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Recommendations for a new-to-me bike locally? (51-53 cm, gravel tires road bike)

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Recommendations for a new-to-me bike locally? (51-53 cm, gravel tires road bike)

Old 01-02-21, 12:00 AM
  #1  
Summersnake
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Recommendations for a new-to-me bike locally? (51-53 cm, gravel tires road bike)

I'm looking to get back in the saddle this year after 20 years off, and I want to change up my equipment. My current bike is a Performance shop model ca 2000, aluminum frame, skinny tires, triple x 6 with a super short gear and a super tall gear and some random junk in the middle (just like I like it ;-)).


Problems: a couple things have kept me off the bike over the last 20 years... one is that I have clipins and it's a huge pain to carry an extra pair of shoes when commuting (easy fix - swap out the clipped pedals for toeclips). Second problem is i got really tired of sitting in the rain on the roadside replacing tubes. Basically I'm done being a "serious rider" and want to step it down to "casual rider."


Back then my priority was endurance and climbing, but now it's going to be probably a gentler campaign - longer commutes and a variety of recreational rides. I'd like to be able to handle trails as well as paved roads.


Based on a few test rides this week, I think this is what I want:
  • 51-53 inch frame, light as possible. (I rode a $4k Cervelo that was perfect, but the price tag!)
  • Gravel tires or hybrid tires that will take me everywhere
  • Pedal set that will give me 360 degree stroke efficiency without requiring dedicated shoes.


Here are the options I've considered:
  • Throw down between $2k and $4k for a brand new bike
  • See if can do the mods with my current frame (I suspect my back fork won't take that fat a wheel, but I haven't measured yet)
  • Find a cherry secondhand bike in the ~$1500 range


What do y'all think? Anyone experienced with any of the above options and have advice? Is there a PNW bike swap meet someplace? (Maybe uh... virtual at this point :-)).

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Old 01-02-21, 12:34 AM
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surak
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Are you asking for a gravel bike that can be ridden on gravel, or a commuter bike, or one that can do both? I'm confused by your criteria.

You won't get anything except platform or crappy cage pedals with any new bike purchase. You can use whatever pedals you like on whatever bike you ride, which sounds like something you already do. Personally, I just leave a pair of regular shoes at the office to change into when commuting because I vastly prefer clipless pedals to anything else.

Are you concerned about flatting? Especially with larger tires, tubeless tech is good enough these days to seal up punctures. If you're going to get any bike with wide enough tire clearance to be considered gravelish, you should definitely make sure that they are tubeless compatible.

There aren't going to be a lot of gravel-style bikes on the used market because the segment is new, plus there's a global pandemic that's driven bike sales up and disrupted the industry's supply chain. If you want a bike sooner rather than hoping to find one listed used, ask or read the bike recommendations on the Gravel forum and make friends at the LBSes who carry those bikes so they'll tell you when they get new shipments this year.
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Old 01-02-21, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
Are you asking for a gravel bike that can be ridden on gravel, or a commuter bike, or one that can do both? I'm confused by your criteria.

You won't get anything except platform or crappy cage pedals with any new bike purchase. You can use whatever pedals you like on whatever bike you ride, which sounds like something you already do. Personally, I just leave a pair of regular shoes at the office to change into when commuting because I vastly prefer clipless pedals to anything else.

Are you concerned about flatting? Especially with larger tires, tubeless tech is good enough these days to seal up punctures. If you're going to get any bike with wide enough tire clearance to be considered gravelish, you should definitely make sure that they are tubeless compatible.

There aren't going to be a lot of gravel-style bikes on the used market because the segment is new, plus there's a global pandemic that's driven bike sales up and disrupted the industry's supply chain. If you want a bike sooner rather than hoping to find one listed used, ask or read the bike recommendations on the Gravel forum and make friends at the LBSes who carry those bikes so they'll tell you when they get new shipments this year.
My priority will be commuting (my route is Finn Hill to the Interbay / Fisherman's terminal area, so it's a good stretch of the Burke Gilman, Nickerson to 15th / Elliott ave or maybe Lake Washington ave and across the 520) but I'd love it if i had tires that would transition to a few blocks on trails when that was convenient or seemed fun. Like... say I wanted to go down to the beach and back at St. Edwards.

Gravel forum sounds like a decent steer... I was also told I might look at cyclocross bikes for my purpose.
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Old 01-02-21, 10:52 PM
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I used to keep a pair of everyday shoes under my desk when I commuted.

I wouldn't want a carbon bike for commuting. I cracked a frame with a water bottle, it had a plastic lanyard that kept hitting the seat tube. It took a long time, it isn't like you'll give it a dirty look and it'll break, but working bikes see more rigors than purely recreational ones.

I'm comfortable on dirt with 28 mm tires. Most people prefer a little bigger. A skinny tire bike from 20 years ago probably doesn't have clearance for anything bigger than 23 mm, but who knows? I second @surak's advice about tubeless.
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Old 01-20-21, 08:42 PM
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Personally, with a Performance bike that old go to the C&V subforum. There's a lot of folks commuting on bikes that old and older with little to no issues. You'll find some great input and ideas. Some upgrades can be limited by your frame. I would assume 28's for tires would work. Those are a decent size for commuting and there's some good options out there.
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Old 01-20-21, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Summersnake View Post
I'm looking to get back in the saddle this year after 20 years off, and I want to change up my equipment. My current bike is a Performance shop model ca 2000, aluminum frame, skinny tires, triple x 6 with a super short gear and a super tall gear and some random junk in the middle (just like I like it ;-)).
You sure its only 20 years old? Although we can't seem to move past 7sp at the cheap end when I started in a shop in 98 there wasn't a single bike available to us that was 6sp new.

Problems: a couple things have kept me off the bike over the last 20 years... one is that I have clipins and it's a huge pain to carry an extra pair of shoes when commuting (easy fix - swap out the clipped pedals for toeclips). Second problem is i got really tired of sitting in the rain on the roadside replacing tubes. Basically I'm done being a "serious rider" and want to step it down to "casual rider."
Pedals are about the worst reason to not ride. Get a dual sided pedal, for gravel purposes I like the XT which is dual sided, it might have been replaced by the current XT t8000 which looks a little smaller then the true MTB version I have but a good runner up. The pins will keep you glued and when you want to go faster then clip in.
Tires are much better then 20 years ago and puncture protection is a common theme at all sizes, wider tires in my experience aren't really less flat prone but tire models are the real differentiation.

Back then my priority was endurance and climbing, but now it's going to be probably a gentler campaign - longer commutes and a variety of recreational rides. I'd like to be able to handle trails as well as paved roads.

Based on a few test rides this week, I think this is what I want:
  • 51-53 inch frame, light as possible. (I rode a $4k Cervelo that was perfect, but the price tag!)
  • Gravel tires or hybrid tires that will take me everywhere
  • Pedal set that will give me 360 degree stroke efficiency without requiring dedicated shoes.
Basic gravel bike will do it, mine has a 700x38 with a continuous center tread and very mild knobs on the rest. I've got no problem maintaining decent speeds on the local bike paths and roads, handles any unpaved rail trail without worry and has even spent time on the beginner level mtb trails around here. I prefer the cross for more technical trails or the actual mtb.
Weight wise, expect 23-25lbs no problem. Gravel rims are wider then old road bikes, gravel tires are heavier and weight costs money, you want lighter expect to hit that 4k mark. My gravel bike is 24lbs and I don't mind the weight that much. I do like my 16.5lb road bike if I want to head out and go really fast but I didn't buy a gravel bike to go really fast, I bought it to go exploring and have random fun.
No pedal will give you 360* efficiency without being locked in somehow, IM(not so)HO clipless are way better and safer then toe clips and straps and those are your two options for being locked in. The XT pedals I referenced above will give you the 360 option but when you just want to hop on and go you can just do so and it'll give you more like 270* of control due to the pins. Its nice they can be grab and go or intentional fitness and workout ride.

Here are the options I've considered:
  • Throw down between $2k and $4k for a brand new bike
  • See if can do the mods with my current frame (I suspect my back fork won't take that fat a wheel, but I haven't measured yet)
  • Find a cherry secondhand bike in the ~$1500 range
What do y'all think? Anyone experienced with any of the above options and have advice? Is there a PNW bike swap meet someplace? (Maybe uh... virtual at this point :-)).
First option is a good one and 2k is a good starting price though for gravel even the 12-1500 range isn't bad. 2k typically gets you into hydraulic disc, the aluminum frame it will probably still come with isn't that bad, I can, and have, ridden on mine for 6 hours at a time for several days in a row with no comfort issues. Above 2500 you start getting carbon but lower components but 4k will get you some sweet bikes. Personally I'm of the buy a 2500 bike and get a 1200 wheel upgrade, good pedals and proper accessories.
second option isn't that great, the bike is liable to have a lot of limitations and if it was such a wonderful bike why hasn't it tempted you to ride in the last 20 years? Newer in this case will be nicer, we're not talking about a comparatively prime example of its time and a modern mid-range bike will be better.
third option is a good luck one, you can get some real treasures this way or find people trying to ask too much for their bikes due to the current shortage. Who knows where that'll go. If you don't know what you're looking at or for then new is better.
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Old 01-21-21, 12:45 PM
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You could certainly save some money by buying a used bike if you know what to look for. In that frame size, it'll be a bit more difficult, but I'd bet a few good bikes will turn up if you keep your eyes open.

A new bike will get you there faster, but you still should shop around and test ride different bikes before deciding. (Even if you buy used, it'd make sense to test ride new bikes.)

If you really want to ride gravel, I'd feel very comfortable saying you'd want a bike that'd fit wider tires than your current bike. Your current bike should be fine for pavement.

I wouldn't worry too much about how much the bike wieghs as long as it's reasonable.


How about this bike? https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/bik/d/olympia-2015-redline-carbon-conquest/7264814044.html

Last edited by mtnbud; 01-21-21 at 03:56 PM.
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