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Have a Giant Defy, want to go gravelling.

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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.

Have a Giant Defy, want to go gravelling.

Old 07-04-23, 01:07 PM
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Have a Giant Defy, want to go gravelling.

I dont want to get a "real" gravel bike, not if I can get away with the Defy limitations in 35mm tire width.
So my question is, would you guys keep the stock wheelset and throw 35mm gravel (knobby) tires on it and get a second wheelset for road only? Or should I not even bother as 35mm is not enough?
Reason for me wanting to keep the stock wheels as gravel is that they are hookless and running lower pressure is recommended, perfect for tubeless gravel setups.
Thoughts?

Keep in mind that new bike with similar specs will cost me ~$4K
New wheelset, disk brakes ~ $1200
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Old 07-04-23, 01:23 PM
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Try something like 35mm Gravelking slicks or lightweight 35mm Rene Herse slicks and see how it feels. Maybe you only need one set of wheels/tires.

You only need knobs on your tires to accelerate or turn or brake, so if you avoid those practices you can just sail free like a bird.
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Old 07-04-23, 02:31 PM
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Go for it. If you're going to be mainly on gravel roads and paths a road bike with wider tires is really all you need. A true "gravel" bike with clearance for even wider tires is helpful if you want to ride singletrack and really rough, rocky access roads, but even that kind of terrain can be ridden on a road bike if you have good handling skills.
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Old 07-04-23, 02:32 PM
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I second tyrion 's suggestion to try a 35 mm semi-slick gravel tire on your local gravel terrain.
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Old 07-04-23, 02:35 PM
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Keep what you have now as your road wheelset, but put 35mm or 38mm (if it will fit) Rene Herse EL slick tires on that, which will be great on road and off. If that isn't enough, get a 650b second wheelset and put even wider tires on it.
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Old 07-04-23, 04:12 PM
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As long as your gravel routes aren't super gnarly, a good 35mm will be enough on your Defy (and will fit well). I have a friend who uses that setup as his "gravel" bike.

If it were me and I just had the one bike, I'd put the 35mm knobbly tyres on the stock wheelset, then get a nice carbon aero wheelset for use with road tyres.
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Old 07-05-23, 06:58 AM
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I run tubeless setup and dont want to switch tires every time I want to go off roading. Its either bike or just the wheels with disks on ready to be installed.
Now....... should I look into gravel wheelset OR road 45-50mm carbon wheelset. Anyone willing to recommend either or?
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Old 07-05-23, 08:25 AM
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You have a much nicer bike than I do, so my comments may not be applicable to your situation. My "make do" gravel/dirt road bike is an 1995 Specialized Rockhopper with some modifications for fit and function. It takes 1.75/44mm tires. I put Schwalbe Land Cruisers on it. They roll smooth on pavement and have enough grip to be decent off road. The Shimano cranks were subject to recall, so I got a complete bottom bracket, chain rings, and chain at no cost.
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Old 07-05-23, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by crazyravr
I dont want to get a "real" gravel bike, not if I can get away with the Defy limitations in 35mm tire width.
So my question is, would you guys keep the stock wheelset and throw 35mm gravel (knobby) tires on it and get a second wheelset for road only? Or should I not even bother as 35mm is not enough?
it can depend on the conditions/ type of gravel etc you plan to ride on - and of course the individual (rider)

I would not recommend it - but many ride gravel on 32 mm tires (and smaller) with apparent success / little issue

if you are an ‘average’ rider riding relatively smooth or the less gnarly gravel roads - 35 mm might be fine

for me - 35 mm is a min width for gravel and similar riding ... often prefer something around 40 mm (and more) depending on the terrain

wider is generally better as the surfaces are more compromised and especially if they include larger gravel and nasty stuff (and even more so when running slick gravel tires which are basically wide road tires)

not fun riding skinny tires in thick large gravel - especially when they wheels sink down into / below the surface with rims contacting gravel

a number of good choices - just two recommendations for a 35 mm gravel tire (based on my experience) :

Panaracer GK SS (semi slick) ... the 35’s can run a tad big - so be aware ... GK SS has a relatively smooth tread (thicker and more puncture resistant than the GK slick) with rectangular side knobs

Continental Terra Speed ... the 35’s run small so they might work well for your application ...?... Terra Speeds have small knobs but are surprisingly fast on the road ...

Last edited by t2p; 07-05-23 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 07-05-23, 10:20 AM
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I was riding my CruX for gravel rides with 35s for a while, but like it better now with 38s. You also wanna have room for mud build up if riding in wet conditions is your thing.
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Old 07-05-23, 12:52 PM
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When I was MUCH younger I road my "10 speed racer" everywhere as I'm sure some other older BF members did. We never gave it a 2'nd thought and most of the time it never held me back using whatever cheap tire Canadian Tire choose to put on the bike. Gravel, Single track, grass, etc. And your Giant Defy is a much more capable all rounder then that the cheap 10 speed I had.

As far as tires go, the only reason I would want to switch to a gravel tire is to increase puncture resistance and perhaps increase size to the 35mm limit. I would want some knobs on the side at least for more bite when needed too.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 07-05-23 at 02:27 PM.
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