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Do I need a gravel bike?

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Do I need a gravel bike?

Old 01-09-17, 08:23 PM
  #126  
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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.
People do the STP (Seattle to Portland, 202 miles in 1 or 2 days) on unicycles. Doesn't mean it's the right tool for the job. Actually the fact that it's not the right tool for the job is what makes it memorable.
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Old 01-09-17, 10:47 PM
  #127  
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This is an interesting discussion on what a true gravel bike should be. Seems that the above comment about building a bike to your needs about covers it. I recently succumbed to the pull of a mixed use bike myself, and what worked for me was a CX frame (american geometry, trek crockett), 50/34 road crankset, long cage R/D and 11/32 cassette. Being in southern California at the base of a mountain range, we have plenty of long ups and downs, and often lots of paved approaches to the trails. Because of that, my friends on CX gearing (46/36) spin out very quickly on long descents. Also, although I've done a couple of them this year, CX racing represents a tiny fraction of my need for this bike, so although the gearing is not great for CX, it's adequate and works well for everything else. Tubeless 35c tires and mechanical disc brakes. Simple and reliable so far.

Another part of this bike that was really important was the fit. Irritatingly, my body is finicky with position and quickly develops aches and pains if my position is off. In fact my main reason for the new bike was that every time I rode my mtn. bike, I'd end up with back/neck/shoulder pain from the position. I compared the geometry of the options before deciding on the crockett and tried to match the setup as close as possible to my road bike. The result is a bike that's only very slightly more upright and feels completely familiar.

As others have said, I'm spending more time on my CX bike than on my road bike lately. It is just too fun to rip around on the edge of control on this thing. I ride it like a rigid mtn bike, which hopefully won't shorten its life by too much. All in all, I couldn't be happier. Every ride has been a blast, and has left me looking forward to the next one.

I feel like the crockett is a good frame for folks who want a basic aluminum frame with road-like geometry and the choice between disc and canti brakes. Not many other companies offer both brake options in a sub- $1k frameset.

The LBS manager suggested I look at one of the pre-built in betweener bikes from specialized (diverge?) when I was shopping. Fitting only up to 30-32c tires...Pfft. What's the point. I think there is a very clear place for cx/gravel/mixed surface bikes in the industry...but another sub-catagory between CX and road, I don't think it's needed. Road bikes, even with 23-25c tires are surprisingly tough, and in a pinch I could ride my road bike most places that I do my CX bike (and in many cases have) it's just not nearly as fun.

-Jeremy

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Old 01-10-17, 11:02 AM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81 View Post
I think there is a very clear place for cx/gravel/mixed surface bikes in the industry...but another sub-catagory between CX and road, I don't think it's needed. Road bikes, even with 23-25c tires are surprisingly tough, and in a pinch I could ride my road bike most places that I do my CX bike (and in many cases have) it's just not nearly as fun.

-Jeremy
Really? You don't see a useful distinction between the needs for CX and adventure biking? I see those uses as suggesting different bikes ideally, both in terms of geometry and accoutrements.

Last edited by chaadster; 01-10-17 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 01-10-17, 11:23 AM
  #129  
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The question isn't whether a cross and gravel/adventure bike are different or not, it's whether someone appreciates the difference.
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Old 01-10-17, 12:05 PM
  #130  
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Most of the low/mid range cross bikes from 2014/2015 became low/mid range gravel bikes in 2016/2017 with the only change being the name and description.

I will also say that the mountain bikers were right with respect to wheel size being a partial function of how big you are and your physiology. I've been riding the past year on a few different bikes spanning the common gravel wheel sizes: 26x2.25, 650bx42 and 700cx40.

For me the smaller the wheel the less I enjoy the ride. It just does not seem to work as well for my physiology, course could all be mental confirmation bias but I really try to ride objectively and observe how I feel/what is happening. I'm a pretty average height/weight human being.

I seem to work better with larger wheels and tires. I was blown away how much better a 29er was for me than the 26" I was on previously. Ditto with going from 650bx42-700cx40.
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Old 01-10-17, 12:41 PM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
People do the STP (Seattle to Portland, 202 miles in 1 or 2 days) on unicycles. Doesn't mean it's the right tool for the job. Actually the fact that it's not the right tool for the job is what makes it memorable.
Tell that to Rebecca Roush. The bike she had spec'd out specifically for DK was a CX bike, specifically a Specialized Crux with a few tweaks. Pro bike: Rebecca Rusch?s Specialized S-Works Crux | Cyclingnews.com

There's nothing wrong with doing most gravel races on most cross bikes.

My cheap Motobecanne can take 40mm tires which was fine for the Flint Hills, which are a lot more brutal than your average ride on a country dirt road. I had no issues with the geometry or comfort over 200 miles, and the bike has two water bottle braze ons so that's not an issue.

And I'm pretty certain the bike is lighter and faster than a lot of bikes marketed specifically as gravel grinders.

As pointed out by others in this thread, there's a wide variety on a continuum of bikes marketed as XC bikes and gravel grinders, with variances in tire clearances, geometry, gearing, fender mounts etc. And what in the past would be labeled an XC bike in many instances is being rebranded a Gravel bike.

You should buy the bike that fits what you want to ride, and how you want to use it. An old school XC bike with no water bottle mounts and 32mm tire clearance may not be the best choice if you want to do long adventure rides hauling gear. Conversely, some "Gravel grinders" with massive tire clearance, braze ons for racks and fenders etc. may well not be the best tool to win Gravel races. Horses for Courses.

But its silly, and I would suggest the result of marketing hype, to suggest that a "Gravel Grinder" bears no relationship to a XC bike, and thus implicity suggest that you can't you can't do quite well on most gravel roads and races on what has traditionally been marketed as an XC bike.
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Old 01-10-17, 01:09 PM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Tell that to Rebecca Roush. The bike she had spec'd out specifically for DK was a CX bike, specifically a Specialized Crux with a few tweaks. Pro bike: Rebecca Rusch?s Specialized S-Works Crux | Cyclingnews.com

There's nothing wrong with doing most gravel races on most cross bikes.

My cheap Motobecanne can take 40mm tires which was fine for the Flint Hills, which are a lot more brutal than your average ride on a country dirt road. I had no issues with the geometry or comfort over 200 miles, and the bike has two water bottle braze ons so that's not an issue.

And I'm pretty certain the bike is lighter and faster than a lot of bikes marketed specifically as gravel grinders.

As pointed out by others in this thread, there's a wide variety on a continuum of bikes marketed as XC bikes and gravel grinders, with variances in tire clearances, geometry, gearing, fender mounts etc. And what in the past would be labeled an XC bike in many instances is being rebranded a Gravel bike.

You should buy the bike that fits what you want to ride, and how you want to use it. An old school XC bike with no water bottle mounts and 32mm tire clearance may not be the best choice if you want to do long adventure rides hauling gear. Conversely, some "Gravel grinders" with massive tire clearance, braze ons for racks and fenders etc. may well not be the best tool to win Gravel races. Horses for Courses.

But its silly, and I would suggest the result of marketing hype, to suggest that a "Gravel Grinder" bears no relationship to a XC bike, and thus implicity suggest that you can't you can't do quite well on most gravel roads and races on what has traditionally been marketed as an XC bike.
I think you are mixing up XC with CX bikes.
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Old 01-10-17, 01:11 PM
  #133  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
There's nothing wrong with doing most gravel races on most cross bikes.
Maybe you're lost. Racing forum is down the hall.
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Old 01-10-17, 02:10 PM
  #134  
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Originally Posted by dalava View Post
I think you are mixing up XC with CX bikes.
How many distinctions are we going to draw here?

And the bike I referenced is marketed by Specialized as the "ultimate cyclocross machine" https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bi...rameset/106550

It's a UCI legal cross bike, although she put 38mm tires on it, which are wider than the 32mm you'd use for a UCI sanctioned cross race.
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Old 01-10-17, 02:12 PM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Maybe you're lost. Racing forum is down the hall.
The point you made was a cyclocross bike would not be the tool of choice for Dirty Kanza, akin to choosing to ride a unicycle.

My post directly responded to your posts showing that the greatest female gravel grinder of all time chose to use a cyclocross bike for Dirty Kanza.

Go ahead and give a flip response when you can't respond substantively to the argument.
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Old 01-10-17, 02:29 PM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Really? You don't see a useful distinction between the needs for CX and adventure biking? I see those uses as suggesting different bikes ideally, both in terms of geometry and accoutrements.
I didn't say that there should be no distinction between CX and Adventure. My above comment was referring to the Diverge specifically, which cuts the corner awkwardly between road and CX. Marketing a disc brake "adventure" bike with clearance for only ~35c is just crazy, and unnecessarily limits the bike's use. I feel like they limited clearance on that particular bike to avoid all of the obvious overlap between it and their CX offering. Just seems overly forced to me to me, a bike that's only marginally more capable than a road bike, but held short of true CX/Adventure capability.

-Jeremy
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Old 01-10-17, 02:37 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The point you made was a cyclocross bike would not be the tool of choice for Dirty Kanza, akin to choosing to ride a unicycle.

My post directly responded to your posts showing that the greatest female gravel grinder of all time chose to use a cyclocross bike for Dirty Kanza.

Go ahead and give a flip response when you can't respond substantively to the argument.
I think this year she will be riding Niner's RLT 9 rdo that just came out, and it's a gravel bike and not a cross bike.


RLT 9 RDO


Looks like a cool bike.




But, plenty of people choose a cross bike instead of a gravel bike for gravel riding. I currently ride a cross bike for gravel and find it very well suited to the routes and rides that I do, so for me there is just no reason to get a dedicated gravel bike.
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Old 01-10-17, 02:45 PM
  #138  
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Manufacturers have increasingly blurred the lines between cross and gravel. In the old days (and to this day with some bikes), a true cross bike had steep/short chainstay racing geometry, lugged 33mm mud tires and 46/36 chainrings. A true cross bike is focused on being lightweight and quick in an explosive one hour race in very technical conditions. Endurance adventure/gravel racing/riding has very different requirements: slacker geometry, less lugged but but higher volume tires, more road-like gearing for higher speeds. A gravel bike is for riding relatively quickly over relatively less technical conditions for long distances. In most respects a traditional slack road bike that can fit big tires would work better than a traditional cross bike for most gravel riding.

The rub here is that lots (the majority?) of modern cross bikes no longer strictly adhere to the traditional cross format. Many modern bikes labeled "cross bike" are no longer single-purpose, hard core racing machines, they've become much more versatile. As a result, many modern cross bikes are more suited to gravel riding than had formerly been the case. Of course you can use an old school true cross bike for gravel riding, it will work just fine. The point is more that a old school true cross bike likely isn't the exact thing you need for gravel riding. In fact you can use any bike for gravel riding, just some bike work better than others. This is obviously the case with any type of riding.

I guess the best advice is to not worry about the label on the bike and get the best bike for the riding you do. If you ride pavement, get something that resembles a road bike. If you race cross, get something that resembles a true cross bike. Here in the midwest there are lots of gravel options but very little true offroad singletrack. The gravel roads are relatively smooth and groomed but likely too harsh for a racing bike with 25mm tires. Around here a road-ish bike with compact road gearing that can fit 35mm+ tires is basically ideal. YMMV.

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Old 01-10-17, 04:30 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by RJM View Post
I think this year she will be riding Niner's RLT 9 rdo that just came out, and it's a gravel bike and not a cross bike.


RLT 9 RDO


Looks like a cool bike.

Looks like last years RLT9 in different colors and in FC instead of aluminum. Same 40mm 700C and 40mm 650B tire clearance. I'd have to compare the geometry numbers to be sure.
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Old 01-10-17, 04:46 PM
  #140  
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The marketers are laughing all the way to the bank(s) with your discussion(s).
New names with essentially the same bike!
Oh wait they do change the colors!

Trail Tech: Defining the gravel race bike - BikeRadar USA
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Old 01-10-17, 05:13 PM
  #141  
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
The marketers are laughing all the way to the bank(s) with your discussion(s).
New names with essentially the same bike!
Oh wait they do change the colors!
It's been discussed (ad nauseum) how gravel bikes can and usually do differ - that those differences are lost on you is your issue.

...but even if they were the same, trotting out, "oh, the marketers are laughing all the way to the bank..." would still be nonsensical. People are looking functionality - if there were functionality identical bikes in the past that languished relative to the current interest in gravel/adventure bike, who's fault was that? Yeah, the marketers - in this hypothetical, it would have been they that failed to identify and convey a need/desire and were only recently able to tap in to it.

If you were crap at your job and then you finally made a good, sensible move, would you be laughing all the way to the bank or would you be sighing in relief because you finally pulled your head out of your ass and did your job? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
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Old 01-10-17, 06:48 PM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
The marketers are laughing all the way to the bank(s) with your discussion(s).
Thank god. 4 years ago I was riding a racing bike with rim brakes and 23mm tires. I was always wet when it rained, the bike sucked on rough roads, I had to replace the rear rim after a few thousand miles in the rain and I was always getting flats due to the high pressure tires. I had this bike because it's what I thought a road bike was supposed to be, mimicking a racing bike for no reason. Totally stupid and nonsensical.

Now, thanks to marketing I have an awesome bike that keeps me dry, can carry extra clothes and food on a front rack, has wide tires that are pretty fast, really comfortable and rarely flat.

I went from a cross bike to a gravel bike in 2016.

Things the gravel bike has that the cross bike didn't? Fender mounts f/r and rack mounts on the rear, an additional 15mm+ of tire clearance, a third bottle cage mount on the downtube and a 20mm higher headtube.

These characteristics make it a much better gravel/adventure bike than the cross bike.
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Old 01-10-17, 06:51 PM
  #143  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
It's been discussed (ad nauseum) how gravel bikes can and usually do differ - that those differences are lost on you is your issue.

...but even if they were the same, trotting out, "oh, the marketers are laughing all the way to the bank..." would still be nonsensical. People are looking functionality - if there were functionality identical bikes in the past that languished relative to the current interest in gravel/adventure bike, who's fault was that? Yeah, the marketers - in this hypothetical, it would have been they that failed to identify and convey a need/desire and were only recently able to tap in to it.

If you were crap at your job and then you finally made a good, sensible move, would you be laughing all the way to the bank or would you be sighing in relief because you finally pulled your head out of your ass and did your job? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
If you can't argue in a rational way without insulting you should not respond here--will flag your post to the moderator!
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Old 01-10-17, 06:57 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
The marketers are laughing all the way to the bank(s) with your discussion(s).
New names with essentially the same bike!
Oh wait they do change the colors!

Trail Tech: Defining the gravel race bike - BikeRadar USA
It must be exhausting to be so cynical
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Old 01-10-17, 06:59 PM
  #145  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
How many distinctions are we going to draw here?

And the bike I referenced is marketed by Specialized as the "ultimate cyclocross machine" https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bi...rameset/106550

It's a UCI legal cross bike, although she put 38mm tires on it, which are wider than the 32mm you'd use for a UCI sanctioned cross race.
I don't mean to argue here, but just want to point out the definitions: XC = Cross Country (endurance), CX = cyclocross. I just thought you were using XC in place of CX. Now you can go back to arguing the distinctions between the two
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Old 01-10-17, 07:39 PM
  #146  
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What IS a gravel bike?


Therefore I say I doubt it.
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Old 01-10-17, 08:53 PM
  #147  
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
If you can't argue in a rational way without insulting you should not respond here--will flag your post to the moderator!
Wait, wait - you stated that we were laughable because we were dumb enough to have bought the same thing under a different name and a new color, yet I was insulting in pointing out your logical inconsistency? Okay.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:10 PM
  #148  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Wait, wait - you stated that we were laughable because we were dumb enough to have bought the same thing under a different name and a new color, yet I was insulting in pointing out your logical inconsistency? Okay.
Nothing of that sort--never used any of those words (laughable or dumb)--sarcasm as a whole or in general can be funny or amusing--but insulting--personally--not a chance!

Inconsistency related to what? Never used the "you" or finger pointing!
Possibly threatening by my sarcasm over such trivial "Gravel Bike" but it is nothing other than a cyclocross bike with a few changes and a funny name! (hardly the only one thinking that way)

"Brain storming" sessions by marketers/product managers/account managers/copy writers/art directors can make head spins and eyes rolling if not heads (if not successful) at the same time to come up with new ad campaigns and of course sell more bikes!

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Old 01-10-17, 09:21 PM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by dalava View Post
It must be exhausting to be so cynical
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sarcasm

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cynical

The first one would be by far more correct!

Certainly not directed at any one--for sure!
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Old 01-10-17, 09:37 PM
  #150  
WhyFi
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
Nothing of that sort--never used any of those words (laughable or dumb)--sarcasm as a whole or in general can be funny or amusing--but insulting--personally--not a chance!

Inconsistency related to what? Never used the "you" or finger pointing!
Possibly threatening by my sarcasm over such trivial "Gravel Bike" but it is nothing other than a cyclocross bike with a few changes and a funny name! (hardly the only one thinking that way)

"Brain storming" sessions by marketers/product managers/account managers/copy writers/art directors can make head spins and eyes rolling if not heads (if not successful) at the same time to come up with new ad campaigns and of course sell more bikes!
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