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Slower Steering for Gravel Bike

Old 03-25-21, 02:11 PM
  #1  
fujidon
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Slower Steering for Gravel Bike

I bought a gravel bike (Specialized Diverge), but I don't really intend to ride gravel. I bought it to use when the roads are in poor condition and for touring.

It meets all of my expectations with one feature being a little more than I actually would prefer. And that is the steering which I find quicker and more sensitive than I am used to. It would probably be perfect for actual gravel riding, but I was hoping for a little more stability for the kind of riding I plan on. I imagine when I set it up for touring with front panniers, it will reduce its sensitivity, but barring that, is there an easy way to slow it down?

Initially, I was looking for a Trek 720, but due to the 6 month wait, frame material and color, (yeah, color actually mattered to me) I chose the Diverge because it seemed so similar.

I test rode the Diverge and it felt fine. It's only since I've put a few hundred miles on it that I've noticed how touchy the steering can be sometimes. There is nothing wrong with the bike. It's me and my preference for slower steering. I should add that on serious downhills where I've approached 40 mph, the bike feels rock solid and perfectly stable. Of course, most of my riding is nowhere near those speeds.
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Old 03-25-21, 02:18 PM
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I think you'll get used to the quicker handling, but if you want to increase stability, a longer stem, wider handlebars, and/or bigger heavier tires will increase stability, but they all have potential drawbacks.

I'd ride it a month or 2 before making any changes, see if you get used to the current handling.
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Old 03-25-21, 02:27 PM
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Specialized: "We’ve increased the frame’s reach, introduced a slacker head tube and a longer offset fork. All this creates incredible confidence with a planted feeling in the dirt, while spec’ing shorter stems keeps the overall cockpit length the same and the steering lively"

Those are the things that I think of to produce more stable steering, but sounds like it's already been done. Lower tire pressure?

Seems like the steering would be much more laid back than the other bikes in your sig line.
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Old 03-25-21, 02:30 PM
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What Tyrion said is correct - ride if for a while before you make any changes. Personally I'd give it even longer than 2 months, made an entire riding season. You may find you prefer handling that's a little tighter. It's more fun to ride, and it won't take long before you feel just as stable and you'll be riding no-handed before you know it.
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Old 03-25-21, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Specialized: "We’ve increased the frame’s reach, introduced a slacker head tube and a longer offset fork. All this creates incredible confidence with a planted feeling in the dirt, while spec’ing shorter stems keeps the overall cockpit length the same and the steering lively"

Those are the things that I think of to produce more stable steering, but sounds like it's already been done. Lower tire pressure?

Seems like the steering would be much more laid back than the other bikes in your sig line.
Exactly... The main difference a Roubaix and Diverge test ride seemed to me to be slower steering and cushier tires. I doubt much different feeling than a Trek touring rig, but it's been ages since I rode one of those. Maybe try a slightly longer stem and narrower bars?
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Old 03-25-21, 04:18 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by redcon1 View Post
Maybe try a slightly longer stem and narrower bars?
Wider bars.

John
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Old 03-25-21, 05:45 PM
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Maybe some of the info in this thread is relevant, Checkpoint “pulling” into turns.
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Old 03-26-21, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I think you'll get used to the quicker handling, but if you want to increase stability, a longer stem, wider handlebars, and/or bigger heavier tires will increase stability, but they all have potential drawbacks.

I'd ride it a month or 2 before making any changes, see if you get used to the current handling.
All of this, plus, try staying off other bikes for that 1-2 months. Once you've come to expect the Diverge's steering, it'll probably seem natural and "right." And with that background, you'll change bikes and after a few blocks something in your brain will flip a switch and you'll think, "Oh! I'm riding X today!" and forget about it.
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Old 03-26-21, 07:48 AM
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IMO, pdlamb has the right idea with riding just the Diverge, or at least mostly. Your brain/muscle memory will sort of lock into the handling of it. I have 4 bikes that get ridden frequently. If I go from my very stable, wider tire Lemond Poprad and then to my very quick handling, thinner tire Airborne Zeppelin, I can definitely feel the difference and it takes a short distance to get into that mode. Going from the Zep to the Pop, though still the same bikes, I do not sense the difference as much. It just seems more natural. All four bikes, though different geometry, the saddle.handlebar set up is pretty close
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Old 03-26-21, 08:19 AM
  #10  
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Compare the reach and bar width to one of your other bikes. A longer stem or wider bars isn't the answer. Bars that fit your shoulder width is what you want. The steering trail is larger than many race bikes, but not all. Some Italian brands like Cinelli and Colnago have more trail. More trail makes for very stable high speed operation, but can make riding at 4-5 mph a little less stable.

One of the big differences is the tall stack. On the 52cm size I'd ride, the stack is 50mm taller than my road bike that I ride with no spacers and a -17 stem. If the bike has a -6 stem and no spacers, the bars would be 70mm higher than my road bike. Too upright for me.
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Old 03-26-21, 08:51 AM
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Which Diverge? Which year? Which tire? Which size?

Quickly looking at published specs for 2020 and 2021 Diverge models steering trail could be anywhere from 57mm to 69mm. Most would find 57mm to be quick handling. Some of the suggestions above will alter that a little, it will continue to be a quick bike. At 69mm that is one slow handling bike when on pavement. If you find a 69mm trail to be quick handling that is you. Or possibly it is because there is something wrong with the bike.

Impossible to to get started on solving this one until we know what you have.
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Old 03-26-21, 10:37 AM
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My 2020 Diverge Elite E5 is in the 58cm size. So the trail is 57mm. The tires are the ones it cam with which are Specialized RoadSports 700X35.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I'm going to drop the tire pressure a little. I've been running 60 PSI on the road and 40 PSI off road Since I didn't really notice the steering being too quick off road (the very few times I rode off road), I'm going to split the difference and try 50 PSI for road rides. I'm pretty confident I still won't have to worry about pinch flats at that pressure.

I'm also thinking about using wider bars. Right now they're 42cm. The Surly Truck Stop handlebars look pretty interesting. I would get them in 45cm. The extra rise may allow me to put on a longer stem.
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Old 03-26-21, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
My 2020 Diverge Elite E5 is in the 58cm size. So the trail is 57mm. The tires are the ones it cam with which are Specialized RoadSports 700X35.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I'm going to drop the tire pressure a little. I've been running 60 PSI on the road and 40 PSI off road Since I didn't really notice the steering being too quick off road (the very few times I rode off road), I'm going to split the difference and try 50 PSI for road rides. I'm pretty confident I still won't have to worry about pinch flats at that pressure.

I'm also thinking about using wider bars. Right now they're 42cm. The Surly Truck Stop handlebars look pretty interesting. I would get them in 45cm. The extra rise may allow me to put on a longer stem.
So you do have a quick handling bike. You called it right. First step is measure the current tires and find out if stated width has any connection to reality. Next step is wider tires. 700x40 would give two extra mm of trail, which is a lot in middle of spectrum. Wider tires will not be slower if you get good ones. OEM tires are not much.

Longer stem and wider bars will give more leverage over the front wheel. More leverage equals quicker response, quicker handling. Could still be a good move if the bike fits better that way. Will not slow down handling.

Lower tire pressure will help. So easy to do it is worth a try. Always a good idea to try stuff.
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Old 03-26-21, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
So you do have a quick handling bike. You called it right. First step is measure the current tires and find out if stated width has any connection to reality. Next step is wider tires. 700x40 would give two extra mm of trail, which is a lot in middle of spectrum. Wider tires will not be slower if you get good ones. OEM tires are not much.

Longer stem and wider bars will give more leverage over the front wheel. More leverage equals quicker response, quicker handling. Could still be a good move if the bike fits better that way. Will not slow down handling.

Lower tire pressure will help. So easy to do it is worth a try. Always a good idea to try stuff.
I was thinking that a longer stem & wider bars would mean my arms would need to move further to have the same effect on the steering. Yes, it also increases leverage which makes it easier to change the direction of the front wheel so now I'm not at all certain if it would have the effect I was hoping for.
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Old 03-26-21, 11:28 AM
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57mm is a small trail, but some brands and some builders think 58 is perfect, even for small frames. I like more trail. Only less fork offset would help that. Larger diameter tires would help a little.
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Old 03-26-21, 01:15 PM
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Put the largest tire that will fit on the front and a smaller tire on the rear. THis will have two effects - the slight difference in height between the F and R will tilt the bike back a bit and give you a slightly more slack head angle, and a larger diameter tire will make the overall diameter of the wheel larger. Both of these things will increase trail and make the bike more stable/less twitchy.
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Old 03-26-21, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
I was thinking that a longer stem & wider bars would mean my arms would need to move further to have the same effect on the steering. Yes, it also increases leverage which makes it easier to change the direction of the front wheel so now I'm not at all certain if it would have the effect I was hoping for.
Bikes don’t turn handlebars all that much. Small movement has big effect. Twitchiness or quick handling is exactly big responses happening from small inputs. If you were moving the handlebars and front wheel a lot you would be a stunt rider and already know about all this.

Clyde Clydeson makes an excellent point. His suggestion will work. And you only have to spend for one tire. In most cases the front fork will clear more tire than the rear.
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Old 03-26-21, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
My 2020 Diverge Elite E5 is in the 58cm size. So the trail is 57mm. The tires are the ones it cam with which are Specialized RoadSports 700X35.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I'm going to drop the tire pressure a little. I've been running 60 PSI on the road and 40 PSI off road Since I didn't really notice the steering being too quick off road (the very few times I rode off road), I'm going to split the difference and try 50 PSI for road rides. I'm pretty confident I still won't have to worry about pinch flats at that pressure.

I'm also thinking about using wider bars. Right now they're 42cm. The Surly Truck Stop handlebars look pretty interesting. I would get them in 45cm. The extra rise may allow me to put on a longer stem.
Have you ridden a drop bar road bike before this Diverge?
The trail otrailer size Diverge just isn't too quick handling for a drop bar paved road bike(which is how you intend to use the bike)
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Old 03-27-21, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Have you ridden a drop bar road bike before this Diverge?
The trail otrailer size Diverge just isn't too quick handling for a drop bar paved road bike(which is how you intend to use the bike)
Yes, I've had several and I've been an avid rider for over 30 years and riding on and off for 20 years before that, all with drop bar bikes. My current favorite regular ride is a Fuji SL1 Pro. It's quick handling, but not as quick as the Diverge. The diverge is not so quick as to be problematic, just quick enough that I need to pay just a little more attention. Since I plan on making it my touring bike, it's not quite precisely perfect, but that's me being very particular.
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Old 03-27-21, 10:23 PM
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If you decide after giving it a go that you really want to slow down the handling, see if you can find a replacement fork with either a longer axle-crown length or a smaller offset/rake or both. A larger tire in the front vs the back would do the same thing. All of these things are small changes. So your best bet is to get used to it, and like others, I think you will.
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Old 03-28-21, 09:57 AM
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I wouldn't mess with the stem length to slow steering, it doesn't really have that effect in normal cycling. If you were doing something that required to turn your handlebars quite a bit, maybe. The most important function of stem length is fit.

If you are carrying any weight, put it on the front. That will slow down the steering quite a bit.

Changing the fork might be an option. I think most gravel forks are this same length, but some have a puck to change the rake, either 45 or 55. Changing it to 45 will slow down the steering some. on edit: checked the fork and it seems like it's 390 A-C if I'm interpreting their geometry correctly. 395 A-C is more common. So that would slow things down a little bit too.

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Old 04-08-21, 12:45 PM
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I replaced the handlebar with a Surly Truck Stop bar. Mostly because I wanted a little more rise since this bike is also going to be my touring bike. Along with 3cm of rise, I chose a wider bar so I went from 42mm to 45mm. On today's ride, the bike felt noticeably less twitchy. I don't know if it's the rise or the width and it wasn't a big difference, but it was just enough that I'm pretty happy with it.

Of course, when I actually load up for touring, the extra weight in the front panniers will slow it down more. Who knows, maybe then I'll be saying the steering is too slow :-)
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Old 04-08-21, 08:35 PM
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I doubt the bars will contribute to the feeling that the steering is too slow, they should help a little. A bit of a paradox
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