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gravel bike???

Old 12-17-15, 04:10 AM
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gravel bike???

okay, dudes (and dudettes!), lots of postings recently on
the latest and greatest fad...."gravel bikes." i'm having trouble
understanding what exactly a gravel bike is. i'm not up on
cyclocross or racing..........just riding.

currently have only one bike, bmc alpenchallenge ac01
(might be a 2010 model). believe it's classed as a hybrid
with 26" wheels and 27-spd mtb gearing. disc rear, v front.
non-suspension, curved steel fork with trekking bars.
36-spoke novatec/alex rear, deore/alex front.



long chainstays with good pannier clearance. rides fine on
pavement and dirt and light sand and gravel, probably more
due to the tires than the frame. maxxis pace 1.95 on tour,
kenda kwest or similar 1.75 around home.

typically carry about ten kg on the rear (including panniers)
and about 2.5 kg front (including bar bag), hotel/guesthouses.
small front platform rack for coil lock or 3-4 liters of water.

hit plenty of dirt and sand and cobbles and jungle trails and
mud and monsoon rains and occasional water crossings here
in asialand.....



what specifically would a "gravel bike" do for me that this
bike does not?

are "gravel bikes" a real thing or just marketing hype?
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Last edited by saddlesores; 12-17-15 at 04:25 AM.
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Old 12-17-15, 05:44 AM
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Not sure i get it either. I often ride my LHT on gravel/unpaved roads during tours.

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Old 12-17-15, 06:49 AM
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If you really need to make the difference, then yes, gravel bikes can be considered to be their own sub class of bikes. Like most bike classes, also the gravel bike is oriented towards racing, hence the differences from a cyclocross for example. At this point the relevence of the issue in this subforum really ends since there's no racing here, but I'll elaborate anyways.

A gravel bike simply put is a road bike that fits larger tires. It's usually longer and lower than a cyclocross, has steeper angles and is generally more like a road bike and less like a mountain bike.

But like I said, it's not really relevant in this subforum as you can ride gravel roads on various different bikes that take larger tires. But if you want to race gravel, then a specific gravel rocket might be appropriate, or not. It really comes down to what you like and how much you want to emphasize your riding towards a certain direction. It's a good excuse for a new bike though.

I do get the idea of the gravel grinder since while on gravel you usually need the properties and handling charasteristics of a road bike but also tires that can handle the rougher road material.
You can also think of it the other way around. Now you can get an almost full bred road racing bike that has the capability to take knobbies, studded tires and also use road tires. As much as I'd like to think a CX as a road bike, it isn't that (however I do kinda prefer the CX handling to a road bike, since the CX is more relaxed and better at descents)
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Old 12-17-15, 09:00 AM
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There are small differences, which are primarily for marketing purposes. A gravel bike will take larger tires than a typical road bike, but lots of road bikes also take larger tires. Disc brakes is another aspect of gravel bikes, but now many road bikes have disc brakes. Drop bars, same goes. I call my bike a "commuter" bike, because it will take a rack, fenders and wider tires. I call it a "touring" bike because I can load it up with lots of gear. It is also a "gravel" bike due to the larger tires, drop bars and disc brakes.
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Old 12-17-15, 09:16 AM
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saddlesores, Gravel bikes are probably a non competitive off shoot niche of CX racing and I've used both of my touring bikes as drop bar gravel bikes, but my hard tail mountain bike is still superior in any off pavement situation. In retrospect I think any of my old fully rigid mountain bikes would be superior to the drop bar bike.

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Old 12-17-15, 11:05 AM
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Sounds like you have a fine gravel bike.
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Old 12-17-15, 11:38 AM
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I built up an early 90s univega hybrid- into a gravel bike earlier this fall because I wanted something different than my road bikes or tourers when riding gravel routes.
I figured a cheaply priced but mechanically excellent steel hybrid would be great for the job and it has been. 700c wheels instead of 26, some splayed out bars that are more shallow too help with steering stability. Wider tires can fit too.


I wouldn't pay the 1-2k for a new bike just to ride on gravel, but I happily sunk the 250 it took to build what I wanted, especially since I'll be able to convert it back when I want to sell it and keep the components I used for another bike.
Gravel riding for me is just fun to do when I am going out alone. There are thousands of miles of gravel in my state and a 10min drive gets me to remote gravel roads with hills. It's a blast and I ride gravel a lot more now that I have a bike that fits what I want for that type of riding.
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Old 12-17-15, 11:41 AM
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After I bought a new Specialized Roubiax, I took my Mercier and fitted it with 38 gravel tires and removable fenders. I did it to make a winter bike but see more potential as I have ridden it on the road (very little speed difference), on rail trails (works great) and on carriage roads. So, my old road bike is now a gravel bike, mostly because that's what it thinks it is and I won't tell it any different, lol
Basically, this bike has become a do it all, year round bike and I love it.
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Old 12-17-15, 11:49 AM
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You have a bike?
You ride it on gravel?
You have a gravel bike.
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Old 12-17-15, 11:54 AM
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Gravel Grinders are Clubby things where there is a one-up-man-ship competition amongst younger guys for status .

Like a Plumage battle amongst Peacocks for Hens .. its Unconscious but Bike Marketing forces Love to Use It , successfully, it seems.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by MileHighMark
You have a bike?
You ride it on gravel?
You have a gravel bike.
Looks like I don't own any non-gravel bikes!

Naming conventions in cycling are often silly, and based on marketing. My new Surly crankset has "Labyrinth Enduro" bearings. What the %*&# does that mean?

That said, the term "gravel bike" is useful for me to delineate the line between a road bike and a mountain bike. CX bikes fall into the "gravel" category, but not everyone wants race geometry. Slacken out that top tube a bit, raise the bars... it's a gravel bike.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
Looks like I don't own any non-gravel bikes!

Naming conventions in cycling are often silly, and based on marketing. My new Surly crankset has "Labyrinth Enduro" bearings. What the %*&# does that mean?

Labyrinth seals have been around for ages. Putting enduro with it just makes it more epic, or extreme, or uhh, enduro bro!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth_seal
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Old 12-17-15, 01:36 PM
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Enduro is a manufacturer... Makes bike bearings...
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Old 12-17-15, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
Enduro is a manufacturer... Makes bike bearings...
Ahh, I see. Surly does cap it in their literature, I shoulda caught that

  • High quality double labyrinth sealed stainless Enduro bearings with corrosion resistant coating
I thought they were going for

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Old 12-17-15, 01:47 PM
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my old SBI Expedition hubs, had a labyrinth shield (Complex path for grit to get through)

before It got to the contact seals on the cartridge bearings themselves.
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Old 12-17-15, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
... My new Surly crankset has "Labyrinth Enduro" bearings. What the %*&# does that mean?
....
Just marketing phraseology trying to make something old sound really new.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my old 26 X 1 1/2 (or 650b) tires on my 3 speed with rusty steel rims were the brand new size 27.5.
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Old 12-17-15, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Just marketing phraseology trying to make something old sound really new.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my old 26 X 1 1/2 (or 650b) tires on my 3 speed with rusty steel rims were the brand new size 27.5.
It's easier if you ignore all those numbers and just go by the BSD.

They're 584s, dammit.

That size was kinda rare on 3-speeds, except on French bikes. 590mm steel rims are more common on most non-French 3-speeds.
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Old 12-17-15, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Gravel Grinders are Clubby things where there is a one-up-man-ship competition amongst younger guys for status...Like a Plumage battle amongst Peacocks for Hens .. its Unconscious but Bike Marketing forces Love to Use It , successfully, it seems.
alrighty, then! so it's mostly marketing hype. can't beat that
alliteration! GRRRRavel GRRRRRinder. does this mean they'll
bring back GRRRRRoovey?........cause GNarly just doesn't flow.

haven't seen many ads here in "our china", have only heard
the descriptions here on "our forum.".....really studdly buffy
beafcake dude racing through gNarly singletrack, flying
down to the trailhead, pouring water over bare (shaved!)
chest, then loading his bike atop his spotless suv, and
then cruising down the twisty mountain road with a super
hot babe with awesome cleavage beside him, googly
eyeing him with obvious lust in her heart.........got it.

sounds like the "harley" of bicycles..........you're not just
buying a bike, you're buying a lifestyle!
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Old 12-17-15, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
alrighty, then! so it's mostly marketing hype. can't beat that
alliteration! GRRRRavel GRRRRRinder. does this mean they'll
bring back GRRRRRoovey?........cause GNarly just doesn't flow.

haven't seen many ads here in "our china", have only heard
the descriptions here on "our forum.".....really studdly buffy
beafcake dude racing through gNarly singletrack, flying
down to the trailhead, pouring water over bare (shaved!)
chest, then loading his bike atop his spotless suv, and
then cruising down the twisty mountain road with a super
hot babe with awesome cleavage beside him, googly
eyeing him with obvious lust in her heart.........got it.

sounds like the "harley" of bicycles..........you're not just
buying a bike, you're buying a lifestyle!
Dang, sounds pretty great!
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Old 12-17-15, 11:07 PM
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There are some seriously hardcore gravel riders around Kansas, Iowa, etc.
Winter gravel races, large gravel races that bring in people from all over, 24hr straight gravel riding, etc.
Not sure if they have shaved chests while riding though.
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Old 12-17-15, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
There are some seriously hardcore gravel riders around Kansas, Iowa, etc.
Winter gravel races, large gravel races that bring in people from all over, 24hr straight gravel riding, etc.
Not sure if they have shaved chests while riding though.
Not shaved...waxed. Get with it!
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