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Moving on from the “let’s see if I like 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.

Moving on from the “let’s see if I like gravel” bike

Old 10-17-22, 03:17 PM
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K2dahlia
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Moving on from the “let’s see if I like gravel” bike

Hello, I’ve now tried gravel and am ready to replace my Craigslist Nashbar “test the waters” bike. It actually is fine except for a fundamental problem: it is really heavy, a true Clydesdale. I ride on dirt/gravel roads, including logging roads, typically 20-40 miles although have gone up to 70 when combined with some paved sections. I ride hills but don’t hesitate to walk down the steep sections. I’m looking to spend about $1500 and have looked at State bikes and a used Specialized Diverge. I do know I want disc brakes. My current tires are 44mm but I am thinking they are a bit wide. I will likely put Metropolis ergonomic handlebars on any new bike. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by choices and would much appreciate any insight.

In case it makes a difference, I am a 68 year old female. Thank you!
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Old 10-17-22, 03:42 PM
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Personally, I'd take a Kona Rove over any gravel/all-road bike State is currently making. The shop where I occasionally work carries both brands, and it's not even about the price or components; I just think the Kona rides better.

EDIT: The Salsa Journeyer line also looks nice, as do the Fairdale Weekenders.

Last edited by Rolla; 10-17-22 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 10-17-22, 08:35 PM
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I have a Specialized Diverge that I like quite a bit. I'm sure there are other bikes that would work for you, but I think you'd be happy with the Diverge. I'm 72, but I do think that a young person like you would find the Diverge to be a nice bike.
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Old 10-18-22, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Hello, I’ve now tried gravel and am ready to replace my Craigslist Nashbar “test the waters” bike. It actually is fine except for a fundamental problem: it is really heavy, a true Clydesdale. I ride on dirt/gravel roads, including logging roads, typically 20-40 miles although have gone up to 70 when combined with some paved sections. I ride hills but don’t hesitate to walk down the steep sections. I’m looking to spend about $1500 and have looked at State bikes and a used Specialized Diverge. I do know I want disc brakes. My current tires are 44mm but I am thinking they are a bit wide. I will likely put Metropolis ergonomic handlebars on any new bike. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by choices and would much appreciate any insight.

In case it makes a difference, I am a 68 year old female. Thank you!
Hi K2dahlia! If you don't already have the FSA Metropolis bars, Take a look at On One Mary bars as well. When given a choice on non drop bar bikes, most folks that I've built and/or upgraded bikes for chose the Mary's. Happy bike hunting!
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Old 10-18-22, 08:35 AM
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My bud has a Diverge. That's a nice bike. I've ridden it. He races it and adventures with it. That bike seems to be able to do anything.
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Old 10-18-22, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
I will likely put Metropolis ergonomic handlebars on any new bike.
If you change a bike with drops to flat bar, you will need to buy new brakes and shifters since road/drop bar components have a different diameter clamp than flat bar components. Road is 23.8mm diameter clamp and flat bar is 22.2mm diameter clamp.
I just mention this since it may need to be figured into your purchase if the bike you want ultimately comes in a drop bar configuration new.

A couple of flat bar setups are below...
$1500 msrp and 38mm tire clearance https://allcitycycles.com/bikes/macho_man_flat_bar
$650 msrp and 40mm tire clearance https://www.poseidonbike.com/product...41092144562327
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Old 10-18-22, 06:20 PM
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Thank you to all. I haven’t been called “young” in a very long time! 😂 I’m also looking at the Shockstop Suspensión Stem to keep my arthritic wrists and thumbs happier.
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Old 10-19-22, 01:45 AM
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For the budget, you might be better looking at "2nd tier" bikes, yes, Specialize, canondale, Kona etc. do some good stuff in the entry budget market but people like poseidon do great things in the same budget range.

The poseidon Red wood flat bar (29lbs - gravel) or flatbar X (25lbs - hybrid) comes the similar equipment (groupet, brakes) for 1/2 price.
Alpkit sells the sonder camino flat bar.
I don't know what the US equivalent of Planet X is but its worth researching.

Look into liv too as it s the female specific range from Giant. I know a lady who loves hers after spending many years on non specific bikes.

Either way, I would go with large tyre clearance (50-55C) for comfort and then fit tyres that suit your activities (large slicks/large hard pack/large knobbly). Note that I am faster on my test loop with continent speed king (50-584) than I am with panaracer gravel king slicks (35-622).
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Old 10-19-22, 05:49 PM
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In addition to a gravel bike - consider a hybrid

especially if you are considering converting to flat bar and even more so if you are considering a suspension stem

???

for distance riding I prefer drop bars - but I realize preferences can vary

a gravel bike in your price range might have cable operated disk brakes - and many of the cable disc brakes are typically average (or just adequate ?) in performance compared to hydraulic disc brakes ... a hybrid at that price range will often have hydraulic disc brakes

some things to ponder
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Old 10-23-22, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Personally, I'd take a Kona Rove over any gravel/all-road bike State is currently making. The shop where I occasionally work carries both brands, and it's not even about the price or components; I just think the Kona rides better.

EDIT: The Salsa Journeyer line also looks nice, as do the Fairdale Weekenders.
Gotta second the Kona suggestion, especially the Rove ST (I guess it's called the DL now). Excellent, lively steel frame--has that "thing". Super versatile. I ride mine often like a mountain bike (sometimes places I probably shouldn't) and it rips. Also super comfy and nice on the smooth stuff. The steel Rove frame is a keeper for sure.
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Old 10-24-22, 10:47 AM
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Late model Diverges can fit up to 50c if you don't need mud clearance like us Socal folks, but spec says 47c max. I run 32c road slicks up to mtb-like 50c pending where I want to ride w/ the bike. Great do all bike, love my e5 alum (didn't want the future shock). Add carbon to the right spots later and it's pretty plush ride aka Roval Terra seatpost.



WTB venture 50c
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Old 10-28-22, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Hello, I’ve now tried gravel and am ready to replace my Craigslist Nashbar “test the waters” bike. It actually is fine except for a fundamental problem: it is really heavy, a true Clydesdale. I ride on dirt/gravel roads, including logging roads, typically 20-40 miles although have gone up to 70 when combined with some paved sections. I ride hills but don’t hesitate to walk down the steep sections. I’m looking to spend about $1500 and have looked at State bikes and a used Specialized Diverge. I do know I want disc brakes. My current tires are 44mm but I am thinking they are a bit wide. I will likely put Metropolis ergonomic handlebars on any new bike. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by choices and would much appreciate any insight.
In case it makes a difference, I am a 68 year old female. Thank you!
I may be a bit late to this discussion - been away for most of October and not enough bandwidth to handle the load of BF with ads...
I do have a couple of thoughts on choosing a gravel bike and on some components.
Love the Shockstop stem - I have 2 on gravel bikes - wouldn;t want to ride without them. What I have found - the recommendations by redshift for Elastomer use/settings (there are multiple varying 'stiffness' elastomer provided with stem) is really quite favored to the 'stiff' side. If you do get the Shockstop stem, don;t be afraid to immediately go to a much softer combination than their chart shows. Based on my weight, I've gone down fully 3 settings below what the chart shows and still feel I could go softer. The stem shock 'absorption' in action is really quite independent from bike & steering control. So no pogo-ing, no matter how soft.
Shifting and braking controls - You mentioned the Metropolis bars, which seem to be a more 'sweeped' version of a flat bar - actually more in line with what one would find on older designs of 'town' bikes. VS the gravel bikes with Drop Bars. Be certain of what bar type you want to end up with, because Flat Bar Controls are quite different from Drop Bars. If you buy a 'Drop Bar' gravel bike and expect to convert to the Metropolis - you may find that the controls will not work well for you in going Dropbar to Flatbar type (although, in the bike universe, I'm certain there are riders who ride Dropbar Brifter controls on flatish bars.... and vis-a-vesa).
Most of the 'Weight' on lower priced ($1500 and under), but well designed gravel bikes comes on because of some key component areas - most in this range have good,sturdy wheels which have some weight. They have good tires and matching tubes which add quite a bit of weight. !x designs (single front chainring and wide range gearing cassette) add weight due to the increase weight of wide range gearing/very large steel cogs on the cassettes. Most aluminum frames don;t vary much in weight with higher priced ALU framed bikes - money goes into more gearing and somewhat lighter components overall.
For me, a Carbon Fiber Fork is a large improvement over a steel fork (or ALU), and worth getting.
It's hard to get below 21 lbs (published weights...) without either a more expensive bike cost upfront (over $2K+) , or doing major upgrades which can be considerable.
A 24-25 lb gravel bike rides quite nicely in a recreational aspect and 'feels' light - even though 'racing' might not be as easy.
Even though I have a very 'performance' bend to my riding (for many decades), I do find the gravel bikes I now have (all in the under $1200 price grouping) more than enough 'performance' for my fun gravel biking...I've ridden much more expensive gravel bikes from my cycling buds; and yes, they are very nice and certainly a level or 2 higher performance; but don;t find a need to go that direction with 'gravel biking'. I'm 73, ride more to the 'performance' side of cycling, use my gravel bikes for more mtb-like conditions (not much gravel 'roads' near me), and mostly do some sort of cycling every day.
Shop around, try as many bikes as possible.
Didn't know Nashbar branded their own 'gravel bike'. If you;re bike is a 'hybrid/city' bike, it will be quite different from true gravel bikes.
AN inexpensive gravel bike, like the Poseidon X compared to a Hybrid/City bike similar in price, will be lighter and quite a bit different handling (in a good way) compared to the City bike...
I'll be interested to hear what you find and decide on...
Ride On
Yuri
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Old 10-29-22, 07:10 PM
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I really appreciate all the input! Thank you for your time and expertise. The search has evolved, in case anyone is interested:
*Weighed my bike: 14 kg with only a light. No wonder I am slow in my bike group, compared to on the road bike.
*Justified raising the budget. 😂
*Decided I do want drop handlebars after all.
*Seriously interested in the Diverge. Trying to figure out if I can put the ShockStop stem or something similar on the models that do not have Specialized’s comparable Future Shock.
*Want to support the LBS but they only have one Diverge in my size and it’s more than I’d like to spend. I’m a newbie to bike shopping and the distribution system seems complex.
*Keeping my eye on the used market.

The search continues.
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Old 10-30-22, 05:48 AM
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Don't be afraid to spend a little more to get a / the better bike
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Old 10-30-22, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
I really appreciate all the input! Thank you for your time and expertise. The search has evolved, in case anyone is interested:
*Weighed my bike: 14 kg with only a light. No wonder I am slow in my bike group, compared to on the road bike.
*Justified raising the budget. 😂
*Decided I do want drop handlebars after all.
*Seriously interested in the Diverge. Trying to figure out if I can put the ShockStop stem or something similar on the models that do not have Specialized’s comparable Future Shock.
*Want to support the LBS but they only have one Diverge in my size and it’s more than I’d like to spend. I’m a newbie to bike shopping and the distribution system seems complex.
*Keeping my eye on the used market.
The search continues.
In that case, drop bar options are many...
and most Alu Gravel bikes in the $1k to $2k range will be +- 10 to11 kg (without pedals and whatever else you add on, like bag, water bottle, etc).
If you want 'hands on' before buying, then shop around at LBS in your area.
If you're ok with ordering online, then there are many options.
I can recommend a FRAMED Basswood - which I bought online around Labor day. It's 1x SRAM Apex (one front chainring and 11 spd cassette), especially for combo road/gravel riding.
Well made and great components for the price point. I have about 400 mi on it in the past 7 weeks (I still ride my 'road' bike more often...) and it's been great fun, rides and handles well.
Out of the box it was 9.7 Kg, then I added my eggbeater pedals, Bottle cage, saddle bag and replaced the stock stem with Redshift ShockStop stem. Stock saddle is quite nice, but I have plenty of saddles which I know work for me, so put on one of my own - total weight 10.2Kg.
The House (online store which I've used for a bunch of XC ski purchases and have had no issues) has them lower priced than direct from FRAMED
https://www.the-house.com/qfrbwa1aw5...z-framed-bikes
I picked Orange/Tan - and like the color and combo.
One Caveat - as with many Gravel Bikes I've looked at, the Frame sizing seems to run larger than most pure' 'road' frames. I'm 5' 9" but have longer legs and normally ride a 56 cm road bike.
I bought the 54 cm size and it fits quite well.
The Basswood comes only in 51 cm and larger, nothing smaller - My best estimate is that the 51 will suit/fit a rider on the 5'3" to 5' 8" height range (160 to 172 cm) - 5'2" if rider has long legs...
It's a great riding/value bike at $1049 - if the frame sizes will fit...
... worth considering... if you can order from online comfortably.
...somewhere, in one of the threads here in 'Gravel/cyclocross forum, I did a short review w/pics... I think in "what did you buy for your gravel bike..."
Ride On
Yuri
EDIT: Found my post on the FRAMED Basswood - What did you just buy for your gravel bike?

Last edited by cyclezen; 10-30-22 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 11-03-22, 03:55 PM
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Well, I pulled the trigger and splurged. A Specialized Diverge E5 Comp is on the way. It was hard to find my size (52cm) but found one halfway across the country that was on sale (!) so the cost is about the same as a bike bought locally.
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Old 11-03-22, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Well, I pulled the trigger and splurged. A Specialized Diverge E5 Comp is on the way...
Congrats on the new bike! I've had a 2019 Diverge for a bit more than three years now, and it's a really nice bike. I'm sure you will love yours. Give us a report after you've had a chance to ride it for a while.
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Old 11-03-22, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Well, I pulled the trigger and splurged. A Specialized Diverge E5 Comp is on the way. It was hard to find my size (52cm) but found one halfway across the country that was on sale (!) so the cost is about the same as a bike bought locally.
Nice! Enjoy...
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Old 11-03-22, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
Gotta second the Kona suggestion, especially the Rove ST (I guess it's called the DL now). Excellent, lively steel frame--has that "thing". Super versatile. I ride mine often like a mountain bike (sometimes places I probably shouldn't) and it rips. Also super comfy and nice on the smooth stuff. The steel Rove frame is a keeper for sure.
A buddy sold his Rove, said its a heavy steel bike, I think he told me about 26 lbs. He's been much happier on his Cannondale Topstone, which is in the 22 lbs range for the Aluminum.
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Old 11-03-22, 09:58 PM
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I like my Stormchaser and want to like the Journeyer but I just find their builds a little weird.
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Old 11-04-22, 07:33 AM
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If you decide to go flat bar after all, come back and let us know. MTB controls aren't perfectly compatible with road bike brakes and derailleurs. We can help you make it work.
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Old 11-04-22, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Well, I pulled the trigger and splurged. A Specialized Diverge E5 Comp is on the way. It was hard to find my size (52cm) but found one halfway across the country that was on sale (!) so the cost is about the same as a bike bought locally.
super - congrats !
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Old 11-05-22, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Well, I pulled the trigger and splurged. A Specialized Diverge E5 Comp is on the way. It was hard to find my size (52cm) but found one halfway across the country that was on sale (!) so the cost is about the same as a bike bought locally.
well done!

and to answer the question about the stem, yes, you can fit a redshift stem on this bike. Takes ~ 10 min
i fitted my spare redshift to my latest hill climb build.
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Old 11-05-22, 08:39 AM
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Thank you everyone for all your input and willingness to share your expertise and experience with a relative neophyte. Now I just need to sell or donate two bikes, part of my justification for treating myself to a new bike!
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Old 11-05-22, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by K2dahlia View Post
Thank you everyone for all your input and willingness to share your expertise and experience with a relative neophyte. Now I just need to sell or donate two bikes, part of my justification for treating myself to a new bike!
always keep at least ONE backup bike... if it's different from your primary ride, that's a good thing...
Ride On
Yuri
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