Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • Gravel bike curious. Another N+1 thread
  • Premier Icon markgraylish
    Free Member

    I’m gravel-curious and have been dabbling with a 2014 Kona Jake (a CX bike). However, I have some serious reservations about its suitability and I doubt it’s worth throwing serious money at to fix.

    First and foremost is the rock hard ride, neither the forks nor the frames nor the wheels seem to have any compliance and whilst it’s been fine as a commuter bike, it’s not going to encourage me to do long back-country rides.

    Second is the brakes – I upgraded to TRP Spyres a while back but they’re cable operated, require constant adjustment and just feel wooden.

    Third, the drivetrain is 2×10 Tiagra and is pretty old and, I’m guessing, would require complete replacement to get something low-enough geared for proper back-country use.

    Fourth, there isn’t a ton of tyre clearance. I’ve got 32mm tyres on there currently and there’s a tiny bit if room but mud guards won’t fit…

    So, basically, I’m justifying a new bike but, whatever I get, needs to double-up as a year-round commuter (i.e full mudguards most of the time but I’ll have to take them off for “proper” adventures). The Jake will need to be sold off to make space in my locker.

    I’m not keen on replacing one drop bar bike with another drop bar bike though, for two reasons:

    (1) sometimes, I’ll be using this bike when walking my dog and he’ll need to be on-leash. I do this currently with my mountain bike as it’s easy to cover the brakes with a flat bar
    (2) some of the areas I want to explore will require steep off road climbs and descents, and some are likely to be pretty rough.

    So, it seems as though a really need another mountain bike…

    I’m curious as to what the tipping point is between a dedicated “gravel bike” is, and when a (hard-tail?) mountain bike just makes more sense…

    Some other factors in play:
    Pre-Covid, when road-trips were a thing, I used to take two bikes away with me: my mountain bike and a ‘proper’ road bike. Having one bike which can double up for back-country exploring plus mile-munching on the road would be useful…

    I don’t really ‘bike pack’ but have done a few overnight trips using AirBnB or motels, so some sort of luggage capacity is useful.

    (N+1 is obviously the correct answer, if you have sufficient storage and/or can bring more than one bike on holiday with you).

    Premier Icon markgraylish
    Free Member

    .

    Premier Icon prawny
    Full Member

    I think of you prefer flat bars a cheaper mtb or something super euro would be your best bet and cheaper than a gravel bike because of the cheaper brakes and less scene tax.

    I ‘need’ a gravel bike now, and I’m looking to sell my roadie to fund it but the prices at the moment are insane and I’d have to take a big step down in spec to make the switch.

    To answer your actual question, I think a gravel bike would be best if you’re doing a good amount of road in your rides, and the off road bits aren’t too hairy. I took my wife’s hybrid for a ride over Cannock chase this morning and it was probably worst of both worlds, it was hard work and un-aero on the road and when it got rough or that rim deep gravel we get here it was terrifying.

    I did think about an XC hardtail, but that would have to be an extra bike because I do enjoy the odd road ride sometimes, so I’m going to get my son one and borrow it

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    #embracethehybrid

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Steep or long descents are my tipping point (as are steep climbs, but only due to lack of low gears on my gravel bike).

    Basically if I’m braking hard, reducing grip through the tyres and weighting the bars a lot then I don’t want to be on skinny slick tyres and drop bars! 😁

    Premier Icon martymac
    Full Member

    Gravel bikes really are great. But not everywhere.
    They’re not road bikes, they just look like em.
    Mine has 40mm tyres and can take mudguards with those.
    That doesn’t sound much bigger than the 32s on your jake, but it makes a big difference, lots of extra volume for that 8mm extra width.
    They’re not mountain bikes, not at all.
    Jack of all, master of none, ymmv, etc etc.
    They can make pretty tame terrain feel quite exciting though.
    Anyway, i have a cube nuroad, there’s about half a dozen models, from fully equipped models at 12kg, right up to super duper carbon models at 8.6kg.

    Premier Icon anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    Last week I did the King Alfred’s way bike packing and wild camping. First half I did on my Spesh Diverge gravel bike, it was fast, furious and fun, except on long downhills where you have to keep the lid on speed in case of unexpected hazards. Then it lunched it’s bottom bracket. A very good mate, who works at Bikelux Newbury 😜. Dropped off my hardtail mtb for the second half, it was slower ( a bit) more relaxed, more fun on long downhills and less stressful as I could let it run a bit it was also more comfortable. If I was doing the same again I’d use the mtb. I’ll still keep my gravel bike as it’s great fun on shorter rides. Not all gravel bikes are equal though, my mate used a rohloff equipped Salsa Fargo with big wide drop bars, is that a gravel bike?

    Premier Icon Daffy
    Full Member

    Sounds like you want a lightweight hardtail with hardpack tyres rather than a Gravel bike TBH. If your riding is off-road biased, it’ll be faster and more fun over anything but fairly tame terrain.

    Gravel bike are fun on, well, Gravel, smooth singletrack and mixed terrain with a road/bridleway bias.

    I wouldn’t swap mine for anything, but it also wouldn’t be my choice for old school XC if I was looking for sh1ts and giggles.

    Premier Icon markgraylish
    Free Member

    For context, I live in North Vancouver so there’s f++king great big hills and NO easy singletrack out of my door but drive a bit and there’s actually quite a lot of very easy, very flat dyke roads and limitless Forest service roads yet gravel bikes are still a thing over here as well….

    I didn’t appreciate that there’s a “gravel tax” though as I’ve not tired to price anything up yet…

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    29er innit.

    I swapped my gravel/monstercross for a 29er and as much as I preferred the monstercross on the road and most light trails, I still didn’t want to spend longer than 30 mins on it on proper roughstuff/singletrack with descents and drop-offs, roots etc.

    It was a tough call but I think I made the right decision. I’d have both if I could afford/the space but I since scratched the fast road-commute itch with a retro audax/tourer so that complements the (rigid) 29er perfectly. The 29er has 29+ clearance (2×10) also, should I feel the need.

    Top tip for versatility: Fit longer cables/hoses and lock-on grips for quick bar-changes. Combine with tyre/wheel change and you have a lot of versatility.

    I have 3x stems ready-fitted with 3 x different bars for a quick change:

    610mm carbon flat bars with Ergon GP3 bar-end grips for (road and gravel)
    On One Geoff loop bars (bikepacking)
    750mm MTB risers (MTB/dicking about)

    I could lose the Geoffs but the other two make a nice change.

    Rack (for commute panniers:) Alpkit Love Mud

    Various tyres:

    Conti Race King Protection for XC, summer, gravel and some road
    Schwalbe Tyrago 700X40C for road
    WTB Prowler (other MTB)

    A 29er is a really versatile bike. I keep the Race Kings and risers on most of the time now unless going for a big muddy day out. Since getting the audax/touring bike I don’t tend do road on the 29er except for transitions to trails/tracks.

    gravelXCmode:

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I tried gravel bikes a couple of times and now have a Stooge. Bit slower on the road bits but they’re just a necessary evil for me. A shit tonne of fun everywhere else and surprisingly capable when it gets really rough. Also very comfortable too.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    My last ride in North Van was a gravel ride on a newly acquired Salsa Vaya, I *think* before gravel was an actual thing. Would love to see how far up some big remote valleys you could get on a gravel bike over there…

    Edit: think we cycled up to Seymour Lake. Looks like there is a track extending a loooooong way into the back country (up to Loch Lomond funnily enough 😁) but the Strava heat trace doesn’t go up there, am guessing access verbohten a la Capilano?

    Premier Icon thepodge
    Free Member

    The sooner people realise gravel isn’t one thing just like mountain bikes aren’t one thing, the better.

    My gravel bike and my mate’s gravel bike are about as far apart as a trail bike and a DH bike.

    Buy the bike not the title that suits you.

    Premier Icon markgraylish
    Free Member

    My last ride in North Van was a gravel ride on a newly acquired Salsa Vaya, I *think* before gravel was an actual thing. Would love to see how far up some big remote valleys you could get on a gravel bike over there…

    Edit: think we cycled up to Seymour Lake. Looks like there is a track extending a loooooong way into the back country (up to Loch Lomond funnily enough 😁) but the Strava heat trace doesn’t go up there, am guessing access verbohten a la Capilano?

    How long ago was that? There are three routes up Seymour valley:
    One is paved so smooth that roller-bladers can use it
    One trail/old gravel road open to public (for which my Jake was perfect, well, it would be if I’d put better tyres on it)
    One maintenance road (no public access)

    The public aren’t allowed past the dam as, like you implied, it’s protected watershed.

    Not that I’ve made my mind up at all, but responses above are swaying me more in the direction of a hard-tail…

    Premier Icon karnali
    Free Member

    @P7eaven what 29er is that , looks great

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    @karnali

    It’s a MK1 Longitude (2015). The only year Genesis made it for 29+ AFAIK, although I’ve yet to go plus as my rims are too narrow.

    (Stealth ad – if anyone wants to give me some decent 29er Arch Mk3s they can have my minty Hope Enduros for free 😎)

    The sooner people realise gravel isn’t one thing just like mountain bikes aren’t one thing, the better.

    +1

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    I’m curious as to what the tipping point is between a dedicated “gravel bike” is, and when a (hard-tail?) mountain bike just makes more sense…

    As others have said it depends on what you want and most importantly what you enjoy riding. Any gravel bike and any hardtail MTB will ride well on gravel roads and mild off road. They will be faster/slower in different areas but only by 1 mph or so which doesn’t matter unless you are racing.

    Based on what you have mention I would think a flat barred gravel bike would suit
    – Flat bars
    – Wider tyres than CX but not full on MTB tyres
    – More on the faster side than sluggish side

    Something along these lines

    .

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