midwestrider

I did some gravel riding this summer and absolutely loved it.  I used my steel framed, flat bar "frankenbike" with 35 tires that were intended originally for cyclocross.   Now I'm looking to get a drop bar bike for longer rides, and considering the options.  I'm also a bit hooked on off road bikepacking, and I really like the idea of self supported gravel touring (even though I haven't really done it).  While I might enter some local gravel races for fun and camaraderie, thats not going to be a huge focus, so I don't need an ultra-light speed king, and I'd rather have utility over super light weight.

So to my question, the 2017 Fargo is compelling for bike packing, but the Rival version has 27.5+ wheels with 50mm rims, stock. My understanding is that you wouldn't want to try and run a narrower gravel tire (say 40) on that wide of a rim, even if you could find a good 27.5 version.  I would also suspect that the bottom bracket would end up very low with that kind of set up.  Another option would be to buy the stock bike, and also purchase a set of 29" wheels capable of running narrower tires.  The price tag would end up just below $3k for that, and there might be better options for the same money.

There is a lower spec version of the Fargo that comes with 29" wheels, but its got several shortcomings with the overall spec, compared to other bikes, including quick release, instead of through axle.  Based on experience, I think the larger wheels work better with the through axle wheels.

Does anybody have experience or thoughts with/about the new Fargo that you'd be willing to share?  Does a 27.5" bike make any sense for gravel riding, or should I stay with the 700/29" platforms?  Is it possible to have a competent gravel bike that also tours well?  

It could be that I'm asking to much for a single bike, but it sure would be great to get one bike that could fill multiple roles.  I've already got a fat bike and a 29" hard tail MTB, and my wife is starting to doubt my judgement about the proper number of bikes one should own...

  

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ljsmith
Any time you are asking 1 bike to do multiple things you are going to have to make compromises.  A bike may be good at a lot of things, but not great in any one area.  For some people that is fine, for others its not.  I personally have tried to have bikes that do multiple things, I usually end up dissatisfied and end up buying a proper bike.  My wife, or people who come to my house and see all my bikes don't understand why I need so many bikes.  But there are worse things to spend money on, like gambling, drugs or alcohol.  At least bikes contribute to a healthy lifestyle and to me, anything that motivates you to ride more is a good thing.  Based on what you are looking for in a bike it doesn't sound to me like the Fargo is the bike for you.  A 27.5+ certainly makes no sense for gravel riding, it will just slow you down, and you don't need all that tire to ride gravel.  As you already figured, running narrower 27.5 tires is not going to work well on a 27.5+ bike.  It seems to me the Vaya, or the Cutthroat (if you have the money) would be more what you need.  
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Demian Sage
You'll get a million opinions on this kind of thing, but having owned a 29+ and a 2016 Fargo, I would say the 2017 Rival with two wheelsets would be about the most versatile bike you could own. Challenge with this sort of option though - how do you decide what to ride? You might never take those plus wheels off the thing, no matter the surface, or you might prefer the smooth, fast roll of a skinnier tire. For the money, that new Fargo with two wheelsets is a very attractive beast. I keep wondering if my 2016 X9 will fit 27.5+ wheels and tires - so I can have the very setup you describe. 

For what it's worth, I have played 'musical bikes' for about five years and the Fargo does everything I need and probably will need for some time. Do it!
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Smithhammer
midwestrider wrote:
Does a 27.5" bike make any sense for gravel riding, or should I stay with the 700/29" platforms?  


I don't think you'll find much advantage to 27.5+ for pure gravel riding. But it sounds to me like you are ideally looking for more than just a dedicated gravel bike, yes?

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Is it possible to have a competent gravel bike that also tours well? 

Absolutely. 

Demian Sage wrote:
....I would say the 2017 Rival with two wheelsets would be about the most versatile bike you could own. 


Agreed. You could do a lot of different things with that bike and two wheelsets. If you're thinking you might want to try bikepacking on rougher terrain, the 27.5+ will be the ticket. 

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I keep wondering if my 2016 X9 will fit 27.5+ wheels and tires - so I can have the very setup you describe. 


You should be able to fit a 27.5+ tire on a 2016 Fargo. Not sure about a 3.0" in the rear (you might have to stick with 2.8") but it's do-able. You just won't have the Boost spacing that the new Fargo offers, if that's a factor for you. 
Unlearn pavement.
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