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Do I need a gravel bike?

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Do I need a gravel bike?

Old 01-08-17, 10:55 AM
  #101  
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
I haven't tried anything larger than 35s, didn't pay attention to the chain stays canhandle more.
What size do you typically run, or, what size do you think works best for your needs?
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Old 01-08-17, 11:13 AM
  #102  
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Meh. Most of the marketing copy on "gravel" bikes sounds exactly like the copy on touring bikes.

They just removed the parts about carrying lots of stuff, and probably the braze-ons too, because they're not "cool".

"Gravel" was also an opportunity to make what are essentially touring rigs out of CF, which previously had no market, because touring cyclists all want steel.

But if, years ago, you bought a Surly LHT, or a Trek 520, or a Bianchi volpe , or something similar, then you got a "gravel" bike prior to the marketing.
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Old 01-08-17, 01:56 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
Meh. Most of the marketing copy on "gravel" bikes sounds exactly like the copy on touring bikes.

They just removed the parts about carrying lots of stuff, and probably the braze-ons too, because they're not "cool".

"Gravel" was also an opportunity to make what are essentially touring rigs out of CF, which previously had no market, because touring cyclists all want steel.

But if, years ago, you bought a Surly LHT, or a Trek 520, or a Bianchi volpe , or something similar, then you got a "gravel" bike prior to the marketing.
Perhaps marketing works, perhaps it identifies a market niche and created products for it. I remember a Madison Ave. friend of mine once told me: marketing is the acceleration of the inevitable

I like the idea of "gravel" bike and decided to build one is directly attributable to the marketing word "gravel": because I want to go ride on the gravel roads here in abundance. So, clearance for larger tires, less aggreesive geometry than CX bike, lower BB, longer wheelbase, lighter than steel/Ti, and disc brakes. I don't think any of the older touring bikes meet all these criteria.
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Old 01-08-17, 02:18 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
But if, years ago, you bought a Surly LHT, or a Trek 520, or a Bianchi volpe , or something similar, then you got a "gravel" bike prior to the marketing.
But the marketers are smart. They discovered the one limit on those old bikes, tire size. Almost all of them are limited to 45mm tires or so, many much less than 45mm. To be a real man you need 2 inch tires, hence a new bike.
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Old 01-08-17, 02:30 PM
  #105  
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Meh. Depends on the touring bike. The only thing most of them don't do is "lighter than steel." Newer ones have disc brakes. Many can clear some obscene tires.

The difference between 45mm and 2" is 5.8mm. And most "gravel" bikes seem happiest in the 35-40mm range.
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Old 01-08-17, 05:34 PM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
What size do you typically run, or, what size do you think works best for your needs?
I bounce between 35c kenda happy mediums for more dirty rides w/ more single tracks. High roller center for paved but knobby sides for leaning on loose surfaces The main tire on there is Panaracer Gravelkings in 28c. Can handle mild single tracks w/o much leanding. But great&reliable road/fire road/ sand tire. Without the weight penalty when I'm in the Mountains doing 8-12k ft climbing rides.

I can fit the Gravelkings on my roadie, but its REALLY nice having compact gearing over 53/39 and the disc brakes help me a ton on long days. That extra energy is needed with long hours on the saddle.
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Old 01-09-17, 02:00 AM
  #107  
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I rode my gravel bike today. It's still brand new.... still require some adjustments, pedal and saddle change. It was about 18 degrees when I rode. It was a short ride. But I dug out my cold weather gear and I rode... and I had fun.

I had originally posted that I didn't "need" a gravel bike. I've changed my mind. I do need a bike dedicated to salt, gravel, mud, and crap. And I do need those bigger nobbier tires.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:24 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
Meh. Most of the marketing copy on "gravel" bikes sounds exactly like the copy on touring bikes.

They just removed the parts about carrying lots of stuff, and probably the braze-ons too, because they're not "cool".

"Gravel" was also an opportunity to make what are essentially touring rigs out of CF, which previously had no market, because touring cyclists all want steel.

But if, years ago, you bought a Surly LHT, or a Trek 520, or a Bianchi volpe , or something similar, then you got a "gravel" bike prior to the marketing.

There's a world of difference between the bikes you've listed and the currently evolving all-road bikes coming out.

Weight, geo, specific design features, etc.. If anything though, a good all-road bike has ultra-light touring in mind.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:28 AM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
And most "gravel" bikes seem happiest in the 35-40mm range.
Depends on wheel size. The fatter you go, the smaller the wheel.

For instance, 40+ at 700c rides & handles like a monster truck. 650b is far more nimble. Some folks are going down to 26" and wider 50+ tires.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:51 AM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
But if, years ago, you bought a Surly LHT, or a Trek 520, or a Bianchi volpe , or something similar, then you got a "gravel" bike prior to the marketing.
Meh. Gravel bikes don't ride like these wheelbarrels.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:55 AM
  #111  
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^ this ... but hey, we all got some retrogrouch in us
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Old 01-09-17, 12:32 PM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by Chandne View Post
I like the idea of a 42/32 or a 50/34. I have a 46/36 now and once in a while, I feel worn down and feel like spinning up steep dirt climbs. It's no fun on a 46/36, though at least doable. A 32 front would be nice.
I'd like even lower gears.

I have a Campagnolo triple, 52-39-30. It won't allow anything smaller than a 30 chainring, though.

My 30 front, 29 rear lowest gear isn't really low enough for steeper gravel. I really like the 39 middle ring on flatter roads and on paved roads. I rarely use the 52, but it is nice on long, shallow downhills.


Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
I rode my gravel bike today. It's still brand new.... still require some adjustments, pedal and saddle change. It was about 18 degrees when I rode. It was a short ride. But I dug out my cold weather gear and I rode... and I had fun.

I had originally posted that I didn't "need" a gravel bike. I've changed my mind. I do need a bike dedicated to salt, gravel, mud, and crap. And I do need those bigger nobbier tires.
My fenders are really great for getting out in the cold and wet (on paved roads). I'll go ride with soaking wet roads with puddles and stay dry. It's a huge improvement. I wouldn't go ride otherwise.


The 52-39-30 and 12-29 in 11-speed chart:
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Old 01-09-17, 12:43 PM
  #113  
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I sometimes wish my CruX had proper fender capabilities, but it is a Cross bike and not a real gravel bike. If you ride where it is wet, that is a must-have feature. I rarely ride when it is wet/muddy and it does not rain that much here. I can make do with the plastic temporary fenders. In my case it isn't a big deal but for most other places, it is more important to have proper fenders.
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Old 01-09-17, 12:51 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by UnfilteredDregs View Post
Depends on wheel size. The fatter you go, the smaller the wheel.

For instance, 40+ at 700c rides & handles like a monster truck. 650b is far more nimble. Some folks are going down to 26" and wider 50+ tires.
Originally Posted by UnfilteredDregs View Post
Depends on wheel size. The fatter you go, the smaller the wheel.

For instance, 40+ at 700c rides & handles like a monster truck. 650b is far more nimble. Some folks are going down to 26" and wider 50+ tires.
Depends on the frameset design choices.

CX bikes can fit a 35-40mm but usually no more, and are designed to be nimble in frame geometry....even most dedicated "gravel" bikes tend to cap at about 40ishmm territory, at least that I've seen. Simply because making the DS chainstay geometry work with a 40+mm tire requires very special tooling....Lynskey and Rodeo and most others do it by using a metal (or composite) plate instead of tubing.

For a bike to fit over 40mm you looking either at something very exotic (AKA custom or close to it) or a touring or monsterCX frameset (that are not intended to be fast handling bikes necessarily). They each handle like what they're designed for. Also ofc the terrain and tire pressure.
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Old 01-09-17, 03:26 PM
  #115  
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I like the way (I think) you guys are thinking. Decide what the cycling conditions are... that you want to ride in... then build the bike to suit your need.

I am just looking at what the marketing people are pushing... and deciding if that interests me. Disc brakes, fatter... tubeless tires, and a frame configured a more mountain-bike-ish... looked interesting. The bike looks like in belongs on the snowy, salty, frozen streets outside. Yet... it still looks (and rides) like a road bike too!

I might have done just as well riding a Craigslist used mountain bike while wearing my Carhartt winter coveralls. But if looks mean anything... I prefer the looks of a gravel bike with me in my winter cycling gear.
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Old 01-09-17, 03:43 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
I bounce between 35c kenda happy mediums for more dirty rides w/ more single tracks. High roller center for paved but knobby sides for leaning on loose surfaces The main tire on there is Panaracer Gravelkings in 28c. Can handle mild single tracks w/o much leanding. But great&reliable road/fire road/ sand tire. Without the weight penalty when I'm in the Mountains doing 8-12k ft climbing rides.

I can fit the Gravelkings on my roadie, but its REALLY nice having compact gearing over 53/39 and the disc brakes help me a ton on long days. That extra energy is needed with long hours on the saddle.
My Charge Plug came with Maxxis Roamer 42s which are pretty beastly for the pavement. I'm considering the 28mm or 32mm Gravelkings for what I think will be a 75% road / 25% gravel riding split. Are the Gravelkings a good choice in this use-case? I've also been giving the 32mm Conti GP 4000s some thought.
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Old 01-09-17, 04:06 PM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
I might have done just as well riding a Craigslist used mountain bike while wearing my Carhartt winter coveralls. But if looks mean anything... I prefer the looks of a gravel bike with me in my winter cycling gear.
I've had a lot of fun riding (rented) mountain bikes on pretty bur challenging single track, where other bikes won't go. There's only so far I can go on an MTB, though. Road geometry is more comfortable and the bars offer more positions, so I can move my back during a ride. Plus, an MTB just isn't as much fun on a road, even an unpaved and rarely traveled one. It's just not the right tool for a long loop. An "all road" bike is.
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Old 01-09-17, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by milacs View Post
My Charge Plug came with Maxxis Roamer 42s which are pretty beastly for the pavement. I'm considering the 28mm or 32mm Gravelkings for what I think will be a 75% road / 25% gravel riding split. Are the Gravelkings a good choice in this use-case? I've also been giving the 32mm Conti GP 4000s some thought.
won't likely feel that 4mm difference in tire volume on the dirt, but would feel that weight on the road. 28c are $40 on Amazon prime, that $10-15 cheaper then conti 4s or gatorskin hardshells. Hardshells handle like POO on the road though. I was expecting the same POOO from gravel kings but surprising supple road feel and good leaning angles.
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Old 01-09-17, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
won't likely feel that 4mm difference in tire volume on the dirt, but would feel that weight on the road. 28c are $40 on Amazon prime, that $10-15 cheaper then conti 4s or gatorskin hardshells. Hardshells handle like POO on the road though. I was expecting the same POOO from gravel kings but surprising supple road feel and good leaning angles.
I really like the GP4s compared to Gatorskins, but yeah didn't think they'd be a good all-road candidate. Your thoughts on the gravel kings are mentioned in other places, so I think I'll pull the trigger on the 32s. Thanks.
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Old 01-09-17, 06:47 PM
  #120  
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of course you need a gravel bike N+1 Rule 12.
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Old 01-09-17, 07:19 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
..... There's only so far I can go on an MTB, though. Road geometry is more comfortable and the bars offer more positions...... an MTB just isn't as much fun on a road..... It's just not the right tool for a long loop. An "all road" bike is.
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Old 01-09-17, 07:20 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by dougphoto View Post
of course you need a gravel bike N+1 Rule 12.
Ditto.
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Old 01-09-17, 07:56 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by UnfilteredDregs View Post
There's nothing even remotely similar between a CX bike and a gravel bike.

One is designed for a very specific type of closed course racing of typically an hour or less and the other...well, I go with "All-Road," in the sense that it is more of a re-emerging trend of what I daresay is a more practical road bike.

On another note...650b is the way to go in my experience. 700c bikes with fat rubber handle like monster trucks. Switching to 650b has been a revelatory experience for me. Far more suitable for the tire sizes in question in terms of nimble handling.
Way overstated. While there are differences between a true cyclocross bike, and what's now marketed as a gravel grinder, there's also a lot of overlap, and a cyclocross bike does fine as a gravel grinder.

I did DK200 on one.
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Old 01-09-17, 08:04 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Way overstated. While there are differences between a true cyclocross bike, and what's now marketed as a gravel grinder, there's also a lot of overlap, and a cyclocross bike does fine as a gravel grinder.

I did DK200 on one.
Both have 2 wheels and whatnot

But really, why would you want to do XC/gravel riding on a CX bike, especially the ones made a few years ago with that high bottom bracket and short wheelbase. The newer ones, though, like the Scott Addict CX or Cannondale SuperX, are much more similar to the XC bikes.
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Old 01-09-17, 08:08 PM
  #125  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Way overstated. While there are differences between a true cyclocross bike, and what's now marketed as a gravel grinder, there's also a lot of overlap, and a cyclocross bike does fine as a gravel grinder.

I did DK200 on one.
True, people have won DK200 on CX bikes IIRC.

That being said, CX bikes as a broad category can be limiting depending on what bike and surface you're riding on. Also many don't have rack/fender points, since you don't need/want them for 1 hour races. Also since sanctioned racing tends to cap at 35mm tires, clearance might be a thing...nevermind long-distance rider comfort and geometry.

Depends on the exact frameset.
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