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Adventure bike: Can it really be good on the road and the trail?

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Adventure bike: Can it really be good on the road and the trail?

Old 11-26-15, 10:59 AM
  #1  
Hunterdog
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Adventure bike: Can it really be good on the road and the trail?

I have been reading about "adventure bikes"; i.e. Cannondale Slate, No.22 Drifter, Specialized Diverge and my curiosity has been piqued. 58 years old here, ride mostly poorly paved and hilly roads, but would like the option to explore the wood's and field's roads and maybe even light cyclocross. Can an adventure bike really do it all well? Or will it be just okay and wishing I had two bikes, a road bike and a cyclocross bike?
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Old 11-26-15, 11:06 AM
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Define "good".
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Old 11-26-15, 11:29 AM
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I have lived to see duel purpose cars, boats, motorcycles and have learned one truth. They will work as designed. Not as well as one designed for single purpose but they will work. The hybrid was designed as a duel purpose bike.
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Old 11-26-15, 01:16 PM
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The Sherpa

It's the Rocky Mountain Sherpa,, Just Lookie dat paint job



Of course my sense of adventure may be vastly different from others

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Old 11-26-15, 01:23 PM
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I've been using a CX bike with a few modifications for a couple of years that way now. I'd characterize it as the "go anywhere reasonably fast" bike. Commute on it too.

Changed the CX front rings from 36/46 to 34/48 and the rear to a 12-32 and run 42mm tires most of the time, but change them out to skinny light slicks once a year for an organized century. Set up as an "adventure" bike it's around 25 lb. Striped down it's just under 20. All the extra weight is in the tires,lights and the toolkit going from minimal to everything required to get home unassisted.

Where it really comes up short is steep trails where there either isn't low enough gearing and the CG is too far forward to keep the rear tire gripping and steep descents have to be done slow. (10%+). I haven't run into a segment long enough for that to be a real problem though. Having interrupters on the brakes so you can keep your head up and weight back with hands on the tops and still brake effectively helps immensely with both situations.
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Old 11-26-15, 07:39 PM
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Any bike will have a range of things can do and it will usually follow the basic bell curve shape as to how well it does each task. A bike like the Diverge et al will have the fat part of its curve in the area of poorly paved roads and smooth hard packed dirt roads and light gravel. On one end of that fat middle will be smooth and fast pavement where the bike will do well, but may be just a tad slower or less agile than a pure road bike because of meatier tires, more relaxed geometry and a slightly heavier frame and wheels. Moving the other way into rougher roads with thicker and looser gravel or sand or mud, a more robust gravel/adventure bike with fatter tire capacity and slacker geometry is going to have an advantage.

You can either pick one bike that has the fattest part of its capability curve in the area that is most important to you but does well enough in other areas, or you can have multiple bikes with different but overlapping curves which give you more options and better choices for different conditions. Being a firm believer in N+1, I prefer this option.
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Old 11-26-15, 10:23 PM
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Adventure bikes typically try to do both road and gravel with equal grace but as any serious compromise situation in life... they meet somewhere in the middle. You need steering that resists minor irregularities on rough roads to dampen directional instability. Conversely, you need steering that quickly turns in to create a road bike with the ability to dive into corners.

Personally, I think most riders underestimate the benefits of steering stability and over value the benefits of quick turn in. This can be a generational thing.
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Old 11-26-15, 11:32 PM
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I don't see why not. My comfort/hybrid bike suits my preferences. The simple spring for suspension fork really helps minimize back and neck pain. As my conditioning improves I'm venturing more off the pavement and onto trails and bumpy stuff. I like being able to be spontaneous and just go, without wishing I'd brought a different bike.

It wouldn't be my first choice if I rode 99% urban or suburban pavement or carefully maintained MUPs. But for my area, it's a good, versatile compromise.
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Old 11-27-15, 01:11 AM
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I'd suggest you visit the recreational cyclocross/gravel sub-forum. There seems to me to be a huge overlap between CX and adventure/gravel bikes, you'll get more knowledgeable commentary over there.

edit: by "more" I mean a greater volume. Don't mean to imply that the comments made so far aren't knowledgeable.

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Old 11-27-15, 01:52 PM
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Ugh. I googled "adventure bikes" and got buried under an avalanche of motorcycles...
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Old 11-27-15, 01:53 PM
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My brother just got back into cycling again and wanted a one bike solution with a goodly percentage of his rides on light gravel & hardpack. He chose a Fuji with a light suspension fork and 32 - 35mm tires. He runs the tires at a bit higher pressure for all-pavement rides. For the same use I would want a roadie with 28 - 30mm tires and no suspension. Something like my old 1972 Raleigh SuperCourse. Just bought a 35 yo English frame with room for 32s for 'lite' off-roading; the plan is for 46/30 rings and 14/28 cogs for conquering long hilly/mountain backroads here in the Cascades. It would not be sufficient for me as my only roadie, but I prefer lighter frames and tubular wheels with 22mm tires on pavement that's decent.
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Old 11-27-15, 02:13 PM
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"Light Cyclocross" leaves out suspension forks they weigh more..

get a 'fitness' hybrid or a cross-bike with the mounts on it, bike put racks on it . just realize you cannot plow thru everything ..

be prepared to stop and walk around things.

What specific "Adventures" did You Have In Mind?

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Old 11-30-15, 11:11 PM
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You can always get a lighter wheelset for your adventure bike for when you are riding roads.
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Old 11-30-15, 11:31 PM
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I'd just get two bikes. Buy your "adventure" bike used (and dirt cheap) and set it up how you want. You can find all sorts of mid 80s through early 90s mountain bikes, hybrids, and "city bikes" that use good steel frames and geometry that would translate well to off-road. Plenty of good advice here on how to do it too!
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Old 12-10-15, 11:01 AM
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I have a Surly Cross Check, with flat MTB-style bars, 41mm tires, and while it DOES do very well on gravel, some easier trails, etc., I'd never pick it over my 29r mountain bike for any trail that's even remotely challenging. But that said, if it WAS my only bike, I could make do (but I'd have to forego the more tricky trail riding).
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Old 12-10-15, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
You can always get a lighter wheelset for your adventure bike for when you are riding roads.
Even an identical wheelset with road tires... the tires, or ability to fit a wide range of tire sizes, is primarily what sets an 'adventure' or gravel bike apart from a road bike.
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Old 12-11-15, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
Ugh. I googled "adventure bikes" and got buried under an avalanche of motorcycles...
Try "gravel bike" or "gravel grinder" instead. That is the more popular terminology these days for bicycles designed (or at least marketed) for riding both paved and unpaved roads.
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Old 12-11-15, 12:09 PM
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Trek Cross Rip or 720 is a bit more adaptable than their competition focused Cyclo-Cross Race Bikes (now "Boone' & 'Crockett")
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Old 12-11-15, 12:35 PM
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My issue is I have to ride 5 or 10 miles to get to the trails, so I'm looking for the perfect tire to take me along 10 miles of road, 10 miles of trail, and back.
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Old 12-11-15, 02:39 PM
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I am in the research stage myself on this. I have a Specialized Allez Comp Mid Compact which is just too, I don,t know, aggressive maybe? It has more aggressive geometry and that isn't what I am about. As a 50 year old, I want something that I can ride on fire roads, gravel, yet can still throw a set of 28s on it and do a week long road ride each June. Something I can ride an enjoy. The biggest issue I have found is actually finding something to look at. None of my local LBS have anything in stock nor do they seem tointersted in getting anything in. They would be happy to order it for me if I pay up front, but I feel I need to touch it first.
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Old 12-12-15, 01:17 AM
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I made the switch to the adventure road bike a few months ago. In my case it was the right move. My titanium road bike now only gets miles whiles strapped into the indoor trainer since getting the adventure bike. I have done a road century, forest service roads, light singe track, and all very proficiently with the right tires. I'll also add it is more then just the tires. The geometry plays a big part in how it handles on the gravel and other rougher stuff. It will never replace one of my mountain bikes, but it will most likely replace my Ti road bike. If I were to get another road only bike, it would be something along the lines of a light weight race bike. Since I don't race, that probably won't happen. My thoughts are now, is to sell the road bike, and get another set of wheels, as others have mentioned.
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Old 12-12-15, 08:45 AM
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I put Kenda knobby tires on my vintage Schwinn Super Sport. Makes for a versatile on road off road bike.
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