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Best entry-level aluminium Gravel / touring bike? Ridley, canyon, or...?

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Best entry-level aluminium Gravel / touring bike? Ridley, canyon, or...?

Old 11-08-19, 03:14 AM
  #1  
maartendc
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Best entry-level aluminium Gravel / touring bike? Ridley, canyon, or...?

Hello all,

I am looking into getting a so-called gravel bike, for the following purposes:

- Riding riverside / unpaved mud or gravel trails and forest trails in my area on the weekends
- Touring across Portugal next spring, fully loaded with saddlebag, paniers, etc.
- Possibly commuting on it

I dont want to spend more than around 1500-1600 euros. I have been looking at:

- Canyon Grail AL 7.0 with Shimano 105 for €1500
- Ridley Kanzo A with Shimano 105 for €1500.

Are there any other bikes I should be considering in this price range? I am leaning towards the Ridley because it is a Belgian brand, and the frameset is a bit nicer (cleaner welds).

Both bikes offer:
- Shimano 105 components
- Aluminium frames with carbon forks
- Plenty of mounting options for paniers, mudguards, bottle cages, etc.
- Clearance for wide tires up to 40+ mm

Thanks!
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Old 11-08-19, 09:32 AM
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I have been very happy with my Bianchi All Road Impulso 105
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Old 11-08-19, 09:37 AM
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A friend of mine easily tours on this Specialized gravel bike but I'm not sure which model.

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Old 11-08-19, 10:38 AM
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Most of the people on this forum are in USA and very few of the bike brands that are common in Europe are sold in USA, thus you might not get a lot of good suggestions here.
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Old 11-08-19, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
- Ridley Kanzo A with Shimano 105 for €1500.
Are you getting some kind of deal on this one? Because the Ridley website lists the Kanzo A with 105 as starting from €1899.
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Old 11-09-19, 04:13 PM
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Check out the aluminum Cannondale Topstone 105. Good components and reasonably priced. I just mounted 45mm tires on mine and there’s still plenty of room.
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Old 11-09-19, 06:57 PM
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make sure of your size.

https://www.racycles.com/bikes/cross-gravel
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Old 11-09-19, 08:34 PM
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I have been loving my jamis renegade. I have the expat model, ended up upgraded the stock hubs, saddle and cranks set, but other than that I have been really happy. Used it for a mini tour this summer, recreational riding and commuting. I have a steel model but they do have an aluminum model. Not sure if they are easy to come across over seas.
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Old 11-09-19, 09:03 PM
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The canyon has some pretty stretched geometry, just make sure it fits your body type.
...and those welds. Ugh, a toddler connected the tubes with toothpaste. But that's probably beside the point.




Jamis renegade and surly lht stand out as obvious options locally. No idea availability or cost where you are.
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Old 11-09-19, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by '02 nrs View Post
Do you have any suggestions? This was a response in the gravel forum too- just a link to this site.
Google could get any of us dozens of bikes to look at.
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Old 11-09-19, 09:09 PM
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I would avoid getting a bike simply because it has the groupset you want. Not saying its irrelevant but I would worry more about bike geometry, fit and feel not so much about components I can easily change out.
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Old 11-09-19, 11:16 PM
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The Salsa Journeyman is an incredible value. This is a bike you definitely want to add to your list for a test ride.
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Old 11-12-19, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The canyon has some pretty stretched geometry, just make sure it fits your body type.
...and those welds. Ugh, a toddler connected the tubes with toothpaste. But that's probably beside the point.

Jamis renegade and surly lht stand out as obvious options locally. No idea availability or cost where you are.
That is a good thing to note. I have a shoter torso, so it might not fit me right. Canyon sell online so not sure if you can test ride it.

Jamis seems like a nice bike, but not sure if they sell in the EU.

Originally Posted by drewtk View Post
Check out the aluminum Cannondale Topstone 105. Good components and reasonably priced. I just mounted 45mm tires on mine and there’s still plenty of room.
Good suggestion, thanks. I will check out cannondale as well.

Originally Posted by DanBell View Post
Are you getting some kind of deal on this one? Because the Ridley website lists the Kanzo A with 105 as starting from €1899.
An online retailer here sells it for 1500. I wasnt sure what the list price was. I would likely buy from a local store to be able to test ride though. If they sell at €1900 might be more than I am willing to spend..

Originally Posted by Chris! View Post
I would avoid getting a bike simply because it has the groupset you want. Not saying its irrelevant but I would worry more about bike geometry, fit and feel not so much about components I can easily change out.
Sure, you are absolutely right. I am looking at the whole package. But if you are spending 1500 or more id like to get at least decent components as well as a good frame.

Originally Posted by dh024 View Post
The Salsa Journeyman is an incredible value. This is a bike you definitely want to add to your list for a test ride.
Thanks, but I think there is very limited availabilitty of this brand in my area (Belgium) unfortunately. I will do some research.
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Old 11-12-19, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
That is a good thing to note. I have a shoter torso, so it might not fit me right. Canyon sell online so not sure if you can test ride it.

Jamis seems like a nice bike, but not sure if they sell in the EU.
Consider Fairlight. I have a Secan gravel frame and the quality is top notch. It is a steel frame with carbon fork though, so not aluminum.
Geometry(HTA, STA, and trail) is definitely road inspired vs trendy gravel geometry. There are mounts for fenders and a rear rack. 3 water mounts. Space for 47mm 700c tires or 2.1" 650 tires. The front triangle is 853 tubing thats shaped and welded. The rear triangle is shaped cromo that is brazed.

The total build may be higher than you are looking to spend though. I just thought about it since its very much available in your area and its been used on some endurance cross continent races and documented tours.
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Old 11-12-19, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Hello...
Have you considered the Surly Crosscheck? It's steel but otherwise meets your criteria. There's also a drop bar/disc brake version of Crosscheck called Straggler. Surly is sold in the EU shops but is perhaps not as popular as other brands.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler
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Old 11-12-19, 02:13 PM
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The Cannondale Topstone Sora os right around $1000 and looks to be nicely speced. You can get 105 for a bit more money.

https://www.cannondale.com/en/International/Bike/ProductDetail?Id=38b49abc-c46a-417d-9fbe-0bd0485bd407&parentid=undefined

Also the bottom end of the Specialized Diverge line can be had for around $1000 and if you like steel there's the Specialized Sequoia

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/gravel-bikes

Last edited by nun; 11-12-19 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 11-13-19, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Consider Fairlight. ....
Very nice bikes, but at 2200 pounds for a 105 equipped bike, its a bit more than I am willing to spend.

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
Have you considered the Surly Crosscheck? It's steel but otherwise meets your criteria. There's also a drop bar/disc brake version of Crosscheck called Straggler. Surly is sold in the EU shops but is perhaps not as popular as other brands.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler
Actually a colleague of mine had a Surley Crosscheck. Decent bike, but I am not really looking for a steel frame because of weight.

Originally Posted by nun View Post
The Cannondale Topstone Sora os right around $1000 and looks to be nicely speced. You can get 105 for a bit more money.

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Intern...ntid=undefined

Also the bottom end of the Specialized Diverge line can be had for around $1000 and if you like steel there's the Specialized Sequoia

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/gravel-bikes
Thanks for the great suggestions. I cannot believe I had not come across those. Those bikes are actually an incredible value! They use the same fork and frame as the more expensive models, but if you are willing to go for Sora or Claris, they are very affordable.


In fact, i could buy the Specialized Diverge E5 with Claris components for €1049, buy an entire Shimano 105 R7000 groupset online for €486 and still be cheaper than some of the competition.. Cheaper than buying their Tiagra model even... I cant believe they go up to €1700 for Tiagra..

The downside to the Cannondale Topstone seems to be that it doesnt have mounts on the front fork for a rack.
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Old 11-13-19, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post

Thanks for the great suggestions. I cannot believe I had not come across those. Those bikes are actually an incredible value! They use the same fork and frame as the more expensive models, but if you are willing to go for Sora or Claris, they are very affordable.


In fact, i could buy the Specialized Diverge E5 with Claris components for €1049, buy an entire Shimano 105 R7000 groupset online for €486 and still be cheaper than some of the competition.. Cheaper than buying their Tiagra model even... I cant believe they go up to €1700 for Tiagra..

The downside to the Cannondale Topstone seems to be that it doesnt have mounts on the front fork for a rack.
The Diverge gets some great reviews and there are so many choices that there's one for most pockets. It also seems to be very nicely set up for lightweight touring out of the box. with room for wider tires, decently low gearing, a nice comfortable geometry with a bit of shock absorption and mounts for racks and fenders. I like the Sport as I want carbon and the Future Shock.

Last edited by nun; 11-13-19 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 11-14-19, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
The Diverge gets some great reviews and there are so many choices that there's one for most pockets. It also seems to be very nicely set up for lightweight touring out of the box. with room for wider tires, decently low gearing, a nice comfortable geometry with a bit of shock absorption and mounts for racks and fenders. I like the Sport as I want carbon and the Future Shock.
I think the Sora model is a great value at €1049 (Diverge E5), but when you go up their range, there are better deals to be had.

They charge €1699 for the Diverge Tiagra model without FutureShock (Diverge Elite E5). For that money, the Canyon or Ridley offerings are a better value it seems, they offer 105 for that price or less.

They charge €2099 for the Diverge aluminium 105 model with Future Shock (Diverge Comp E5). Not sure if the Future Shock is that necessary, and I don't want to spend near €2000 anyway...

After doing some more research:
- I think the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 is out, due to stretched geometry (I have a short torso) and Pressfit BB.
- The Cannondale Topstone 105 lacks mounts on the front fork. That is a dealbreaker for me.

- I think the Diverge E5 (Sora) is a good option, but if I want better components, I'd better shop elsewhere or swap them out myself.
- The Ridley Kanzo A still seems like a great option, ticks all the boxes for me in terms of mounting options, and is reasonably priced for the 105 model.

I think I will go test ride the Specialized Diverge E5 and the Ridley Kanzo A and see which one fits me.

Thanks all!
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Old 11-14-19, 10:29 AM
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sounds like a good plan
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Old 11-17-19, 11:10 PM
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I recently bought the Principa Gravel Sora on a sale (2019). Coulor and sizing was limeted, but my size was still in store at some shops (danish online stores, as Im dane). Paid 830 EUR.

The fork has only blade mounts on the inside, but you could make that work with a rack thats fitting those.

Besides the brakes (Trekto Lyra discs) im really pleased with it. Braks works fine, but the special pads are not super advaileble in all compounds. But works and brakes very well... Ok, its my first disk brake setup, so...

As far as I know, the bike comes in several levels of components.
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Old 12-09-19, 01:29 AM
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Hello all,

I think I have it narrowed down to these two (mostly due to availability and pricing), both with similar geometries and similar mounting options. I test rode the Cannondale and it fit me well. The Canyon is not available to test ride because they sell online:

- Canyon Grail AL 7.0 with shimano 105 for 1500 EUR
- Cannondale Topstone al 105 for 1660 EUR (on sale from 1900)

Now I am not sure which one to go for:
In favor of the Cannondale Topstone:
- The Cannondale has a more "stable geometry" supposedly, with longer chainstays (430mm vs 415mm) and longer wheelbase (1022mm vs 990 mm). Would be better for touring supposedly.
- Slightly more relaxed geometry (taller stack by 16mm), which I like.
- I have heard the Cannondale frame described as "comfortable" in online reviews, while the Canyon has been described as "a bit harsh/stiff". Not sure how much I can go on this.
- Threaded BB as opposed to press fit on the Canyon.

In favor of the Canyon:
- Much better wheelset for the money (DT Swiss C 1800 vs a no name budget wheelset on the Cannondale)
- Carbon seatpost on the Canyon vs alloy on the Cannondale
- Canyon is lighter by about 500g

Which one would you choose?

Thanks!
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Old 12-09-19, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by dh024 View Post
The Salsa Journeyman is an incredible value. This is a bike you definitely want to add to your list for a test ride.
I've been riding this for about 6 months commuting and once on a 3 day ~400 tour. Always comfortable, even after long miles
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Old 12-10-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Which one would you choose?
between the topstone and grail, I would go topstone. But I would also want a different wheelset for $450usd that would cut 300-400g off the weight and be overall 'better' due to being handbuilt with butted spokes.

The grail is neat looking from afar, but far from neat looking up close. The frame gusset at the seatpost that is there to mimic the carbon frame's look is just forced and sticks out. The welds continue to look like a class of 2nd graders connected the bike with toothpaste(not saying they arent properly done, just saying they look like toothpaste). And the reach is really long compared to most all other bikes in my frame size. Oh, and they were perpetually out of stock for basically a year with no eta for restock, which I find absurd in this day and age.

but my preference is 60% aesthetic so take that with a big grain of salt. The grail certainly is priced more competitively.
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Old 12-10-19, 11:00 PM
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Did not see this one listed. Might be worth a look

Fuji Bikes | Building the best bikes for 118 years
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