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Unicorn hunt

Old 08-26-18, 07:58 PM
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Unicorn hunt

Hi all, another person here looking for something that doesn't really exist: the do-it-all bike.

I'm looking for a bike that's gonna be good for my daily 10km commuting, midweek road riding (50-100km at a quick pace, but I'm no racer), weekend gravel rides (70+km on anything from nice smooth hardpack to chundery washout and singletrack), and the occasional tour/bike packing trip. I'm hoping down the road to do more randonneur type trips too since there's a fairly active community for it where I am (west coast Canada).

I'm fully aware that no bike will be perfectly suited for both ends of multi-day fast road tours, and also be stable and confident in gnarly singletrack/gravel but I'm hoping to strike some balance between the two. If I have to lean in one direction it'd be more towards gravel as I'm out every week and my last bike (more road design) didn't always feel quite up to it. A proper road bike is also on the horizon for next year to take up the mid-week rides, and maybe the rando rides, so definitely leaning more for a bike packing/gravel/adventure bike that'll do racks front and rear.

Some things I'm looking for in order:
1. Steel is real (and within budget because who doesn't love Ti)
2. Disc brakes, for that gravel confidence
3. Big clearance - the max 40mm tires on my last one weren't quite enough for the roughest stuff
4. Through axles would be nice, but not a deal breaker

The top of my list looks like so right now:
Bombtrack Beyond: checks every box but almost impossible to get a hold of
Salsa Fargo: see above, also a touch more rugged than I need
Specialized Sequoia: smallest clearance, shortest chainstays, most road-y geometry but I can get a great deal

Is there anything I'm overlooking? Smaller brands are what I'm looking for recommendations on mostly, I've done a TON of research on the big house brands and there's not a lot out there.


​​​​​Thanks for reading all this if you did
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Old 08-26-18, 08:06 PM
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Jones bike.
Never rode one, but meets all your specs and is supposed to be very comfortable.
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Old 08-26-18, 09:52 PM
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Surly Straggler. Basically the disc version of the crosscheck. Steel, disc, big clearance (42mm). Through axle is not very important and even a deficit if you have to replace a wheel on the road. Can also be turned into a SS/FG as it has horizontal dropouts.

Run two wheelsets. Road/commuter and fatter gravel tread. Going from one to the other is a two minute job.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-26-18 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 08-26-18, 10:07 PM
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Go Custom..
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Old 08-26-18, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun
Jones bike.
Never rode one, but meets all your specs and is supposed to be very comfortable.
Definitely a cool bike that I've taken a look at, but I'm also looking for drop bars.

Originally Posted by Happy Feet
Surly Straggler. Basically the disc version of the crosscheck. Steel, disc, big clearance (42mm). Through axle is not very important and even a deficit if you have to replace a wheel on the road. Can also be turned into a SS/FG as it has horizontal dropouts.

Run two wheelsets. Road/commuter and fatter gravel tread. Going from one to the other is a two minute job.
Feel like I'll get some flak on this forum for it but Surly just... doesn't do it for me for some reason. I get that they're pretty much the gold standard for indestructibility but just can't get excited about them.

Double wheelset is a great idea that I want to accommodate into the budget, or at least get the second at some point. I've had a long think on the QR vs TA question, and TA are slightly ahead for my uses. A big reason I'm looking at Salsa frames is the ability to swap dropouts (and fork) to QR if I was doing international touring. I appreciate the insights!

Originally Posted by fietsbob
Go Custom..
The eventual plan is a custom Ti frame, but $$$. I've looked into a custom steel frame until then but an off the shelf frameset is what my wallet has room for. Anything up to $1500CAD (preferably <1000) is being considered frame-wise but most custom builders I've seen are in the 2-3k sadly
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Old 08-27-18, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dzewa
Hi all, another person here looking for something that doesn't really exist: the do-it-all bike.

I'm looking for a bike that's gonna be good for my daily 10km commuting, midweek road riding (50-100km at a quick pace, but I'm no racer), weekend gravel rides (70+km on anything from nice smooth hardpack to chundery washout and singletrack), and the occasional tour/bike packing trip. I'm hoping down the road to do more randonneur type trips too since there's a fairly active community for it where I am (west coast Canada).

I'm fully aware that no bike will be perfectly suited for both ends of multi-day fast road tours, and also be stable and confident in gnarly singletrack/gravel but I'm hoping to strike some balance between the two. If I have to lean in one direction it'd be more towards gravel as I'm out every week and my last bike (more road design) didn't always feel quite up to it. A proper road bike is also on the horizon for next year to take up the mid-week rides, and maybe the rando rides, so definitely leaning more for a bike packing/gravel/adventure bike that'll do racks front and rear.

Some things I'm looking for in order:
1. Steel is real (and within budget because who doesn't love Ti)
2. Disc brakes, for that gravel confidence
3. Big clearance - the max 40mm tires on my last one weren't quite enough for the roughest stuff
4. Through axles would be nice, but not a deal breaker

The top of my list looks like so right now:
Bombtrack Beyond: checks every box but almost impossible to get a hold of
Salsa Fargo: see above, also a touch more rugged than I need
Specialized Sequoia: smallest clearance, shortest chainstays, most road-y geometry but I can get a great deal

Is there anything I'm overlooking? Smaller brands are what I'm looking for recommendations on mostly, I've done a TON of research on the big house brands and there's not a lot out there.
Black Mountain Cycles MCD frame. Monster Cross Disc

I have a canti brake Monster Cross frame for gravel riding and love it. The MCD frame isnt as good looking to me, but thats because I am a retrogrouch who loves traditional looking frames.
highlights-
- clearance for 50mm tire
- thru axle
- double butted heat treated cromoly with a rust inhibitor applied to the frame
- wet paint under clear powder finish for durability(looks great and lasts)
- lots of mounting points

MCD Frames - Black Mountain Cycles

Mike Varley, the shop owner who designed these(and builds em up if you want) has been in the business for decades, designed bikes for Haro and Masi before opening his own shop, and is an active cyclist(i think that is a positive). The frames are made by Maxway in Taiwan, so they are reliable and well built. Mike inspects each one before they ship out.


So this isnt a complete bike, but it allows you to get everything you want in a frame and build the bike exactly how you want.
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Old 08-27-18, 10:12 AM
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Salsa's lineup looks appealing were I in the market for a new "adventure" bike.

Salsa Marrakesh - more of a "traditional" touring bike
Sals Fargo - billed as an off-roading/gravel grinder touring bike
Salsa Vaya - an all-rounder, leaning more towards gravel than road
Salsa Jouneyman - an all-rounder that leans towards the road side of things.
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Old 08-27-18, 10:34 AM
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Soma Wolverine, Ritchey Outback, Breezer Doppler, All City Gorilla Monsoon.

edt: Kona Sutra Ltd.

Last edited by tyrion; 08-27-18 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 08-27-18, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by dzewa
...Feel like I'll get some flak on this forum for it but Surly just... doesn't do it for me for some reason. I get that they're pretty much the gold standard for indestructibility but just can't get excited about them...
I don't care what you buy, but be aware that Surly and Salsa are basically the same company, owned by Quality Bike Products, and Surly and Salsa frames and forks are made in the same Taiwanese plant by the same robots/processes/materials/people. Generally speaking, the only real difference between them is Salsa has fancier finishes and higher price, and framesets are more limited availability (if you want to DIY). If you want an inexpensive Ti 700c touring frame, look at eBay for a Lynskey Backroad - they are sold occasionally in fall/winter when sales decline for 25-33% of normal price.
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Old 08-29-18, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Black Mountain Cycles MCD frame. Monster Cross Disc
That is a fantastic looking frame! I'm gonna be keeping a close eye on that, but the lack of replaceable hanger (minor), and the pink being out of stock mean it's not gonna happen

Originally Posted by zze86
Salsa's lineup looks appealing were I in the market for a new "adventure" bike.
I was definitely looking at those!

Originally Posted by tyrion
Soma Wolverine, Ritchey Outback, Breezer Doppler, All City Gorilla Monsoon.

edt: Kona Sutra Ltd.
Wolverine: Awesome! Little bit out of my price range, no TA
Ritchey: Absolute dream machine, but I can't afford it
Sutra: three recommendations from you and two of my friends, and a ton of press (+price point and availability) means this is what I'm building!

Originally Posted by seeker333
I don't care what you buy, but be aware that Surly and Salsa are basically the same company, owned by Quality Bike Products, and Surly and Salsa frames and forks are made in the same Taiwanese plant by the same robots/processes/materials/people. Generally speaking, the only real difference between them is Salsa has fancier finishes and higher price, and framesets are more limited availability (if you want to DIY). If you want an inexpensive Ti 700c touring frame, look at eBay for a Lynskey Backroad - they are sold occasionally in fall/winter when sales decline for 25-33% of normal price.
Didn't know that about Salsa and Surly but also not surprised in the slightest... The nicer finishing is what drew me to Salsa.

I'll be keeping my eye out for some good Ti frames then.



Thanks everyone! Due to me itching to get out and ride, and being able to get it for practically nothing I've gone with a Kona Sutra Ltd frameset. I'll be building up with Rival 1x mechanical and some Ritchey finishing kit (if I can get a hold of it in Canada) over the next month or two.

​​​​​There were some great suggestions and a lot of good info!
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