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 lots_of_hope
    Subscriber

    I have a road bike, a CX bike, a 29″ hardtail, a 650b hardtail and a full sus 29er. I bet I could ride all of them over the same bit of ‘gravel’ trail with times within 5 seconds of each other. Unless you are challenging for the world championship of gravel riding it can’t make that much difference Shirley? A £4k bike is worth keeping hold of, just change the tyres to suit what you’re riding at the moment maybe…

    ianpv
    Member

    I’ve got an arkose and it is a great bike – did Torino-Nice on it last month, raced cx on it a couple of weekends ago. I love it. But it’s crap on anything but the mildest off road in comparison to pretty much any mountain bike. If you want to recreate that early 90s feeling that you could just get thrown off it into the undergrowth at any minute without warning, I guess it’s perfect, but I’m too old to crash randomly now.

    tpbiker
    Member

    Trail centre blues (and some reds)? Check

    I love my gravel bike, its by far the most used of my bikes. But it would definitely be compromised on any blue or red run I have ever been on. Sure it would be rideable no problem but it would be far slower than even an xc hardtail on anything remotely bumpy. Still fun, perhaps more so.. But it’s like comparing a modern mtb to a fully ridged mtb from 25 years ago.. Before you even consider the fact it has drop bars.

    rydster
    Member

    It took a lot more skill to ride fully rigid MTB’s (or ATB’s as they were called) back in the day.

    Not just the lack of suspension but the terrible brakes and 5 sprocket cassetes.

    And then front shocks came in that used elastomer and had loads of play.

    Premier Icon hardtailonly
    Subscriber

    Trail centre blues (and some reds)? Check

    I love my gravel bike, its by far the most used of my bikes. But it would definitely be compromised on any blue or red run I have ever been on. Sure it would be rideable no problem but it would be far slower than even an xc hardtail on anything remotely bumpy. Still fun, perhaps more so.. But it’s like comparing a modern mtb to a fully ridged mtb from 25 years ago.. Before you even consider the fact it has drop bars.

    Hmm. Agree with the reds. The claim about the Blue was based on a quick blast I had on one of the short blue loops at CyB 3 or 4 years back on my Saracen Hack with 40/42c tyres. Ended up in the top 20 on Strava at the time for the whole loop.

    I have said it before, but a gravel bike is not really suited to UK. USA/Canada or Australia they are prefect tools for the job. Once you don’t have mile after mile of graded dirt roads I think a 29er hardtail is a better tool for the job.

    I am lucky to have both and the blurred line where gravel bike becomes a chore and the hardtail takes over is far less gnar than you might think. If the roads have not been graded in ages, or there there has been a really extended dry period the 29er wins out i feel. Looses nothing speed and gains ever so much in comfort and safety. Yes the gravel bike can do it and even some singletrack but it is in the same manner as my 29er hardtail could go down the Fort Bill course.

    The 29er was the N+1 for me. I was happy going from the trail bike to the gravel bike but there was a huge swathe of riding that neither was the best for. Strava tells me the gravel bike does the most ks and the most hours of all mine. Make of that what you will.

    kerley
    Member

    I have said it before, but a gravel bike is not really suited to UK. USA/Canada or Australia they are prefect tools for the job. Once you don’t have mile after mile of graded dirt roads I think a 29er hardtail is a better tool for the job.

    Say it as many times as you like, you are still wrong.  I live in the New Forest and a gravel bike is perfect.  Can ride miles of gravel (fire roads) all connected up by tarmac roads.  The limited single track and more off roady stuff is actually out of bounds (sign posted as not for bikes) so if riding the routes you are supposed to be riding it is road and gravel only.

    For riding in the New Forest a gravel bike is best, a road bike is also good if you are happy to ride gravel with narrower tyres (I am) and an MTB is completely unecessary.

    So don’t base it on where you live, the UK is more varied than you realise.

    If your local MTB trails are shite, or you’ve lost your Mojo and don’t fancy riding roads, Gravel seems a good option. However, unless you intend to race, or have some fetish for uncomfortable hand postions (but there’s loads of hand positions on drop bars! 🙂  ) Then a good, light hardtail won’t be much slower IMHO.

    kerley
    Member

    Then a good, light hardtail won’t be much slower IMHO.

    It won’t, in my experience it is about 1-2 mph slower.  Why would you want to go slower though?

    I find no difference in comfort as the gravel where I live is no less comfortable than the roads (in fact in places it is more comfortable as it is softer when compared to a rough section of tarmac) so why not just use a bike that is faster and better suited to the variety of surfaces?

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    I find no difference in comfort as the gravel where I live is no less comfortable than the roads (in fact in places it is more comfortable as it is softer when compared to a rough section of tarmac) so why not just use a bike that is faster and better suited to the variety of surfaces?

    But you’re not him.. Nor are you me.

    I find drop bars ridiculously awful and uncomfortable…. I also find a 29er more suited as not only can i do roads, gravel but i can go on whatever else too.

    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…

    Neither really, I still love riding my MTB, but family/work/everything else and the fact I have to drive somewhere to ride it means it only really gets ridden max 10 times a year.

    I have a road bike already that gets used a lot.

    The gravel bike will be used for quicker blasts from the front door that incorporate a little off-roading (hopefully more as I explore local tracks) I am not expecting to ride any gnar on it at all, probably give the Blue a try at FOD but that would be the limit. More likely I would spend a couple of hours riding the fireroads than trying to tackle singletrack on it.

    kerley
    Member

    Gravel bike sounds perfect for your intended use and is exactly how I use mine.  However I don’t own an MTB and so using one 10 times a year is not something I have to consider.

    If you get rid of the MTB will you miss those 10 times a year?

    kerley
    Member

    I find drop bars ridiculously awful and uncomfortable…. I also find a 29er more suited as not only can i do roads, gravel but i can go on whatever else too.

    Yep, we all like different bikes for different reasons.  My point was referring to the speed aspect, but if you are happier going a bit slower then fine – a lot of people are happy to give up 1-2 mph for a bike that is more comfortable for them.

    Premier Icon d4ddydo666
    Subscriber

    Lots of talk of gravel/CX bikes not being much quicker – surely it’s about funner? Horses and courses innit. There are enough of us who cackle with glee at how sketchy red trails and bridleways can get with 37cc nearly-knobblies on a bike that’s light and efficient enough to accelerate rapidly from that techy section you had to slow down for, or delight in how quickly that steep climb was despatched.

    Premier Icon joemmo
    Subscriber

    10 times a year is better than none though surely? I’m in a not dissimilar situation to you OP, its about 45 minutes drive before the terrain gets interesting but I can ride tens of miles of farm track, resurfaced railway lines and actual gravel from my front door. The MTB is best but the GB is still fun and more enjoyable than road riding for me.

    Keep your current bike and scrape together the cash for something gravelly/cx. Pretty sure you won’t regret it.

    If you get rid of the MTB will you miss those 10 times a year?

    Yes. I think I have already decided that the MTB needs to stay. Like I said its a 4k bike that I managed to get for 2k. If I sold it, chances are I wouldn’t be able justify spending 4k on another bike to replace it.

    Options for gravel so far are

    Cotic Escapade

    Pinnacle Arkose

    Genesis Fugio

    Whyte Something

    Vitus Substance

    The thing many people seem to miss about gravel bikes, rigid bikes, or anything not hardcore, is that there is nothing inherently less fun about these than a full-sus enduro or something.

    Fun emerges from the combination of bike and trail. Being over-biked is normally boring, being underbiked is some combination of frustrating, annoying and petrifying. Many of my local trails would be less fun with anything more than a 29er hardtail with 80mm upfront.

    Combining that logic with a consideration of how much free time people tend to have, and the type of trails accessible from the doorstep for most people in this tiny ecologically domesticated/decimated UK, and I reckon gravel bikes and rigid MTBs start to make sense as many people’s primary bikes, and that’s why I have one of each.

    Of course if I had the space, money, a personal bike mechanic, and less fear of bike thieves I’d have 5-6 bikes from carbon roadie through to enduro machine…

    mm93
    Member

    The boardman 8.9 adv from Halfords for £1000 is well thought of I believe.

    Just found this also, seems good value at £650

    https://www.merlincycles.com/merlin-malt-g-tiagra-gravel-bike-2019-114706.html

    Anyone have any thoughts on it?

    Lots of talk of gravel/CX bikes not being much quicker – surely it’s about funner? Horses and courses innit. There are enough of us who cackle with glee at how sketchy red trails and bridleways can get with 37cc nearly-knobblies on a bike that’s light and efficient enough to accelerate rapidly from that techy section you had to slow down for, or delight in how quickly that steep climb was despatched.

    Absolutely, I’ll have way more fun popping off stuff and railing berms on a hardtail than I ever would mincing around it on a drop barred sketch horse.

    YMMV.

    The thing many people seem to miss about gravel bikes, rigid bikes, or anything not hardcore, is that there is nothing inherently less fun about these than a full-sus enduro or something.

    Nope, only 2 bikes I own are a SC Bronson and a Merida cx bike. One is fun, the other is not. If it wasn’t for the fact I’d destroy the magic mary on the Bronson on tarmac, I’d ride it everywhere. 😂

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    I didn’t find the gravel bike fun off road, to be blunt it was just shite. Decent on canal towpath and roads, but roads aren’t fun and the hardtail (or Flare) give more scope for messing about on the towpath. Riding down stairs, popping off roots etc. Plus comfier. If I could afford I’d have something like the old Karate Monkey with some semi-slicks and wavy bars over another gravel bike.

    OP – buy a cheap gravel bike or see if anyone on here is willing to lend you one for a month or so, see how you get on. You might love it.

    Say it as many times as you like, you are still wrong. I live in the New Forest and a gravel bike is perfect. Can ride miles of gravel (fire roads) all connected up by tarmac roads. The limited single track and more off roady stuff is actually out of bounds (sign posted as not for bikes) so if riding the routes you are supposed to be riding it is road and gravel only.

    Sounds like the New Forest is a bit unusual wrt access, Kerley. I’ve not ridden there but looking at the OS map it looks like there’s not a single bridleway to be found in the entire area? Seems weird, but there’s a page on the OS’s own site that refers to a ‘vast network of bridleways’. So are all those paths technically bridleways or would it be equivalent to riding on a footpath?

    So after extensive research and internet trawling I have hit the buy now button on a Genesis Fugio.

    This is what it will be like in my head

    Unfortunatley the reality will probably be more like thisImage result for when cycling sucks

    aP
    Member

    I ride my Bokeh on lots of stuff – I find it very versatile. It’s probably built up a bit oddly for most people – with a SON dynamo front, Nitto rack, lights and currently a Helmut Equipement bar bag (waves at Rodolphe). Currentlygot Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road 650b tyres on for mucho mixed surface riding.

    It does pretty much all that I want in and around the Surrey hills on day rides, over the summer we rode in the Cevenees off road, and then last month we rode TuscanyRoads. Next year we’re going back to Tro Bro Leon, then a week’s gravel touring in the Harz Mountains, Gravel Dash 5050, some S240’s and maybe another week’s lightweight travelling in the Bourgogne.

    5plusn8
    Member

    I like MTB because I like the technical challenge of quality descents, rooty, singletrack, rocks, steep, mud, cornering jumps etc. And I do occasionally get a buzz off a climb, esp technical ones, but they are essentially a means to end.
    If you give them up, will you care?
    If you don’t care then perhaps gravel will be OK for you? Have you considered road riding too, I guess you could use the gravel bike for that anyway.

    Outside of that, what exactly is the attraction of MTBing? That you can’t get in any other thing (eg mates, trips, buying kit – you can get this from a billion hobbies/sports).

    Of course you may be awesome enough that a gravel bike will be usable and lots of fun for you on typical cheeky enduro trails and more tech trail centre stuff, then you are not really quitting MTB though and it just comes down to bike choice. I often get smoked by a mate on a rigid 90’s bike (spesh rockhopper) with V brakes, he only rides it a couple of times a year though as caning it on goood trails is real hard work for him.

    Exciting times 👍🏼

    Fatter is funner in the rough

    Fugio seems a good choice by the look of it.  Look fwd to a write-up and pics (hint hint)

    Outside of that, what exactly is the attraction of MTBing? That you can’t get in any other thing (eg mates, trips, buying kit – you can get this from a billion hobbies/sports).

    I have always been a mountain biker, and I have been a roadie even longer than that. I switch back and forth between them form time to time, and others I ride them equally throughout the year.

    The main attraction of MTB for me is wilderness, getting into the forest/mountains and escaping it all. I ride solo as I don’t have any mates. So, in essence I don’t think I will miss anything, but I know I will return to MTB at a later date so really giving anything up long term.

    philjunior
    Member

    I think you will regret it. 10 MTB rides a year are better than none.

    If you keep at it, there will come a point when kids are older and either MTBing with you or moving out and you’ll still be MTBing.

    If you stop, you’ll miss it. Look at other sports – if you had a track car for instance and got it to the track 10 times a year I reckon you’d be getting your money’s worth.

    By all means go N+1 but don’t give up on the MTBing.

    5plusn8
    Member

    The main attraction of MTB for me is wilderness, getting into the forest/mountains and escaping it all

    Yeah well you will be able to do that on a gravel bike, perhaps not as deep into the the wilderness but I bet there is plenty of stuff. Good luck.

    Gotama
    Member

    What is your mtb? Why not stick some gravel tyres on your current wheels and have a go…assuming its not a Nomad or something.

    I don’t get on with drops at all so I have a Santa Cruz Highball which now has some Panaracer Gravelking SKs on. It’s quick enough on the roads, can take a 38 tooth chainring and is pretty good off them given the tyres. The fork is light enough that it doesn’t feel like i’m dragging around weight on the road and you can lock it out from the bars for climbing. Off road having 100mm of travel makes it far more enjoyable than a gravel bike imo.

    What is your mtb? Why not stick some gravel tyres on your current wheels and have a go…assuming its not a Nomad or something.

    Stumpy FSR (in in the classifieds, stealth ad)

    There is no way I would enjoy riding it on the road for any more than a couple of miles. At the moment I am more than happy with the decision made and I am quite excited to get out gravel grinding. Just got the text that the bike is despatched as well, so could have it tomorrow… eek

    Premier Icon joemmo
    Subscriber

    don’t sell it. Like philjunior says your kids will be older and less demanding before you know it… and they might want to go mountain biking.

    Just taking a few notable comments and offering my opinion having owned a gravel bike for a year.  Admittedly I think its orientated more towards offroad than road, (Kinesis Tripster AT) and my other bikes are old school 26ers so have not ridden a fast 29er in anger…

    ‘I find drop bars massively limiting on technical stuff’  My preferred hold when it gets rough is on the drops, paired with a dropper post you can hunker right down and it feels quite secure.

    ‘limations offroad become apparent when its lumpy and steep’  Agree, things can escalate from fun to fear pretty bloody quickly :d  But it gets the adrenaline going!

    ‘A gravel bike is not suited to the UK’  Its brilliant where I am, oodles of bridleways across the South Downs.  Might not be so versatile in the grim mountains oop north 🙂

    ‘Just think over the winter when the bridleways are a messy muddy goop’  One of my first rides on my Tripster was up a bridleway covered in that slippery slop that makes your MTB slither around on the spot before jamming the wheels.  It cut straight through all the mud and flew up the hill with very little effort, love riding it in bad conditions!

    ‘I’d rather be messing about on roots and steps’  It does that too!  Just got to treat it nicely

    I’ll always keep an MTB though, although a gravel bike is great fun on swoopy singletrack in dry conditions, I can’t see it being much fun nightriding through the woods on trails with roots and covered in leaves 🙂

    Premier Icon Elbows
    Subscriber

    Giving up is the thing for me, it’s 3 hours forest roads on the gravel bike on Saturday morning and 90 minutes playing in the woods on Sunday. Still can’t work out which I like best. Lucky to have both bikes I guess.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    ‘I’d rather be messing about on roots and steps’  It does that too!  Just got to treat it nicely

    Treat it nicely is code speak for mincing isn’t it?

    I can’t see it being much fun nightriding through the woods on trails with roots and covered in leaves

    But with 650b 50mm tyres ?

    Cool, the Fugio looks great.

    I’d echo what Spooky said above and get a dropper for it. Makes a big difference getting your weight down at the rear when the drop bars already have you down at the front.

    Inbred456
    Member

    I ride a 29er set up for bridleways cycleways 3 ply tarmac country lanes  and single track. Going to a gravel bike for me would limit where I could ride, the 29er will go anywhere so next bike for me will be a carbon 29er with a better fork and some lighter bits and bobs. A good light wheelset is a given for this type of bike.

    England doesnt really have enough easy access ‘gravel’ to really justify it so if its your only bike you will ultimately have to compromise.

    I moved to South Australia a few years back. Sold all my bikes and just kept the tripster v1 with two 700cc wheelsets. Literally 1000s of kms of proper bona fida gravel roads that i can acess from my door plus easy access to other parts of the country with even more. Thing is the gravel is so gravelly in places that mtb tyres are more appropriate.

    Even with all this, having a gravel bike as your only ride is still a compromise. i feel that i now need a hardtail xc plus a gravel bike. However, as i dont have the cash for both i am moving to a platform (Bokeh) which will allow me switch between 3 wheel sets. 32c slick, 40c gravel kings and 2 inch 650b Pythons.

    I now firmly believe that there isnt a one bike solution although bikes like the v2 tripster, bokeh, v4 warbird etc are getting close

    kerley
    Member

    Sounds like the New Forest is a bit unusual wrt access, Kerley. I’ve not ridden there but looking at the OS map it looks like there’s not a single bridleway to be found in the entire area?

    Don’t know as never used an OS map as I don’t need one.  The gravel roads are the fire roads, i..e they usually have a locked gate at the end to allow access to fire trucks for any areas of forest that are on fire.  Also get used by the logging lorries.  They all have numbered cycle signs to guide people around (again never taken any notice of them as I just ride where I fancy – sometimes getting lost)

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