Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 87 total)
  • Kings Alfred’s Way gravel bike ..
  • Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    So the guide and the GCN boys have really pushed the gravel bike for this ride, but having just returned from a 3 day trip on my hardtail 29er with carbon forks and maxxis Ikon 2.35 tyres all I can say is that I am so glad I didn’t take the gravel bike. Riding some of the rutted and rocky descents on the drops of a gravel bike looked very precarious and certainly didn’t look like it would have been enjoyable.

    All I saw on the whole trip were newish looking gravel bikes and I got the impression a great many were road cyclists who have been watching too much GCN and went out and bought a gravel bike, when given the versatility of the 29er for bikepacking would have been a much better choice.

    Keen to hear from others as to what they think or did the gravel bike work for you.

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    Bit more of a challenge probably on a grav though. Maybe that’s why they are riding one over the mtb 🤷‍♂️ after all it’s not like it’s the HT550

    Premier Icon acsevens
    Full Member

    Agree with the OP – I did it over three days last weekend on a HT 29er and was really glad I wasn’t on a gravel bike.

    Yes it’s not exactly Whistler but the extra tyre cush and suspension were welcome on many occasions. Saw loads of pristine gravel bikes being nursed down some relatively tame sections.

    That said it was great to see so many riders out on all sorts of bikes – cycling uk have done a great marketing job.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    Saw loads of pristine gravel bikes being nursed down some relatively tame sections.

    Likewise.

    A 29er with fast rolling tyres are super quick on the road surface too so not sure why they have fallen out of fashion.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    My 29er setup

    It might look naff, but I was still able to hammer down the descents and aside from the climb with the steps climb every hill on the route AND no back pack!

    Premier Icon acsevens
    Full Member

    Buke

    You need bar ends for extra naff!

    Premier Icon singletrackmind
    Full Member

    Met a lady on day2 at qecp this morning.
    She wished she was on a mtb for the range of gears. Her lowest was 34.32, there was some pushimg going on.
    Looked to be running 38s so some forgiveness, rigid genesis.

    Premier Icon bigblackshed
    Full Member

    A 29er with fast rolling tyres………. so not sure why they have fallen out of fashion.

    Because they don’t have a new made up name. Should be called something like GnarTrack or maybe “bike”

    I’ve been reading the Cycling UK guide to King Alfreds Way, trying to work out whether to do it in one hit or make a few weekends out of it with more detours and site seeing.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Took my 29er, which still had 2.6 nobby nics on. I’m sure I was slower on the way up & on the roads, but the downs were a hell of a lot of fun. So much fun it got a bit rowdy a couple of times.

    I played tag with a group of guys on gravel bikes up Tan Hill, they smashed me up the hill by 10 mins, met them waiting at the bottom of the descent into Avebury. Not sure what they were waiting for, but I bet the descent was a bit sketchy unless they all had Sagan-like skills.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    trying to work out whether to do it in one hit

    I wild camped on the Ridgeway without any issues, had to camp in Thursley as I ran out of daylight and had to pitch at 930 pm. Some bigot took issue at 6am as her 6 dogs ran around me snarling whilst she told me it was highly illegal and filmed me on her camera. Third night some chaps in a pub told me it was fine to camp in the scouts garden of their club.

    The section between Goring and the South Downs it quite limited. Lots of private land and too many people who may take issue.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    Because they don’t have a new made up name

    I always called mine ‘gravelbeast’. Partly because it was the one I swapped my monstercross for.

    Yet also because the name seemed to fit, and that’s what I got the bike for – ie required an unroadly beast for mostly beasting around the beasty end of gravel.

    In addition to the smooth end, and also the road home

    Bringewood Chase is a two-faced place…

    Premier Icon curto80
    Free Member

    Did it over the BH weekend on my
    open Wide with 2.25 g-ones and loved every minute of it.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Rode a rigid 29er on 2.4 Rangers, was ideal. Gravel bike would be fine on 90pc of the route riding sections as a day ride but putting luggage on the bike and not wanting to go easy on the fun stuff, 29er was the right choice for me. Only had 4kg or so kit but that plus water and food is enough that the 29er justifies itself.

    Having said that I’ve ridden longer rougher stuff on a loaded gravel bike, was ok. Just depends on my mood or how I want to ride.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    Did it over the BH weekend on my
    open Wide with 2.25 g-ones and loved every minute of it.

    I’m curious as to how you found the descents on the South Downs Way. Descending on the drops is something that just feels far too alien having ridden a straight bar mtb

    Premier Icon curto80
    Free Member

    I’m probably not the best person to ask to be honest. The bit of the SDW between Winch and QE is my local playground and been riding it on dropbar bikes for years, back to when I had a Crosscheck with rim brakes and bar end shifters.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    The section between Goring and the South Downs it quite limited. Lots of private land and too many people who may take issue.

    Saw some pictures of folk camping on Frensham Common in the FB group, I guess it’s just luck of the draw.

    I failed to book anything in time, so my only option this BH was wild camp. SDW was no bother – a few folk by the trailside near me outside Exton after I’d had my dinner in the pub. Ridgeway was the same – didn’t even bother to hide, just kipped next to a bench just after sundown. Only people to come through was about 3:30am but I only stirred as they were flashing torches.

    Premier Icon jate
    Free Member

    I have a gravel bike and love it. However for (a mercifully bone dry) KAW last October I took my Solaris and it was spot on imho. Much faster & more fun on the descents and a lot more forgiving on the body. Interestingly a couple of mates did it a few weeks before us on gravel bikes. They are theoretically faster than us but we were a surprising amount quicker.

    Premier Icon Poopscoop
    Full Member

    Any of your guys done this loop in a day, or more than 24 hours in reality?

    Premier Icon curto80
    Free Member

    We did 2 overnight stops. Total time on the bike was 20 hours. Couple of the local club riders did it non-stop inside 24 hours:

    https://www.vcventa.co.uk/articles/17-king-alfred-way-in-under-24-hours

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    The section between Goring and the South Downs it quite limited. Lots of private land and too many people who may take issue.

    Saw some pictures of folk camping on Frensham Common in the FB group, I guess it’s just luck of the draw.

    I can see this becoming a huge problem, just looking at the sheer numbers of people jumping on the bikepacking bandwagon and the amount riding the KAW in the FB group. Locals are not going to like hoards of wild campers crapping all over the place!

    Premier Icon Poopscoop
    Full Member

    Do that many riders really need a dump on that sort of mileage? Constant peeing (in the name of hydrating) perhaps…

    Surely dogs relieving themselves is a far greater an issue? I’m a good lover by the way

    I’m not arguing here, just thinking aloud matey.😁

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    Do that many riders really need a dump on that sort of mileage?

    Most people I have seen riding it are doing it over three maybe four days, that’s a long time to “hold it in”

    Premier Icon wait4me
    Free Member

    I’m a good lover by the way

    in my experience you can get away with pretty much anything in that case.

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    Descending on the drops is something that just feels far too alien having ridden a straight bar mtb

    I always decend in the drops, it’s much more secure as you can grip the bars and still get to the brakes. If you perch on the hoods you can get shaken off and less power on the brakes. Drops also work great with a dropper post as you can get nice and low, but I’ve taken mine off for now and just run the saddle a tad lower when off-road.

    Premier Icon Onzadog
    Free Member

    If I were to use the 29er HT instead of the gravel, what sort of tyres would suit the 30mm ID rims? Feels like getting a fast enough tyre on it might be the limiting factor for me.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Free Member

    I’m doing the KAW in three weeks. I have a gravel bike but will take the mtb for this, probably fitted with Nobby Nics to keep it fairly fast rolling. My recollection of the Ridgeway (which I did on a fully rigid ancient mtb) was that I was pretty beaten up by the end of the ride, and as I’m not in a massive hurry, I’d rather have a suspension fork for comfort.

    Premier Icon Yak
    Full Member

    If I were to use the 29er HT instead of the gravel, what sort of tyres would suit the 30mm ID rims? Feels like getting a fast enough tyre on it might be the limiting factor for me

    Any 2.4 xc tyre would do. The Maxxis range do WT ones to suit. Eg Aspen 2.4WT.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    I can see this becoming a huge problem, just looking at the sheer numbers of people jumping on the bikepacking bandwagon and the amount riding the KAW in the FB group. Locals are not going to like hoards of wild campers crapping all over the place!

    That’s a fair point, but maybe it might be the catalyst for change in this country regarding camping. There is no reason what so ever for local authorities to not have small reserved areas for hikers and cyclists to wild camp. They have managed to do it in the US along the Great Divide route.

    I don’t think most cyclists “crap all over the place” the ones I meet all adopt the very strict “leave no trace”. If they have to wild poo then I am confident most will dig a cat hole and pack out their toilet paper. I’d say dog shit is a far worse problem.

    Premier Icon p7eaven
    Free Member

    If I were to use the 29er HT instead of the gravel, what sort of tyres would suit the 30mm ID rims? Feels like getting a fast enough tyre on it might be the limiting factor for me.

    I use Conti Race King 2.2 and like them well enough away from mud, but they may come up smaller of late.

    Bonty XR2 (R) and XR3 (F) worth a look?

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    Just done this over three days: Sunday dinner time to yesterday dinner time. Started/finished in Reading. Very steady pace to do that, 31hrs riding time

    As noted above, lots doing it on gravel bikes, some seemed fine at the handling others not so. There was a group of three who we did a tortoise and hare shuffle with. They were finishing in Winchester and said they wished they’d bigger volume tyres.

    We were on rigid 29ers which were more than adequate.

    bikes

    In the conditions – basically completely dry except for some very short mud baths – I’d have been happy doing it on a drop bar bike with something like 650b x 47c tyres. There are a couple of descents on the SDW that I thought might have been sketchy but for the rest of it no problem.

    Tyre wise I had a Vittoria Mezcal 2.6 up front and a very worn out Bonty XR2 on the back, so worn out it’s virtually a slick. The only bits I didn’t manage to ride were a handful of mud pits and a short steep ramp between Goring and Reading that’s mentioned in the guide. Never ridden in the area before so don’t know what things would be like with dampness or wet.

    We just wild camped. Even on the Reading to Farnham section there are lots of places you can just get off the track by a few metres and get out of sight. Then it’s the usual arrive late and leave early – we were on our way by 6am. As for going to the loo: grab a pub meal and use the facilities then.

    Premier Icon john_l
    Full Member

    I rode it in 3 days on my Jones back in October and decided that next time I’d do it on my gravel bike, just for a bit more speed on the road sections and don’t think I’d have been any slower elsewhere.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    So the guide and the GCN boys have really pushed the gravel bike for this ride, but having just returned from a 3 day trip on my hardtail 29er with carbon forks and maxxis Ikon 2.35 tyres all I can say is that I am so glad I didn’t take the gravel bike.

    One thought on this – when combined with ‘bikepacking’ ‘gravel’ is a far more relevant search term right now than MTB. If CUK presented it as a mountain bike route it might put some people off. It’s essentially a long old-school ATB route but in terms of publicity I expect the popularity of gravel and presenting it as accessible might have swung it, also that ‘MTB’ usually means people have a bike with suspension in mind. Could be wrong. It’s one of those routes where bike choice is marginal anyway. It’s only niche places like this where many of us have a rigid 29er in the shed.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Full Member

    I rode it in 3 days on my Jones back in October and decided that next time I’d do it on my gravel bike,

    ha! I’d been thinking that if/when I ride it, I’d take the Jones rather than my gravel bike. I’ve got creaky shoulders that complain on long rides. The Jones is comfier for longer, and has 2.35 G-One speeds on Crests at the moment. Might get round to my long-thought-about, never-done gnarwhal bodge, too.

    Premier Icon cromolyolly
    Free Member

    when combined with ‘bikepacking’ ‘gravel’ is a far more relevant search term right now than MTB. I

    Not to hijack but what I find interesting is that nearly all drop bar ‘not-road’ bikes come with mounts for a rear rack and fork mounts. The number of hardtails that have reat rackmounts is vanishingly small. Even smaller if you limit to steel. I’ve actually been vaguely looking for one. I notice lots of people on hardtails just use saddle rolls but the rear rack much improved versatility

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Another thought on gravel bikes on low-tech ‘ATB’ routes and how comfort x pace comes into all this. The Tour Divide is the longest well-known route on terrain that most would describe as gravel and most of the TD has a similar type of terrain mix to the KAW yet no-one has raced the Tour Divide competitively (or at all) on a gravel bike, they’re all on a 29er of sorts*. The hills aren’t as steep on the TD but they’re longer.
    You could ride KAW fast on a gravel bike if you could handle the lower comfort. Someone will do the KAW Double on a gravel bike. Sooner or later though we all hit a comfort limit that impacts our ability to ride fast and hold speed. For a fast or long days ride around the KAW there’s no doubt I’d want to be on a rigid XC 29er. A gravel bike would be fine for a 5 day ride as I’d not be hitting that comfort limit each day.

    *I think Mike Hall had raised the idea of a 650B gravel bike for a fast TD time – maybe he could have used a bike like that to go faster than he already had, as an outlier in this area he was a fair way out. I think it’d break most riders before halfway.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Good point on rack compatibilities @cromolyolly. Bikepacking gear might be assumed to be widespread but I still see a lot of people happily using racks.

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    I’d like to try the KAW on something like a Salsa Cutthroat since it was designed with rides like the TD & KAW in mind, in fact WITH the TD in mind. Dave Barter (DaveB on here) rode one when he did it. I thought Josh Kato rode one but it turns out he was on a Fargo – https://bikepacking.com/bikes/tour-divide-rigs-2019/

    Certainly when we were on the Ridgeway it did cross my mind that it was pretty similar to TD style riding.

    The point about this type of route is that any bike choice is a compromise:

    Full suss – way too much road. Be fine for the (very few) technical downhills.
    HT – great on the tracks, good on the tech downhills, so-so on the road
    Rigid 29er – good on the tracks, decent enough on the roads, OK if you pick your line on the tech.
    Gravel – great on the roads, good on the tracks, possible squeaky bum time on the tech.

    For me the rigid 29er hits the spot, hell the Solaris with rigid carbon fork as pictured above handled the HT550 so it’s certainly up to the job. One thing that might improve matters would be something like a Thudbuster seatpost to take the sting out of the hoof prints on the trail.

    Premier Icon cromolyolly
    Free Member

    @jameso – for lightweight bikepacking the saddle roll is more than adequate. Any kind of weight or longer distance/duration and the panniers reign supreme, IMHO. I actually find that for e.g. shopping runs with heavier items I really miss my panniers.

    Get cracking. Pinnacle ramin homage, steel obv. Full rack mounts. Modern geo (67° Head angle,17″ reach on a medium.75° seat tube. ) Like a Nordest Sardinha but without the import duties. I’ll even forgo my usual commission, just sort me out a discount on the first run.

    Premier Icon flanagaj
    Free Member

    Regarding the rear rack, that is why I had a custom 29er titanium frame made with rear pannier rack mounts. I actually found the Ortlieb low riders worked a treat on the rear and it also then means I have options for the future.

    Rear rack and panniers when I want to carry cooking gear and also more food / clothing OR go seat pack if I want to do a light weight trip without cooking stuff.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    If CUK presented it as a mountain bike route it might put some people off.

    They do don’t they?

    CUK-GPX/route linky

    Under “type of bike” it says “mountain bike” and they sort of recommend an MTB in the description without ruling out Gravel (or indeed touring) bikes…

    TBH I wasn’t aware of the route before seeing this thread, seeing as it passes through Reading (where I live) I might just have to have a crack at it sometime during the summer… I will have to do it on a gravel bike, as I no longer own a HT…

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