Considering giving up MTB for Gravel – Will I regret it?

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  • Considering giving up MTB for Gravel – Will I regret it?
  • Premier Icon trailwagger
    Subscriber

    I am getting more and more gravel curious (mainly due to having nothing to do at work and a whole internet of bikes shops to browse)

    Would I regret selling my only MTB to swap to a gravel bike? I am split at the moment between something like the Genesis Fugio, which would really go anywhere, or something a little quicker like an Arkose.

    I don’t ride mega gnar, jumps etc and get as much enjoyment from the workout itself as I do riding trails.

    There are no local trails to jump onto on the MTB so riding always invloves a car journey first. However there are enough farm, forest tracks a short road ride away for a gravel bike.

    What I am worried about is selling my MTB that is a 4K bike, not liking Gravel or missing MTB too much and then not being able to afford to get back into it (at least for a while)

    avdave2
    Member

    1 – Buy gravel bike – this could be second hand

    2 –  Ride gravel bike

    3 –  Decide if you enjoyed 2

    4 – If yes keep gravel bike

    5 – If no sell gravel bike

    6 – If 4 decide if you can keep MTB as well

    7 – If 5 no further action required with MTB

    Hope that helps 🙂

    Just sold my gravel bike and replaced it with a super fast xc 29er. Much better for me – just about as quick to the local trails and far more capable on them. For me a gravel bike was too much of a compromise – felt too slow on the road and anything remotely technical.

    daern
    Member

    My son and I are riding the Evans Cannock MTB ride this weekend, so I thought I’d better dig out the mountain bikes and give them a clean, lube and check over before we set off. I knew that I’d put them away mucky after the last ride, but I perhaps hadn’t appreciated just how dirty they were and it took a full hour to get them both looking like proper bikes again.

    This was when I checked on Veloviewer and realised that they last time they were ridden was two rides at the start of August and before that, in late June! By comparison, the gravel bikes have been out at least once per week in the same period.

    I feel a bit sad now. Do I need to hand in my STW login at the door as I leave? 🙁

    OP – Did you always only ride MTB?

    I thought I could span the gap and have my grass green on both sides by choosing one bike to do all my riding so chose a new monstercross/gravel bike.

    Was soon aching for an MTB so bought a used one.  Now the grass is green on both sides.

    Depending on your budget/space spend the most on the type of riding you like to do most, whether this is one or two (or more)  bikes only you can decide by trial and error.

    Premier Icon robbo1234biking
    Subscriber

    @daern – I think you are fine – you actually ride a bike!

    I’ve been riding the CX bike exclusively this month, love it when it’s dry and will ride it nearly anywhere. When it’s wet, though, it can be a bit of a handful over the rocks and I prefer the MTB. That’s on 33 tyres though – common to use a bigger tyre on a gravel bike which would be more capable.

    Selling a 4K MTB for something you’ve never rode sounds a bit precipitous. Like avdave says above, just get a good secondhand gravel / CX bike for a few hundred quid to see how the land lies.

    Premier Icon TheGingerOne
    Subscriber

    “However there are enough farm, forest tracks a short road ride away for a gravel bike.”

    Do this riding on your current MTB. If you enjoy it, but want to make it faster, easier and fun in a different way, decide if it could be done on a faster xc 29er hard tail for example or a gravel bike. Then buy one if you think it is worthdoing

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    I don’t ride mega gnar, jumps etc and get as much enjoyment from the workout itself as I do riding trails.

    That sounds like old school mtb, which lends itself to something like an Arkose.

    Premier Icon trailwagger
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    @TheGingerOne  those tracks are short, need a lot of linking up via road, and are pretty flat and featureless. They would bore the hell out of me on an MTB hence why I don’t bother.

    Premier Icon sprocker
    Subscriber

    Had a gravel bike for about 8 months thought it did nothing well and sold it. Happy using hardtail or roadbike in its place. Horses for courses I suppose but I would not be selling a 4k mountain bike to give it a go.

    I’ve tried the ‘do it all on a hardtail’ approach, and most of my riding has always been from front door from roads to lanes to paths to bridleways, woods, hills and trails etc.

    While I could do all of this on a hardtail, the more tourey/gravel stuff always worked out better on a rigid 700c/29er

    Giving up a rigid bike would leave me with only *one* option for every type of riding.

    The nearest I’ve gotten to ^ that^  Holy Grail was circa 2k Cannondale MTB with Headshock.  Light, responsive, tracking is near as damnit good as rigid when locked out, yet still 80mm smooth* travel for XC when required.

    *£100+ per year service cost assumed

    I’d dearly love to settle on one bike for reasons of storage space, headspace and simplicity in servicing, but any kind of all-day touring on a hardtail has been (so far) a bit crap IME when comparing to a decent drop-bar rigid bike.

    The Vagabond IME beats the old Cannondale hardtail for

    1. Everything except:

    2. descents/sticky/rocky trails

    The P7 +130mm spanks it for 2.

    I’ve never ridden a top notch lightweight 29er hardtail so my views might change should that prove to be a worthier part-time gravel/tourer.  I somehow doubt it though.  It’s a luxury to have two bikes that do 2 different things well, so if storage isn’t a problem I’d just buy one of each.  Consolidation/compromise is still compromise.  If yr loaded then buy a 1.5k gravel and spend the same again on a hardtail  if you want upmarket options for each or either then buy used.  New paint soon chips.

    bigyinn
    Member

    There is only one correct answer to this question.

    n+1.

    Premier Icon cynic-al
    Subscriber

    As above, try a gravel bike, no one here can predict whether it’s for you or not.

    If you have a £4K mtb to sell then I expect you’ll be able to buy a rideable bike on the proceeds if you regret that, obviously not a £4K one tho.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    Sell 4k mountain bike and buy cheaper mountain bike and gravel bike. Arkose is only a grand-ish.

    Premier Icon d4ddydo666
    Subscriber

    I love all my bikes, but I love how much fun stuff is on something a little less capable – probably because it matches me better 😀

    I couldn’t ride Jacob’s Ladder on the CX, but it’s great on the majority of bridleways and well fast enough on the roads.

    As above, get a dirty drop bar badboy and see if you can’t justify both when you know how much you enjoy the gravel (apparently some here don’t)

    As above, try a gravel bike, no one here can predict whether it’s for you or not.

    Definitely recommended.  I found a decent LBS that let me try a gravel/monstercross for a long weekend.  You may find right of the bat that you really don’t like it.  Costly mistakes easily avoided.

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Subscriber

    @Malvern rider  which shop? assuming you live in Malvern you are not too far away from me.

    Premier Icon w00dster
    Subscriber

    I scratched my gravel itch a year ago, did quite a few long rides with road link ups. After a full day of being battered on rocky descents, even fast grass descents, I realised I needed a front suspension.

    I did the South Downs Way on a gravel bike with 33mm knobbly CX tyres, never again. While its eminently do-able (I did and lots of others also), it just got a bit painful and boring after 8 hours. XC hardtail, nice and light for me is the way to go.

    If it is just gentle bridal ways that is all you ride and all you see you riding in the near future, then you probably don’t need a £4k mountain bike. Just need to think over the winter when the bridleways are a messy muddy gloop and you have limited traction you might start to get bored and want to go play in the woods. Or you’ll want to ride on the road and realise how compromised something like the Fugio is on the road.

    I would have another gravel bike but it would be an n+1 for me.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Rigid 29er. You can do ‘gravel’ stuff and MTB with very little compromise. Genesis Vagabond or something from the Surly/Salsa range.

    I can ride almost any trail ony El Mariachi, including steep rocky tech (would be better still with a dropper) but I also hold road PBs on it…

    trailwagger, no, not locally to Malvern, it was a Genesis dealer in North Devon.

    Worthwhile phoning around though, some stores carry test bikes, most charge a fee from what I p’ve seen, usually around £80.   I’d want to ride it for a couple of days on typical trails local to me.  Another option is to look at bike-hire businesses, maybe some do gravel bike options?  Hire bikes tend to work out more cost effective p/day than test-ride options where you have to pay. Whereabouts are you?

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    I tried this. Got rid of my MTB and bought a NS RAG+ as I can only afford one bike at a time. It was a nice bike, but really shit for riding off road if I’m being honest. I’m a fairly graceless rider and me and the RAG got out of depth quite quickly (falling off, bending bits of the bike etc). Now back to a mid travel full suss, better all round. Not bad for just arsing about on either. To be honest if I could have two bikes I’d keep the Flare and get a rigid MTB with some skinny tyres. A compromise, but less so than a gravel bike IMO.

    Premier Icon senor j
    Subscriber

    If you can afford not to sell your mtb,don’t.

    Not yet at least. It took me a few months to get the most out of mine.To become strong enough,tbh, new riding position, gearing etc. Now I ride it 99.9% of the time.

    I still love a 100% off road ride when wide bars mean more fun. (tomorrow afternoon in Epping for example 🙂 )

    If I were living in many places in the US I’d happily consider dropping my MTB for a gravel bike.

    But someone at my LBS pointed out to me that in the UK things are perhaps more complicated, because ‘gravel’ riding tends to involve long road stretches to link nice very easy XC stuff (in the Dales and thereabouts for me). A gravel bike still works great as it does both road and offroad reasonably well, but it’s often a compromise for both.

    In other words, for me a gravel bike is great for most rides, but I’m rarely riding something where I think it’s the ideal bike for that particular bit of a ride — for half of a ride I’d be better on a rigid mtb, for the other half better on a dedicated road bike.

    Personally, I also find drop bars are massively limiting on technical stuff, unless you put them really high, in which case they aren’t really drop bars anymore… Then I feel something like Jones Loop’s would be better..

    So I now have a rigid MTB and a gravel bike with fairly skinny tyres 35mm, and I do more or less on the road depending upon what bike I’m on

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Subscriber

    I tried this. Got rid of my MTB and bought a NS RAG+ as I can only afford one bike at a time. It was a nice bike, but really shit for riding off road if I’m being honest. I’m a fairly graceless rider and me and the RAG got out of depth quite quickly (falling off, bending bits of the bike etc). Now back to a mid travel full suss, better all round. Not bad for just arsing about on either. To be honest if I could have two bikes I’d keep the Flare and get a rigid MTB with some skinny tyres. A compromise, but less so than a gravel bike IMO.

    Interesting… I have seen the Rag+ on CRC and it looks great. What were you trying to ride it on that you got out of your depth?

    kerley
    Member

    In other words, for me a gravel bike is great for most rides, but I’m rarely riding something where I think it’s the ideal bike for that particular bit of a ride — for half of a ride I’d be better on a rigid mtb, for the other half better on a dedicated road bike.

    So what do you ride then?  Road bike that would be even worse for half or a MTB that would be even worse for the other half.  Choice of bike is always going to be a compromise and the gravel bike is a good compromise between road and easy off road.  Understand why not everyone wants to compromise, i.e take the full suss bike and endure the road sections but the gravel bike is a good compromise nonetheless.

    Premier Icon joemmo
    Subscriber

    Some gravel bikes are being marketed as almost-as-good-as-a-mountainbike but that’s a bit disingenuous because the limitations off road quickly become apparent when the trail gets lumpy and steep. As long as you accept that then they are fun bikes to have.

    tpbiker
    Member

    The beauty of a gravel bike is that you don’t need to spend alot of money on them.. They are always going to be a bit compromised so Imo pretty pointless throwing money at them.. As no matter how light it is, or how nice the group set is, it’ll still be compromised. They are basically like a early 90s mtb after all.. Part of the attraction is that they are a bit shit

    Mtbs on the other hand arent, I see sense in owning a 4k mtb, but would struggle to justify spending half that on a gravel bike.

    So basically.. Keep the mtb and but a cheapo second hand gravel bike off classifieds.

    ChunkyMTB
    Member

    I have one, although it’s not a gravel bike to me – it’s an ATB…

    So what do you ride then?  Road bike that would be even worse for half or a MTB that would be even worse for the other half.  Choice of bike is always going to be a compromise and the gravel bike is a good compromise between road and easy off road.  Understand why not everyone wants to compromise, i.e take the full suss bike and endure the road sections but the gravel bike is a good compromise nonetheless.

    Sure, I mostly agree. All I mean to say is that, for the riding I do, a gravel bike is rarely the ideal bike for a particular bit of trail, even though it would often be the best compromise for a full ride as you rightly say. For that reason, I could easily spend much of a ride wishing I was on something else, despite an awareness of the compromise.

    But I don’t think is always the case, as there are types of trails for which for a gravel bike is basically the perfect bike and there is no compromise at all — i.e. forest roads or estate tracks or the endless gravel roads of the US. The old military roads of Northern Italy that I went two a month back were a good example, too.

    Anyway, for the OP, I think it depends on exactly what type of riding they’re going to do. A light rigid 29er is probably not much (much) more of a compromise on roads than a more hardcore gravel bike, at least with some Thunderburt’s or some similarly fast rolling tyre, but it’ll potentially be much better offroad.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    Interesting… I have seen the Rag+ on CRC and it looks great. What were you trying to ride it on that you got out of your depth?

    Same stuff I used to ride my hardtail on and attempting to hit similar speeds. Natural trails around Macclesfield, Marple, Buxton and the Peaks mainly. I got it as I needed a bike for everything. Off-road, occasional commute, family time etc. Turns out I love being a hooligan the most, hence the return to something that is compromised the least in that respect.

    I don’t do a great deal of road riding and I find the current bike copes with everything else much better than the RAG did. Might be different for you.

    andypaul99
    Member

    Love my gravel bike, its a bit more of a challenge on rough terrain and downright nasty on rocks and roots but it was never designed for that type of use anyway.

    That said it would never replace my 29er Hardtail. I have learnt with gravel riding that you have to plan your route carefully to make sure you dont come across ‘ the wrong type of terrain’, wheras on my MTB i can just get on with it!

    Premier Icon johnw1984
    Subscriber

    I did what most others seem to have done.  I had a Genesis CdA for a bit and thought it was great for local stuff.  Ended up wanting a light XC hardtail, so I built up a Cube Reaction GTC.

    It’s lighter, more capable and faster everywhere! Don’t think I’d go back, but I do still find myself looking at the nice, light ones 🙂

    dyls
    Member

    I once had a cannondale cx bike. Found it uncomfortable and much prefer my xc 29er. I’ve sold the cx – not for me.

    Premier Icon lots_of_hope
    Subscriber

    What happens if you ride a mountain bike on gravel? Do the tyres explode or something?

    rydster
    Member

    Depends how much you need or want to ride it on black top I guess?

    All I know is that MTB’s suck on road compared to anything like a gravel bike, and I’d say 90% of people with an MTB’s have way too much bike and virtually never see gnarly single track.

    Premier Icon earl_brutus
    Subscriber

    A gravel bike is good for a very specific type of riding for me. That’s my winter commute which is 50/50 country lanes and bridle ways/ Paths. Couldn’t have it as an only bike as i like long distance road riding on the road bike and big days trail smashing in the peaks on my full sus waaaaaay too much.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    All I know is that MTB’s suck on road compared to anything like a gravel bike

    I’ve never found this to be the case. Yeah they are a bit slower, but that’s it. I commuted for a while on a Trek Stache with a 3.25 Vee Bulldozer out front. It wasn’t that much slower and a damned sight comfier. If you’re doing lots of miles I get it, but even my full suss is alright doing road distances between ten and thirty miles.

    Premier Icon hardtailonly
    Subscriber

    Gravel Bike. Compromised? Or versatile?

    Personally I see it as the latter.

    Rough, broken, potholey roads? Check

    River/canal towpaths? Check

    Gravel/farm tracks? Check

    Forest fireroads? Check.

    Trail centre blues (and some reds)? Check

    Smooth-ish woodland single-track? Check.

    The only places where it is significantly compromised (over a bike dedicated to the purpose) are smooth-ish tarmac-only rides, local techy, rocky, rooty, steep stuff, trail centre reds/blacks, and big mountain big bike terrain.

    My gravel bike is by far my most used bike. I wouldn’t sell a £4k bike MTB for one on a hunch. But I would either test out my gravel-curiosity by buying a used one for a few £00, or sell the MTB, buy a £2-3k MTB and a £1-2k gravel bike.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    I also found a 29er hardtail barely slower than a CX bike on the road, and waaaaaay better off-road.

    Plus I didn’t resent it not being as fast as a road bike on road, whereas the CXer felt sluggish because I was used to going so effortlessly fast on a drop-bar bike.

    Anyway, to answer the OP with another question – do you feel you’ve had enough of the fun side of off-road cycling and just want to concentrate on the boring bits? If so, crack on…

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