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Gravel Bikes vs Hardtail 29ers?

Old 09-30-17, 11:32 PM
  #1  
ADAP7IVE
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Gravel Bikes vs Rigid 29ers?

Shopping around for a new custom bike, and talking with builders has got me wondering when one would go with a "gravel" road bike (Open Cycles UP, Moots Routt 45, etc) and when one might go with a 29er (Salsa Fargo, Cutthroat, etc).

The goal is long rides and tours on variable terrain--some smooth roads, but rough roads, gravel, and forest roads of varying upkeep. Ideally I'd move at a smooth pace when unloaded too.

Both setups can manage tours on rough roads, but are their situations where one would be more or less fit for purpose?

Last edited by ADAP7IVE; 09-30-17 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Mistake
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Old 10-01-17, 03:00 AM
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go have a look in the hybrid forum
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Old 10-01-17, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
Shopping around for a new custom bike, and talking with builders has got me wondering when one would go with a "gravel" road bike (Open Cycles UP, Moots Routt 45, etc) and when one might go with a 29er (Salsa Fargo, Cutthroat, etc).
I pretty much lump all the bikes you mention into the "gravel bike" category. I would choose in part based upon the width and diameter of tires I wanted to run. I bought my Fargo because at the time I wanted to run mountain-width tires. Since then, I've moved to a different frame that lets me run 650 road-plus tires at 47 mm -- not quite mountain-width, but still wide enough to run low pressures and absorb some of the bumps on gravel and doubletrack.
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Old 10-01-17, 06:19 AM
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Flat-mount disc brakes: the frameset should allow for this.

Is it better?

https://opencycle.com/updates/post-m...nt-12-vs-15-mm

https://www.bikehugger.com/posts/road...vs-post-mount/

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Old 10-01-17, 08:39 AM
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go to events and watch what the participants bought.
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Old 10-01-17, 09:18 AM
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For general riding, if you can drive it in a car you most likely will be over-served by a rigid 29er, IMO/IME.

Touring/Bikepacking? No reason not to go with a rigid 29er. If the goal is adventure I've found it's better to bring too much bike than not enough. I think it's easier to find a rigid 29er set-up for bikepack bag mounting too.

I found Jay Petervary's Tour Divide bike interesting: Jay Petervary?s Dirty Dirty Tour Divide Salsa Cutthroat | The Radavist
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Old 10-01-17, 06:27 PM
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[QUOTE=Spoonrobot;19899515
Touring/Bikepacking? No reason not to go with a rigid 29er. If the goal is adventure I've found it's better to bring too much bike than not enough. I think it's easier to find a rigid 29er set-up for bikepack bag mounting too.
[/QUOTE]

Jonathangennick:
"I pretty much lump all the bikes you mention into the "gravel bike" category. I would choose in part based upon the width and diameter of tires I wanted to run. I bought my Fargo because at the time I wanted to run mountain-width tires. Since then, I've moved to a different frame that lets me run 650 road-plus tires at 47 mm -- not quite mountain-width, but still wide enough to run low pressures and absorb some of the bumps on gravel and doubletrack"
******

I've tried riding a rough, rutted and chunky gravel road on my rigid 29er Jamis Renegade. The tires on that bike are limited to no wider than 40c. I made it ok but it wasn't fun when the going got rough. Maybe because I should have thought to let some air out of the tires. Regardless, though, a wider tire footprint and lower pressure would appear to be fundamental. I haven't settled for sure on 29+ or in between that and 700x40c, but for a bikepacking touring bike, I agree rigid is the way to go.
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Old 08-26-18, 08:45 PM
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I went with a drop bar, rigid 29er for a "swiss army" bike. I really like it - get left behind a bit on the pavement when I'm with my road buddies, but wouldn't trade the adventure aspect to keep up with them anyways. Drop bar gives extra hand positions and I like the relaxed feed of riding on the hoods. Just my $0.02.
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Old 08-27-18, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Oylerz View Post
I went with a drop bar, rigid 29er for a "swiss army" bike. I really like it - get left behind a bit on the pavement when I'm with my road buddies, but wouldn't trade the adventure aspect to keep up with them anyways. Drop bar gives extra hand positions and I like the relaxed feed of riding on the hoods. Just my $0.02.
What brand, model, and color? Glad you like it; the rest doesn't matter. Riding with road buddies is overrated, anyway. Awesome that you found one you enjoy. Keep rolling.
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Old 08-27-18, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa View Post
What brand, model, and color? Glad you like it; the rest doesn't matter. Riding with road buddies is overrated, anyway. Awesome that you found one you enjoy. Keep rolling.
its a 2016 Bombtrack Beyond. There are lots of options in this category though - Kona, Treck, Salsa, and many others make similar bikes.
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Old 08-27-18, 06:48 AM
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Whether you go with a “gravel” bike or a “drop bar mtb” really depends on how rough the roads get vs how much time you spend on pavement.

What I will say is that if you want a brop bar bike (which I would for what you describe), and you go for the mtb, get a bike DESIGNED as a drop bar bike. The frame geo (stack and reach) is very different for bikes designed for drop bars vs flat bars. That is even more true today than it was 20 years ago.

Regardign getting a hardtail: do you mean hardtail (with front suspension) vs fill rigid? Again that is up to you, but it would have to be really rough roads for me to want to drag arounf a suspension fork.
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Old 08-27-18, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
The goal is long rides and tours on variable terrain--some smooth roads, but rough roads, gravel, and forest roads of varying upkeep. Ideally I'd move at a smooth pace when unloaded too.
Added the bold... I'd pick the gravel bike. Your riding style sounds like road biking, just on dirt/gravel roads. Great terrain for gravel bikes, IMO. Check out the cyclocross/gravel biking forum. There is a long running thread of ride pics so you can see the terrain.

If you really get into terrain where front suspension is needed/desired, I'd go with a drop bar 29'er next as it will add more off-road capability while still maintaining a good rider position for long trips on the smoother stuff.
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Old 08-27-18, 10:57 AM
  #13  
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My new favorite bike which I really want is the Moots Baxter. Titanium drop bar 29er that can fit the new eeWings cranks, yes please! Plus it has plenty of mounts for all the fun stuff you might want for touring/bike packing.
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Old 08-27-18, 03:42 PM
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A 29er with plus tires will do all.
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Old 08-29-18, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Regardign getting a hardtail: do you mean hardtail (with front suspension) vs fill rigid? Again that is up to you, but it would have to be really rough roads for me to want to drag arounf a suspension fork.
People always make wrong assumptions about suspension forks. They aren't there for comfort...at least not strictly. They also provide enhanced control. A rigid fork can, and does, get trapped in any number of road hazards which can result in crashes. A suspension fork will follow the terrain better and climb out of many road hazards that trap rigid forks. I've watched people on their gravel bikes ride down rough, rocky, washboarded roads that I've just ridden down on my suspended mountain bike and I've also ridden many miles on a rigid mountain bike. People with suspension fly down those while rigid bikes have to carefully pick their way through.

I've also found that there are few dirt roads that are smooth for long distances. Maybe for a few miles but, at least around here, they turn mean, rocky and washboardy very quickly and often for long stretches.

Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
Added the bold... I'd pick the gravel bike. Your riding style sounds like road biking, just on dirt/gravel roads. Great terrain for gravel bikes, IMO. Check out the cyclocross/gravel biking forum. There is a long running thread of ride pics so you can see the terrain.

If you really get into terrain where front suspension is needed/desired, I'd go with a drop bar 29'er next as it will add more off-road capability while still maintaining a good rider position for long trips on the smoother stuff.
Where you do guys find these smooth dirt roads that run for hundreds of miles? I have ridden, and have driven, thousands of miles of dirt roads in Colorado and haven't found one that I would want to ride a glorified road bike on for more than a few miles. This one, for example, was 25 miles of washboard just like you see in the picture.

DSCN1147 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

This one was 20 miles of soft dirt and sand due to it being graded just moments before I came through. I passed the grader on the way up as he was coming down. It would have been a whole lot better if it were just washboaded.

DSCN1225 by Stuart Black, on Flickr


Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
Shopping around for a new custom bike, and talking with builders has got me wondering when one would go with a "gravel" road bike (Open Cycles UP, Moots Routt 45, etc) and when one might go with a 29er (Salsa Fargo, Cutthroat, etc).

The goal is long rides and tours on variable terrain--some smooth roads, but rough roads, gravel, and forest roads of varying upkeep. Ideally I'd move at a smooth pace when unloaded too.

Both setups can manage tours on rough roads, but are their situations where one would be more or less fit for purpose?
My suggestion is to go with at least the hardtail mountain bike...yes, one with front suspension. Pick the bike to handle the worst condition you expect to encounter. It might be a little slower and a little harder to pedal on the best conditions but it's a lot faster and easier to pedal on the worst ones. This is the bike that I used recently for a 4 day 160 mile tour.

DSCN1197 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The washboard, sand, rocks, potholes, etc. were a whole lot easier to handle at speeds of up to 25mph than any rigid bike would have handled them.
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Old 08-29-18, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
A 29er with plus tires will do all.
So will a fatbike or a beachcruiser with properly fat tires, but you'll still be spending a lot of extra effort to get those miles in if you don't need their capability. It all depends on exactly what terrain you are riding through.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
People always make wrong assumptions about suspension forks. They aren't there for comfort...at least not strictly. They also provide enhanced control. A rigid fork can, and does, get trapped in any number of road hazards which can result in crashes. A suspension fork will follow the terrain better and climb out of many road hazards that trap rigid forks. I've watched people on their gravel bikes ride down rough, rocky, washboarded roads that I've just ridden down on my suspended mountain bike and I've also ridden many miles on a rigid mountain bike. People with suspension fly down those while rigid bikes have to carefully pick their way through.

I've also found that there are few dirt roads that are smooth for long distances. Maybe for a few miles but, at least around here, they turn mean, rocky and washboardy very quickly and often for long stretches.
I never said the suspension fork was for comfort, but for the occasional time I benefit from it on my drop bar 29'er on the road (usually because I got lazy and didn't notice the pothole), it still sucks power *every time* I get out of the saddle... I will admit to being tempted by the Lauf suspension fork for gravel though. 30mm of travel via a carbon leaf spring setup. Just enough to even out the bumps that the tires don't take up. the 80mm travel fork on my 20er is huge overkill on the roads here.

These dirt roads I'm talking about are all over the midwest. We call them "roads". As in, there are miles and miles of them set up in a grid pattern that covers entire counties whenever outside of city or village limits. Around here, there are the state routes and a few other major thoroughfares which are paved, 55mph speed limit, and a gravel shoulder, but unless you are in town any turn off that main road will probably be onto gravel. These aren't isolated roads out into wilderness like in CO, these are roads past peoples houses. Mostly 5-10 acre lots. Many current and former farms on larger plots also. Some farms that sold out and became a subdivision. The subs tend to be paved, but the road through the sub is probably only a mile of pavement and doesn't connect to anything anyways. Yes, there are sections of washboard near intersections and other areas with potholes but nothing that a decent line and 35-40mm tires doesn't handle. I suppose that is a selection for the worst terrain I encounter because a 28-32mm tire would work for a lot of the roads. These are roads that many people drive miles over for their daily commute so while we complain about maintenance, they really aren't that bad. Technically, the speed limit is 55mph on these dirt roads and most are fully capable of that, but the traffic volume is extremely low because everyone heads to the closest paved road as part of their drive. On the roads around here, nothing has ever held me back on a descent except for aero drag and corners, but that's even on my hardtail 29'er. With a road bike background, I'm still not good at trusting cornering on dirt but getting better.

I should probably take more pics when I ride, but honestly I've got a mental block about stopping that I usually don't even unclip over an entire ride. Stopping bad... Let's try a link here to some good local roads. The second is one of the more hilly roads in the area and has a number of popular Strava segments. Neither has any pavement except for when crossing the paved roads. Zoom on in and take a look.
https://www.bing.com/maps?&cp=42.879061~-83.493962&lvl=13&style=h&osid=261c97a2-4516-4009-9f3c-295afa5e9bee&v=2&sV=2&form=S00027
https://www.bing.com/maps?&cp=42.879061~-83.493962&lvl=13&style=h&osid=04b126b0-33e3-4b3f-aa30-4b72ac96150b&v=2&sV=2&form=S00027
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Old 08-29-18, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

Where you do guys find these smooth dirt roads that run for hundreds of miles? I have ridden, and have driven, thousands of miles of dirt roads in Colorado and haven't found one that I would want to ride a glorified road bike on for more than a few miles. This one, for example, was 25 miles of washboard just like you see in the picture.


DSCN1147 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

This one was 20 miles of soft dirt and sand due to it being graded just moments before I came through. I passed the grader on the way up as he was coming down. It would have been a whole lot better if it were just washboaded.


DSCN1225 by Stuart Black, on Flickr




My suggestion is to go with at least the hardtail mountain bike...yes, one with front suspension. Pick the bike to handle the worst condition you expect to encounter. It might be a little slower and a little harder to pedal on the best conditions but it's a lot faster and easier to pedal on the worst ones. This is the bike that I used recently for a 4 day 160 mile tour.


DSCN1197 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The washboard, sand, rocks, potholes, etc. were a whole lot easier to handle at speeds of up to 25mph than any rigid bike would have handled them.
I've been wondering the same thing. Those groomed gravel roads must be in the midwest, I've also seen some nice gravel roads in Oregon, and the PNW....nicely groomed and packed down from log trucks.
Down here in SO CA we've got nothing but rutted out adobe clay with sand and loose rocks with sandy corners. Once in a while I see a gravel bike with "big 40mm" tires trying to negotiate the road, and they aren't going very fast. 57mm tires the rule here. These new FS bikes today have better suspension than I had on 2 motorcycles, and it makes a difference.
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Old 08-29-18, 09:50 AM
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I have been trying to work out the advantage myself. I ride my XC MTB on the roads here sometimes and average around 25KPH. I know it’s not fast but, I’m honestly not much faster on a road bike. I don’t see the advantage of a gravel bike unless you are racing something like the Dirty Kanza and even then, I’d be tempted to take a XC MTB. I have thought about buying something like the Trek 920 though. It’s basically an MYB that was designed to run drops.
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Old 08-29-18, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
People always make wrong assumptions about suspension forks. They aren't there for comfort...at least not strictly. They also provide enhanced control. .
And some people make wrong assumptions about what other people assume.
Yes, I know what suspension is for, thank you very much.

Don't assume that just because I don't find suspension as necessary or useful as you do that I don't understand it. You are totally entitled to your preferences, but don't dismiss my opinion as being based on wrong assumptions. I spent many years riding dirt roads on a 29er hardtail (with and without front suspension) before switching over to a fat-tired road bike. I know exactly what the difference is.

A rigid fork can, and does, get trapped in any number of road hazards which can result in crashes. A suspension fork will follow the terrain better and climb out of many road hazards that trap rigid forks.
I don't find that to be the case on the dirt roads (and minimally true on the trail). The sorts of things that are going to make me wreck on a rigid fork on a dirt road are going to make me wreck on a suspension fork (wheel caught in a hole or stuck in a rut). I don't find suspension forks to help in the way you do, apparently. But then again, I've never been taken down by a pot hole or rut on a dirt road on any bike in the past 20 years. Maybe if I start riding roads with wet, off-camber, roots I'll start singing a different tune.

I've also found that there are few dirt roads that are smooth for long distances. Maybe for a few miles but, at least around here, they turn mean, rocky and washboardy very quickly and often for long stretches.

Where you do guys find these smooth dirt roads that run for hundreds of miles?
Like, literally 90% of all the dirt roads I ever pointed a bike down in Virginia, PA, and Upstate NY have been smooth enough that I don't miss having suspension. It's not like you never hit washboards or ruts, but in most cases it is limited.

Someone above spoke about the midwest (not surprising that this is where these bike caught on first), and what he said largely applies to most of the east coast in my experience (though we have a lower % of dirt vs paved roads). Most dirt roads are used year-round and are generally maintained (though sometimes minimally) to do so. They are there so people can get to work and get home. Also, much of the dirt road riding I did in VA was on USFS roads in Jefferson and Washington Nat Forest, and in general these were more often than not just fine to ride rigid. In any event I road hundreds of miles of these roads on 37mm tires on my old Salsa Casseroll, and did not miss my old Karate Monkey, with or without a suspension fork. The few times I would have liked it for a particularly rough section was more than made up for the rest of the time, and especially on pavement sections.

I have ridden, and have driven, thousands of miles of dirt roads in Colorado and haven't found one that I would want to ride a glorified road bike on for more than a few miles.
Well, that's CO, though my experience is a little different.

Yes, I know the sorts of roads you are talking about (I've spent a lot of summers in the Rocky Mts and a few years in Tahoe). Largely seasonal, mostly recreational, and/or tend to be in remote areas. Yeah, I think of those as a different animal, and they are quite common. But even out there I find roads I would be fine riding rigid. Just from my last trip, I can think of Rt 12 going west from Crested Butte. Or the road over Cottonwood Pass west of Buena Vista (which I did ride part of years back). Those are also more heavily trafficked roads, of course, so I assume more well maintained. There are also plenty of dirt roads that I probably would appreciate suspension for.

They OP is looking for something for a variety of surfaces. It looks like he is in Japan. I guess the question is how well they maintain their dirt roads. I am going to hazard a guess it is going to be better maintained than the back country dirt roads in the Rockies.
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Old 08-29-18, 10:45 AM
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change tires..
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Old 08-29-18, 11:36 AM
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^^^^ This. I run 35 mm rims on my Karate Monkey. Sometimes they see 2.5 to 3" 29er plus tires, other times I use 2.3 " slicks" Usually with just the rigid fork. Works well, run the tires that will fit the bill for that trip. Or just grab another bike. N+1.
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Old 08-29-18, 12:41 PM
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IMO, any of these bikes will work fine for what the OP wants to do. the question is more what else the OP wants to do.

If the OP also wants to ride singletrack and doesn't want to own several bikes, I think a hardtail 29er is the better choice. If the OP wants to do speedy gravel races on farm roads, a cx-ish gravel bike like the Checkpoint might be the way to go. Then again, I've been in relatively fast gravel races where guys on carbon XC racing 29ers are keeping up with the dropbar bikes easily at 23+ mph. I've also seen plenty of people riding some pretty gnarly singletrack on rigid dropbar cx/gravel bikes. I would just get what you like the look of and swap the tires as suggested above.
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Old 08-30-18, 08:27 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
I never said the suspension fork was for comfort, but for the occasional time I benefit from it on my drop bar 29'er on the road (usually because I got lazy and didn't notice the pothole), it still sucks power *every time* I get out of the saddle... I will admit to being tempted by the Lauf suspension fork for gravel though. 30mm of travel via a carbon leaf spring setup. Just enough to even out the bumps that the tires don't take up. the 80mm travel fork on my 20er is huge overkill on the roads here.
Most people do think that suspension forks are for comfort. I was using your post to make a point.

On the other hand, if your fork is sucking power every time you get out of the saddle, you need to experience a better fork. The forks on all of my suspended "gravel bikes" (aka to the rest of the world as "mountain bikes") have very positive lockouts. If the fork is locked, there is no bobbing when I get out of the saddle to pedal. Most quality mountain bikes have lockable forks now.

Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
These dirt roads I'm talking about are all over the midwest. We call them "roads". As in, there are miles and miles of them set up in a grid pattern that covers entire counties whenever outside of city or village limits. Around here, there are the state routes and a few other major thoroughfares which are paved, 55mph speed limit, and a gravel shoulder, but unless you are in town any turn off that main road will probably be onto gravel. These aren't isolated roads out into wilderness like in CO, these are roads past peoples houses. Mostly 5-10 acre lots. Many current and former farms on larger plots also. Some farms that sold out and became a subdivision. The subs tend to be paved, but the road through the sub is probably only a mile of pavement and doesn't connect to anything anyways. Yes, there are sections of washboard near intersections and other areas with potholes but nothing that a decent line and 35-40mm tires doesn't handle. I suppose that is a selection for the worst terrain I encounter because a 28-32mm tire would work for a lot of the roads. These are roads that many people drive miles over for their daily commute so while we complain about maintenance, they really aren't that bad. Technically, the speed limit is 55mph on these dirt roads and most are fully capable of that, but the traffic volume is extremely low because everyone heads to the closest paved road as part of their drive. On the roads around here, nothing has ever held me back on a descent except for aero drag and corners, but that's even on my hardtail 29'er. With a road bike background, I'm still not good at trusting cornering on dirt but getting better.
Take a look at a Colorado map. There's a line that basically bisects the state from north to south just about, but not quite, right down the middle. On the left is mountains. On the right is plains. We have those same "miles and miles of them [of a] grid pattern" on the right hand side of the state. I, unlike most of my fellow Coloradans, have actually explored that part of the state rather extensively. I even grew up out in middle of that grid and have both driven and ridden on a lot of it. I'm well aware of the extent and, more importantly to the discussion, the condition of those roads. The slightest amount of traffic on the slightest uphill or slightest corner quickly induces the wave pattern that we call "washboard"...or if you really want to be authentic "warshboard". And washboards are only one of the problems I've encountered on dirt roads. Sand is just as bad and a whole lot worse to handle on narrow tires then it is on wide tires.

I've ridden washboards on rigid bikes. I'm not a fan. I can get through them but the beat me to pieces. I've ridden washboards on suspended bikes. I'm still not a fan but they handle the washboard a whole lot better and, more importantly, faster.

I don't have a "background" one way or the other. I have road bikes and mountain bikes. I ride them in about equal measure. But I pick the tool that works best for the job and if point as ADAP7IVE says

... is long rides and tours on variable terrain--some smooth roads, but rough roads, gravel, and forest roads of varying upkeep. Ideally I'd move at a smooth pace when unloaded too.
a mountain bike would do a much better job for everything but smooth roads. It doesn't do a horrible job on smooth roads, either. Given the bikes he listed as possibilities, I'd even suggest going to the Moots YBB. I have one and have used it for off-road touring...that's why I bought it...and it performed marvelously.


Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
I should probably take more pics when I ride, but honestly I've got a mental block about stopping that I usually don't even unclip over an entire ride. Stopping bad... Let's try a link here to some good local roads. The second is one of the more hilly roads in the area and has a number of popular Strava segments. Neither has any pavement except for when crossing the paved roads. Zoom on in and take a look.
https://www.bing.com/maps?&cp=42.879...=2&form=S00027
https://www.bing.com/maps?&cp=42.879...=2&form=S00027
I'm not sure what you are trying to show. Both links take me to the same map of the Denver Metro area.
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Old 08-30-18, 11:19 AM
  #24  
Caliper
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
On the other hand, if your fork is sucking power every time you get out of the saddle, you need to experience a better fork. The forks on all of my suspended "gravel bikes" (aka to the rest of the world as "mountain bikes") have very positive lockouts. If the fork is locked, there is no bobbing when I get out of the saddle to pedal. Most quality mountain bikes have lockable forks now.
I have a RockShox Tora with 80mm trave on my drop bar 29er. It has a lockout, that's basically where it lives. It definitely locks down the motion a bunch but there is still movement in the locked position. Maybe it's not so great or is worn out. Either way, I rarely feel it is of benefit on roads here. I keep the front suspension because this is my mountain bike and I do sometimes use the suspension offroad.

Take a look at a Colorado map. There's a line that basically bisects the state from north to south just about, but not quite, right down the middle. On the left is mountains. On the right is plains. We have those same "miles and miles of them [of a] grid pattern" on the right hand side of the state. I, unlike most of my fellow Coloradans, have actually explored that part of the state rather extensively. I even grew up out in middle of that grid and have both driven and ridden on a lot of it. I'm well aware of the extent and, more importantly to the discussion, the condition of those roads. The slightest amount of traffic on the slightest uphill or slightest corner quickly induces the wave pattern that we call "washboard"...or if you really want to be authentic "warshboard". And washboards are only one of the problems I've encountered on dirt roads. Sand is just as bad and a whole lot worse to handle on narrow tires then it is on wide tires.

I've ridden washboards on rigid bikes. I'm not a fan. I can get through them but the beat me to pieces. I've ridden washboards on suspended bikes. I'm still not a fan but they handle the washboard a whole lot better and, more importantly, faster.
That's all well and good, but I never questioned the road conditions in your area. You asked where people find these smooth dirt roads and I answered. I'm familiar with washboard, nobody has said that riding on washboard isn't fatiguing. But here it is not nearly so widespread. A hundred yards of it near an intersection is really bad here. Generally there is none. Like I said, most of my gravel/dirt miles could be done on a 28mm tire rigid bike with no issues. Another 10mm of tire gives you nice cushion over the rougher stuff so you can just pedal over. The fact that competitors in the Dirty Kanza also appear to prefer a gravel bike that is rigid or has a small travel front suspension over a hardtail 29er says that other places have similar conditions. Somehow you seem unable to accept that a state over 1000 miles away, with a very different population, climate and geology could have road conditions that don't exist in your state. Trust me, there are plenty of areas where gravel bikes are wonderfully practical.

I'm not sure what you are trying to show. Both links take me to the same map of the Denver Metro area.
Well, that's weird. When I click them, it's sections of road in SE Michigan. Take a look around Hadley, Atlas, or Metamora, Mi. No shortage of dirt roads, 99% free of washboard.
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Old 08-30-18, 03:26 PM
  #25  
cyccommute 
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
I have a RockShox Tora with 80mm trave on my drop bar 29er. It has a lockout, that's basically where it lives. It definitely locks down the motion a bunch but there is still movement in the locked position. Maybe it's not so great or is worn out. Either way, I rarely feel it is of benefit on roads here. I keep the front suspension because this is my mountain bike and I do sometimes use the suspension offroad.
Well, there's your problem. I basically won't use RockShox forks of any kind because the lockout is mostly useless. Manitous have very good lockouts and Fox forks have excellent lockouts. The lockout on both mean the fork doesn't move.

Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
That's all well and good, but I never questioned the road conditions in your area. You asked where people find these smooth dirt roads and I answered. I'm familiar with washboard, nobody has said that riding on washboard isn't fatiguing. But here it is not nearly so widespread. A hundred yards of it near an intersection is really bad here. Generally there is none. Like I said, most of my gravel/dirt miles could be done on a 28mm tire rigid bike with no issues. Another 10mm of tire gives you nice cushion over the rougher stuff so you can just pedal over. The fact that competitors in the Dirty Kanza also appear to prefer a gravel bike that is rigid or has a small travel front suspension over a hardtail 29er says that other places have similar conditions. Somehow you seem unable to accept that a state over 1000 miles away, with a very different population, climate and geology could have road conditions that don't exist in your state. Trust me, there are plenty of areas where gravel bikes are wonderfully practical.
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I've not just driven on dirt roads in Colorado. Just about every dirt road I've been on from Oregon to Colorado to New Mexico to Nebraska to Vermont has had some kind of washboard issues. It's a problem with dirt roads everywhere that I've driven or ridden on them. It usually has little to do with how much traffic they carry as well.
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