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The "gravel bike " theme

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The "gravel bike " theme

Old 06-10-14, 11:32 AM
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thehammerdog
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The "gravel bike " theme

Just saw that specialized is making a sweet looking large tire using "40mm" gravel bike .
I luv the idea of a do it all big tire race bike. Is this a fad or is it here to stay...I see my next bike being in line with something like it.
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Old 06-10-14, 11:38 AM
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Fad. Unless you must have a bike for every occasion.
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Old 06-10-14, 11:43 AM
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You don't need that much tire for gravel.
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Old 06-10-14, 11:50 AM
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Cyclocross bikes have been around for a long time. Nothing groundbreaking
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Old 06-10-14, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
You don't need that much tire for gravel.
You do for gravel grinder races like Dirty Kanza. Organizers recommend at least 2" tires. I did it on 40mm, which barely fit on my cross bike.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
Fad. Unless you must have a bike for every occasion.
I think niche more than fad.

Gravel grinder races keep getting more popular, with more races and bigger fields. DK had 1200 riders this year.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
Fad. Unless you must have a bike for every occasion.
The country bike has been been here for a decade. There are people who want to take the fire road as well as the pavement. Twenty years ago, one could choose between a road bike and a mountain bike. That is no longer true - you can have one bike that really does it all.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
The country bike has been been here for a decade. There are people who want to take the fire road as well as the pavement. Twenty years ago, one could choose between a road bike and a mountain bike. That is no longer true - you can have one bike that really does it all.
A gravel grinder is going to make a good touring bike, a good recreational road bike, a decent cyclocross bike, and you could even do road races with it, particularly if you swapped out to narrower tires.

They're pretty much throwbacks to all all around bikes, before the vast majority of road bikes became very specialized race bikes.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
Cyclocross bikes have been around for a long time. Nothing groundbreaking
True. But the new "Gravel Grinder" road bikes in some ways go beyond a CX bike in that they really can handle loose gravel roads as well as hardpack trails with aplomb. I had a disastrous fall on loose gravel with my Bianchi San Jose CX bike. The gravel grinder road bikes are more stable and can handle loose gravel with confidence.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
Cyclocross bikes have been around for a long time. Nothing groundbreaking
Evolutionary more than groundbraking. A gravel grinder is going to have wider tire and mud clearance. True cyclocross bike is built for 32mm tire, the widest UCI legal cyclocross tire.

A gravel grinder is also going to be a bit more relaxed geomoetry and stable ride, intended for longer rides, than a racing cyclocross bike, built to handle tight courses for 60 minutes.

And a gravel grinder has things that true cyclocross bikes don't have: water bottle bosses, and fender racks.

Essentially a bit more versatile cyclocross bike.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
True. But the new "Gravel Grinder" road bikes in some ways go beyond a CX bike in that they really can handle loose gravel roads as well as hardpack trails with aplomb. I had a disastrous fall on loose gravel with my Bianchi San Jose CX bike. The gravel grinder road bikes are more stable and can handle loose gravel with confidence.
What makes the "Gravel Grinder" bikes handle loose gravel better? I suppose geometry differences?
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Old 06-10-14, 12:35 PM
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Or a more versatile all-around bike - a lighter version of the country bike for day rides.

I see it supplanting the road bike in rural areas because there are lots off trail paths to explore, too. A road bike keeps you from going to places that a gravel grinder bike can go to. As the design is refined and the price drops, we're going to see the gravel grinder command a significant market share.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:37 PM
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Dan Hughes has won dk200 on a cx bike, do we really need a dedicated gravel bike ? A lot of bikes companies are pushing the limit with bikes and over crossing some of their own bike platforms.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mike12 View Post
What makes the "Gravel Grinder" bikes handle loose gravel better? I suppose geometry differences?
A more relaxed frame geometry, longer chainstay line and wider tires than you can mount on a road or CX bike is what helps a gravel grinder conquer seemingly impassable terrain. I'd imagine they're equally at home on cobblestoned streets and urban potholed roads.
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Old 06-10-14, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
Dan Hughes has won dk200 on a cx bike, do we really need a dedicated gravel bike ? A lot of bikes companies are pushing the limit with bikes and over crossing some of their own bike platforms.
The bike the OP referenced to start the thread was built for Dan Hughes and Rebecca Rusch for Dirty Kanza.

You can definitely do DK on a CX bike. I did it on a cheap Motebecanne CX bike. Only problem was a bit of an issue with mud clearance running 40mm tires.

I saw a ton of people using conventional 32mm cross tires flatting, some with tires torn beyond rebooting.

I get your point that you can slice your market into too small of niche, but for most folks who aren't serious CX racers, the Gravel Grinder is going to be a better choice than a full on CX bike.

So perhaps a different way to look at it, is the Gravel Grinder is a more rounded bike, filling a broader role of touring bike, dirt road bike, commuter, etc. and the traditional CX bike is the narrow niche purpose built racing bike.
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Old 06-10-14, 01:02 PM
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Yup. I agree. The CX bike is not a particularly good all-round bike. The "Gravel Grinder" seeks to make off road cycling accessible to more people on a much friendlier bike. In some ways, its an off shoot of country bikes like the Salsa Vaya.
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Old 06-10-14, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The bike the OP referenced to start the thread was built for Dan Hughes and Rebecca Rusch for Dirty Kanza.

You can definitely do DK on a CX bike. I did it on a cheap Motebecanne CX bike. Only problem was a bit of an issue with mud clearance running 40mm tires.

I saw a ton of people using conventional 32mm cross tires flatting, some with tires torn beyond rebooting.

I get your point that you can slice your market into too small of niche, but for most folks who aren't serious CX racers, the Gravel Grinder is going to be a better choice than a full on CX bike.

So perhaps a different way to look at it, is the Gravel Grinder is a more rounded bike, filling a broader role of touring bike, dirt road bike, commuter, etc. and the traditional CX bike is the narrow niche purpose built racing bike.
Really I thought they were riding their Crux's this year ? Hughes was riding 38 wide tires and got two flats. Last bit makes perfect sense.
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Old 06-10-14, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Evolutionary more than groundbraking. A gravel grinder is going to have wider tire and mud clearance. True cyclocross bike is built for 32mm tire, the widest UCI legal cyclocross tire.

A gravel grinder is also going to be a bit more relaxed geomoetry and stable ride, intended for longer rides, than a racing cyclocross bike, built to handle tight courses for 60 minutes.

And a gravel grinder has things that true cyclocross bikes don't have: water bottle bosses, and fender racks.

Essentially a bit more versatile cyclocross bike.
It's pretty much just marketing.

I think Merlin's post is pretty accurate and really fits the description of what many manufacturers used to market as an entry level cyclocross bike (some still do). My Scattante was marketed as an entry level cross bike back in 2011 but it is much more of what is now called a gravel bike (has all of the features in Merlins post that I highlighted above). I have 32's on it right now but have room for much more and the geometry is relaxed. The real racing CX bikes have pretty aggressive geometries. The good news is that now that there is a category just for them we should start to see higher quality bikes of this style available. Many of the steel bikes that have always been available fall under this category as well.
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Old 06-10-14, 01:21 PM
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There's a Dan Hughes edition Crux spec'd out for DK.

Specialized S-Works Gravel CruX, Dan Hughes Edition | Bicycling Magazine
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Old 06-11-14, 08:05 AM
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This is the one he rode this year.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
I'd imagine they're equally at home on cobblestoned streets and urban potholed roads.
That's why I went with my Warbird. I could not imagine riding around NYC on skinny assed tires.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:32 AM
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I regularly ride my road bike with 28mm tires on dirt/gravel roads. If I need anything wider than 40mm, I grab my 29er. Most of my preferred gravel-specific tires are in the 32-38mm range.

Free your mind, and your bike will follow.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:40 AM
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I've thought about getting a gravel bike. I like the idea of a road bike that can take a fat tire for all around tire.

Still this is a bit of a niche and there are vintage bikes that can be repurposed for this use as well at a lower cost if that is a concern or consideration. I'm in the process of rebuilding a 93 Bridgestone XO-2 for this purpose (road geometry, drop bars, and 26 inch wheels). A road bike suitable for a 650b conversion could work well for this as well. Vintage MTBs can be usefully repurposed as well. Just sayin; there are alternatives.
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Old 06-11-14, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
A road bike suitable for a 650b conversion could work well for this as well. Vintage MTBs can be usefully repurposed as well. Just sayin; there are alternatives.
Have you been looking at my stable or something? These are my gravel bikes:

A road bike converted to 650b x 38mm

A vintage MTB riding 26 x 2.1


I agree that the "gravel bike" is a niche, but that gravel biking doesn't require a new "gravel bike". My KOM flies on gravel; the 2.1 micro-knobby tires just float. In my experience, anything narrower than 35 mm just gets bogged down in between the gravel in stead of floating on top. The gravel in my area is .5 to 1 inch crushed limestone, primarily.

Today's bike makers are waking up from the Lance-fueled racing funk, and remembering that not every bike needs to be for skinny tires only. I'm glad to see more versatile designs. You don't need a new "gravel bike" for gravel riding, but one will do it better than many of the other bikes the big makers are selling.

Wide tires rule.
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Old 06-11-14, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
I think niche more than fad.

Gravel grinder races keep getting more popular, with more races and bigger fields. DK had 1200 riders this year.
+1 in bold.
A slight tire width up over a cross bike is probably desirable for gravel grinding.
Specialized new bike looks like they fill this niche. Question is, how often do you indulge this niche to justify a specific bike.
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