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Suggestions for gravel-grindy tourer with good tyre clearance and low gears

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Suggestions for gravel-grindy tourer with good tyre clearance and low gears

Old 04-05-20, 11:13 PM
  #1  
stevage
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Suggestions for gravel-grindy tourer with good tyre clearance and low gears

I'm seriously considering my replacing my 10 year old Specialized Tricross Sport. It's been on many amazing offroad trips (on 3 continents and 5 Australian states), carried ridiculous loads down ridiculous tracks, converted into a road bike for an audax, pretended to be a mountain bike for a couple of endurance races, and been my "do-everything" commuter. However, both rims and the drivetrain are all currently worn out, the seat is failing, and it seems worth considering a new bike rather than spending close to half the value of the bike in maintenance. Not only that, but my personal geometry has changed a bit, and even with a shorter, more upright stem, it doesn't feel as comfortable as it used to. Finally I'm getting a bit nervous about the possibility of fork failure after such a beating for so long. (It's a carbon-wrapped alu fork). There's almost nothing original left on the bike: just the frame, fork, interrupter levers, front mech, and seatpost.

So, what should I look at? I think I pretty much want the same kind of bike: a cyclocross-ish lightweight tourer. I don't have the storage or inclination for a stable of bikes. For the last few years I've been running 48mm/38mm Marathon Mondials on the front/rear, and I want at least that clearance, preferably a tiny bit more (on the rear particularly). I'm the kind of rider who sets off on a strictly-tarmac road bike ride and 30 minutes later is carrying their bike over logs on some crappy singletrack through dense bush. I like mountain biking with friends who are on hydraulic-equipped hardtails, keeping up with them comfortably with cantis and no suspension.

My lowest gear is 26/36, and I don't want to lose that, either. (I don't need to go lower). I'd really like to keep a triple chainring if possible.

I've quite enjoyed the drop bars with STI shifters, but I'm open to other handlebar types. I guess it's probably time to move to disk brakes, although I will feel like such a traitor to the canti cause. I don't particularly want to spend money on better components - I tend to wear through drivetrains pretty quickly. Dyno hub/lights are a must have, but I assume that's an after-market add-on. (Been super happy with my Shutter Precision hub and B&M lights). I don't quite get everyone's obsession with steel - always found my aluminium frame perfectly comfy and robust, despite some pretty big crashes. (My previous version of this bike survived a head on collision with a car. The car was written off.) I'm not totally closed to steel, just not really convinced the weight penalty is worth it.

The hardest bit seems to be matching the clearance I want with gear range. A lot of stuff seems to have changed since I was last shopping (29ers were barely a thing, and now they're already passť in favour of 27.5?)

So, suggestions anyone?
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Old 04-06-20, 01:34 PM
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My friend has been riding the Salsa Cutthroat for over a year and Iíd say it is a fantastic rig. He has SRAM eagle on it and it seems to work great for him.






I am using Co-Motion divide with Pinion gearbox and 59t cog in the rear and it has been awesome , especially when fully loaded

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Old 04-06-20, 05:34 PM
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Mr Steve, check out the youtube channel Pathlesspedaled, they look at and do riding reviews of mucho gravel bikes, so that might be a start to get some ideas.
I think you are going to find that there are hardly any with triples, but that with 10 and 11 speed setups of reasonable cranksets like 42/28 or whatever, along with big wonking 11-42 cassettes etc, its possible to have fairly reasonable gearing ranges. But you are going to have to put stuff into gearing calculators to see how things match up with what you know you want and need.
There seem to be a heck of alot of choices out there now (and prices too!) so have fun window shopping.
and yes, while I ended up going with a steel Troll for my latest bike, I agree with you that alu is perfectly fine , and I guess you will have to consider going all cf also--what are your thoughts on this?
I havent owned a cf bike yet, but like you I do think about my tricross cf fork and how its doing after all these years. You've probably giving yours a harder thrashing than mine though, but as yousay, its something to consider.

an aside, the tricross frame is prob worth keeping, it could make a good parts donor bike project at some point--or maybe for someone else, scrabbling together parts to get a good bike setup with used parts etc. I like doing all my own mech work, so enjoy the challenge of cobbling together stuff.
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Old 04-06-20, 06:13 PM
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This is much the same search I have been on for a couple months. Thought the answer was a Cutthroat until I saw a Path Less Pedaled video about the Bearclaw Thunderhawk, a titanium version of the Cutthroat.... well, not exactly, but it is close. Haven't made up my mind, so watch the Path Less Pedaled channel and and let me know what you decide. I mean, if you're going for upper level components including carbon rims, the price might be close (or not; I'm not good at math). Anyhow, one is a small business in Minnesota or Michigan and the other has frames built in Taiwan, IIRC. That might make a difference, or not. Regardless, we need pictures.
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Old 04-06-20, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
So, suggestions anyone?
You have a good set of criteria that helps with making suggestions. But you are asking for ideas from a primarily American audience.

Are the reasonably-priced/available bike brands in AUS any different than what we have in the US?
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Old 04-06-20, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jlaw View Post
You have a good set of criteria that helps with making suggestions. But you are asking for ideas from a primarily American audience.

Are the reasonably-priced/available bike brands in AUS any different than what we have in the US?
That's a really hard question to answer. Probably the main difference is smaller American brands won't be available. But Surly, Cannondale, Specialized, Jamis, Trek etc etc - no problem.

I should probably also mention that bikes in general are a lot more expensive here, and the Australian dollar has just crashed, so they're about to get *much* more expensive. Definitely won't be going anywhere near the upper end of the range.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I agree with you that alu is perfectly fine , and I guess you will have to consider going all cf also--what are your thoughts on this?
the tricross frame is prob worth keeping, it could make a good parts donor bike project at some point--or maybe for someone else, scrabbling together parts to get a good bike setup with used parts etc. I like doing all my own mech work, so enjoy the challenge of cobbling together stuff.[/QUOTE]

Or maybe leaving it setup as a sort of audax bike, with minimal crap on it, for day rides. Will really have to get creative with storage though.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I am using Co-Motion divide with Pinion gearbox and 59t cog in the rear and it has been awesome , especially when fully loaded
Looks nice! But, "starting at $3495 for a complete bike". Good lord. That's currently $5,713 Australian dollars. I'm expecting to spend more like $2,000-$2,500 (AUD).
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Old 04-06-20, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
the tricross frame is prob worth keeping, it could make a good parts donor bike project at some point--or maybe for someone else, scrabbling together parts to get a good bike setup with used parts etc. I like doing all my own mech work, so enjoy the challenge of cobbling together stuff.
Or maybe leaving it setup as a sort of audax bike, with minimal crap on it, for day rides. Will really have to get creative with storage though.[/QUOTE]

Obviously depends on your living situation, but there are some neat front wheel hooks on walls made for vertical storing and other designs,
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Old 04-07-20, 12:09 AM
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If you're in Oz and in no particular order:

https://viventebikes.com/our-bikes

https://www.bikeexchange.com.au/a/to...ant_id=4726596

Malvern Star | Recreational Bikes (one of the Oppy range, but the porteurs are really awesome as well)
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Old 04-07-20, 06:33 AM
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I hear ya. Even though mine was a demo and was sold at a discount it still cost unreasonable arm and let. But...i'm over 50, empty nester and I haven't lost my job this time ( I did during 911) so I indulge in spending money on bikes I use.



Originally Posted by stevage View Post
Looks nice! But, "starting at $3495 for a complete bike". Good lord. That's currently $5,713 Australian dollars. I'm expecting to spend more like $2,000-$2,500 (AUD).
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Old 04-07-20, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
That's a really hard question to answer. Probably the main difference is smaller American brands won't be available. But Surly, Cannondale, Specialized, Jamis, Trek etc etc - no problem.

I should probably also mention that bikes in general are a lot more expensive here, and the Australian dollar has just crashed, so they're about to get *much* more expensive. Definitely won't be going anywhere near the upper end of the range.
ok - many of the bikes I would recommend are not available to you (Salsa, Kona, Diamondback). So, here are two you might want to consider. You will probably not find a 26-36 gear combo standard on a new gravel bike - but you could get close with original equipment ot prehaps a new cassette if the RD will take the increased cog and chain wrap. Looks like your budget is $1000 to $1500 US.

Both images show bikes with 'slammed' headsets - not sure why - make sure the geometry works for you relative to this.

Cannondale Topstone Sora https://www.cannondale.com/en-us/bik...ku=c15909m50xs

Alu frame and fork - no attachment points on the fork - $1050 US



Specialized Sequoia Elite - on sale for $1399 US now - regularly $1800 https://www.specialized.com/us/en/se...ext=90517-4050

Alu. frame, carbon fork with attachment points


Surly and Trek look to be a bit above your budget after a quick look at their websites.

Jamis has the Renegade Series, but the spec. didn't look quite as on-target as the two shown above.

Good Luck.
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Old 04-07-20, 05:09 PM
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I’m going to go against the grain a bit here, and suggest you fix up your old bike. You can source parts online for a reasonable price, and if you don’t have tools, they are a worthwhile investment. Wheels, saddles and a drivetrain can be found for a lot less than a new bike. If you really can’t make the bike work for you, then picking up a used bike is a great way to find a bargain.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:15 PM
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Kona and Salsa are both available in Australia and they both have some very good options (Fargo & Sutra Ltd among others). Specialized also stopped production of the Sequoia, although you may be able to find one as NOS in a shop.

Which state and or city are you in OP? Melbourne has some great bike shops, like commuter cycles un Brunswick, but most places will ship within Australia.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:27 PM
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You could also consider a Merida Silex. Like Giant (check out the Toughroad GX), Merida offer a lot of bike for the money, due to economies of scale.

https://www.merida-bikes.com/en/bikefinder/tag/silex-48

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Old 04-09-20, 11:21 AM
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How about gently used? People may have aged out of more strenuous rides and have a bike to sell. Although I am not in the market, I have seen some nice rides in the classifieds, here, CGOAB, and Adventure Cycles. I have a Bruce Gordon that I bought in 1992 that is more capable than I am, and has many a mile (or kilometer, if I go to Canada) left in it.
Good luck
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Old 04-10-20, 12:53 AM
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I have an Malvern Star Oppy S1, that I use for both road and gravel riding. Most of my gravel/bulldust tours are in the outback with my dog, But I am going to suggest the Reynolds version of the Oppy Series, I think they are worth a look for what your interested in.
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Old 04-13-20, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
I'm seriously considering my replacing my 10 year old Specialized Tricross Sport. It's been on many amazing offroad trips (on 3 continents and 5 Australian states), carried ridiculous loads down ridiculous tracks, converted into a road bike for an audax, pretended to be a mountain bike for a couple of endurance races, and been my "do-everything" commuter. However, both rims and the drivetrain are all currently worn out, the seat is failing, and it seems worth considering a new bike rather than spending close to half the value of the bike in maintenance. Not only that, but my personal geometry has changed a bit, and even with a shorter, more upright stem, it doesn't feel as comfortable as it used to. Finally I'm getting a bit nervous about the possibility of fork failure after such a beating for so long. (It's a carbon-wrapped alu fork). There's almost nothing original left on the bike: just the frame, fork, interrupter levers, front mech, and seatpost.

So, what should I look at? I think I pretty much want the same kind of bike: a cyclocross-ish lightweight tourer. I don't have the storage or inclination for a stable of bikes. For the last few years I've been running 48mm/38mm Marathon Mondials on the front/rear, and I want at least that clearance, preferably a tiny bit more (on the rear particularly). I'm the kind of rider who sets off on a strictly-tarmac road bike ride and 30 minutes later is carrying their bike over logs on some crappy singletrack through dense bush. I like mountain biking with friends who are on hydraulic-equipped hardtails, keeping up with them comfortably with cantis and no suspension.

My lowest gear is 26/36, and I don't want to lose that, either. (I don't need to go lower). I'd really like to keep a triple chainring if possible.

I've quite enjoyed the drop bars with STI shifters, but I'm open to other handlebar types. I guess it's probably time to move to disk brakes, although I will feel like such a traitor to the canti cause. I don't particularly want to spend money on better components - I tend to wear through drivetrains pretty quickly. Dyno hub/lights are a must have, but I assume that's an after-market add-on. (Been super happy with my Shutter Precision hub and B&M lights). I don't quite get everyone's obsession with steel - always found my aluminium frame perfectly comfy and robust, despite some pretty big crashes. (My previous version of this bike survived a head on collision with a car. The car was written off.) I'm not totally closed to steel, just not really convinced the weight penalty is worth it.

The hardest bit seems to be matching the clearance I want with gear range. A lot of stuff seems to have changed since I was last shopping (29ers were barely a thing, and now they're already passť in favour of 27.5?)

So, suggestions anyone?
Ending up in the bush with the road bike gave me a bit of a laugh. Did that for a bit prior to getting the gravel bike.

Couple of questions if you don't mind:-
1. Would you be okay with building up a frameset, sourcing some used parts to save money? or do you prefer purchasing a complete build?
2. Carbon frame out of the question?
3. What is your height and cycling inseam?

Last edited by tangerineowl; 04-13-20 at 03:10 PM. Reason: txt
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Old 04-13-20, 07:31 AM
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Senor Steve, I guess it will come down to price, but I would imagine that there are a bunch of bikes out there that could have fairly wide gearing doubles and be a lot lighter than the Tricross, which would be a fun change. Seems to me that both of our Tricross's are probably something like 26lbs with no fenders etc, so I suspect that there are numerous bikes out there with the details you're looking for that weigh 5lbs less (but at what cost to long term durability as well as price??)

Now, as I wondered before, would all carbon be a turn off? I'm leary personally, thinking long term as well as possible damage from a weird fall out in the boonies, but I realize this is probably from both inexperience and not really keeping up on prices (an assumption on my part that to save a few pounds you'd be spending at least $1000 + and even more)

Im thinking too that for using frame bags etc with long term use, ie real life dirtiness, that with cf you'd really want to keep on top of using protective tape etc so that a cf frame doesnt get abraded by straps etc over time and wear down the cf. Stuff that I suspect testers and reviewers don't really consider as long term use and care isn't a priority to address.
anyway, just some thoughts, cheers
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Old 04-26-20, 12:44 AM
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Ross Conversion

I built up an old chrome Ross MTB to use as a tourer. Itís got 26Ē wheels but I can fly on that thing on pavement and itís great on gravel roads. Bolinas Ridge trail dropping off Mt. Tam into Olema in Marin County California though was a bone shaker - no suspension, my eyes were bouncing about so I couldnít see straight. On well-graded gravel it rides beautifully.

Iím a newbie here so I canít post photos until I reach my 10th post.

My favorite features include:

- Soma mustache bars with barcon shifters - I Love both

- Schwalbe Marathon tires are made with a smoother tread down the middle of the tire and knobs on the side to help grip dirt and gravel off the pavement. They way Schwalbe puts it, ďA heavy-duty trekking tread for asphalt, or off-roadĒ

- Itís got a triple on the front but Iím considering putting a 52T chain ring in the front instead of the 48 as I can spin out on the flats in highest gear - that will mean changing that whole grouping to maintain smooth shifting. It presents a dilemma though because on long loaded climbs, those low gears in the back with the small ring in front are nice. Case in point: Mendocino Pass Road (FH-7 Forest Highway 7)
over Mendocino National Forest is 30 something miles of almost non-stop climb hauling gear and extra water jugs. THANK THE STARS for granny gears!
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