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Not really a unique idea, but...a full suspension gravel bike?

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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.

Not really a unique idea, but...a full suspension gravel bike?

Old 12-03-21, 11:46 AM
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Not really a unique idea, but...a full suspension gravel bike?

Article details a XC MTB frame (hardtail) built into a gravel bike (really a drop bar XC...but anyhow). Anyone ever done this with a MTB fully? I've a Spesh Epic that I ride a bit, but not so much, that just maybe if I did some mods and fitted it with a drop bar would get a lot more riding.

Thoughts? Would a full squish MTB frame just be a waste of time for something like this?

https://cyclingtips.com/2021/12/bike...c-gravel-bike/
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Old 12-03-21, 12:15 PM
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Interesting timing..just this morning I was considering a hardtail DB conversion. Found a rather interesting high-end hardtail on FB that is basically a new bike, with a good suspension fork. I could replace the fork with a rigid one..but..what if I left the suspension fork in place...

A full squish DB conversion..interesting..
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Old 12-03-21, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
A full squish DB conversion..interesting..
Exactly my thoughts! Just wondering if it is overkill and in the end will be unenjoyable to ride. A hardtail I get, and a regular XC fork, lots of fun to be had. But, full suspension...not sure.
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Old 12-03-21, 12:49 PM
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From-the-factory full squish gravel bikes have very short-travel suspension.

https://www.ninerbikes.com/mcr-9-rdo/

It will be interesting to see if this short-travel evolves into longer travel in the future.
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Old 12-03-21, 01:12 PM
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Full suspension drop bar gravel bike- thats something which is neat to see and read about, but has absolutely 0 pull for me. Its cool that someone has a need for such a bike though.
I will be sad if full suspension manages to take over gravel bikes. Great to take a slice, but dont take the whole pie.

I cant imagine riding full suspension geometry and thinking 'wow, ive really been missing something!' because that geometry excels elsewhere besides gravel roads.
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Old 12-03-21, 02:05 PM
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I was on a ride a couple of weeks ago, terrified and beat up by descents with foot deep ruts and grapefruit sized rocks, all covered by leaves. Friends on FS mtbs were cruising. I could catch up on flats and climbs but it was hard work. They would happily do that route again, I wouldn't. Depends on what passes for gravel where you ride. Sounds like a cool project!
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Old 12-03-21, 02:21 PM
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The Cannondale Topstone lefty is technically a full suspension gravel bike. It's 24lbs, 30mm F/R travel and includes a dropper post. There's no rear shock though, just a "leaf spring" frame design with a single pivot point.

I think the market for a longer travel drop bar bike seems very limited. I do wonder why we don't see more suspension seat posts on gravel bikes.
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Old 12-03-21, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Depends on what passes for gravel where you ride.
This. I've always found FS bikes to be slower-feeling than a rigid road bike, and I don't think drop bars would really make a difference. But if your "gravel" is actually gnarly enough for a FS to be worth the weight, flex and bobbing, then perhaps it would work for you.

I've also not had great luck with drop bars staying in place for especially gnarly riding. Especially on the hoods, there's just too much leverage on the stem clamp for big bumps.
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Old 12-03-21, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I do wonder why we don't see more suspension seat posts on gravel bikes.
I am guessing the look and the 10oz they add.
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Old 12-03-21, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I am guessing the look and the 10oz they add.
Funny - I had the opposite thought. Both that Niner and the Topstone Lefty are 25lb bikes, whereas most gravel bikes (especially in those price ranges) are at least 5lbs lighter.

A dropper suspension post like this one would add 300g:
https://bikepacking.com/gear/pnw-coa...atpost-review/

A Lauf fork adds about 500g. So, I could put both on my 18lb bike and have 30-40mm of suspension in a package that is 5lbs lighter than those bikes.

All of this looks kind of ridiculous - no argument there.
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Old 12-03-21, 05:14 PM
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I can see the benefit of a suspension stem and/or seatpost for gravel, but a rocking a sus fork and a rear shock just tells me you should be on a mountain bike. Or pavement.
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Old 12-03-21, 08:28 PM
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The bike industry's raison d'etre is to get people to buy new bikes, so I am sure that FS gravel bikes are on the way.
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Old 12-03-21, 09:03 PM
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I wonder if these would remain unsold even if people couldn't get any other bike due to supply shortages. In normal times I would expect them to be orphans.
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Old 12-05-21, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I was on a ride a couple of weeks ago, terrified and beat up by descents with foot deep ruts and grapefruit sized rocks, all covered by leaves. Friends on FS mtbs were cruising. I could catch up on flats and climbs but it was hard work. They would happily do that route again, I wouldn't. Depends on what passes for gravel where you ride. Sounds like a cool project!
This right here^ I see you're in Tennessee, which would be wonderful I think for a full sus or something with front suspension. Full on MTB suspension would probably be overkill. For me on gravel I want more rear suspension then front -- I can unweight the front and use my upper body, plus run lower pressure on a large tire.

I went the opposite from this article, I had ridden my hard tail xc MTB for years on gravel, and it worked great. But I always kept the fork locked, and I didn't really need 2.2" tires - plus we don't have mountains in Iowa -- but we do have wind!! 15mph+ is a constant every season but summer, so a drop bar was a must. I have considered converting the MTB to drop bar for continued winter riding.

I own a carbon topstone with a rigid fork and love it. Cannondale advertises 30mm of rear travel, but half of that number is if you have the flexy carbon seatpost -- which I don't. However there's at least 12mm of flex at the rear axle just from frame design, and a big thing that made me buy it wasn't how it absorbed impacts but instead how well the frame is damped. You don't bounce on this bike, even with the pressures a touch high. With my area there's a lot of high frequency vibrations from the road that get nicely muted. Hitting washboard at high speeds makes the suspension really work, and you can hear it.

​​​​​​A full sus 140mm drop bar MTB for gravel? No thanks. Oh, unless it's an ebike -- that would be kind of amazing.
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Old 12-05-21, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Full suspension drop bar gravel bike- thats something which is neat to see and read about, but has absolutely 0 pull for me. Its cool that someone has a need for such a bike though.
I will be sad if full suspension manages to take over gravel bikes. Great to take a slice, but dont take the whole pie.

I cant imagine riding full suspension geometry and thinking 'wow, ive really been missing something!' because that geometry excels elsewhere besides gravel roads.
Definitely don't need it. Just a thought, since I have the bike and in it's current form it doesn't get ridden much. My ultimate guess is that even with a curly bar on it, I wouldn't see a lot of use.
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Old 12-05-21, 08:09 PM
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Going to larger and larger tires at ever lower pressures can only do so much for improving ride quality, and that comes with a trade-off in speed and efficiency. On my gravel bike, even with 2.2" cross country mountain bike tires and a frame designed to absorb a lot, hitting embedded rocks or even certain washboard sections can be downright painful.

A little bit of suspension could go a long way in enhancing both comfort and control/traction. I'm definitely not talking about mountain bike travel numbers. Even just two inches of well engineered suspension would be enough.

And no, bouncy sterns and seatposts =/= suspension. These may help add some shock absorption but they do little to nothing for traction and control on bumpy surfaces. Also suspension seatposts won't help alleviate shock loads and vibration going into your feet, like a suspended frame would.
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Old 12-05-21, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Definitely don't need it. Just a thought, since I have the bike and in it's current form it doesn't get ridden much. My ultimate guess is that even with a curly bar on it, I wouldn't see a lot of use.
I fully understand trying g to figure out how to repurchase a bike or frame to get it used more frequently.
I recently tore down my single speed road frame and bought 2 full bikes this morning in order to make a single speed I will use more often out of the sum of all those 3 bike's parts.
Getting creative to use something more often is a good part if this hobby.
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Old 12-06-21, 12:47 AM
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After watching this develop for a few years I think we are mostly not going to see much of it. At least not MTB style with telescoping forks and linkage rear suspension and air springs and oil dampers. There will be stabs at it, like the SRAM XPLR stuff, but gravel mostly belongs to the roadies. After watching the idiots struggle with crap bikes at this yearís Paris-Roubaix and all the hypothetical arguments they were still somehow faster than they might have been merely with treaded tires so they donít fall over and mud guards so they could see straight, itís never gonna change enough. If it does it will be with flat bars or motors or both
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Old 12-06-21, 02:21 AM
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I have been looking @ kona sutra ULTD (2020) and LTD (2022) and cinelli hotbootleg geo because they are pretty much hard tail MTB geo and are fitted with XC groupset and wheels. a front shock would make it better on the very rough XC trails but adds weight.
I did look at planet X titanium MTB that can be ordered with flamed dropped and rival groupset and it would make a good XC/gravel bike.

Reason I like that is that I mostly ride XC trails and paths but there are tarmac bits in between and I find that in upright MTB position on knobbly tyres, it is so slow... and with a gravel position, you can ride faster....

Weight vs cost is also a big consideration; not because of hill climbing but when you have to get over a rusty jammed gate obstructing the bridleway, having to carry 9kg of gravel bike instead of 15kg of hard tail mtb over the gate, weight is definitely important...

So, while my gravel started as a typical bike (carbon/ gravel generic groupset, 38-622 tyres), it has changed to 50-584 XC tyres, mullet groupset (eagle ring, e13 wide range cassette, XC brake pads etc.) because if it was not for the weight and the tarmac connection, I would ride XC...
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Old 12-06-21, 11:05 AM
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I am jealous of anyone who has this much variety of terrain outside their door where something like this would be useful.

The gravel stuff I can ride to is all relatively flat/smooth, like unpaved roads or crushed stone trails. The limited singletrack I can ride to is pretty tame and rideable on a rigid CX/gravel bike, and FS would only benefit a tiny percentage of those trails.

I do have more challenging MTB single track trails that I can drive to, where FS is definitely a benefit. I'm sure a full squish drop bar gravel bike would be fun on those, but I'd rather just ride a MTB bike.
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Old 12-06-21, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
After watching the idiots struggle with crap bikes at this yearís Paris-Roubaix and all the hypothetical arguments they were still somehow faster than they might have been merely with treaded tires so they donít fall over and mud guards so they could see straight, itís never gonna change enough.
Paris Roubaix is a unique animal. It's 160 miles long. 34 of it is cobblestones. The other 126 is a hammer fest on pavement, including the last 20 miles which get raced at full-gas 40+mph. The winner did it in just over 6 hours with an average speed north of 26mph. This isn't a gravel race.

CX or gravel tires would be faster through the cobbles/mud (and maybe helped more riders stay upright), but there is no way Cobrelli stays off the front for the last 20 miles and outsprints the others if they're on road tires and he's on mud tires, or if he's got extra aero drag from fenders, etc.
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Old 12-06-21, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
CX or gravel tires would be faster through the cobbles/mud (and maybe helped more riders stay upright), but there is no way Cobrelli stays off the front for the last 20 miles and outsprints the others if they're on road tires and he's on mud tires, or if he's got extra aero drag from fenders, etc.
https://www.renehersecycles.com/myth...slow-you-down/
Jan Heine argues that fenders are aero. Like many of his tests, who knows.
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Old 12-06-21, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
https://www.renehersecycles.com/myth...slow-you-down/
Jan Heine argues that fenders are aero. Like many of his tests, who knows.
This is getting a bit off track here (no pun intended), but rain fenders run close to the tire like what Jan Heine shows in his photos seem like they would easily clog up with mud, and I'm also not sure how fenders (or mud guards) of any kind would actually help Paris Roubaix racers. 6+ hours of rain and racing in conditions like this and everything is going to be soaked and disgusting, even with fenders:

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Old 12-06-21, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
This is getting a bit off track here (no pun intended), but rain fenders run close to the tire like what Jan Heine shows in his photos seem like they would easily clog up with mud, and I'm also not sure how fenders (or mud guards) of any kind would actually help Paris Roubaix racers. 6+ hours of rain and racing in conditions like this and everything is going to be soaked and disgusting, even with fenders:

Off track is cool, since I know a bit about the mud the area, since I live in the area. Fenders are great if you stay on pavement around here. Off road? You're begging for bad problems. It has rained everyday for the last two weeks, the mud now is just special. Liquid when you ride through it (everything is mud, now), but a highly abrasive paste when it stick to you, your bike, your shoes, your drivetrain, etc. and the liquid has gone away. Fenders are a waste of time anywhere but on tarmac. Even then, they keep your arse dry, and parts of your bike clean...but they aren't magic and they definitely can clog up.
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Old 12-06-21, 04:10 PM
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On another note, my crazy ideas were dashed between this thread and need for some more spares that are seeing some wear due to the crappy conditions in Belgium the last few weeks...and winter hasn't even begun. Yikes.
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