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Who else is using a gravel bike as a road bike? What is the trade off (if any)?

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Who else is using a gravel bike as a road bike? What is the trade off (if any)?

Old 07-18-20, 05:22 AM
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kosmo886
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Who else is using a gravel bike as a road bike? What is the trade off (if any)?

So I recently bought a Giant Revolt Advanced 0 and swapped the tires for 700x32 GP5000 tubeless and have so far used the bike exclusively for road riding. Theory was it is essentially an endurance road bike geometry (close to the Defy model) with added tire clearance and versatility. Curious if others have gone this route and what thoughts are on what (if any) trade offs they are experiencing. At this point I don't have much to compare it to other than that this bike is super comfortable, certainly versatile given I have a second set of wheels for true gravel use. It seems this bike may be marginally heavier than a comparabley priced road bike, but I can't confirm that, nor do I know why this may be the case. The gearing is also a bit lower at the heavy side with 48 teeth on the front versus the more typical 52 on a pure road setup (I may change this and it's only about 150 bucks to swap using the same Praxis carbon components that came on this bike).

Anyways, as I am finding myself getting much more into road cycling, I'd be interested in whether others have taken a similar approach or have thoughts on any glaring differences between my setup and a "traditional" road bike.
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Old 07-18-20, 05:47 AM
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Old 07-18-20, 07:44 AM
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I reckon a gravel bike a very good road bike as well. For pure racers trying to optimize speed and agility, maybe not. But for the vast majority of recreational riders, putting on 700x32s on a gravel bike gives you very good performance on the road and the option to get dirty with wider tires, if you so desire.

In hindsight, i wish i had bought a gravel frame instead of an R5 for my second bike.
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Old 07-18-20, 07:56 AM
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I use my Cannondale Topstone as my 2nd road bike. I have a 2nd set of wheels with 32mm slick tires. They are really Conti GP4S 28mm tires that run large on the wider rims. The Topstone is 5 lbs heavier that my carbon road bike, which has narrower rims and 24mm Conti 5000 tires, so doesn’t roll as fast, thus for fast group rides I’ll stick to the carbon bike.
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Old 07-18-20, 07:57 AM
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I did the opposite and put 32c Gravelking SK tires on my Canyon Ultimate road bike and while I wouldn't say I've done anything at all intense, it has worked well enough to let me go off onto a trail or grind through some light mud/loose gravel. The tires do feel much more sluggish on tarmac though. Now I just bought new wheels so I can hot swap it between a suitable road bike and an over-geared gravel/CX bike.

As for your setup, I would imagine that a lot of the tradeoffs are probably negligible unless you're competitive or racing. Are you finding that you're maxing out at 48x11 a lot and wishing you could go faster? If you do swap to a 52/36 (maybe a 50/34 would be a good middle?), I can say that I often wish I had lower gears when I'm offroad (I have a 52/36 x 11-30 and I can't change the back without a new derailleur) and I seldom get up to 52x11/12/13 unless I'm trying to blow through a descent.

What does your body position look like on it? You could maybe try to slam your stem to get lower but I'd say if you're comfortable and not trying to break any personal or world records, just leave it alone and you've already done plenty with the tires.
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Old 07-18-20, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I use my Cannondale Topstone as my 2nd road bike. I have a 2nd set of wheels with 32mm slick tires. They are really Conti GP4S 28mm tires that run large on the wider rims. The Topstone is 5 lbs heavier that my carbon road bike, which has narrower rims and 24mm Conti 5000 tires, so doesnít roll as fast, thus for fast group rides Iíll stick to the carbon bike.
surprised the weight difference is 5lbs! I assume the topstone isnít Carbon. Even so I canít imagine the frame would be more of a 1-2lb difference.

interesting point on tires running wider with wider rims. I should check that as I have wider rims with 32mm tires. Do you just measure side wall to side wall with a caliper or something to see actual riding width?
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Old 07-18-20, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mattscq View Post
I did the opposite and put 32c Gravelking SK tires on my Canyon Ultimate road bike and while I wouldn't say I've done anything at all intense, it has worked well enough to let me go off onto a trail or grind through some light mud/loose gravel. The tires do feel much more sluggish on tarmac though. Now I just bought new wheels so I can hot swap it between a suitable road bike and an over-geared gravel/CX bike.

As for your setup, I would imagine that a lot of the tradeoffs are probably negligible unless you're competitive or racing. Are you finding that you're maxing out at 48x11 a lot and wishing you could go faster? If you do swap to a 52/36 (maybe a 50/34 would be a good middle?), I can say that I often wish I had lower gears when I'm offroad (I have a 52/36 x 11-30 and I can't change the back without a new derailleur) and I seldom get up to 52x11/12/13 unless I'm trying to blow through a descent.

What does your body position look like on it? You could maybe try to slam your stem to get lower but I'd say if you're comfortable and not trying to break any personal or world records, just leave it alone and you've already done plenty with the tires.
Iíve been thinking of swapping to a 52. Donít spin out a ton, but down hill I definitely can exceed 110rpm and wish for a higher gear.

im fairly relaxed in position but also ride the drops a lot so very comfy. I might position more aggressive but not sure. Iím a fairly competitive person so want to squeeze all I can out but also lucky to be a stronger rider than those I ride with already by a solid 1+ mph average on 30 mile rides so keeping up with a group isnít an issue.
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Old 07-18-20, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by kosmo886 View Post
I’ve been thinking of swapping to a 52. Don’t spin out a ton, but down hill I definitely can exceed 110rpm and wish for a higher gear.

im fairly relaxed in position but also ride the drops a lot so very comfy. I might position more aggressive but not sure. I’m a fairly competitive person so want to squeeze all I can out but also lucky to be a stronger rider than those I ride with already by a solid 1+ mph average on 30 mile rides so keeping up with a group isn’t an issue.
The nice thing about position changes it taking out a few spacers will cost nothing and unless you have a one-piece cockpit, swapping the stem should be pretty cheap. If you're keeping up with your group, I'd say your bike is probably more than adequate. Of course if you want to optimize, that's a very deep and expensive rabbit hole. I've always imagine most gravel bikes to really just be slightly more relaxed road bikes with wider tire clearance. I haven't been on enough different bikes to really have a good basis for comparison though. I would imagine road bikes to also have geometry (like shorter wheelbases etc.) to feel more nimble.

I think unless you're really concerned with optimal climbing/speed, a gravel to road conversion is a lot more sensible than a road to gravel (in my case).

Last edited by mattscq; 07-18-20 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 07-18-20, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by kosmo886 View Post
surprised the weight difference is 5lbs! I assume the topstone isnít Carbon. Even so I canít imagine the frame would be more of a 1-2lb difference.

interesting point on tires running wider with wider rims. I should check that as I have wider rims with 32mm tires. Do you just measure side wall to side wall with a caliper or something to see actual riding width?
I was curious about what all my stuff weighed, purchased a digital luggage scale. I knew the aluminum Topstone was around 22 or so, it actually came in at 22.6. My carbon was already at 17.5, but uses older Open Pro wheels that are much narrower. The carbon Topstone is around 20 lbs from what I remember.

The tire measurements are also digital. The Grand Prix 4 Seasons are usually a bit wonder than 28mm, not surprised they bulge out to 32 on a WTB rim thats 27mm wide external. I think this size tire is just below whatís recommended by WTB, but they have been OK. My carbon bike just got new Conti 5000ís, a 25mm size that actually runs 24.5mm. They roll better than the 4 Seasons.

Gravel bikes are just a bit heavier due to wider clearances for larger tires, that adds frame material. The Topstone wheelbase is longer, the chainstays are longer, etc....
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Old 07-18-20, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I was curious about what all my stuff weighed, purchased a digital luggage scale. I knew the aluminum Topstone was around 22 or so, it actually came in at 22.6. My carbon was already at 17.5, but uses older Open Pro wheels that are much narrower. The carbon Topstone is around 20 lbs from what I remember.

The tire measurements are also digital. The Grand Prix 4 Seasons are usually a bit wonder than 28mm, not surprised they bulge out to 32 on a WTB rim thats 27mm wide external. I think this size tire is just below whatís recommended by WTB, but they have been OK. My carbon bike just got new Conti 5000ís, a 25mm size that actually runs 24.5mm. They roll better than the 4 Seasons.

Gravel bikes are just a bit heavier due to wider clearances for larger tires, that adds frame material. The Topstone wheelbase is longer, the chainstays are longer, etc....
what is your road bike? Why did you have a need for both?
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Old 07-18-20, 10:22 AM
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i found a difference of one gear between my stigmata gravel bike with 30c tires and six13 road bike with 25c tires
i.e. going up a hill i'd typically need one gear lower/easier on the stigmata
with bigger tires (35c) on the stigmata, it might go up to 2 gears difference.
same size tires on both bikes, the difference was nearly unnoticeable
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Old 07-18-20, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by kosmo886 View Post
what is your road bike? Why did you have a need for both?
My road bike is a 5 yrs. old Chinese carbon, uses rim brakes, has clearance for a large 25mm tire max. Has a Di2 system, I was going to someday upgrade to a better frame, but it rides and fits great, so use it on my ďgo fastď rides. I got the carbon as I wanted a bike for commuting 27 miles, knew Iíd put road wheels/tires on it, also has lower hill gearing. My other commuter is a 27lbs lugged steel touring bike. I can swap wheels on the C-Dale to the gravel tires for when Iím on vacation, riding dirt roads and trails locally, etc... The Topstone is actually a great riding bike as I can run 70/80 psi on these tires and is a very comfortable fit.
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Old 07-18-20, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
My road bike is a 5 yrs. old Chinese carbon, uses rim brakes, has clearance for a large 25mm tire max. Has a Di2 system, I was going to someday upgrade to a better frame, but it rides and fits great, so use it on my ďgo fastď rides. I got the carbon as I wanted a bike for commuting 27 miles, knew Iíd put road wheels/tires on it, also has lower hill gearing. My other commuter is a 27lbs lugged steel touring bike. I can swap wheels on the C-Dale to the gravel tires for when Iím on vacation, riding dirt roads and trails locally, etc... The Topstone is actually a great riding bike as I can run 70/80 psi on these tires and is a very comfortable fit.
How much of a speed difference do you find between your road bike and the Topstone with road tires? Any real evidence of mph difference over similar rides?
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Old 07-18-20, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by kosmo886 View Post
How much of a speed difference do you find between your road bike and the Topstone with road tires? Any real evidence of mph difference over similar rides?
Not much, 1/2 mph, maybe 1 mph avg speed. I could ride the gravel as road for my go fast, itís just not setup as aggressive a position. The h-bar on the carbon is an inch lower, easier to apply power is what it feels like. Carbon accelerates quicker as itís lighter. Thatís kind of noticeable in a group ride when you have more frequent accelerations as you work to keep up with others. For solo rides, the weight makes little difference, IMO and Iím actually surprised at times at how I can keep up a good avg. on the Topstone.
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Old 07-18-20, 11:35 AM
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I primarily ride a Trek Domane. I have a set of wide carbon rims (25mm internal) and 32mm GP5000s. I ride it on road and gravel. Does fine on both. On the road, it is no slower than my Bianchi with 25mm tires. On anything gnarlier than gravel, I have a few MTBs...
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Old 07-18-20, 11:40 AM
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I don't think there's much difference between endurance and gravel frames in terms of geometry, but the latter definitely look beefier. I'd expect them perhaps to be more compliant as well. Other than that the obvious difference is the build kits available. That's just a wild guess based on eyeballing, never rode a gravel bike.
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Old 07-18-20, 12:09 PM
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I started a simular thread in the gravelbiking forum. I live close to trails that I would love to ride but I am afraid of getting bored with it. 3T recently came out with the Exploro Racemax and I thought it would make a great endurance road bike if I do get bored with riding the same trails The geometry looks comparable to some endurance bikes but the biggest difference is in bottom bracket drop. Can anyone give me any insight as far as a lower bottom bracket? What the reason is for it, and how it will feel compared to a road bike.
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Old 07-18-20, 12:55 PM
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My gravel bike is 3# heavier than my most used road bike. I will use it for road rides sometimes, but not often since there isn't much need to due to me having multiple road bikes.

If my gravel bike had 32mm tires on it instead of 43mm tires, it would be very similar in geometry setup to my road bike.
The stack, reach, bb drop, and trail are all quite similar/the same between my gravel and most used road frame. The gravel bike's trail is a few mm higher, which is fairly insignificant beyond academic consideration.
The gearing is different with 48/32 and 11/36 on the gravel vs 50/34 and 11/32 on the road.

Thats really the differences- drivetrain gearing ratios and tire width.

If I didn't have a road bike, I wouldn't think twice on using my gravel bike more. Add 15psi and the tires roll plenty fast, they are just heavier which only really affects spinning up from a stop for me.


I knowingly bought a gravel frame that would closely mirror my road bikes. Around me, gravel roads are simply roads that are a bit looser and steeper than the paved roads, so I dont need some slack long front end slow steering gravel geometry.
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Old 07-18-20, 01:03 PM
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The fact that there are such a thing as road bike and gravel bike is just more evidence of the irrepressible desire of people to put things in neat boxes. I have two cyclocross bikes, which have never and will never be employed for CX racing. I'm not gonna be forced to use them for some purpose determined by how they were marketed and sold.

But to remain pertinent to the thread, the 25lb 1x11 "CX bike," relative to an 18lb 2x11 "road bike," is 8% slower, or takes 8% more effort to maintain the same speed. All other variables "smoothed" to make an easy comparison. Both bikes have smooth tires. Gearing and weight make very little difference in typical, non-competitive use.
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Old 07-18-20, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The fact that there are such a thing as road bike and gravel bike is just more evidence of the irrepressible desire of people to put things in neat boxes. I have two cyclocross bikes, which have never and will never be employed for CX racing. I'm not gonna be forced to use them for some purpose determined by how they were marketed and sold.

But to remain pertinent to the thread, the 25lb 1x11 "CX bike," relative to an 18lb 2x11 "road bike," is 8% slower, or takes 8% more effort to maintain the same speed. All other variables "smoothed" to make an easy comparison. Both bikes have smooth tires. Gearing and weight make very little difference in typical, non-competitive use.
25lb cx bike is beefy. Iíd say the weight difference between road and gravel of similar price range is more like 1-2lbs. Something like 18 to 20lb for the comparison.
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Old 07-18-20, 01:39 PM
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If 7lbs of variance is good for 8% difference in speed/effort, then what's 1-2lbs gonna do? Even as a thought exercise, what's the point of this? A lighter bike on narrower tires will get you there 8% faster. How much are you willing to spend to "save" those 6-8 minutes a day?

My CX bike is steel, has absolutely zero done ot it in the name of weight savings, and is a hair over 20lbs with nothing on it (no electronics, no spares, no cages, no pedals) but that weight figure is meaningless.
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Old 07-18-20, 01:45 PM
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I ride a Trek Domane and it not only rides like a road bike, it is a road bike. Subtle differences in frame geometry are undetectable to me, and my 32mm tires feel fine. I am not a racer or a rider who has any fitness or riding goals. I ride for pleasure. My touring bike, an REI Novara, also rides well on the road. It has downtube shifters and 40 mm tires. It's heavy, but it rides fine.
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Old 07-18-20, 01:46 PM
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My only experience is with my Colnago World Cup CX. I've put 28 mm "gravel tires" on it and can use it on the road. It is about 5 lbs heavier than my CAAD 12 (22 lbs vs. 17 lbs) and the gearing is quite different. More low gears for hills and lacking gearing for high speed.
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Old 07-18-20, 02:39 PM
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I started with a gravelish bike in the Surly Midnight Special (steel, 650b x 47), rode it for a couple of months and recently bought a Specialized Tarmac (carbon, 700cx26mm) and just wrapped up a 35 miler today. I can tell you what I feel the tradeoffs are:

Gravel bike = versatile, comfortable, smooth over rough paved road, fairly stable handling, lots of fun and comfort, but...gearing is not optimal for road speed (at least not what I have), and wheels/tires feel slower off the line (stop signs and red lights). Overall, feel like I can't get up to and maintain a good as speed easily.

Road bike = faster, quicker off the line, sharper handling, better gearing for road riding, feel like I can maintain a higher speed more easily, but...not quite as comfortable, feel the rough paved sections, less stable (I am getting acclimated).

Overall, I am happy I got the dedicated road bike for road riding workouts. I am also happy to have my Surly for cruising around with the kids, going on gravel trails, and more urban type cycling. I thought the gravel would do it all, but I was wrong.
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Old 07-18-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by joebiker1 View Post
I started with a gravelish bike in the Surly Midnight Special (steel, 650b x 47), rode it for a couple of months and recently bought a Specialized Tarmac (carbon, 700cx26mm) and just wrapped up a 35 miler today. I can tell you what I feel the tradeoffs are:

Gravel bike = versatile, comfortable, smooth over rough paved road, fairly stable handling, lots of fun and comfort, but...gearing is not optimal for road speed (at least not what I have), and wheels/tires feel slower off the line (stop signs and red lights). Overall, feel like I can't get up to and maintain a good as speed easily.

Road bike = faster, quicker off the line, sharper handling, better gearing for road riding, feel like I can maintain a higher speed more easily, but...not quite as comfortable, feel the rough paved sections, less stable (I am getting acclimated).

Overall, I am happy I got the dedicated road bike for road riding workouts. I am also happy to have my Surly for cruising around with the kids, going on gravel trails, and more urban type cycling. I thought the gravel would do it all, but I was wrong.
mid imagine changing gearing and tires on the gravel would eliminate 95% of the difference? Is that likely accurate? Not sure if you have a 1x or something on the gavel, but that would certainly be a fairly big difference.
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