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Curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired?

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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.

Curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired?

Old 09-06-21, 01:26 PM
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Curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired?

I was just curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired? I guess if gravel bikes were rally cars, the best analogy would be setting up a rally car to handle a tarmac race course. It's still a rally car, but optimized for the road as opposed to dirt. While a dedicated Dura Ace road bike would be more like an F1 car.

Certain gravel bike elements like flared drop bars, wider slicks, but with stiffer frame or maybe using GRX rear derailleurs (as opposed to 105/Ultegra RDs), but mated with bigger cranksets, etc. I'd be interested to see if anyone has gone the other direction in terms of bike builds or thoughts/input on building such a gravel (road) bike?
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Old 09-06-21, 02:14 PM
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My road plus P1.18 Pinion custom bike, is the reverse of what you ask for, which has 700/32c tires Pro 1s tubeless on aero carbon wheels, and the Pinion drivetrain is optimized for that wheel size. When I do a mix ride, I switch to 584/48 Panaracer Gravel King SK on wider carbon rims, and I may change the sprocket in the read hub to make gearing suited for the ride, although I don't do serious trails so it's very rare I need to. Still, I can switch it around and stick with the lower top speed gearing and Gravel King tires. The Gates belt drive will take most anything thrown at it, and the Pinion is bullet proof and has such wide gearing, it's hardly ever the wrong gear.
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Old 09-06-21, 02:42 PM
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I've run my Gunnar Sport with flared Ritchey bars, mtb RD and cassette, 46-30 GRX crank, RH 35mm Bon Jons and a rubber Brooks Cambium. I've also used a 46-34 crank which suits me better for the road. Don't know what kind of car would be analogous.
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Old 09-06-21, 03:06 PM
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Running 48/32 with 11-36 rear RX800, Ritchey Ergo Max Bars, 700x35 tubeless slicks, can fit up to 650x2.2
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Old 09-06-21, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo
Running 48/32 with 11-36 rear RX800, Ritchey Ergo Max Bars, 700x35 tubeless slicks, can fit up to 650x2.2
Cool, that's close to something I was looking at building. I just picked up a carbon frame with 105 groupset. I plan on keeping the 105 shifters/FD/crankset. I'll swap the 105 rd with GRX to have access to the clutch (I have a spare lying around). I plan on running GK 38c slicks (also spares lying around) and the bike came with TRP Spyre disc brakes. I've installed Ritchey Comp Beacon Drop bars, so it has more of an aggressive stance. I like the gravel bike handling and look, but I just wanted something a bit more durable for urban riding, versus the standard road setup. I also have my other gravel bike which is running the full GRX 400 groupset, but I plan on dedicating that more to off-road and slower style riding.

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Old 09-06-21, 05:03 PM
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I will be moving across the country in a couple days for a travel nurse contract. I have 4 bikes in the garage but bringing everything just isn’t realistic for 14 weeks.

So I’ll be bringing my Swiss Cross with the 40’s. That will handle everything from gravel to “probably should have brought a mountain bike” albeit, occasionally a little slower.

I will also be bringing a spare set of wheels with 28mm road tires. These will be for a potential commute (fingers crossed) and just exploring the new city.

The biggest limitation is that I’m currently set up for epics. 1x, 40x10-44. The spare wheel has 11-36.

I’m fairly finicky. 1x for gravel and MTB, 2x for road. But if I’m only bringing a single bike to these different assignments, the versatility of 2x starts making sense. Especially since I’ll have Di2 pretty soon.

If the travel nurse gig works out and the quiver killer bike becomes the norm, I will probably go 2x. Which would pretty much put this bike squarely into the gravel/road territory you mentioned.
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Old 09-06-21, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo
Running 48/32 with 11-36 rear RX800, Ritchey Ergo Max Bars, 700x35 tubeless slicks, can fit up to 650x2.2
How is that gearing working for climbing?
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Old 09-06-21, 05:10 PM
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my bianchi mega tube ti...run 35 ritchey cross tires or 28 road tires....bike is great. does road and dirt well....spd pedals flared bars....smoove.
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Old 09-06-21, 05:20 PM
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My gravel bike is 48/32 mated to 11-36. 105 hydraulic shifters, ultegra rx800 clutch wide range rear derailleur.
73.5deg seat tube, 58mm of trail, 77mm of bb drop, and smooth center tires all help make it feel fairly quick steering and planted similar to a road bike.

If I had 32mm road tires and a stem 10mm longer on it, it would feel very similar to my main road bike.

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Old 09-06-21, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Gravel Rider
How is that gearing working for climbing?
I am not who you asked, but I have the same gearing. It works perfectly for where I ride. We don't have mountains or any epic climbing, but I ride a lot of steep short hills that come over and over.
32-36 is rarely needed even with the steepest punchy climbs. But gearing is totally unique to each person's fitness, riding style, size, etc.
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Old 09-06-21, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts
I will be moving across the country in a couple days for a travel nurse contract....
Thanks for what you are doing. Heros of 2020-2021. Stay safe.
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Old 09-06-21, 06:48 PM
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I run my Slate with 2 different wheel sets. Gearing is 52/36 up front and 11/28 for the road and 11/32 for gravel. Looks like I did the Jersey Gravel Grinder with thehammerdog without knowing it but have also done a road century and other road events with it. It's not exactly a 'build' but it is a well used setup with more road style gearing than most gravel bikes. I have thought about moving to a road frame for gravel but most that will fit 32+ tires don't seem to be worth the effort/cost.


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Old 09-07-21, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
I was just curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired?
I did it in reverse: gravel to "road.". My first "gravel" bike was a '16 Diverge (frame was unchanged from '15), which was really a 2014 Roubaix with tire clearance up to 35mm and a slightly slacker geometry. It was originally spec'd with a 50-34 crankset and 11-32 cassette. It now has a 52-36 and 11-34 respectively. It is not as "fast" my SL6 or SL7, but it isn't far off. With 32mm tires that inflate to 35mm (wide internal rims), set up tubeless, it can handle all but the nastiest, chunkiest gravel and it is a great foul weather bike.
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Old 09-07-21, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Gravel Rider
How is that gearing working for climbing?
It's great for road for me but is sometimes not enough for the steep double track that we call "gravel" here
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Old 09-07-21, 10:27 AM
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It takes me about an hour of riding on urban streets to hit something off-road from Manhattan so my CX bike has 38mm slicks, 30/46 and 11-34 GRX allows me to cover a lot of different terrain quickly.
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Old 09-07-21, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
Cool, that's close to something I was looking at building. I just picked up a carbon frame with 105 groupset. I plan on keeping the 105 shifters/FD/crankset. I'll swap the 105 rd with GRX to have access to the clutch (I have a spare lying around). I plan on running GK 38c slicks (also spares lying around) and the bike came with TRP Spyre disc brakes. I've installed Ritchey Comp Beacon Drop bars, so it has more of an aggressive stance. I like the gravel bike handling and look, but I just wanted something a bit more durable for urban riding, versus the standard road setup. I also have my other gravel bike which is running the full GRX 400 groupset, but I plan on dedicating that more to off-road and slower style riding.
The Gravel King slicks are pretty... well... slick. The tire compound does not grip as well as many other tires we have found. We love the regular GK tires however. When those slicks wear out maybe consider Challenge Strada Bianca or Rene Herse file treads.
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Old 09-07-21, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee
The Gravel King slicks are pretty... well... slick. The tire compound does not grip as well as many other tires we have found. We love the regular GK tires however. When those slicks wear out maybe consider Challenge Strada Bianca or Rene Herse file treads.
I think we had this conversation on another thread. I'm also not fond of the GK slicks on anything but flat straightaways. Downhill and trying to take curves fast and I can definitely feel them slip. On the other hand, my GK SS tires have been great allowing me to take corners confidently. In fact between the TLC slicks and the SK knobbies, the SS tires are now my favorite in the GravelKing line-up and hit that perfect sweet spot.

Anyways, I just put the slicks on my new build, since it was the only tires I had available. I have a feeling I won't be taking them off for awhile, since they were such a pain to mount on my tubeless rims. Right now I'm just waiting for a new fork to arrive, but the bike I'm putting together is almost built. Can't wait to ride it!
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Old 09-09-21, 08:53 AM
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My Soma Fog Cutter is what I use for all my paved and unpaved riding. Probably 70/30 paved/unpaved overall. It is probably along the lines of what you are thinking.

Endurance Road geometry.
38mm RH Barlow Pass tires
Salsa Cowbell bar
50/34 x 12-30 2x10 drivetrain (Been thinking of going to a 46/30 crankset).

I sold my Pavement Bike (AKA “road bike) years ago and have never missed it. I may upgrade to a nicer frameset someday, but other than some slightly lower gearing, this meets all my paved and unpaved road riding needs brilliantly.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:18 AM
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I think you are describing my Cross Check with 28mm tires back in about 2005. The road club that I rode with was asking me every ride why I wouldn't buy a road bike? Now "gravel bikes" are all the rage. What happened?
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Old 09-09-21, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter
I think you are describing my Cross Check with 28mm tires back in about 2005. The road club that I rode with was asking me every ride why I wouldn't buy a road bike? Now "gravel bikes" are all the rage. What happened?
I've been group riding every week for the whole summer and I find it so limiting that those riding dedicated road bikes are stuck with narrow tire widths and the inability to ride some of the rougher terrain in the area. In fact even with my lower gearing on my current bike of 46:30t w/11-36t cassette I'm able to keep up or go faster on tarmac than most riders on flats/hills. The only reason I'm looking at a higher geared bike is to attain faster speeds on the flat, build it to be lighter weight, while having all the handling characteristics of a gravel bike.I've decided to keep my current GRX alloy bike, more for comfort, rough trails and long distance trips. I figure it'd be easier just to own two bikes for different, but similar purposes!
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Old 09-10-21, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
I was just curious if anyone has built a road bike that is more gravel inspired? I guess if gravel bikes were rally cars, the best analogy would be setting up a rally car to handle a tarmac race course. It's still a rally car, but optimized for the road as opposed to dirt. While a dedicated Dura Ace road bike would be more like an F1 car.

Certain gravel bike elements like flared drop bars, wider slicks, but with stiffer frame or maybe using GRX rear derailleurs (as opposed to 105/Ultegra RDs), but mated with bigger cranksets, etc. I'd be interested to see if anyone has gone the other direction in terms of bike builds or thoughts/input on building such a gravel (road) bike?
I don’t understand the question. Are you making a distinction between road and gravel frames/framesets? In the title you say “road bike,” but then you use the example of setting up a gravel bike for tarmac, so I’m confused if you want to know about adapting a road bike to dirt road use, or a gravel bike optimized for tarmac use.
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Old 09-10-21, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster
I don’t understand the question. Are you making a distinction between road and gravel frames/framesets? In the title you say “road bike,” but then you use the example of setting up a gravel bike for tarmac, so I’m confused if you want to know about adapting a road bike to dirt road use, or a gravel bike optimized for tarmac use.
Basically I'm envisioning a road "gravel" bike that's running a GRX derailleur for the clutch, but with a higher gear crankset, wide slicks, flared drops for better control, while running a lightweight frame and wheelset.

I just don't want a road bike I have to baby. I notice my roadie buddies always watching out for potholes and bumps on the road, nor can they handle the rough stuff when we encounter loose dirt or rocks. On most everything we ride, I can easily match their speed or go faster on my lower geared and heavier gravel bike. So I want to make a gravel bike that's lighter and faster, but not necessarily be all-road bike.
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Old 09-10-21, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
Basically I'm envisioning a road "gravel" bike that's running a GRX derailleur for the clutch, but with a higher gear crankset, wide slicks, flared drops for better control, while running a lightweight frame and wheelset.

I just don't want a road bike I have to baby. I notice my roadie buddies always watching out for potholes and bumps on the road, nor can they handle the rough stuff when we encounter loose dirt or rocks. On most everything we ride, I can easily match their speed or go faster on my lower geared and heavier gravel bike. So I want to make a gravel bike that's lighter and faster, but not necessarily be all-road bike.
If you are running a double up front, you don't need a clutch RD in the back. No harm in using it, but it is not really needed.
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Old 09-10-21, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
Basically I'm envisioning a road "gravel" bike that's running a GRX derailleur for the clutch, but with a higher gear crankset, wide slicks, flared drops for better control, while running a lightweight frame and wheelset.

I just don't want a road bike I have to baby. I notice my roadie buddies always watching out for potholes and bumps on the road, nor can they handle the rough stuff when we encounter loose dirt or rocks. On most everything we ride, I can easily match their speed or go faster on my lower geared and heavier gravel bike. So I want to make a gravel bike that's lighter and faster, but not necessarily be all-road bike.
Well, I don’t think I understand the distinction you’re making between gravel and all-road bikes, but I guess we’re talking about lightweight gravel bikes with slicks, then.

I run something like that, if you consider 19lbs (w/ Assioma power meter pedals) light. It is a large, 58cm frame… Anyway, I’ve set it up with SRAM Force AXS 48t/35t crankset and 10-33 cassette, so it’s more roadie both for the gear range and the fact of being a double chainring. I also run 35c Herse Bon Jon Extralight rubber, which are file tread and lightweight, more on the road side than gravel, but work fine for my conditions. Easton EA70 AX alloy flared drop bars, and a 1475g Spinergy GX wheelset, which is also rather light.

Had I built it for light weight, I’d have skipped the Paul post for carbon and shaved 100g there, gone with the carbon AX bar for another 70g, and probabaly shaved 100g between stem and wheel selection…call it .5lbs less, but really, I’ve no complaints with it complete at 19lbs.


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Old 09-10-21, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
If you are running a double up front, you don't need a clutch RD in the back. No harm in using it, but it is not really needed.
Until it is...in my neighborhood there are some long sections of road that are "paved" with cobblestones. Even on a 2x, the clutch is critical. I can tell when I've forgotten to engage it. If nothing, it reaches chain slap, but on the right "road" it keeps the chain right where it belongs. On smooth road, I agree, it serves no purpose
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