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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.

Low geared gravel bike

Old 08-27-21, 06:12 AM
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deaninkl
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Low geared gravel bike

I'm looking for a gravel bike for bike packing, but I'm a little shocked to see that almost all gravel bikes have pretty much road gearing.. how does a Clyde (220lbs and 5'9") do tracks with a granny gear in the 25 gear-inch range, and that's is on the lower geared gravel bikes. I live in an area surrounded by high mountains and 20% inclines are very common. Im looking for an off the shelf bike with drops, and a 16-18 gear-inch range on the granny, to get that it would need a double or triple crank with a 22 or 24 small chainring and a cassette on the back that is 11-36+......

Does anyone know of such a bike that has that off the shelf?

Many thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 08-27-21, 07:01 AM
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No, but I suspect it might not be too expensive to go to a much lower gear in the back. That's the way the industry is headed.
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Old 08-27-21, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by deaninkl View Post
I'm looking for a gravel bike for bike packing, but I'm a little shocked to see that almost all gravel bikes have pretty much road gearing..
Is a gravel bike the right choice for bike packing? Maybe look at a more touring oriented bike offered by brands such as Surly.
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Old 08-27-21, 07:40 AM
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Low Geared Gravel Bike
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Old 08-27-21, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by deaninkl View Post
I'm looking for a gravel bike for bike packing, but I'm a little shocked to see that almost all gravel bikes have pretty much road gearing.. how does a Clyde (220lbs and 5'9") do tracks with a granny gear in the 25 gear-inch range, and that's is on the lower geared gravel bikes. I live in an area surrounded by high mountains and 20% inclines are very common. Im looking for an off the shelf bike with drops, and a 16-18 gear-inch range on the granny, to get that it would need a double or triple crank with a 22 or 24 small chainring and a cassette on the back that is 11-36+......

Does anyone know of such a bike that has that off the shelf?

Many thanks for any suggestions.
I dont know of anything off the shelf thats a gravel bike.
Not even stock touring bikes have off the shelf gearing that low. Surly's DT has 23gi, Salsa's Marrakesh has 21gi, Kona's Sutra has 20gi.

I would be very surprised if you can find a bike meant for bikepacking with 16gi. Thats an impressively low ratio to spec on a stock bike. I would figure you would need to go more boutique or swap components out to get that low.
https://salsacycles.com/bikes/timber...ck_gx_eagle_29 A hardtail like this would get you down to 18.41gi
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Old 08-27-21, 07:50 AM
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For unladen riding (not touring or bikepacking) I think 25 g.i. is not unreasonable. You can probably go a little bit smaller just by changing the cassette, but not much as gravel derailleurs (shimano, anyway) only handle cogs up to 42 teeth.

Assume you will have to modify any stock 'gravel' bikes to use them for carrying a load in mountainous terrain. If a bike is marketed as a 'touring' bike then it is likely to have lower gears, but touring bikes are generally heavier and the geometry isn't a suited for fast recreational riding.
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Old 08-27-21, 03:23 PM
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The 2016/2017? Diamondback Haanjo EXP carbon came with a triple setup.
Could put on a larger cassette.
May not have been sold at your locations.

Veloci Jimmy frame takes a triple.

Blacksnow Dragon/Dragoon? frame (qr rear) takes a triple.
You can find the frameset for sale online with their carbon triple-mount thru-axle fork.

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Old 08-27-21, 04:03 PM
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GRX in a 48/31 - 11/34 configuration gets you 25.3 GI. The 46/30 crankset option with an 11/34 in the 10-speed setup is 24.5 GI.

I swapped out an11-speed 11/34 cassette for a SRAM 11-speed 11/36 cassette with very little adjustment for 23.1 GI. That's about as low as I've seen an off-the-shelf bike go with just a cassette swap.

A guy I rode with over the weekend rigged up his GRX Di2 46/30 with an 11/42 in the back (XTR RD) for 19.8 gear inches. He does loaded touring (Tour of Divide on it) but his setup wasn't exactly "off the shelf" (he was able to do a straight trade on the XTR RD with the shop he bought it from, that's the lowest I've ever seen without some custom setup or a triple.
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Old 08-27-21, 04:09 PM
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FWIW, I put a 44-32-22 mountain triple on my bike (Breezer Radar) for less than $200 (crankset, bar-end shifters, shift cables, FD). It would probably cost a little more now due to pandemic pricing.
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Old 08-27-21, 05:10 PM
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Many thanks for all the answers, having done quite a lot of research, I was kinda of expecting the answers I've got. But as I've never bought an off road capable bike I thought asking here would do no harm, especially with the expertise here, all much appreciated.

I think now my best option will be to find a bike I like and spend a little more on changing out the front to 24/44 and a set up that will take a 11-42 on the back.... i do like a mechanical challenge.... or I could lose 40lb and not need such low gearing.... (I am trying)...

Thank you all for the feed back. Much appreciated.
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Old 08-27-21, 06:13 PM
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Yep, 24 or 25 GI is about the lowest on a stock gravel bike, and that is much lower than a typical road bike that migh have 32 or 35 as the lowest. If you buy a 1x bike you can pretty easily go to a smaller front ring to get below 20 GI. Getting below 18 is a very uncommon need so stock bikes do not get in that range at all. 23 GI is pretty low enough for just about any rider though unloaded. Mid-teens is so slow it is just about unridable. Maybe get into the low 20s now and resign yourself to walk some if the steepest sections, no shame in that. As you get better you walk less, weigh less and find 24 GI is just fine.

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Old 08-27-21, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by deaninkl View Post
I'm looking for a gravel bike for bike packing, but I'm a little shocked to see that almost all gravel bikes have pretty much road gearing ... I’m looking for an off the shelf bike with drops, and a 16-18 gear-inch range on the granny, to get that it would need a double or triple crank with ...
Don't know of any stock bikes, these days, that sport really low gearing, except for some XC mountain bikes.

Have a great need for low gearing, myself, due to old injuries. With a 2x11 34/24T and a 11-42T cassette you can get to 15 gear-inches on the low.

Say, Shimano Deore XT FC-M8000 34/24T crank, Shimano Deore XT M8000 2x11 and M8000-SGS derailleurs, with a Deore XT 11-42T cassette. At 90rpm cadence, you'll still be capable of a bit over 20mph.

https://www.gear-calculator.com/?GR=...N=MPH&DV=teeth
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Old 08-27-21, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Mid-teens is so slow it is just about unridable.
Not it's not, at least not for the vast majority of people. You'd have to have a severe balance issue for 16-18 gear inches to directly pose an issue.

Maybe get into the low 20s now and resign yourself to walk some if the steepest sections, no shame in that. As you get better you walk less, weigh less and find 24 GI is just fine.
The OP said they're trying to ride a loaded bicycle through mountainous terrain where 20%+ gradients are "very common."

Unless that information is wrong in some way, or they're a very high-torque rider who self-selects an extremely low cadence, they will need to become very strong to make 24 inches appropriate as a low-end gear. At least if we're talking about bikes with typical-sized wheels.
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Old 08-27-21, 09:31 PM
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Well, maybe some background…. I’m 62, 30-40lb overweight, cycling is one of the ways I hope to lose weight… currently I live in Taiwan, a country half the size of Ireland (so probably the size of a medium US state, with over 200 peaks of 3000m (10k feet)…. The Taiwanese don’t do Swiss style switchbacks that snake gently up mountains… here they often take the short way up… so 20% is not uncommon, ant I’ve found steeper… and this is the roads not the tracks…. My current bike for trips is a 2018 Giant FCR, it has 700x28 tire, a 48-36-26 crank and a 11/34 cassette. This gives me about 20.5 GI. This is fine on 80% of the roads, a struggle on 15% and I push the other 5%… ;o) so now I want to do some tracks as well an carry about 8kg of camping stuff for weekend trips…

Taiwan if a fantastic cycling country, but the cyclists here are 130 lb guys that all look like they are training for a Grand Tour race…. So getting low geared bikes here is very difficult, giant rough road is not sold here. So I’m already prepared to ship one in.

Anyway, your answers have helped me a lot… mostly confirming what I have researched… and pushes me to lose more weight… there in a niche there for a smart cycle company. Build a gravel bike with mountain bike gearing. I do believe you old need to be seriously fit to do hilly gravel with 25 GI… just my rant!!!
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Old 08-28-21, 02:05 AM
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Hello, this is my first post here. Decathlon here in Europe sells some bikes with groupsets from a Taiwanese producer, Microshift.
They also make a very interesting product for the OP: a set of 1x11 drop-bar shifters directly compatible with Shimano rear MTB derailleurs. I cannot post the link, but the product code is Microshift XLE SB-M110.
With this you basically can go as low as you want, for example you pair the shifters with a Shimano Deore 11-51 cassette and a 32 chainring.
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Old 08-28-21, 03:30 AM
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My 2021 diverge came with grx400 10speed 46/30 matched with 11-36 rear cassette.

I changed that out to a 11-42 with a small b tension adjustment.

On a side note, after upgrading to 600 grifters and 11spd 11-42 cassette, my 400 rd still works fine.
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Old 08-28-21, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by RiccardoITA View Post
With this you basically can go as low as you want, for example you pair the shifters with a Shimano Deore 11-51 cassette and a 32 chainring.
Welcome to the forum. I think this is the answer. You can get similar gears in most brands, but maybe the rear derailleur would need to be changed out.


I have never quite understood why anyone out touring needs high gears. Tourists don't use high gears, they coast at the every opportunity.
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Old 08-28-21, 06:56 AM
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Hey, Deaninkl, if you have any photos you've taken out on those awesome Taiwan mountain trips we'd love to see them! There's a thread for touring pics.
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Old 08-28-21, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
Hey, Deaninkl, if you have any photos you've taken out on those awesome Taiwan mountain trips we'd love to see them! There's a thread for touring pics.
that can certainly be arranged! Taiwan is certainly a beautiful country from a natural point of view, split into two distinct halves. The heavily populated west side in flat highly industrial (biggest maker of bicycles and bike parts in the world).. the west side including much of the west coast is hard on the eye.. Taiwan woke up to conservation and environmental issues about 10 years ago, so still a ways to go. Buildings are also pretty ugly..
Then there is a central backbone on central mountains, leading to the spectacular east coast still ugly buildings but the scenery more than makes up for it.
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Old 08-28-21, 07:42 PM
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Put a Schlumpf Mountain drive on the bicycle. You can have the low and the high with 727 percent range. You can set up a 15 to 110 gear inch or many other combinations. It is only money. My Rohloff equipped bicycle has a 17 gear inch on the low end. I am going to purchase a Yuba Mundo and put a Schlumpf Mountain drive on it.
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Old 08-29-21, 12:44 AM
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Back again to suggest a build of those Blacksnow frames. Looks like they have a presence in Taiwan and Malaysia and Singapore (3R Cycles).

Yes they pay me big $$$$ to spruik them 😉
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Old 08-29-21, 06:18 PM
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Ha! I did some digging and found a few less common stock bikes that have geraing options at 20 GI and below. Not all of these are gravel bikes and some may not be easy to source in your country, but here are some stock bikes that get close to what you are looking for. This may also give you some component ideas for a DIY modification of anoher bike. Someof these components are not so common either.

https://www.cyclingabout.com/low-gea...x-drivetrains/
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Old 08-29-21, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by deaninkl View Post
I'm looking for a gravel bike for bike packing, but I'm a little shocked to see that almost all gravel bikes have pretty much road gearing.. how does a Clyde (220lbs and 5'9") do tracks with a granny gear in the 25 gear-inch range, and that's is on the lower geared gravel bikes. I live in an area surrounded by high mountains and 20% inclines are very common. I’m looking for an off the shelf bike with drops, and a 16-18 gear-inch range on the granny, to get that it would need a double or triple crank with a 22 or 24 small chainring and a cassette on the back that is 11-36+......

Does anyone know of such a bike that has that off the shelf?

Many thanks for any suggestions.
You should have no problem finding a bike that comes with 46-30 double crank and 11-36 cassette, say a Diverge or something like that. Just ask your bakeshop to swap in an 11-40 cassette before delivery. That should be pretty good.
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Old 08-29-21, 08:23 PM
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https://www.cyclingabout.com/low-gea...x-drivetrains/[/QUOTE]

Thanks for that it is an interesting article, The Fuji Jari 1.1 is on my radar as it is available in Taiwan and at a reasonable price. It gets to 20-21 GI out of the box, so a rear cassette change may be all i need to get to the promised land.

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Old 08-29-21, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Kanon25 View Post
You should have no problem finding a bike that comes with 46-30 double crank and 11-36 cassette, say a Diverge or something like that. Just ask your bakeshop to swap in an 11-40 cassette before delivery. That should be pretty good.
Yes, that is basically where I am at now. Off the shelf is not going to happen, but with some of the lower geared gravel bikes it would not take much to get them close to what I want. Sadly in the land where most bicycles are made, there is not the greatest selection available locally.. but as most riders here are super light and fit, their is not the need. Gravel is not a big thing here yet either. Lucky most bikes are available in Medium, so at least I can get my size. Tall riders have real problems here as almost nothing is sold here in L or XL sizing.
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