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How to turn my gravel bike into a fast roadie?

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How to turn my gravel bike into a fast roadie?

Old 08-20-20, 07:53 AM
  #1  
TJtheWrecker
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How to turn my gravel bike into a fast roadie?

I have a Specialized diverge Carbon Comp, lovely bike.

I’m looking to have another build of it that I can quickly switch. Basically, “gravel and rock” mode and “pavement” mode.

Any tire, wheelset recommendations for the road build? Any other changes I should aim to make?
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Old 08-20-20, 08:34 AM
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Any wheelset that fits should be fine. If you want to get expensive with it, you could get some 40-60mm carbon rims for the road build.

As for tires, Continental GP5000s are a pretty solid road option. (GP4000s were my standard tire for years, and we are slowly moving to GP5000s.)
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Old 08-20-20, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Any wheelset that fits should be fine. If you want to get expensive with it, you could get some 40-60mm carbon rims for the road build.

As for tires, Continental GP5000s are a pretty solid road option. (GP4000s were my standard tire for years, and we are slowly moving to GP5000s.)
This is good advice. Look for wheels with lighter (cf would be nice) rims, fewer and/or lighter spokes (bladed spokes would be nice, but not essential), and hubs that are at least as good as the ones you've got now. Then mount some lighter/narrower tires.
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Old 08-20-20, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by TJtheWrecker View Post
I have a Specialized diverge Carbon Comp, lovely bike.

I’m looking to have another build of it that I can quickly switch. Basically, “gravel and rock” mode and “pavement” mode.

Any tire, wheelset recommendations for the road build? Any other changes I should aim to make?
As a couple of others have said, wheels would be the primary thing to consider. Look for a set that has good aerodynamics, and prioritize that over the weight of the wheels. Rotating weight does not matter, until you hit the brakes. Any extra mass in the wheels will simply "store" momentum for you, meaning you'll lose less speed if you need to coast for a moment, e.g. while drinking water, adjusting your kit, or taking selfies.

Remember, going fast on the pavement is mostly a matter of minimizing drag, as that will be the largest source of resistance as you pedal. Depending on your budget, you might even consider a rear disc wheel and a set of clip-on TT bars. Good luck!
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Old 08-20-20, 11:48 AM
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Skinny tires and lower bars. You will get better results from upgrading the motor though....
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Old 08-20-20, 01:49 PM
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What don't you like about the way the bike rides on the road now? That's where you should focus. My recommendation would be to throw a pair of light, supple, 700x28 tires on it, and go on a bunch of nice road rides. 28 mm is kind of the sweet spot of a fast, comfy, and fun road tire, IMHO. If I'm spending your money, I'm spending it on the Rene Herse Chinook Pass Extralights. Beyond that, the bike will tell you what it wants.

I cordially disagree with the advice to "go aero." Yes, they're measurably slightly faster against the watch. But I've never ridden an aero wheelset that I've liked the feel of. To me, they've all been way too stiff, and twitchy in the wind. And ugly, which matters. For fast recreational riders, I recommend going by feel, rather than measured speed. I'd much rather ride a snappy, springy, fun bike than one that is a minute or two faster on the local loop but feels like a hunk of wood.

--Shannon
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Old 08-20-20, 02:56 PM
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Road Mode (700x35 gravel king slick, spare tube in saddle bag)

Gravel Mode (650x48 gravel king SK with spare 650b tube on downtube)
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Old 08-20-20, 03:10 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. Especially love the idea of another wheelset with road-slick tires.

I am 6'3' 195lbs though, seems like 28c will not be too comfortable. Do you all think going skinnier is the best way? Or are there 33-36mm tires that are fast as well as comfy?
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Old 08-20-20, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by TJtheWrecker View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Especially love the idea of another wheelset with road-slick tires.

I am 6'3' 195lbs though, seems like 28c will not be too comfortable. Do you all think going skinnier is the best way? Or are there 33-36mm tires that are fast as well as comfy?
At your weight, 28mm should be extraordinarily comfortable. There are plenty of tire pressure calculators out there, but 95psi should be a good starting point for 28-622 tires. I used to run mine at 105-110 psi, but then when the latest data came out I reduced that to 95-100psi. The ride feels great. The main thing you want from road tires is to maximize the contact patch without creating too much rolling resistance or making the tire vulnerable to pinch flats.

Again, if your end-goal is to maximize speed, go with the narrower tires to minimize the aero penalty, and spend your money on good aerodynamic wheels. Practice your aero tuck as well. Good luck!
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Old 08-20-20, 04:39 PM
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There aren't a ton of lightweight, supple 32mm tires out there, so you'll have more choices in a 28 for a sporting road tire. That said, the sporting 32s that do exist are widely gushed about by those who have them. Rene Herse Stampede Pass and Rivendell's Jack Brown (700c x 33.333, 'cuz it's Riv, so it's gotta be weird) get a lot of love.

I've found 28s to feel more sporting than 32s, and 32s more comfier, but there's not a lot in it either way. And all the 32s were touring tires, with thicker tread and casings, so that's gonna matter.

Side question: Is it just me, or does it seem as though almost all of the sporty 32 - 35 mm tires are made by Panaracer? Not that that's a bad thing... Panaracers are great... but they do seem to own this market.

--Shannon
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Old 08-20-20, 05:48 PM
  #11  
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Love my 700x32 GP5000 tires. Have them mounted on a set of DT Swiss wheels. Makes my gravel bike handle better than my road bike with skinny tires. And I have actually done some limited riding on packed cinders with great results. Tires are relatively cheap. Try both sizes and see what works for you. Unless you're racing on smooth roads I don't think you'll see much of a speed penalty.
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Old 08-20-20, 06:19 PM
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I am 5-10, 220. I ride 23s inflated to 130. Comfort is always relative to the individual. After you have a few decent rides on your road configuration, I can't imagine you being pleased with a 30mm+ tire. I could be wrong (happens all the time), but just thinking that you'll want "all a road bike has to offer" and you'll be desiring something skinny.
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Old 08-20-20, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
Skinny tires and lower bars. You will get better results from upgrading the motor though....
This.
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Old 08-20-20, 07:41 PM
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just ride what you have on the road. You'll just be a tad slower, and definitely be dropped by the fast goups. So what.
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Old 08-21-20, 09:29 AM
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Rene Herse Tires (formerly branded Compass)
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Old 08-21-20, 09:53 AM
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2 wheel sets/tires..one for gravel one for road
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Old 08-21-20, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by TJtheWrecker View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Especially love the idea of another wheelset with road-slick tires.

I am 6'3' 195lbs though, seems like 28c will not be too comfortable. Do you all think going skinnier is the best way? Or are there 33-36mm tires that are fast as well as comfy?

Your weight is hardly too much to ride comfortably on 28mm tires. Running them at 80psi or whatever works would work fine.

As for other tire options-
Continental GP5k comes in 32mm.
Schwalbe G One Speed comes in 35mm.
Rene Herse tires have multiple width and casing options in the 32-38mm range.
Panaracer GravelKing comes in 32 and 35mm


There are more too, but these are common/popular options that have a wide range of pricing.
The Panaracer and Schwalbe sites are disasters and leave you more confused than before you looked. Its because the G One and Gravel King tire models have too many options. There are Gravel King tubeless slicks- those are what Im mentioning, and the Plus version will be slower as it has some anti-flat casing built in.
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Old 08-21-20, 10:25 AM
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I'm a big fan of 32mm Continental GP5000's in tubeless. I run them on my SuperX and they are light, smooth, supple, and roll as fast as any narrower road tire I've used (including 28mm version of the same tire).
I'm pretty sure you can get a Schwalbe G-one Speed in 30mm if you're looking for something in-between a 28mm and 32mm.

I don't really see any advantage to narrower tires and doubt I'll ever run anything smaller than 30mm moving forward.
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Old 08-21-20, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TJtheWrecker View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Especially love the idea of another wheelset with road-slick tires.

I am 6'3' 195lbs though, seems like 28c will not be too comfortable. Do you all think going skinnier is the best way? Or are there 33-36mm tires that are fast as well as comfy?
28's and even 25's can be very comfortable even at high pressure. I am 170lbs and 5'10 and I run either Pirelli P Zeros, Veloflex Corsa EVO (must order from Italy) and Vittoria Corsa 2.0. The Velos and Vittoria are high TPI cotton/poly casings and are supremely comfortable even at 120 psi and 25 size. The Pirellis are vulcanized tires like the Conti 5000's but far more cushy. I had the Conti on for about two weeks and sold them to a friend.

So if you pick the right tire you should be fine. The tires I mentioned are for road use.

As for road wheels I like Campy Zondas and some of the Fulcrums which are made by Campy. You simply cannot go wrong with Zondas. They look and ride like wheels twice the price.

Last edited by Mulberry20; 08-21-20 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 08-21-20, 10:38 AM
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Does your Specialized have 24 spoke rims stock? I'd keep those for the road and look into some 28h rims for gravel.
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Old 08-21-20, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GrainBrain View Post
Does your Specialized have 24 spoke rims stock? I'd keep those for the road and look into some 28h rims for gravel.
Yes I have DT G540 with 24 spokes ad 24m width. I am not racing but I like pushing myself in how fast i can go. I think the jump frrom my 38 Pathfinder to 32 GP/Rene Herse tires will show some results.
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Old 08-21-20, 03:34 PM
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Getting a second set of wheels is the easiest way to swap things out if you plan to ride one day road, next day gravel. But you’ll need to give this some thought.

A second wheelset only works if it is truly plug and play. Pull out the gravel wheels, put in to road with “zero” adjustments.

Having disc brakes is a plus since rim brakes are a no-go without identical rims.

The cassette has to line up, as well as chain length, so everything shifts correctly.

That is the advice you need. Tires are the easy part.

John

Edit Added: Oh, yeah, if you are running tubeless...

Last edited by 70sSanO; 08-21-20 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 08-21-20, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
just ride what you have on the road. You'll just be a tad slower, and definitely be dropped by the fast goups. So what.
I have to disagree here.

Every knobby, small knob, or hybrid (solid center, knobby shoulders) 700c tire I've ever ridden has been an absolute mangy dog on the road. Oatmeal in a straight line, and really weird when leaned over.

It's not that they're "just a tad slower." (Which is likely correct, in time per distance terms. I've seen the data, and I believe them.)
It's that they feel like garbage.

Subjectivity matters.

--Shannon
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Old 08-21-20, 08:18 PM
  #24  
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I have a Niner RLT RDO gravel bike. I bought a set of November RCG36 wheels and put 30mm Schwalbe Pro Ones on them for the road. I have 38mm G One All Arounds on the OEM wheels. I’m quite pleased with the set up for road riding. I ride it about half the time alternating with my older Roubaix. Based on riding with my club and my Strava segments I don’t think I’m giving up any performance. I’m 6’ 2” at 200# give or take. The 30mm tires at about 65/78 psi (tubeless) give me a nice ride.
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