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Can A Gravel Bike Be A Good Road Bike?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Can A Gravel Bike Be A Good Road Bike?

Old 09-18-19, 02:04 PM
  #151  
mstateglfr 
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
The so called "gravel bikes" that most of you are considering as a good canvas for such double use are not really gravel bikes imo. They are like road bikes with larger tire clearance. They are closer to being a CX than a gravel bike. In my experience, riding on rough terrain requires much more comfort and control than these bikes can offer. Yes, you can try, and some of you maybe even be happy with it. But i wouldn't.
My gravel bike has a 72.5 head tube angle, 73.5 seat tube angle, 56mm of trail, 430mm chainstay, and 77mm of BB drop.
Those measurements are certainly closer to an endurance road bike than a mountain bike, if you need to place it somewhere along the spectrum.
It can also handle 700x47mm tires and has heavier tubing than the company's paved road bike.

Regardless of what you need to call it- it really is a gravel bike, even if you claim it isnt really a gravel bike. I ride it...on gravel, therefore its a gravel bike. And yes- its also a road bike because gravel roads are roads. Its simply one of many styles of road bike.



Here is an incomplete list of styles of road bike-
- aero
- endurance
- touring
- gravel
- race
- tri

There are more too, and some could argue that something on the list isnt a road bike. Thats fair, but ultimately really not important.
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Old 09-18-19, 02:32 PM
  #152  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
The so called "gravel bikes" that most of you are considering as a good canvas for such double use are not really gravel bikes imo. They are like road bikes with larger tire clearance. They are closer to being a CX than a gravel bike. In my experience, riding on rough terrain requires much more comfort and control than these bikes can offer. Yes, you can try, and some of you maybe even be happy with it. But i wouldn't.
Remember these are general classifications, they're not like a litmus test.

I tried riding my C3 up a mountain, on a gravel road so nasty a lot of people are afraid to drive cars on it, and you know what? It worked. Worked great. Rode back down too. I also do fast pavement and mixed surface rides on it. I mean, I try anyway, and it works out really well.

I don't see what the problem is, but that's based on many thousands of miles on one, not theoretical physics or anything.
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Old 09-18-19, 03:08 PM
  #153  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
The so called "gravel bikes" that most of you are considering as a good canvas for such double use are not really gravel bikes imo. They are like road bikes with larger tire clearance

Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
In my experience, riding on rough terrain requires much more comfort and control than these bikes can offer.
What sort of bike are you visualizing under the phrase "gravel bike", and what gives it better comfort and control on mixed-surface road rides than a "road bike with larger tire clearance"?
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Old 09-18-19, 05:01 PM
  #154  
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Regarding the subject line...and the OP's year old post..."Yes" a gravel bike can serve as a road bike if you are space challenged in NYC.

As it happens, I got a Felt Breed and just did back-to-back Centuries on it. 100 in Maine Lighthouse ride a couple Saturday's ago...followed by 100 the next morning down in Dartmouth, Mass in "Flattest Century in the East."

I wouldn't normally have done this, but I planned to do the back-to-back and Hurricane Dorian was threatening heavy rain / sloppy weather. My primary road bike is rim brake, so I went gravel for the hydro disc and stable flat tires. That Felt Breed is extremely comfortable, and I was fine.
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Old 09-19-19, 05:30 AM
  #155  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post

What sort of bike are you visualizing under the phrase "gravel bike", and what gives it better comfort and control on mixed-surface road rides than a "road bike with larger tire clearance"?
Steel frame, large knobby tires (think MTB large), preferably with flat bars (or if you gonna go with drops, a "flared" dropbar), higher stack and shorter reach for easier control and comfort, depending on how large your tires are, maybe a suspension seatpost to ease road noise on your ass, wide range gearing to tackle hills/mountains (at least a 34 tooth in the cassette, even larger if possible), depending on the size of the chainring, either a 1x (small), or a 2x (a small and a larger one). If you are nostalgic, you can go with 3x. If you really mean business, you can even throw a suspension fork in that. Why not? I am all about personalization. Why go with something the market is pushing down our throats under false pretences. Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires on carbon/aluminum rigid frames. This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional". Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy. And most people just want to buy trash.

Last edited by Newspaper_Nick; 09-19-19 at 05:42 AM.
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Old 09-19-19, 06:17 AM
  #156  
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So you're not operating anywhere close to the somewhat loose but widely accepted industry norms of what constitutes a gravel bike and you're arguing about the suitability of a gravel-as-road-bike based upon your notion rather than what's generally accepted. Cool cool cool.
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Old 09-19-19, 07:03 AM
  #157  
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Good lord, you need a mountain bike to ride gravel and dirt roads? Seriously? What do you need to ride actual singletrack?

But I'll go through your list here:

Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
Steel frame,
So... CF and Al work for mountain bikes but not for gravel and dirt roads?

large knobby tires (think MTB large),
What on earth so you need 2.something" knobbies on a dirt or gravel road for? Unless you are riding in mud, anything beyond semi-knobs is just making you work harder for no benefit.

preferably with flat bars (or if you gonna go with drops, a "flared" dropbar),
Most "gravel" bikes come with flared drops.

higher stack and shorter reach for easier control and comfort
....which most gravel bikes in fact have

, depending on how large your tires are, maybe a suspension seatpost to ease road noise on your ass,
some gravel bike in fact do have suspension, either in the frame, fork, or seatpost. But the reality is that even with 38mm tires, many people see zero need. But suspension seatposts are widely available for any bike if you want one.

wide range gearing to tackle hills/mountains (at least a 34 tooth in the cassette, even larger if possible), depending on the size of the chainring, either a 1x (small), or a 2x (a small and a larger one). If you are nostalgic, you can go with 3x.
Most gravel bikes do have wide range gearing and as low as you are suggesting.

If you really mean business, you can even throw a suspension fork in that. Why not? I am all about personalization.
Again, if you want an MTB for riding gravel that is up to you.

Why go with something the market is pushing down our throats under false pretences.
Because we like them? What exactly is the false pretense? They work exactly as described.

Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets
The road group-sets you are talking about give exactly the gearing you described above. Go look at them.

attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires
Any bike now marketed as "gravel" will take at least 38mm tires, most up to at least 42mm.

on carbon/aluminum rigid frames.
CF is often more compliant and comfortable than steel. And are you suggesting that even though CF an Al works for Downhill, Freeride, and Enduro mountain biking, but can't stand up to a gravel road?

This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional". Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy.
No, these bikes exist because the bike industry finally woke up to the fact that the standard "road" bike is not what a lot of people want. In fact these "abominations" are really just a modern update (components) on what "road" bikes used to be 30 years ago before everyone wanted to pretend they were racing in the TdF. People (like me) got tired of having to choose between a mountain bike and skinny-tired road bike to ride dirt and gravel.... both of which are a cludge. Dirt and gravel roads are just roads with a rougher surface. A road bike with fatter tires is the perfect solution for that.

The bike you seem to be describing has been around for years: Drop bar mtbs like the Fargo, and also bikes marketed as "Monstercross". They have been around longer than the recent "gravel" bike craze which started in the early 2010s. But they just never caught on that well, for gravel or singletrack.The problem is that they are way overbuilt for gravel and dirt roads, and the knobby MTB tires are just a drag (literally) on these roads .

From your comment above, you are obviously not familiar with what is currently being offered and what these bikes actually are. You also have very little knowledge of how the market played out, here. The big companies are not the ones that lead the charge. Salsa put out bikes like the Casseroll, Vaya, Fargo, and Warbird, and people loved them, and bought them right up. It actually took a while for the big guys to come around and realize there was a difference between competition-oriented CX bikes and what people really wanted to ride the gravel roads in their areas.

You just see something different and strange to you and are freaking out about it............
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Old 09-19-19, 07:11 AM
  #158  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
Steel frame, large knobby tires (think MTB large), preferably with flat bars (or if you gonna go with drops, a "flared" dropbar), higher stack and shorter reach for easier control and comfort, depending on how large your tires are, maybe a suspension seatpost to ease road noise on your ass, wide range gearing to tackle hills/mountains (at least a 34 tooth in the cassette, even larger if possible), depending on the size of the chainring, either a 1x (small), or a 2x (a small and a larger one). If you are nostalgic, you can go with 3x. If you really mean business, you can even throw a suspension fork in that. Why not? I am all about personalization. Why go with something the market is pushing down our throats under false pretences. Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires on carbon/aluminum rigid frames. This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional". Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy. And most people just want to buy trash.
I think it will depend on where and how you ride on "gravel". For my type of riding suspension with large tires will be overkill for my "gravel bike". For my type of riding I d rather have a light bike with drop bars with 32--40mm tires and wide range gearing . I have lots of trails where I live, but I would like to combine fast road riding and trail riding on the same ride. Usually a cyclocross bike with modified wide range gearing works fine for my riding.

I do not ride very technical single tracks on that bike, so the need for steel frame, wire tires, flat bar, suspension are not needed for my type of riding. On the other hand, I need more than a road bike to handle steep hills and trails. If I start riding MTB technical trails I would opt for a mountain bike then or the bike you describe in your post.
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Old 09-19-19, 08:01 AM
  #159  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
Steel frame, large knobby tires (think MTB large), preferably with flat bars (or if you gonna go with drops, a "flared" dropbar), higher stack and shorter reach for easier control and comfort, depending on how large your tires are, maybe a suspension seatpost to ease road noise on your ass, wide range gearing to tackle hills/mountains (at least a 34 tooth in the cassette, even larger if possible), depending on the size of the chainring, either a 1x (small), or a 2x (a small and a larger one). If you are nostalgic, you can go with 3x. If you really mean business, you can even throw a suspension fork in that. Why not? I am all about personalization. Why go with something the market is pushing down our throats under false pretences. Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires on carbon/aluminum rigid frames. This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional". Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy. And most people just want to buy trash.
What you describe is, to me, part of the range of gravel bikes- but it isnt at all the only type nor should it be. Your description brings an adventure bikepacking style bike to mind- something you could attach bags to, then ride singletrack, forest roads, and gravel to get to a remote campsite. It wouldnt be built for speed or agility, but rather for stability and reliability. That absolutely is an appealing bike for many and obviously yes it can be ridden on gravel.
But its also massive overkill for many who ride gravel.

For me- gravel riding means day rides on hillier than usual routes with about 4 types of surface- pavement, loose recently dropped gravel, packed gravel, and washboards near intersections. Thats the 4 types of terrain that I encounter and I dont need a suspension seatpost. I dont need a suspension fork.
What I need are 40-43mm tires and a wide range 2x drivetrain to handle all of it exceptionally well. Those two things allow me to get out to country/farm roads and have fun for hours.

I agree that personalization is fantastic- its why I build all my bikes up from frames, actually. Fully agree there. I simply disagree that 'the market' is pushing anything down my throat.
As for gravel bikes having road gearing- typical road gearing would work for 80% of my gravel riding. I agree that a standard 50/34 mated to 11/28 isnt an ideal drivetrain for a lot of gravel. And brands have clearly taken notice since many bikes now come with a subcompact 46/30 crank and wider range cassettes. You dont seem to see this, but its very much there.
As for marketing a 32mm tire road bike as being for gravel- I often see those bikes being marketed as endurance road bikes with the ability to handle gravel/hardpack dirt as it comes. The brands then still have dedicated gravel oriented offerings.



What you view as a gravel bike is a gravel bike. What I view as a gravel bike is a gravel bike. Then there are even more road looking bikes that some like to use for gravel- they are really strong riders and they value speed.


None of it is right or wrong- its just a spectrum of offerings and we can all now choose what suits us best along that spectrum. Its really neat if you view the current offerings in that way.
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Old 09-19-19, 10:51 AM
  #160  
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Here's my abomination of a road/gravel bike, with 33mm rubber, a 28T in the back, and UDi2.

When I rode it to Slate Peak (highest road in the state, unpaved and nasty) somebody in the one small group of people up there said "Holy crap!" and I thought they were going to congratulate me on my effort, but the next words were "Cervelo makes a gravel bike?"

I have a lot of fun with it.















I like big burns and I cannot lie.



Larix occidentalis, aka western tamaracks. I passed a car coming down this road, the driver was being really timid. I dunno, maybe he was smarter than I am.



Washington Pass.

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Old 09-19-19, 11:06 AM
  #161  
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I need to find bar tape that matches the brownish red in the frame.
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Old 09-19-19, 11:42 AM
  #162  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
Steel frame, large knobby tires (think MTB large), preferably with flat bars (or if you gonna go with drops, a "flared" dropbar), higher stack and shorter reach for easier control and comfort, depending on how large your tires are, maybe a suspension seatpost to ease road noise on your ass, wide range gearing to tackle hills/mountains (at least a 34 tooth in the cassette, even larger if possible), depending on the size of the chainring, either a 1x (small), or a 2x (a small and a larger one). If you are nostalgic, you can go with 3x. If you really mean business, you can even throw a suspension fork in that. Why not? I am all about personalization. Why go with something the market is pushing down our throats under false pretences. Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires on carbon/aluminum rigid frames. This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional". Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy. And most people just want to buy trash.
So you like to ride a MTB on gravel, whatever works for you.

My gravel bike is carbon, which is what I wanted, has flared drop bars, came with 40mm tires, can fit 47's, 48/32 up front, 11-34 out back, suspension seatpost and bars for comfort, extra cage mounts, and fork mounts. It's been great on everything from pea gravel to rocks the size of oranges, gravel centuries, road centuries, single track (mild), all without any issues. Not sure what else I could want from a gravel bike.
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Old 09-19-19, 11:55 AM
  #163  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
Some of the bikes that are sold under the gravel moniker are agressive road bike frames with plain old road groupsets attached over 700x32 (too thin) tires on carbon/aluminum rigid frames.
Which is why they can do double duty as road bikes!

This abomination of a bike is on market because people want to "look cool" to their friends. These bikes do exist because people realized that when you have dropbars on your bike, you look "professional".
If looking cool and professional with drop bars is so important, wouldn't they just buy a road bike?

Manufacturers are all about sales and profit. They do not really care what they sell as long as it is what people want to buy. And most people just want to buy trash.
Bike manufacturers are selling the type of bikes that cyclist want to buy? Those scoundrels!! What's next -- restaurants that serve food that people want to eat?
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Old 09-19-19, 01:45 PM
  #164  
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You do you and i'll do me all right.
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Old 09-19-19, 02:25 PM
  #165  
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Originally Posted by Newspaper_Nick View Post
You do you and i'll do me all right.
I don't think that anyone has a problem with you riding what you want to ride. What people have a problem with is you hearing the term "gravel bike" and then ignoring industry convention and substituting your own sensibilities upon the classification. That's like me deciding to associate apples with the word "tomato," and then getting in to a fight with people about how to make marinara.
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Old 09-19-19, 02:52 PM
  #166  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
That's like me deciding to associate apples with the word "tomato," and then getting in to a fight with people about how to make marinara.
Hey, be careful where you're going with that ...
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Old 09-19-19, 02:54 PM
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The internet nonconformist crusader returns once again to save the masses from the evil of having fun.
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Old 09-20-19, 01:46 PM
  #168  
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The great thing about choices, pick the thing that works for you. There is NO shortage of bike types. You can buy anything between a velodrome track bike to the most slackest fat tired down hill bike and there are 194 versions of things in between those extremes. I'm not sure why people get hung up on needing affirmation and have choice supportive bias. You bought EXACTLY what you needed at the given time and can "prove" it was the best choice, that does not mean that is exactly what someone else needed. I'll probably never buy a drop bar without rack mounts and a decent chain stay length. That's me...

Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
But suspension seatposts are widely available for any bike if you want one.

I have not tried the Thudbusters but the ones I have tried seem to bounce on the road when cadence gets up there. I could probably use it off road only but most of my rides are mixed. I go with a little less tire pressure and conforming tires or eventually I'll try a carbon or flexible bendy type post instead of a suspension one to take some bite away.

Last edited by u235; 09-20-19 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 09-21-19, 02:12 PM
  #169  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
I'm trying to follow your logic:

1. You are faster on a CX bike than you are on a full-suspension mountain bike.
2. Therefore, a CX bike will make a good road bike with a change of wheels.
3. But, the CX bike will only work as a road bike if you know how to ride CX, which Americans don't because they learned to ride on mountain bikes.

Is that about right?
Have you ever ridden a full suspension MTB up hills? It doesn't sound that way.

Also you don't seem to follow a conversation very well - is English your second language? Maybe you can explain to me what difference you believe there is between a CX and a road bike?

Are you riding a Walmart bike and dreaming that you now are in heaven? I'm sitting here with A Colnago CLX3.0, a Colnago Master,, a Lemond Zurich, a Pinarello Stelvio, a Pinarello Torino, a Ridley XBow , a Redline Conquest, a Basso Loto, a Backroads Chohalo and a Mercian in the garage. I've built every one of them from frame up and most with Campy Record components. I've sold off a Trek HiFi 29er and a Gary Fisher full suspension and a couple of hardtails. I missed riding the first three months of the year so I only have 3,500 miles and 138,000 ft of climbing. I finished off last year with 4,500 miles and over 250,000 ft of climbing and I'm 75 years old and started riding when a hot setup was a Peugeot PX-10 with sewups. I have a large bag of Bontrager caps that Keith gave to me when he was closing his doors in Santa Cruz after he sold his name off.

Out of curiosity what have you done? I don't mean to insult you but neither do I need someone other than my two brothers and my wife insulting me.
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Old 09-21-19, 02:27 PM
  #170  
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
So you like to ride a MTB on gravel, whatever works for you.

My gravel bike is carbon, which is what I wanted, has flared drop bars, came with 40mm tires, can fit 47's, 48/32 up front, 11-34 out back, suspension seatpost and bars for comfort, extra cage mounts, and fork mounts. It's been great on everything from pea gravel to rocks the size of oranges, gravel centuries, road centuries, single track (mild), all without any issues. Not sure what else I could want from a gravel bike.
I did the Tour de Fuzz last weekend. I caught up with a guy riding a hardtail with knobbys on the Metric route. He was riding a pretty continuous 21 mph! He had to be a cop because they are always trying to be better than everyone else. I think that he was an Indian guy, I rode with him for about 5 miles. That guy HAD to be putting out 400 watts! He wouldn't allow me to pass and take a pull to at least give him some respite. Finally he blew high, wide and handsome. I passed and kept going because I didn't want to insult him in any way. But merely the fact that that guy could ride knobbys that fast for that long (this was in the final 20 miles of the Metric) was pretty astonishing. I finished pretty far up out of some 1600 riders. That guy couldn't have been more than 20 minutes behind me.
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Old 09-21-19, 02:32 PM
  #171  
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I can't say that I see the point of a carbon fiber gravel bike. Since you're riding 33 mm tires (good choice) aluminum bikes are much cheaper and you don't have to worry about the frame being too stiff.
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Old 09-21-19, 03:06 PM
  #172  
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
I can't say that I see the point of a carbon fiber gravel bike. Since you're riding 33 mm tires (good choice) aluminum bikes are much cheaper and you don't have to worry about the frame being too stiff.
Carbon frames exist for gravel because users find them to be a combination of the following-
- comfortable
- versatile
- light
- look good
- trendy
- innovative
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Old 09-21-19, 03:12 PM
  #173  
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
Are you riding a Walmart bike and dreaming that you now are in heaven? I'm sitting here with A Colnago CLX3.0, a Colnago Master,, a Lemond Zurich, a Pinarello Stelvio, a Pinarello Torino, a Ridley XBow , a Redline Conquest, a Basso Loto, a Backroads Chohalo and a Mercian in the garage. I've built every one of them from frame up and most with Campy Record components. I've sold off a Trek HiFi 29er and a Gary Fisher full suspension and a couple of hardtails. I missed riding the first three months of the year so I only have 3,500 miles and 138,000 ft of climbing. I finished off last year with 4,500 miles and over 250,000 ft of climbing and I'm 75 years old and started riding when a hot setup was a Peugeot PX-10 with sewups. I have a large bag of Bontrager caps that Keith gave to me when he was closing his doors in Santa Cruz after he sold his name off.


We are all impressed.***
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Old 09-21-19, 05:31 PM
  #174  
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
Have you ever ...
I don't see the relevance of anything you wrote, but it sure puts your previous post in a new perspective.
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Old 09-21-19, 06:00 PM
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I'm not sure what you're talking about. A gravel bike is nothing more than a road bike with sufficient tire clearance for up to 32 or so gravel knobbys. Most of the bikes before 1985 would do that. I can't say that I ever even used special tires to ride gravel roads and just went from asphalt to dirt road without even thinking about it. And that's when a wide tire was 23mm.
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