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New bike options: ~$3K - $3.5K disc endurance or gravel road bikes

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New bike options: ~$3K - $3.5K disc endurance or gravel road bikes

Old 03-08-16, 10:33 AM
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Hiro11
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New bike options: ~$3K - $3.5K disc endurance or gravel road bikes

I'm in the market for a bike as outlined in the title. I'll use it ~60% on the road, ~30% crushed limestone paths and a ~10% gravel. This bike is likely going to be ridden in bad weather and it will be dirty frequently.

What I'd like ideally:

  • Room for 32mm tires, ideally with fender room and mounts
  • Endurance geometry: 72-73 angles, ~405-410 chainstays, not looking for anything extremely racy
  • Threaded BB (super rare these days), I'd likely go Praxis on press fit.
  • Ultegra
  • Thru-axles (I happen to really like thru axles) but QR is not a deal killer.
  • Durability is first concern. I'm not obsessed with bike weight.
  • Carbon frame
  • Disc brakes
  • I'd prefer hydro but mechanical isn't a deal killer.

Options I'm considering, all are Ultegra with 685 brakes unless noted:

Endurance road:

Giant Defy Advanced Pro 2 ($3.2K)
House brand everything, QR wheels

Focus Cayo Disc Ultegra (can't find the price)
DT Swiss Spline wheels, slightly nicer other stuff than the Giant, RAT proprietary thru-axles

Trek Domane 6.2 Disc ($3.2)
House brand everything, 15mm front and 12mm rear standard thru axles

I don't particularly like the Roubaix options at this price, are there any others I should consider?

Gravel:

Specialized Diverge Expert ($3.2K)
785 brakes, house wheels

GT Grade Carbon Ultegra ($3.5K)
Stan's Grail wheels, fairly nice componentry

Of these, I think I like the Focus the best but the bike is difficult to get information online. I also really like the Giant but the bike doesn't meet as many of my preferences as other options. The GT looks great but might be more of a dedicated gravel bike than I need. I also like the Domane but I'm at war with our local Trek dealer (don't ask) and I believe there's a new Domane coming soon.

I live in Chicago and have access to dealers for these and many other bikes...

Questions:
1. Is there any real world difference in durability between a gravel bike and an endurance road bike? It seems likely that an endurance road bike will work fine in all of the conditions I'm likely to encounter. Dirt roads are rare around here.
2. What other options should I consider given my preferences?
3. People who are also in this market: any preferences between these bikes?

Last edited by Hiro11; 03-09-16 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 03-08-16, 10:39 AM
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Seattle Forrest
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I got a GT Grade Carbon Force 22 a month and a half ago. Satisfies all of your requirements, although you should know it's a thru-axle in the front and a QR in the back. It rides like a road bike on pavement. Not quite as lively as a racing bike but it's not that far behind either. Handles very well. I've only had it on very little pavement but it's done great in dirt, mud, planty forest floor and clay. I like mine a lot.
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Old 03-08-16, 10:47 AM
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Jamis Nova Pro Di2 Bike 2013 > Bikes > Cyclocross Bikes | Jenson USA
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Old 03-08-16, 10:53 AM
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Easy, my baby Cannondale Slate.

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Old 03-08-16, 11:05 AM
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Seattle Forrest
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Here are a couple of pictures of the GT Grade. Sorry they're terrible. We've had the rainiest winter in Seattle history, and on the two or three days that hasn't been the case, I haven't wanted to take my good camera. My phone camera is crap but here goes.





I replaced my bar with the Enve road bar.
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Old 03-08-16, 11:16 AM
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Why would you lay it drive,side down?
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Old 03-08-16, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by asiantrick View Post
Easy, my baby Cannondale Slate.

Not interested in the Lefty.
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Old 03-08-16, 04:44 PM
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Domane has fender mounts? I'm also not sure it will take 32mm tires although going disc, it may.
I wouldn't get the 6 series Domane if they make a 5 series disc since you say you're not concerned about weight. If you're riding it 40% of the time on gravel/crusher paths, I don't think I'd go with the Domane.

Trek makes a Boone that meets most of your criteria. I have the Boone 5 with 105 components and otherwise it meets all of your criteria. It's carbon and although only the front is through axle, has hydro discs. It came with 32mm tires but I've switched to 38mm. Front could definitely go bigger, rear maybe able to go to 40 but it's getting close to the stays.
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Old 03-08-16, 06:44 PM
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I am a big fan of the Diverge. Proven geometry, lots of tire clearance, hidden fender and rack mounts, Lifetime frame warranty and outstanding customer support. I would at least ride one before you buy anything.
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Old 03-08-16, 06:54 PM
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I researched this and test rode a bunch of bikes over the last year over the same decision. Sorry in advance since some of you have the following bikes. Just one guy's opinion on the internet.

Ridley X-Trail: handling isn't great.

Slate: looks great in person, especially the grey/green ultegra model. Lefty fork is a bit redundant with those size tires unless you really plan on going on crazy enough roads, by which point a mtb makes sense. Geometry is also a bit aggressive for this type of bike. No easy fender solution. Tire choice. Most of all couldn't bring myself to pay that much for an aluminum bike.

Trek Boone: great riding bike, but geometry is too aggressive. Bottom bracket unnecessarily high unless you plan on CX.

GT Grade Carbon: didn't consider at all since I couldn't get past how it looks. But everything I've read about how it rides is positive.

Last but not least the Diverge. I've ridden it multiple times now and the ride quality and handling is just sublime. Incredibly nimble and stable (quite a combination) at low and high speeds. The handling effect of the lower BB is quite obvious. Great geometry.

Kozy's in Chicago has had the 2015 Diverge Expert for a killer $2560 for the last couple months but I think all that's left now is 54cm. I ordered the 2016 Expert yesterday because I wanted the white paint and quick release thru-axle. In reality if you're ok with the Comp Carbon paint schemes, that's the way to go since the difference between 105 and Ultegra is almost imperceptible. If you decide on the Diverge go for it in the next week or so. Specialized has the Comp Carbon down to $2700 from $3200 and the Expert at $3200 from $3800, till 3/21.

The Comp Carbon comes with the Praxis crankset you want. Expert comes with SL-K Light. Judging by this test I wouldn't switch out the SL-K.

Last edited by vinuneuro; 03-08-16 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 03-08-16, 07:12 PM
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GT GRADE!

Keep in mind you get 3.5% cash back through ebates when you buy from performance bike and $350 Performance credit for upgrade parts/gear. This brings the price to around 3100.
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Old 03-09-16, 08:41 AM
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Hiro11
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Great advice guys. I'm busy this coming weekend, but next weekend will consist of driving around to various shops trying bikes.
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Old 03-09-16, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Danny01 View Post
GT GRADE!

Keep in mind you get 3.5% cash back through ebates when you buy from performance bike and $350 Performance credit for upgrade parts/gear. This brings the price to around 3100.
Also they have the GT Grade in SRAM Force 22 for $1,999; it has an FSA Gossamer crank and different bars than all the other Grades. I think every other trim comes in flared bars, wider at the ends where the plugs go than at the top where the hoods attach, and the hoods kind of point inward. Apparently that gives you more leverage than traditional bars, but, in any case, the Force model doesn't have them. Also I'm not sure if the Ultegra model has a carbon post, the Force one definitely doesn't.

GT Grade Carbon SRAM Force Gravel Bike - 2016 Performance Exclusive

I replaced the bars it came with, with Enve road bars. Performance ordered them for me and paid for (half of) them with the "points" I got buying the bike.

Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
GT Grade Carbon: didn't consider at all since I couldn't get past how it looks. But everything I've read about how it rides is positive.
A final thought: I bet the extra triangle would get in the way if you wanted a frame bag to carry a jacket and lunch on a long gravel ride through nowhere. Makes hanging the bike on a pair of wall hooks real easy though.
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Old 03-09-16, 01:13 PM
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Hiro11
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Also they have the GT Grade in SRAM Force 22 for $1,999;
This seems like a good deal. I can't for the life of me determine why the Ultegra version is $1,500 more. The Ultegra version might be worth $500 more but that's about it.
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Old 03-09-16, 01:18 PM
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Probably some of the difference is the crank, but, still, it was a no-brainer for me. I prefer the shifting and ergonomics in the Ultegra setup, not that much though. Force is still pretty good.

If I didn't already have Vectors, I'd consider ditching the FSA crank for a power2max one, it'd still be less than the Ultegra build.
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Old 03-09-16, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Also they have the GT Grade in SRAM Force 22 for $1,999
I have my eyes on this one and maybe just use it as endurance bike, waiting for year end close out and 3x points ;-)
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Old 03-09-16, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by stockae92 View Post
I have my eyes on this one and maybe just use it as endurance bike, waiting for year end close out and 3x points ;-)
Triple points weekend is Memorial day weekend, correct? IIRC.
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Old 03-09-16, 06:01 PM
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Are you 100% on Carbon? I've been looking myself and have similar criteria - seriously considering the Franco Grimes or Kona Roadhouse.
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Old 03-09-16, 06:40 PM
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Lynskey performance is having a disc-bike sale right now, ultegra equipped bikes for decent prices.

Ti is fly, get after it.

https://lynskeyperformance.com/road-disc-sale/
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Old 03-09-16, 08:03 PM
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Orbea Avant Disc is carbon with mounts for fenders. I picked one up for a good price at Jenson USA and love it
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Old 03-10-16, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by trgerrity86 View Post
Are you 100% on Carbon? I've been looking myself and have similar criteria - seriously considering the Franco Grimes or Kona Roadhouse.
Not really. In terms of materials, I like Ti the best and carbon next. At this price range, you pretty much get carbon.
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Old 03-10-16, 09:25 AM
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I would second the suggestion to look at the Boone over the Domane. You will NOT get 32mm plus fenders on the Domane. I never tried it myself, but I think people had trouble squeezing 25mm tires and fenders on the Domane, though I don't think that was on the disc version. Still, I think 32mm would be pushing it on clearance before you even got to fenders.

I have the Cockett and the Domane, both rim brake versions. The disc versions of the Boone and Crockett have the hidden fender mounts. The Boone will be nearly everything the Domane is, but with much more clearance for what you want to do.
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Old 03-10-16, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
I would second the suggestion to look at the Boone over the Domane. You will NOT get 32mm plus fenders on the Domane. I never tried it myself, but I think people had trouble squeezing 25mm tires and fenders on the Domane, though I don't think that was on the disc version. Still, I think 32mm would be pushing it on clearance before you even got to fenders.
Good points on the tire clearance, thanks. However, I'm not particularly interested in a dedicated cross bike. With a cross bike, you get cross geometry, higher bottom brackets, cross gearing etc.

Side note, the new road plus stuff being shown in Taipei this week is really interesting to me.
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Old 03-10-16, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
I would second the suggestion to look at the Boone over the Domane. You will NOT get 32mm plus fenders on the Domane. I never tried it myself, but I think people had trouble squeezing 25mm tires and fenders on the Domane, though I don't think that was on the disc version. Still, I think 32mm would be pushing it on clearance before you even got to fenders.

I have the Cockett and the Domane, both rim brake versions. The disc versions of the Boone and Crockett have the hidden fender mounts. The Boone will be nearly everything the Domane is, but with much more clearance for what you want to do.
Just FYI: the disk version of the Domane apparently WILL fit 32s. I haven't done it myself, but I was reading a post somewhere by some guy that did. (I recall they were panaracer gravel kings.) I have GP4k 28s on my 6 disc, and there's gobs of clearance left over, on the order of 3-4mm per side. I was actually thinking of trying a set of the panaracer 32s because they're on sale right now at Excell sports for $29.
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Old 03-10-16, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Wheever View Post
Just FYI: the disk version of the Domane apparently WILL fit 32s. I haven't done it myself, but I was reading a post somewhere by some guy that did. (I recall they were panaracer gravel kings.) I have GP4k 28s on my 6 disc, and there's gobs of clearance left over, on the order of 3-4mm per side. I was actually thinking of trying a set of the panaracer 32s because they're on sale right now at Excell sports for $29.
Good to know. I thought I remembered someone putting 32's on there, but couldn't remember. But with only 3-4 mm left fenders would definitely be a no-go.
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