I think I want a gravel bike… do I?

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  • I think I want a gravel bike… do I?
  • daftvader
    Member

    Afternoon….

    I haven’t ridden in ages, 4 ish years ages. Health got in the way. But I want to start again.
    The thing is I don’t really want to get back on the mountain bikes immediately as I KNOW I have no fun when I am this unfit. I have a hybrid but that is I comfortable so is getting sold. I also don’t want a road bike as I find just road riding very boring.
    Where I live however there are loads of gravely roads/well kept bridalways that go to interesting places (like cake shops!) so is it worth doing? And should I try and get the boss one too???

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    Yes. We (the boss and I) took the plunge at the beginning of this year. Loads of brilliant tracks and bridleways where we are but not gnarly. Much more fun than they would be on MTBs, plus they work well on the roads too.

    daftvader
    Member

    @slowoldman that’s EXACTLY what I’m after…. now to convince the long haired general!

    Absolutely. Perfect terrain for one, linking up quiet lanes with bridleways, farm tracks etc.

    Do it!

    mariner
    Member

    For me no they are as boring as ….
    Bought a Fargo best of both worlds as it is a drop bar mtb.
    Fiddled a bit to make it fit and that was it does what it says on the tin.
    A very capable bike off road and on road.
    But riding on the hoods mile after mile after mile. Ooh try the top of the bars mile after mile etc.
    Even tried to buy my old ht with the jones loops back but the buyer wouldn’t sell it. I mean I ask you unfair or what?
    If you have more than one bike then possibly but as an only bike no not for me.

    munrobiker
    Member

    They’re basically hybrids but with drop bars, if you don’t like your hybrid you might not get on with a gravel bike. Maybe get a racey hardtail?

    This is my gravel bike and if you can imagine it with straight bars and less marketing behind it, it’d just be a hybrid. I really enjoy riding it though, and you can ride surprisingly rowdy stuff on it. And, just maybe, knowing it’s a gravel bike and not a hybrid will make you enjoy it more.

    I use mine day to day for riding the canal towpath, some gravel estate roads, gravel footpaths and so on. Then once a week I take it to the hills and rag it about on tame singletrack.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    Yes, and you’ll see your fitness improve no end – gravel riding is more of a sustained effort, less massive peaks and troughs in effort. I noticed a big change in my fitness levels when I started doing miles on the gravel bike.

    corroded
    Member

    Yes, get one. Modern gravel / adventure bikes are much more capable than a flat-barred hybrid. Mine has opened up my local riding more than if I was on a MTB or a road bike alone. They’re fun off-road, fast on it. And it’s always enjoyable overtaking mtbers on bridleways.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    The only problem with CX bikes is you keep pushing them further and further away from what’s appropriate until you crash.

    The problem with Fargo/vagabond style bikes is they’re a bit heavy IME. If you want 2.1″ tyres, just get a rigid mtb because you’ve also reached the point where the longer wheelbase and better handling are an advantage too. The exception might be stuff like the TD where comfort rears its head. But for days/weekends CX style bike is more engaging.

    I bought a vagabond thinking it would replace my cx and rigid mtbs, in reality it was a bit too much jack of all trades master of none. Others experiences are better. I suspect if you have a trail bike already and nothing less gnarr then a vagabond probably makes more sense covering more bases.

    Either that or join a road club. It’s less boring with company and cake.

    fasthaggis
    Member

    Put some Clements like that Munro fellas on your hybrid and give it a whirl round the rough road/gravel paths.

    Nah, monstercross. Then just change tyres to suit.

    You want a Genesis Vagabond or a Bombtrack Beyond etc.

    I had a Vagabond with 2.1 Nano tyres for the type of terrain you describe and it fitted the bill very well, goes for miles very comfortably on a variety of terrain, think ATB with drop bars and loads of standover, strong enough for most stuff, and fast on easy singletrack. Unless you want to spend more time on road and or with arse in the air/head down low then get a more racey cyclocrossy gravel thang! Have a look at Raleigh Mustang too, somehwere inbetween some good deals/often overlooked.

    had a spec diverge for a few years, went out with guys on road bikes sunday, first drop handle ride in 5 months, it comfortably kept up for 58km, no better or worse than the carbon road bikes.
    felt fresh afterwards.

    just ordered a topstone carbon 105 with 37mm tyres, cannot wait for it to arrive, c2w part funded so reasonable for a 2020 bike.

    will take it for a west yorkshire bridleway/canal bashing where in the past my skinny wheeled diverge let me down.

    mashr
    Member

    more racey cyclocrossy gravel thang

    “monstercross” is closer to gravel than CX i reckon

    ElShalimo
    Member

    I’d stay away from proper CX bikes as they are for racing around a Belgian muddy field for an hour and are very upright.

    Gravel bikes have more tyre clearance and much more forgiving angles.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    Think about going 650b too, mine has 47mm WTB byways and it’s surprising how much it can handle off road. It’s very quick on the road too, fastest I’ve seen has been 38mph on a short downhill section, get into a tuck and it flies!

    daftvader
    Member

    i had a cx bike for a while. didnt quite feel right.

    Premier Icon Normal Man
    Subscriber

    I am also a fan of Byways. Very comfy on road and roll well enough but far more capable offroad than they look like they’d have any right to be.

    mashr
    Member

    daftvader

    Member

    i had a cx bike for a while. didnt quite feel right.

    Were you racing it around a muddy field for an hour? Otherwise, not surprised

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    BITD, I used my mtb for exploring bridleways and using roads to link them up. Gravel bikes fulfill this niche perfectly, now that mtbs have become so highly specialized.

    Highly specialized? MTB’s are more capable now than they’ve ever been.

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    I built up a Monstercrosser and rode it for 12 months. Quite liked it but ended up converting back to a flat bar rigid 29er HT with those Ergon grips that have bar ends. Prefer to ride the mtb setup. Bit more engaging from my perspective.

    Gravel bikes are brilliant if you’re mixing long road sections in with easy offroad stuff, or if you’re mostly offroad but it’s all very smooth.

    But I’d say if you’re going to spend most of your time off road, on anything beyond forest service roads, a rigid 29er with semi slicks could be more fun. Especially if you’re from an MTB background and aren’t used to drops.

    daftvader
    Member

    I do have a 29er Stanton that I could put carbon rigid forks on, lighter and skinnier wheels but it wouldn’t have the new bike smell! 😇😇😇

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    “monstercross” is closer to gravel than CX i reckon

    Don’t start that “peoples front of gravel riding” and “the gravel riding peoples front” splitter shit. You’ll get someone saying their 1950s sit up and beg is just as much a gravel bike as a diverge, and will post a photo of them pushing it up a Scottish mountain to prove it.

    Not many Belgian fields in Berkshire and for me the Cx bikes* are still my favourite tools for the job.

    *Plural, can’t have a niche bike without and even more niche fixed gear equivelent.

    Premier Icon watcyn
    Subscriber

    Go for it. I’ve got a Cannondale Slate and love it – except for the stupid tyres it came with (slicks on an off-road bike in the UK just don’t work). Swapped them out for some Schwalbe 38c G-Ones and went tubeless. It covers 90% of the riding that’s available in boring old Hertfordshire, so it’s become my go-to bike.

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    If you just want to spend then get some Travers Prong forks – really like mine – not cheap though. Ergon grips, fast tyres and some fashionable lycra in the Morvello sale should shift some cash

    jamesmio
    Member

    I’ll confess to also being in the “what does a ‘gravel’ bike do that a fast, light racy hardtail doesn’t” camp.

    It feels a bit like all of the absolute worst elements of mountain biking rolled into one (long, tedious & draggy fireroads) with absolutely knack-all of the fun, wiggly descents.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    Highly specialized? MTB’s are more capable now than they’ve ever been.

    They are very capable at one thing, because they are highly specialized. They’re absolutely rubbish for touring or road riding, and total overkill for pottering along the vast majority of bridleways. That’s where the gravel bike comes in.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    It feels a bit like all of the absolute worst elements of mountain biking rolled into one (long, tedious & draggy fireroads) with absolutely knack-all of the fun, wiggly descents.

    You just described the off road riding from the door of 95% of the British population.

    easily
    Member

    I’d go for it. I got a gravel bike at Xmas, and I’ve been very happy with it. It reminds me of when I first got a MTB: fun, light, tough, great brakes, lots of gears.
    It’s now my go-to bike as it’s good on the road/canal path, but if I feel like taking a bumpier diversion I can.

    … oh, and downhilling is terrifying. In a good way.

    daftvader
    Member

    It’s all sounding like I should fix and service my full sis and sell the bugger! Look for a what gravel bike thread soon!

    Premier Icon martymac
    Subscriber

    It’s all about where you want your compromise to be.
    A racy hardtail will still feel boring on a loooong climb, where a gravel bike will make that climb shorter.
    An mtb will feel pretty boring on tame singletrack, whereas said gravel bike will feel much more exciting.
    Horses for courses innit.

    I’ll confess to also being in the “what does a ‘gravel’ bike do that a fast, light racy hardtail doesn’t” camp.

    It feels a bit like all of the absolute worst elements of mountain biking rolled into one (long, tedious & draggy fireroads) with absolutely knack-all of the fun, wiggly descents

    Have you got one?

    nicko74
    Member

    Do it!
    You can…
    – get out on the road on it to get fit
    – ride up and down the local bridleways and gravel paths
    – try any more technical little trails you find
    -…and buy a proper MTB when you’re back in shape and know what you need!

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    Mild hijack…

    How is a your average gravel bike as a winter or conceivably only road bike? How would one do on a sportive (not that I’d do a sportive you understand – but the same route without all the other people)?

    I’ve had a cyclo cross bike since 2005 as my winter bike but it has also served as an actual cyclo cross bike, a road touring bike and I guess what would now be called a gravel bike. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth now and I’m doing a bit of n-1 as I ride less and racing is so far in the past that this should probably be my only drop bar bike. I’ve already got a flat bar rigid rohloff equipped mtb/world tourer/ heavy road tourer so would not be looking for too much overlap.

    To answer my own question I guess something like a Genesis Datum might meet the brief.

    Premier Icon panzerjager
    Subscriber

    I thought I wanted one too, for times when I didn’t want to take the Mojo up to the hills & just wanted to explore the lanes & woods nearby, turns out they’re bloody great & it does exactly what I wanted it too.
    Haven’t used the car for my short commute since either, which I wasn’t expecting, but the gravel bike zips along the roads just fine & I really can’t wait to ride it.
    Its a lot more comfortable than the road bike I had & has a more relaxed position too.
    Bought a Planet X Tempest Rival 1x & I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

    Premier Icon bratty
    Subscriber

    I would definitely go for a gravel bike if you live somewhere flat or tend to stick to easier trails.

    I’m on a planet x pickenflick with a complete shimergo mix groupset and trp spyre cable discs…. and i love it for the flattish riding over here on the flat German plain (there are a few bumps here and there but its mostly like Norfolk). I have been running G-one 40mm tyres and they cope with the sandy/gravely forest roads well enough. I did have a hardtail here at first and a road bike, but the road bike with 25mm tyres could not cope with the cobbles and sandy tracks which are plentiful around here and I ended up putting a rigid fork on the mtb. Since I went to the pickenflick, I have hardly used the other 2 bikes. It is not as fast as my road bike on tarmac, but I hardly ride tarmac anymore and stick to endless gravel and forest roads. It is a bit faster than my mtb too.
    My mtb has its sus fork on again, but mostly just comes out for holidays in the Alps and in the hillier areas near the Czech border – although the pickenflick could still cope with a lot of these areas too, the extra grip and control of the mtb is just more fun.

    medlow
    Member

    Yep…
    Get one that will take 650 + 700.
    My Mason Bokeh is hugely capable on 650b 2″ tyres, flared drops and 1x.
    Swap to 700 and it rockets on the tarmac.

    I am currently holidaying in Dorset with my MTB, on most pedal turns I’m dreaming of being on my gravel bike instead of my MTB.
    Its faster, looks cooler, and above all just feels better.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    You just described the off road riding from the door of 95% of the British population.

    This is exactly why I bought mine. Locally to me there’s quite a few bridleways that really don’t warrant a 140mm travel FS bike, and to get to any decent MTB trails means driving. Yet from my door I can do a 5/10/15/20 mile loop with barely any road sections on interesting bridleways and byways.

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