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The State of Road Cycling

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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

The State of Road Cycling

Old 02-06-20, 01:31 PM
  #51  
Leinster
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I started riding in the street around my house on a tricycle when i was three .... got a bike with training wheels the next year, training wheels came off the year after. By eight I was riding to the local library, supermarket, ice cream shop, etc and to school, on public roads. The next year i got a paper route and delivered papers by bike---and road all over the entire town---at nine or ten ......

Your experiences color your perceptions, mine color mine ... that's fine. I started actual Road-riding at the age of eight and still do it. And I was in no way a particularly attentive or coordinated child (nor am I as an adult)... I just learned how to walk and ride in the presence of automobiles.

Chacun a son gout.
Looking at my kids now as they progress past strider bikes and stabilisers, I’ll be happy for them to be riding to their friends’ houses and to school and to the ice cream shop by the age of 8 or 10. Their mother would probably feel differently about that. It helps that there are good bike paths around here, and more being built.
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Old 02-06-20, 01:35 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
IGravel.

A lot of the guys I used to race road with have gone gravel, and the predominant reason for the shift is "it gets me away from traffic." I've dabbled in gravel, and most of the races I've signed up for this year are gravel. I feel that is as much a safety move as it is a physiological one. If any racer is distressed by the current flood of retiring World Tour pros entering gravel events, there's two main reasons:

1: Gravel racing is becoming the new hotness in the market and there's money to be made. A retired WT rider needs to eat, and what better way to cash checks than to beat on the local Strava heroes for $1500/pop.

2: WT riders retire for a myriad of reasons (injury, burnout, etc), one of which is the loss of the "snap" required to do well in WT racing. With age, that snap goes away, and what's left is a MASSIVE diesel engine. Enter gravel racing. The ability to hold tempo for 5-8 hours with a few FTP efforts is exactly what races like BWR, DK, and Tushar require.

For non-racers, gravel not only gets you away from cars, but it's also a very welcome change of scenery from what might be the old stale road routes. With the changing surface comes the reason to buy new bikes and gear, which is in itself, exciting. ...which brings me to my next point:
So, BF... What say you? How's road?
Gravel roads are road. Riding on gravel is road riding. Yes, its with a different style bike, but there were already multiple road bike styles- tri, aero, climbing, endurance, crit, etc. Just add gravel to that list and be done.
Paved road riding may be dying, im not sure, but I wouldnt be surprised.
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Old 02-06-20, 03:37 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
I've been telling my wife that road cycling around here is the new tennis for the rich. Some of the best roads to ride in the Boston suburbs go through fairly wealthy towns and you see lots of people on the roads on the weekends, a lot of them on expensive custom titanium bikes. The towns have responded too by improving infrastructure (trails, road markings, signs, etc.). I've seen more and more gravel-type bikes around here they don't seem to be quite as prevalent partly because of selection bias (less likely to see them on the road, right?) and because there's not as much gravel around here as in other parts of the country. Personally, there have been instances where I've avoided going on rides or certain routes due to safety concerns. I, too, feel like drivers are getting more aggressive and more distracted around here.
I strongly believe that autonomous cars are nowhere near being able to handle our roads and will not get there even in the next five years. Some options are gravel, riding when traffic is lighter (early morning on weekends), or driving to ride in places where traffic is lighter.
Riding the north shore makes your cheeks clench in my opinion. There are very few spots I want to ride.
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Old 02-06-20, 03:38 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Gravel roads are road.
Throwing a person that is strictly a road racer into gravel racing would result in a lot of missing skin and DNF's (at least, here in Oregon). I get what you're saying with the multiple bike types, but all of those other types you listed all reside on pavement. Things change when the surface gets loose, in my experience.
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Old 02-06-20, 03:54 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
Looking at my kids now as they progress past strider bikes and stabilisers, I’ll be happy for them to be riding to their friends’ houses and to school and to the ice cream shop by the age of 8 or 10. Their mother would probably feel differently about that. It helps that there are good bike paths around here, and more being built.
My kids' K-6 school was nearly impossible to get to by bike during rush hour, but middle school was a lot better. My son rode nearly every day. Once he got to HS, we thought he might have to give it up but the two of us sketched out a safe and relatively direct route (6.5 miles) and he still rides just about every day. Lately he's had track conditioning two days a week, and he still rides. We make sure to pack two sandwiches on those days.
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Old 02-06-20, 04:41 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Gravel roads are road. Riding on gravel is road riding. Yes, its with a different style bike, but there were already multiple road bike styles- tri, aero, climbing, endurance, crit, etc. Just add gravel to that list and be done.
Paved road riding may be dying, im not sure, but I wouldnt be surprised.
The multiple road styles all depend on some sort of paved surface, be it concrete, asphalt, mortared stone, or at the very least hard-compacted and graded earthen surface. Without that binding of the surface, it's not realistic to ride a bike on tyres that are less than 35mm wide in all weather conditions. Gravel bikes come into play when you venture out onto roads that don't have that binding element.
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Old 02-06-20, 04:41 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Throwing a person that is strictly a road racer into gravel racing would result in a lot of missing skin and DNF's (at least, here in Oregon). I get what you're saying with the multiple bike types, but all of those other types you listed all reside on pavement. Things change when the surface gets loose, in my experience.
I bought a "gravel" bike because so many paved roads into the Cascades stop being paved. It's mostly hard packed dirt here, not actual gravel. You can ride it on 23s but much slower due to control. On 28/32s, I can ride it basically like any other road. And that opened up a lot more route options for me. We have some very scenic paved roads and highways, but we have a lot of very scenic dirt roads. I like covering a lot of ground, riding fast, and I'm not making my own path through trees and boulders, I'm riding on a road.
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Old 02-06-20, 06:59 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
The multiple road styles all depend on some sort of paved surface, be it concrete, asphalt, mortared stone, or at the very least hard-compacted and graded earthen surface. Without that binding of the surface, it's not realistic to ride a bike on tyres that are less than 35mm wide in all weather conditions. Gravel bikes come into play when you venture out onto roads that don't have that binding element.
Sure- you described gravel riding.
I dont follow why you described it.

A gravel bike is a road bike with larger tires.
A climbing bike is a road bike that's lightweight.
An endurance bike is a road bike with more relaxed geometry.

etc etc etc.

A gravel bike is simply another style of road bike. The varying terrain that can be handled on a gravel bike though means there are a spectrum of choices.
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Old 02-07-20, 12:41 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Throwing a person that is strictly a road racer into gravel racing would result in a lot of missing skin and DNF's (at least, here in Oregon).
There are also safety issues for transitioning between some paved disciplines, like if a strong TTer who only ever rides solo wants to hop straight into crits. Most people don't race anyhow, and the vast majority of gravel roads aren't problematic for paved cyclists to dabble on.

Gravel surfaces have very different characteristics than paved, but in terms of technicality, it's usually much closer to road than to modern MTB. This is very contextual, though.

It's complicated, I think.

Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
The multiple road styles all depend on some sort of paved surface, be it concrete, asphalt, mortared stone, or at the very least hard-compacted and graded earthen surface. Without that binding of the surface, it's not realistic to ride a bike on tyres that are less than 35mm wide in all weather conditions. Gravel bikes come into play when you venture out onto roads that don't have that binding element.
I wouldn't say that's a characteristic that distinguishes it from road cycling, though.​​​ Having bigger tires doesn't dramatically alter pre-existing aspects of the activity. Like, if I do a spirited paved road ride on a bike that happens to have 35mm+ tires, the experience is still largely that of a spirited paved road ride, I don't need to approach it differently.

(By contrast, as an example, I'd point to the ability of most paved riding to facilitate tighter paceline formations as a more distinguishing discrepancy.)

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I bought a "gravel" bike because so many paved roads into the Cascades stop being paved. It's mostly hard packed dirt here, not actual gravel. You can ride it on 23s but much slower due to control. On 28/32s, I can ride it basically like any other road.
I'd disagree there, although it depends on how you're routing your routes. Most roads that are named and/or actually go somewhere are fine-graded hardpack roads, but there are vast networks of chunkier forest road double-track, especially in logging areas. Everyone I know who rides a lot of that stuff uses 40s or bigger, if they'll fit.

Although, the aggregate type isn't always a good predictor of the pleasantness of the surface. The smoother hardpack is quite prone to potholling in zero-gradient spots, and since those roads typically get more motorized traffic (in part because they're more likely to be open to public motorized traffic), they often have severe washboarding.
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Old 02-07-20, 03:26 AM
  #60  
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In Southern California there seems to be as many cyclists on the road as ever. I live on the eastern end of Ventura County and ride to the shore every weekend (weather permitting) and see a lot of other folks out on their bikes riding the roads. The danger is always there , we have all seen it. I also walk 2-3 miles a day and can’t count how many times I have nearly been run over in a crosswalk in a protected intersection. Distracted driving, stress , and general lack of concern for others have made our streets unsafe whether cycling , walking , or driving. stay alert out there or you will become a statistic! Joe
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Old 02-07-20, 08:05 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post

As a newbie to racing (still a Cat 5, but close), I have to say the #1 failing in the US is how lots of race clubs are separate from general road clubs and groups. Just a wild theory of mine. I think it would be bigger if race teams dominantly were an "arm" of a much larger club. Not a lot of separate racing "teams" that say they are "clubs" due to the USAC designation of groups as "clubs". That's a team to me. A club does fondos, fund raisers, A/B and C group rides, has dinners, shares beers together, talks, etc........ They don't just show up to train together then bail, or only go to races.


I think competitive cycling needs to flow from the community more.

Dangit, I know what I have in my head. I just can't type it out.
This used to be the case. USCF rules had more stringent requirements for clubs, among them putting on races. And at the same time had a substantial "unattached rider" surcharge on race entries, kind of forcing you to join up somewhere. The indirect result of this was Teams attached to bigger clubs (some clubs with multiple teams). This made Teams beholden to the Clubs, who usually required some volunteer work from members of teams (work a race, lead x number of group rides, young rider clinics, etc). This still goes on, just not mandated, and I think most successful local racing scenes have several clubs still operating this way.

There were some issues with that model. But an unintended consequence when it went away was the rise of the 5 old guys form a Masters "Team", train by themselves and have nothing else to do with the sport. For road racing in particular this was an issue with the development of necessary pack skills being so important.
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Old 02-07-20, 08:59 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
This used to be the case. USCF rules had more stringent requirements for clubs, among them putting on races. And at the same time had a substantial "unattached rider" surcharge on race entries, kind of forcing you to join up somewhere. The indirect result of this was Teams attached to bigger clubs (some clubs with multiple teams). This made Teams beholden to the Clubs, who usually required some volunteer work from members of teams (work a race, lead x number of group rides, young rider clinics, etc). This still goes on, just not mandated, and I think most successful local racing scenes have several clubs still operating this way.

There were some issues with that model. But an unintended consequence when it went away was the rise of the 5 old guys form a Masters "Team", train by themselves and have nothing else to do with the sport. For road racing in particular this was an issue with the development of necessary pack skills being so important.
Thanks. That is a great insight from somebody with lots more experience than I have at all.

Anybody have opinions or insight on whether this works out this way abroad in Europe? Everytime I read a "cyclist's memoir" type book they mention how they "grew up through a club" from youth or adulthood and into racing and into being pros. They sometimes even have pictures, etc...

Best example I can think of is Obree's autobio. He's got a lot in there about his clubs he was a member of and photos in it of them together. The Fullarton Wheelers in Scotland was it? Yup, just looked it up. Pretty nice club website. Good stuff.

I'm a member of a team right now finally and it's better than going it alone by far. We've had some meetings and rides. The group ride starts up once the time changes back for daylight.

I wonder if in the US the "local futbol club" model could work. You've got like an "FC Raleigh" for which all youth and club adult soccer teams fall under with separate teams. You could have a "Velo Raleigh" with "Club Team on Draft" "Team Spoke Cycles" "Team CCC" "Team Jigawatt".

I dunno. Soccer is expanding like crazy under that model (even if we still suck at the USMNT level).
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Old 02-07-20, 01:43 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Sure- you described gravel riding.
I dont follow why you described it.

A gravel bike is a road bike with larger tires.
A climbing bike is a road bike that's lightweight.
An endurance bike is a road bike with more relaxed geometry.

etc etc etc.

A gravel bike is simply another style of road bike. The varying terrain that can be handled on a gravel bike though means there are a spectrum of choices.
I thought I actually described the distinguishing characteristic of road riding; that the bikes are fundamentally built to ride on a hard, paved surface. Yes, you can take your smooth-tyred aero frame onto a dirt track if you want to, but you might not enjoy it.

You say a gravel bike is a road bike with fat knobby tyres, but I would argue that a gravel bike is more like an old rigid-frame mtb, with modern lighter frame materials and components, and drop bars a la John Tomac from the 90s.

There’s obviously cross-over between all the different kinds of bike, as witnessed in all the different YouTube videos that can be found (“convert my road bike to a gravel bike”, “Convert my old MTB to a gravel bike” “Convert my fixie to a tracklocross bike”) but if you want to find a single distinguishing red-line-in-the-sand that separates my CAAD10 from a Topstone, it’s that Cannondale designed the former to ride on hard pavement, and the latter to sometimes not.
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Old 02-07-20, 01:57 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
and drop bars a la John Tomac from the 90s..
Don't forget Jacquie Phelan, a.k.a. Alice B. Toeclips.
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Old 02-07-20, 02:04 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
I thought I actually described the distinguishing characteristic of road riding; that the bikes are fundamentally built to ride on a hard, paved surface. Yes, you can take your smooth-tyred aero frame onto a dirt track if you want to, but you might not enjoy it.

You say a gravel bike is a road bike with fat knobby tyres, but I would argue that a gravel bike is more like an old rigid-frame mtb, with modern lighter frame materials and components, and drop bars a la John Tomac from the 90s.

There’s obviously cross-over between all the different kinds of bike, as witnessed in all the different YouTube videos that can be found (“convert my road bike to a gravel bike”, “Convert my old MTB to a gravel bike” “Convert my fixie to a tracklocross bike”) but if you want to find a single distinguishing red-line-in-the-sand that separates my CAAD10 from a Topstone, it’s that Cannondale designed the former to ride on hard pavement, and the latter to sometimes not.
72.5degree HTA, 73.5degree STA, 77mm bottom bracket drop, 430mm chainstay, 58mm mechanical trail. These are the measurements of a modern paved road bike, but its a gravel frame that fits 47mm tires too. It doesnt look or act like an old rigid MTB.


Sure, gravel bikes are a wide spectrum(as mentioned). But this bike, and many like it, are simply another style of road bike.
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Old 02-07-20, 02:21 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
I thought I actually described the distinguishing characteristic of road riding; that the bikes are fundamentally built to ride on a hard, paved surface. Yes, you can take your smooth-tyred aero frame onto a dirt track if you want to, but you might not enjoy it.

You say a gravel bike is a road bike with fat knobby tyres, but I would argue that a gravel bike is more like an old rigid-frame mtb, with modern lighter frame materials and components, and drop bars a la John Tomac from the 90s.

There’s obviously cross-over between all the different kinds of bike, as witnessed in all the different YouTube videos that can be found (“convert my road bike to a gravel bike”, “Convert my old MTB to a gravel bike” “Convert my fixie to a tracklocross bike”) but if you want to find a single distinguishing red-line-in-the-sand that separates my CAAD10 from a Topstone, it’s that Cannondale designed the former to ride on hard pavement, and the latter to sometimes not.
​​​​​​Road bikes are meant to be ridden on the road. It's right there in the name. We don't call them pavement bikes. Gravel bikes are meant to be ridden on a specific type of road, but again the key word is road.
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Old 02-07-20, 03:29 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
72.5degree HTA, 73.5degree STA, 77mm bottom bracket drop, 430mm chainstay, 58mm mechanical trail. These are the measurements of a modern paved road bike, but its a gravel frame that fits 47mm tires too. It doesnt look or act like an old rigid MTB.


Sure, gravel bikes are a wide spectrum(as mentioned). But this bike, and many like it, are simply another style of road bike.
430 mm chain stays? That is a Long touring bike ..... and that is one portion of the frame (the other being tire clearance) which sets it apart from purely road-oriented models. I am sure it is quite a bit less aero, with all that added width, and the handling is a lot less than "snappy" with those long chain stays.

Could you find a "road" bike with similar numbers? Who cares? The fact is, that bike was Designed to do best on softer, shifting surfaces.

I know I wouldn't want to take my Worskwell 066, with 395 chain stays and 23 mm tires, up or down a wet gravel road at anything but walking speed ... and at that speed, the tires tend to dig in, squirm, and pitch the rider (IME.)

I can throw slicks on my F/S MTB and call it a road bike.

And as far as arguing over classifications .... what's the point. You need dirt roads and paved roads to be the same ... some people see them as very different. In the end .... not worth fighting over?

But pretending that the numbers are similar, therefore the bikes are similar .... my 18-year old Honda Civic might have similar dimensions to a new C8 corvette .... but I am pretty sure my Honda is a better car, right?
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Old 02-07-20, 06:15 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
430 mm chain stays? That is a Long touring bike ..... and that is one portion of the frame (the other being tire clearance) which sets it apart from purely road-oriented models. I am sure it is quite a bit less aero, with all that added width, and the handling is a lot less than "snappy" with those long chain stays.

Could you find a "road" bike with similar numbers? Who cares? The fact is, that bike was Designed to do best on softer, shifting surfaces.

I know I wouldn't want to take my Worskwell 066, with 395 chain stays and 23 mm tires, up or down a wet gravel road at anything but walking speed ... and at that speed, the tires tend to dig in, squirm, and pitch the rider (IME.)

I can throw slicks on my F/S MTB and call it a road bike.

And as far as arguing over classifications .... what's the point. You need dirt roads and paved roads to be the same ... some people see them as very different. In the end .... not worth fighting over?

But pretending that the numbers are similar, therefore the bikes are similar .... my 18-year old Honda Civic might have similar dimensions to a new C8 corvette .... but I am pretty sure my Honda is a better car, right?
thank you for this, it was well worth the read. I started laughing at the first sentence and kept laughing all the way thru to the car comparison.

To reference a popular paved road bike, the Trek Domane in my size has 425mm chainstays, a slacker head tube, the same trail, and slightly less bottom bracket drop. Oh, and less reach so I would ride more upright.
Again, I absolutely loved the absurdity in you declaring it a touring bike due to 430mm chainstays. Absurdist humor brings me great joy.

This started because the OP segregated gravel from paved roads and cited it as one of three reasons why road cycling is down around him, and I replied with a disagreement. You ask what the point of classification is to me, but that is misdirected. I am saying that they are all road bikes(and therefore classifications arent needed). If you dont see the point in classifications, bring it up with the OP who classified to begin with.
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Old 02-07-20, 11:22 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
430 mm chain stays? That is a Long touring bike ..... and that is one portion of the frame (the other being tire clearance) which sets it apart from purely road-oriented models. I am sure it is quite a bit less aero, with all that added width, and the handling is a lot less than "snappy" with those long chain stays.

Could you find a "road" bike with similar numbers? Who cares? The fact is, that bike was Designed to do best on softer, shifting surfaces.
430mm is not "long touring bike" territory. Chainstay length on loaded road tourers is heavily driven by the need to be able to use large heavy panniers without heel interference or too much weight behind the rear axle, and it takes a lot of chainstay to make a dent in those regards. So their chainstays tend to fall in the 450-470mm range.

The longer-than-most-road chainstays on gravel (and mountain) bikes also aren't a deliberate accommodation for loose surfaces. Mountain bikes did have ultra-long chainstays in their early days, but this was a carry-over from the old Schwinn beach cruisers they were originally based on. Once they started messing around with shorter chainstays, they never went back. There are two main reasons for this: shorter chainstays aid traction on steep loose climbs by making it easier to keep weight over the rear wheel, and shorter chainstays reduce the divergence between the front wheel's track and the rear wheel's track.
Typical mountain bike chainstays are only a couple centimeters longer than typical road bike chainstays, even though mountain bikes are usually running tires that are at least a couple centimeters taller and wider than most road tires. In other words, mountain bikes try as hard to keep chainstay length low as road bikes do, if not harder.
Gravel bikes are in a weird space, where they usually aren't trying to open as much clearance as mountain bikes, but do try to support cranks with road q-factor and whatnot. The result is that most of them have pretty similar chainstay length to MTBs. But many would go shorter if it was mechanically practical to do so.

But also, chainstay length similar to MTBs doesn't really put gravel bikes that far outside of road territory. For instance, some current endurance road bikes (like the Giant Defy or Trek Domane) use 420-425mm chainstays. That's not historically weird, either: if you were to go back to 1980 or whatever, many bikes that are listed with ~415mm chainstays are more like 420-425mm if the wheel isn't set as forward as possible in the dropouts (and they often weren't). And of course you can find designers who like much longer chainstays for paved road bikes, like the 430-450mm stays on the Rivendell Roadeo.

Furthermore, although the 430mm chainstays are a bit outside of the usual road range, I'd contend that you're dramatically exaggerating the handling implications. Adding a centimeter or two to a road bike's chainstays can make the steering feel a bit calmer, but won't really make hard steering weightier, nor will it have much effect on how light or tight the bike feels to throw around out of the saddle. It might make for a bike whose character scratches a somewhat-different itch, but it's normal for different road bikes to have such contrasts: that's a big part of why so many people bother to own multiple road bikes.

I know I wouldn't want to take my Worskwell 066, with 395 chain stays and 23 mm tires, up or down a wet gravel road at anything but walking speed ... and at that speed, the tires tend to dig in, squirm, and pitch the rider (IME.)
That doesn't have much to do with the issue, though. Bikes don't exist across a linear spectrum where diminishing returns are nonexistent, and where performance gains made in one riding situation are always offset by performance losses of equal magnitude in some other riding situation. The main reason that allroad/road+ gravel bikes captured any market foothold is that road bikes can be modified to gain a lot of versatility without making very major concessions in road function or attitude. Otherwise, a lot fewer people would have cared.
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Old 02-08-20, 10:49 AM
  #70  
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I think road cycling will increase in popularity when more states enact a law against hand-held device in vehicles (IMHO it should be a Federal law). Until then, I'll continue to ride mostly mups and rail-trails, and only share the road with cars on few occasions. What type of bike you ride is up to the rider, lots of good choices available, but all are subject to the risks inherit to sharing the road with drivers who can't put their devices down.
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Old 02-08-20, 11:40 AM
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HS Bicycle Popularity

As a High School teacher for over 30 years, my observation is that they will come flocking to bicycles when we have another rider famous enough to be in the new regularly. Whenever an American won the Tour my students (and older people) would begin taking about riding again and I'd see young people out on their bikes.
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Old 02-08-20, 09:55 PM
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I personally don't think that the risk of riding on the road is what is actually keeping people from road cycling. I tend to think that it is the assumptions that people make about road cyclists that keeps them away. Cycling comes across as being a rich man's sport, and lycra-wearing roadies on their aero carbon bikes can appear to be a bit pretentious. Add to that the attitude that many roadies have (at least I know I have one anyway) towards negligent or aggressive drivers and it's a vicious cycle of us vs. them.

I think that cellphones aren't helping anything and their use in a car should absolutely be banned nationwide. I'm not disputing that. However, I've had far more issues with negligent drivers and angry drivers than I've had with drivers preoccupied with their phone. To be honest, the number one issue I have that grinds on my nerves is when I'm on a tight road and a driver can't wait for oncoming traffic to pass before going around me. Instead they try and squeeze buy, usually hitting the gas to get around me as quickly as possible. This isn't a case of either negligence or distraction; it's a case of 'my time is more important than yours'.

But back to my original point, I still don't think this is what is keeping cyclists off the road. All of the cyclists that I know either started riding bikes as a kid, or they began working in the cycling industry by chance and picked up the sport. I'm not a social rider though, so I'm drawing from a pretty small pool of representation and take this all with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I have a young relative who can't yet ride a bike. Neither of his parents ride and he himself seems to lack any interest in learning. When I was young (I'm 25 now) it seemed like everyone I went to school with rode a bike. It was just part of growing up and being a kid. I think that that is going away. I'm not sure why, but I would guess that technology and the things kids are into these days is the culprit.

I'm not really sure how to fix these things. I would say that it is certainly far too easy to get a drivers license and there needs to be a shift in the classroom to put some focus on managing aggression and dealing with slower traffic. Cyclists or not, people are not driving safely period. And then I think that cyclists maybe need to find a way to change how others perceive them. Bikes could be cheaper I guess, but really there is some very good entry level stuff out there. Problem is, convincing someone that a good bike that will make them want to keep riding is going to be more than the cost of a mongoose at Walmart can be a tough sell.

Ironically, I started out mountain biking and have been turning to road biking more and more. Trails are just getting too crowded for me. I can ride my road bike over a hundred miles without seeing another cyclist and that appeals to me sometimes. I really don't mind the cars.

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Old 02-08-20, 11:49 PM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
There are also safety issues for transitioning between some paved disciplines, like if a strong TTer who only ever rides solo wants to hop straight into crits. Most people don't race anyhow, and the vast majority of gravel roads aren't problematic for paved cyclists to dabble on.

Gravel surfaces have very different characteristics than paved, but in terms of technicality, it's usually much closer to road than to modern MTB. This is very contextual, though.

It's complicated, I think.


I wouldn't say that's a characteristic that distinguishes it from road cycling, though.​​​ Having bigger tires doesn't dramatically alter pre-existing aspects of the activity. Like, if I do a spirited paved road ride on a bike that happens to have 35mm+ tires, the experience is still largely that of a spirited paved road ride, I don't need to approach it differently.

(By contrast, as an example, I'd point to the ability of most paved riding to facilitate tighter paceline formations as a more distinguishing discrepancy.)


I'd disagree there, although it depends on how you're routing your routes. Most roads that are named and/or actually go somewhere are fine-graded hardpack roads, but there are vast networks of chunkier forest road double-track, especially in logging areas. Everyone I know who rides a lot of that stuff uses 40s or bigger, if they'll fit.

Although, the aggregate type isn't always a good predictor of the pleasantness of the surface. The smoother hardpack is quite prone to potholling in zero-gradient spots, and since those roads typically get more motorized traffic (in part because they're more likely to be open to public motorized traffic), they often have severe washboarding.
​​​​​​I'm on nominal 28s, with rims that balloon them to 33 mm. I don't like riding actual gravel - millions of pea sized rocks - because you sink into it, it's sluggish and hard to control. But we have so much hard packed dirt here. Even when it has (bigger) rocks in it, it's still a good time. Being slightly under biked is fun, it tests your skill in a way everyday riding doesn't. And when long stretches of pavement are involved, there's a Goldilocks size. Probably different for each rider depending on their preferences.

I did 8 miles of dirt roads today on skis that are 41 mm under foot (44 at the ends). That just seems crazy wide to me for bike tires. It's not that I think other people shouldn't go that wide, it just feels unnecessary to me.

I hate washboards, but they suck even on a hard trail MTB.
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Old 02-09-20, 12:19 AM
  #74  
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61 starters in the Cat 4/5 race at Folsom this morning. I think that’s a positive sign.


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Old 02-09-20, 02:27 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
​​​​​​But we have so much hard packed dirt here.
Even gravel road networks with lots of groomed hardpack can contain a lot of rougher stuff as well. And our regional weather means that even decent hardpack road can get rough patches, especially away from public motorized routes. For instance, today I was on my MTB, but riding roads that I usually ride on my gravel bike. Here's a photo from one logging road:



This spot was fairly smooth, and is representative of how this road mostly is. But here's another photo from the same road, from one of many spots that's been given a rock chunk bandaid thanks to the January rains:



In this case, you can see in the middle of the photo that logging truck tires have compacted parts of the chunk into something quite rideable. But behind my front wheel, you can see towards the centerline where there's less compaction, lots of loose rocks that are a couple inches across. Many spots today were closer to being like that. If you're riding 2" tires - even fairly flimsy ones - this is usually fine as long as you're somewhat careful, but it can be a big issue for non-beefy skinnier stuff. We had one guy on supple 38s take a sidewall gash today over this stuff, bad enough that the tire will likely end up getting tossed. He didn't have this problem in the past when he was running 35mm Marathon Plus Tours, but those are very stiff and slow, much slower than a fast tire that's 5-15mm wider.

And when long stretches of pavement are involved, there's a Goldilocks size.
Agreed, and that's true even when long stretches of pavement aren't involved.

The supple 2.1" slicks on my gravel bike have not been very successful in keeping me off the pavement, though. For instance, when I took off on a solo 100%-paved ride on the gravel bike two Saturdays ago, I ended up extending it to 100 miles on a whim. The bike actually gets more paved miles than unpaved, and when I take it on spirited road group rides, I can mostly hang with pacelines of similar composition as on my skinny-tired road bikes. It's not how I'd build a dedicated paved racing machine, but I don't see it as being a super-dramatic compromise either.

Last edited by HTupolev; 02-09-20 at 03:39 AM.
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