks or even Anything cages.
And just based on what Ive seen, Ill guess that the COM frame wont be an ideal canvas to create a bikepacking rig.
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Old 03-08-21, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by vtje
A little of a background: I do both road and mountain biking, with the latter mostly being enduro/downhill. There are tons of fire roads around North Tahoe area, where I am planning to spend bunch of time this summer, so I want a bike, which can do well on asphalt as well as ridable on those fire roads. My current road bike is Cervelo R3 and it is does not do well there... For anything technical I have my mountain bikes, so this is just riding not well maintained fire roads. I also want to use that bike to go bike-packing in Europe once it is open. Trying to decide between Cervelo Caledonia, Cervelo Aspero and an open mould Chinese frame build up. I guess the real question is how much clearance do I need and what is the threshold for 650b wheels. Thanks!
I really think you should consider a Ti frame. You are going to be rough on this bike, and Ti will hold up better (at least I hope mine does). I was one inch from pulling the trigger on an Aspero (or an Ibis Hakka), but felt safer doing a Gravel Build with a Black Heart Ti frame.
I don't know much, and I am coming at this from the other side - as a long time roadie.
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Old 03-08-21, 07:51 PM
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For the bike packing stuff I would agree that a Ti bike would work well. You could like at something like the Lynksey GR300. If you threw out the bike packing requirement and used the bike around your area an Ibis Hakka would fit the bill. You already own an Ibis and if you are happy with the company then it would be bike to consider.
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Old 03-08-21, 09:00 PM
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The best I know of from your description would be a Jamis Renegade (carbon) or a Salsa Warbird. Both adapt well to bike packing and rough roads while being great on pavement as well. The Cervelos Aspero is rather stiff with low stack and is really suited best for racing which is not at all what you describe. They cool bikes but from the wrong end of the spectrun based on your desired use.
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Old 03-08-21, 09:50 PM
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The Aspero is nice & fast, and a slick looking bike, but IMO overpriced for what you get. Aspero was on my list too, but the Diverge and Checkpoint just had higher-end components for similar price point so I ended up with the Trek since the Diverge wasn't available in my size nearby. I agree that a Ti bike is ideal for bikepacking. But if you plan to also ride them on the road and more standard fire road gravel riding, it's not going to be as nice or fast of a ride as a carbon bike. I use my gravel bike for commuting too, so a comfortable and fast road ride was really important to me, in addition to all the standard gravel bike checkboxes. Most of the major brands have carbon replacement programs if something crazy happens, but the carbon frames on gravel bikes are made to be much more durable (at the cost of a bit of weight).

Width of tires you need is entirely dependent on the terrain you ride. Fire roads would be fine with 32s most likely, but for maximal flexibility (at the cost of some speed) throw on some 40s or 42s and you can hit most anything.
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Old 03-08-21, 10:04 PM
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Thanks a lot for all your suggestions, I think riding mixed road/fireroad terrain is a primary use case for me here, followed by a commute (if we ever get so lucky to go back to the office!) and bike packing is last, so carbon is preferably.
Will check out Ibis - I really like the company. Will keep posted...
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Old 05-05-21, 09:25 AM
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Does anyone think there is a significant difference between a Ti and Carbon Frame regarding speed? I understand they might feel different in the way they absorb vibration - for me I bought a Ti gravel frame as I believe it will be more durable, and for my road bike Carbon (but mostly because it is lighter and I have read is a little snappier)
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Old 05-05-21, 09:47 AM
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It depends a lot on the frame design. It could go either way -- though most more modern carbon frames tend to be fairly aero while Ti focus less so on aero and might be marginally slower. But there's nothing to say a Ti frame can't be just as aero.
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Old 05-05-21, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by GaryZim
Does anyone think there is a significant difference between a Ti and Carbon Frame regarding speed? I understand they might feel different in the way they absorb vibration - for me I bought a Ti gravel frame as I believe it will be more durable, and for my road bike Carbon (but mostly because it is lighter and I have read is a little snappier)
If the geometry is the same, then no there wont be a significant difference. Aero designs do make a difference in a vacuum and they are very real, but the gains are very minimal overall and so many other variables will play a larger part when it comes to speed.
Wind, dry or wet surface, loose or hardpack surface, tire pressure, tire material and tread, bar width and overall rider size, etc - all play a part with regard to speed.

To me, 'snappy' is a product of geometry more than material. I have an 89 traditional diameter steel tube road frame that I consider to be very snappy because the chainstay length is short, the wheelbase is tight, and the frame angles are aggressive. It is as snappy as any modern road bike Ive ridden that uses carbon or aluminum for frame material.
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Old 05-07-21, 07:47 AM
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Check out the weight of a Lynskey GR300 frame - depending on size, close to 4 lb. You can now get stainless steel frames weighing close to 3 lb (1400g). And there are custom builders who'll build to your spec for the same price as Ti.
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