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...