I think I want a gravel bike… do I?

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  • I think I want a gravel bike… do I?
  • Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    How is a your average gravel bike as a winter or conceivably only road bike?

    Fine. You could get a second set of wheels with slicks if just using the one bike. Longest ride I’ve done on mine is about 180km, I averaged 2 kph slower than on the road bike.

    daftvader
    Member

    All pointing to me getting one, may even persuade the boss at this rate!

    Following the N+1 diktat, just get another bike then justify as…….because.

    jamesmio
    Member

    Yeah. Sorry folks, it’s threads like this one that serve as a timely reminder as to just how spoiled we really are living round here (D&G).

    Didn’t mean to come across as dick-ish, it genuinely didn’t occur that the majority of people just don’t have what we have right on the doorstep.

    For bridleways, canal paths etc, yep. I get it.

    daftvader
    Member

    Where I am in Hampshire there are loads of viable tracks and tow paths…. the Basingstoke canal toe path runs for bloody miles!

    Premier Icon kelron
    Subscriber

    I like the idea of gravel bikes but probably going to sell the one I’ve had for 2 years as I don’t think they suit me.

    The responsiveness and lower weight is nice but I’ve never found much to enjoy with road riding even when I can get away from traffic. Taking it on trails was exciting at first but once the novelty wore off I found I’d be wishing I was on my mountain bike so I could stop mincing over anything loose or rooty on tyres with no grip.

    If you enjoy riding bridleways now and want to go faster or farther then you’ll probably love it. They’re good for exploring and they’ll be a lot lighter and quicker than an equivalent priced hardtail (someone will be along to tell us about the 9KG XC bike they built for £200 soon, I’m sure). For my riding though I’d prefer to carry a bit more weight to have a bike I find fun rather than just efficient.

    Premier Icon muddy@rseguy
    Subscriber

    Gravel bikes are a stupid idea: think oversized fully rigid mountain bike on comedy big wheels with narrow tyres and Drop bars so pretty much wrong on every level with the exception of disc brakes…

    My advice therefore is to get one for the following simple reasons:
    Bikes are good (except perhaps single-speeds and even then they have their moments)
    All those “boring” trails/lanes etc that you don’t bother riding on your mountain bike are suddenly a lot more interesting.
    You start getting Strava PB’s going up hills’
    The fact that riding down rough tracks on the drops and getting airborne while laughing like a maniac is life affirming.

    Premier Icon w00dster
    Subscriber

    As someone with a gravel, hardtail, road and cx bikes, gravel is the least used bike in my camp.
    I’ve used it a fair bit for thetford, SDW, Ridgeway and the like.
    For me, it’s always struggling to match other bikes.
    On the road with slicks it’s nowhere near as fast or as fun as my road bikes. In fact I’ve ridden a few and they’re dull on road in comparison. For long off road rides (SDW for example) a lightweight 100mm hardtail is the one for me.
    For bridle ways and gravel with limited gnarr it’s the one to go for. Also it’s good fun around the red at Thetford but a lot slower than my hardtail, but faster than my full sus.
    If I could only have one bike it would be gravel, but I’d have to accept the compromises. But I also wouldn’t rule out a very light XC hardtail.
    Gravel bike in my view needs to take at least 700×42 as a minimum and preferably 650bx2.1, but also be fairly lightweight.

    As someone with a hardtail, full sus, and roadified CX, the gravel bike is by far the most ridden. Had mine 18 months and its got more miles on it than all the other bikes since I started logging all my rides a few years ago.

    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.

    I’d go the opposite way…a gravel bike isn’t much fun in techy singletrack or bombing through rough ground covered by leaves (although I’ll sometimes do it just because I can) but for everything else I do, its brill. Thick winter mud, it cuts through with minimal effort, headwind, get in the drops, your average shared bridleway/track is suddenly a lot more lively, road sections are now part of the ride rather than irritating gaps in an mtb ride. I ride more now and am less tempted to put the mtb in the car to drive to the trails as the Gravel bike is not a chore like a sit up MTB is.

    P.S Get it set up so you are comfy in the drops, attacking rougher or steeper off road stuff on the hoods will be no fun, much more secure and better braking on the drops 🙂

    joshvegas
    Member

    Didn’t mean to come across as dick-ish, it genuinely didn’t occur that the majority of people just don’t have what we have right on the doorstep.

    For bridleways, canal paths etc, yep. I get it.

    You’re just determined to not get it i think. I see your D&G and raise you Peebles. My bike what is not a mountain bike nor a road bike is still the best choice unless i am specifically going to ride mountainbikey stuff is easily the bestbike choice. I haven’t yet fone gypsy glen but its on the cards.

    ElShalimo
    Member

    I reckon 38-42mm is the ideal tyre size range. Enough for mild bridleways and not to much rolling resistance.

    kerley
    Member

    Just buy the type of bike you like riding and ride that. It will be better at some things than others but you will be riding the type of bike you like. Could be a road bike with tougher tyres for gravel, a gravel bike, a rigid MTB, a ful suss MTB whatever – any of them ride well enough on gravel roads, bridleways and so on and you will be riding what you enjoy

    cr500dom
    Member

    I Had a nice Carbon Road bike, which only ever came out on sunny sundays, which meant i ddnt ride it as much as I wanted.
    I sold it and bought a Kinesis decade tripster ATR and a spare set of wheels.
    I have 28c 4 seasons on one set and 42c conti knobblies on the other.
    It allowed me to ride a lot more variety locally on the same bike.
    It takes 42c knobblies and full guards, i Tfitted a Tubus Ti rear rack as well so I can carry stuff in panniers or use it for commuting.
    Ive ridden club rides and sportives on it (On knobblies) peddars way, thetford, and numerous small linking bridleways, it just allows me to explore more.
    I love it and really must get it out again now my health is improving again.

    I built a rigid 29er, then bought a (cheap) gravel bike – a Pinnacle Arkose – the Arkose is far, far better to ride on the same terrain than the rigid MTB. Probably all that geometry stuff people bang on about, but for a huge percentage of the riding that is available to me without driving, the gravel bike is fine – and as said above, descents can be terrifying in a good way! Cable discs take some getting used to though…

    Didn’t mean to come across as dick-ish, it genuinely didn’t occur that the majority of people just don’t have what we have right on the doorstep.

    Even if they did they might still want to ride gravel or even road. I reckon it’s a different type of fun, MTB is more adrenaline, gravel/road is more endorphins (not a doctor or a chemist!). Gravel bikes allow you to get the smooth, maintained effort endorphin rush of road biking, but on more varied terrain.

    For me, the appeal of gravel wears off once the terrain gets too lumpy, even a cobbly/baby-head landrover track puts me off as the back wheel just starts banging and skipping about the place, I just want to focus on pedalling and steering!

    Same as climbing a long hill on the road bike, or even doing a good turbo session. It’ll never be as exciting or laugh-out-loud fun as a swooping singletrack descent, but once you get into a good rhythm, on the cusp of what your legs can maintain, well your body certainly produces some sort of feel good drug!

    Premier Icon Normal Man
    Subscriber

    Gravel bikes allow you to get the smooth, maintained effort endorphin rush of road biking, but on more varied terrain.

    Hadn’t really thought of it like that but reflecting on it, that is what kind of appeals with mine.

    tpbiker
    Member

    Well if anyone is gravel curious but doesn’t want to spend a fortune to find out its rubbish (it’s not btw), I have a cheap as chips dolan cx bike going in the clasifieds for you to test the waters!

    Premier Icon winston
    Subscriber

    Gravel bikes simply allow those of us that like road riding to do it in safety.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    Winston makes a very true and often overlooked point.

    I love road riding, and gravel bikes mean I can more often use off-road sections instead of A-roads to link up all the pockets of quiet, charming rural lanes. As well as doing some of the off-road sections for their own sake, of course.

    Premier Icon paul_m
    Subscriber

    Someone asked about Gravel bikes in Sportives, I used mine (albeit with 28mm Road Tyres) for the Ride London, managed to keep up with all the other road bikes easily and completed in just over 5 hours.

    Whilst I agree if I am going out for some single track riding I will take the Hardtail or Full Suspension, the beauty of the Gravel Bike is that I can start off on a road ride, and if I see a track or bridleway I fancy I can just head off down it – Couldn’t do that on the road bike, and wouldn’t head out on a road ride on the MTB.

    I agree of I could only have 1 bike it would be the Gravel Bike, because it can do pretty much everything, is there a better bike for each different type of riding – yes there is, but then they are specific. Before I got my Gravel bike I did run the hardtail with rigging forks, did the Dirty Reiver twice like that and it was fine, but my hardtail runs a single ring, and more gears would have made the ride easier especially on the road sections, and more hand positions would hep as well.

    Don’t think that a pure Cross Bike and Gravel bike are the same, they are not, as someone has said CX bikes have very different geometry and are designed for 1 hour max rides with fast handling, Gravel bike are more relaxed (and therefore stable).

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

    Speak for yourself.

    Winston and Bez are bang on, 100%. It’s a great alternative to road biking, getting off the beaten track, it’s not a replacement for MTBing IMO.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Subscriber

    Don’t think that a pure Cross Bike and Gravel bike are the same, they are not, as someone has said CX bikes have very different geometry and are designed for 1 hour max rides with fast handling, Gravel bike are more relaxed (and therefore stable).

    I use my cx bike(s) for pretty much all my off road rides, always way more than 1 hour, it’s fine

    mashr
    Member

    It is fine, but now that Gravel bikes are a thing you’d be pretty daft to choose a CX bike over one unless planning to race CX

    Premier Icon kilo
    Subscriber

    Or you’d be daft to buy a gravel bike if you’ve no intention of bikepacking up a Scottish bog on a bike where the bars are higher than your shoulders, are more flared than the bay city rollers and you’ve got eight bottle cage mounting points on your forks alone ;). My next bike will still be cx biased

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Subscriber

    Didn’t mean to come across as dick-ish, it genuinely didn’t occur that the majority of people just don’t have what we have right on the doorstep.

    I live in Wales, surrounded by tech stuff. I can see the local DH stuff from my garden. I could ride full-on black graded* trails every day of the week without repeating a location, never mind a trail. And that’s ignoring the trail centres. BPW is 35 mins drive away.

    Sometimes I want a gentle, 90s inspired ride. Sometimes I just want to ride to a view, or an ice-cream. I don’t always want to be beating myself up on hair-raising trails. 😁

    And most of my riding group have multiple bikes, normally including FS, HT, gravel or road.

    *black graded or more, if they were graded.

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    Someone asked about Gravel bikes in Sportives, I used mine (albeit with 28mm Road Tyres) for the Ride London, managed to keep up with all the other road bikes easily and completed in just over 5 hours.

    So next question – if buying a gravel bike with more than a nod to it’s road credentials would you go 1X or 2x these days? TBH I see !x as possibly a bit compromised if it was to serve as both both a sportive and winter road bike type bike and a lightly loaded (ie bike packing for a night or two rather than full pannier longer tour) tourer. But then again spec it with a mtb rear mech and it could uses one of those daft dinner plate cassettes when needed and a tighter one the rest of the time to get smaller gearing jumps.

    Premier Icon winston
    Subscriber

    my Gravel bike is 1x (I bought it secondhand so had no choice) and I often spin out on fast sections and on the road. I’ll run it with the current drivetrain through the winter and then change it for a 2x set up in the spring. as said above, it wasn’t bought to replace my mtb but to replace my road bike.

    wait4me
    Member

    I’ve got 1x Rival on my Boardman. When the whole package gets an upgrade (hopefully to a Bokeh) I’m going GRX x2. I’m not totally convinced by 1x.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    My road bike and gravel bike are basically identical. This one is normally road but here it’s doing gravel duty.

    There are only a few things that change:
    – Tyres are 28mm GP4000SII for all tarmac, 37mm Sport Contacts for summer gravel, or other things for winter muck.
    – Chainset is 53/39 for road or 50/34 for gravel. (It’s 12-30 on the back, and I can’t see any appeal in 1x.)
    – I leave some leeway for moving the stem up and down a little.

    And that’s it. It comes back to the point that it’s how I find (YMMV) a “gravel” bike works best: it’s a fully capable road bike that has the tyres and brakes to go off-road; it’s absolutely not a compromised mountain bike with skinny tyres and drop bars.

    This replaced my CAAD9 which went like a rocket and, much as I loved that bike, I haven’t missed it one bit, even on the sort of rides where the Cannondale excelled.

    Gearing is weird, I’m in the market for a CX Race/Gravel/Paris Roubaix Sportive bike and seem to find more CX bikes that fit the mould than Gravel bikes.

    1x seems to be part of the ‘gravel’ trend, whereas Euro CX bikes (Felt/Focus) and the cheaper Cannondale CAADX bikes all seem to come with 46/36 doubles.

    The new Giant Revolt Advanced looks good, it’s a racey gravel bike with a 48/32 double, but it has those funky Giant cable-to-hydraulic brakes which just seems like the worst of both worlds.

    Custom build Cinelli Zydeco it is then… 😎

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Subscriber

    Spesh Diverge here. Sub compact chains 46/34, 11-34 casette. Gives a nice low climbing gear, spins out in top at about 30mph at cadence of 90rpm. Check my user name, I don’t need to go any faster.

    I love road riding, and gravel bikes mean I can more often use off-road sections instead of A-roads to link up all the pockets of quiet, charming rural lanes.

    Very much this. I have routes out to the Cheshire lanes now which avoid the 4x4s on the roads around Wilmslow and Alderley Edge. I still have the original 30mm road tyres on which are pretty smooth but even so I’m amazed how well it does on moderate (even moderately muddy) off road. Oh and yes, the plan is to use it for some light touring too.

    mashr
    Member

    `<blockquote>kilo

    Subscriber

    Or you’d be daft to buy a gravel bike if you’ve no intention of bikepacking up a Scottish bog on a bike where the bars are higher than your shoulders, are more flared than the bay city rollers and you’ve got eight bottle cage mounting points on your forks alone ;). My next bike will still be cx biased</blockquote>

    You seem to have now made a massive jump to some weird epic bikepacking machine. A gravel bike, yesterday:

    <img src=”https://cdn-cyclingtips.pressidium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Giant-Revolt-Advanced-0-2019-gravel-bike-review-cyclingtips-1-1280×774.jpg&#8221; alt=”” />

    Sensible TT as no need for rapid shouldering
    Longer exposed seatpost will be more comfortable
    Larger than 33c tyres as standard
    More relaxed geometry for covering distances
    Will still make descents sketchy mess

    Seems like the right tool for the job most seem to be describing here

    daftvader
    Member

    Well I’ve been looking quite closely at the options. I will now be getting one…. I KNOW I will need to off my FS and Hybrid before I pull the trigger, but for bang for buck on a new bike, decathlon has everything beat! 😱 there will however be some good deals to be had on end of season stuff …. the search continues!

    My mrs has a decathlon hardtail, was less than 400 quid and is superb.

    plus one
    Member

    I convinced myself I needed/wanted one. Bought a space chicken fitted light wheels and some nice finishing kit. It was very light and very capable but after 8 months I realized i preferred my hardtail for mild off roading and sold space chicken on. It was getting used less and less.

    If you have touring/bike packing in mind yes it’s good idea.

    As for not venturing off road I’m happy to do small off road sections on my defy running 28mm tubeless

    fasthaggis
    Member

    When I first got in to motorbikes as a teenager, we were all in to our MX and fast Jap road bikes and would mercilessly take the piss out of BMW boxer riders. Big slow, weird looking things and the bikes were just as odd 😉 .
    Then I met two people touring Europe on R80GSs and one of them said “Beemers aren’t the fastest, best handling or look that stylish ,but they do a lot of things very well and we can go a lot of different places on them”. They then told me all about some of their multi-terrain adventures.
    Well in IMHO Gravel bikes at their best, are the BMWs of the bike world.
    CX?
    Tourer?
    Commuter?
    Road bike?
    Rigid MTB
    The lines are blurred.
    🙂

    gonefishin
    Member

    I’ve not long picked up a 2020 spec diverge as I got rid of my road bike and this is the replacement. It’s way more comfortable, but then the road bike never really fitted me, and the fatter tyres make riding on the minor roads much more comfortable. I’ve not ridden it off road yet, but hopefully this weekend, but the 1×11 set up is very low geared for road riding. I could fit a 2x option as the frame can take a front mech but to be honest I don’t think I’ll bother. The only thing I might change is a dropper seat post if I start to ride it offroad a lot.

    easily
    Member

    but for bang for buck on a new bike, decathlon has everything beat!

    Take a look at Planet X:
    https://www.planetx.co.uk/c/q/bikes/gravel-adventure-bikes

    Evans ‘Arkose’ also have a good rep as being value for money – especially if you can wait till the sales.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    CX?
    Tourer?
    Commuter?
    Road bike?
    Rigid MTB
    The lines are blurred.

    I think that’s mostly true. But personally I think “rigid MTB” is a less blurred line. I’d say MTBs mean flat bars and, as a result, quite a different approach to riding. Not that you can’t find framesets that will bridge that gap (the Disc Trucker is a great example: it’ll take 2″ knobby tyres easily and I’ve seen 26″ versions built up with flat bars which end up just like late 80s/early 90s MTBs) but I think broadly speaking you take your path when you choose the bars. Tyres too, but they’re a ten minute job to change; bars are more a case of making your bed and sleeping in it. I can’t fling a drop bar bike around rocks and roots like I can a flat-barred one; likewise there’s no way I’d choose flat bars for 200km+ of tarmac and gravel. Others might, of course…

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