NilsT
Hi there, 

I am a race bike owner who is getting more and more intrigued by the gravel scene. I've been searching the web a lot recently and that only fueled my hunger to buy a gravel bike. 

Since there is so much choice and I don't have any experience with gravel bikes I'd like to use your knowledge and experience. I would use the bike for commuting, gravel riding and light bike packing. Since I live in Belgium the gravel roads aren't that raw here compared to other countries. 

I would like a comfortable bike that is still quite fast (not to heavy and rigid) but not too aggressive either. Plus the bike has to be suited for some bike packing adventures. I hope that narrows it down a bit...

Which bike would you recommend?

Thanks a lot in advance!!
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spencegill
What's your budget?
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NilsT
2500 tops
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owly
What's the bike model and frame size you ride? Are you happy with its fit?
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Zurichman
$2500 might get you into a carbon bike. I like 2x and for sure you should be able to get hydro brakes in that price range. I kind of like the Jamis Renegade even though I never bought one but don't know their price range. You might have to buy used to get what you call a fast bike/light in that price range. Good luck

Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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NilsT

@owly I ride a Canyon Endurance CF 7.0, size M. In general I'm happy with its fit, although size S would've been better, bought a shorter stem and now it's okay.

@Zurichman Yeah, in that price I'll not get a super fast/light bike. I'm searching for a combination of comfortable and "fast". Since it would be more for fun, exploring roads I usually don't take.. But I'm also a sportive rider who likes to accelerate now and then. I'll check out the Jamis Renegade!

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owly
NilsT wrote:
2500 tops
 

Could you bump that up a bit? 

Had a bit of a look around. The top-end 2020 Fuji Jari carbon 1.1 is 2700euros at bike-discount.de  

Personally I'd prefer a threaded bb if possible, which that frame has. 

2x. Lots of mounting points. Pretty good tyre clearance. Front end geo of the Medium is a touch lower than your Canyon. Reach is 370mm so that should suit pretty well. 

Low weight frame. 

The 2x alu frame is also available there for 1850, which has an additional bento box mount. Coming from your carbon Endurace though I'm not sure if you'd be ok with an alu ride.


The other threaded bb bike with a good starting frame weight is the Ribble CGR-SL carbon. The 2x Ultegra build is in your budget I think. However the front end is longer and lower than your Endurace fit.
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AlanEsh
Don't worry about frame material, just get a bike that can fit fluffy tires and enjoy the ride.

Figure out what kind of rack system you want. If you truly want to haul bike packing gear, the mount points on the bike will be important.

If you're using it as a commuter, get a bike with fender mount points.

Salsa Journeyman is a very capable bike for what you're asking and won't set you back terribly. If you like it you can upgrade the wheels and still be within your budget. 
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chas
Well, you could read this.

My first questions always are:
What is the biggest tire you will reasonably use?
Do you want more of a stable endurance type of bike, or a more aggressive agile bike (more like a road bike).

As for European bikes
You are familiar with Canyon.  Their Aluminum Grail is one of the top rated bikes and a great value - if you can find it in stock.
Ribble CGR looks interesting, and you can get that in just about any frame material you want.  ;-)

Raleigh made some great bikes here (until recently)  Tamland/willard/roker.  I think in your part of the world its called the mustang.

I gotta say, the Polish Rondo looks quite interesting...
https://www.bikeradar.com/reviews/bikes/road-bikes/rondo-hvrt-cf0-review/

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NilsT

@owly 
Thanks for the advice. It doesn't have to be a carbon fram per se, alu frame would also do the job. I have to say that I like the Fuji bike! Very neat bike and a lot of mount options.
The Ribble looks more a gravelracer but is very sharp priced!

@chas 
I would go for 40mm tires I guess, but would like to option to go until 45 maybe. Having the ability to go wider is always a plus. I'd prefer more a stable endurance type of bike that is still "lively".
True, read only great thing about the Canyon Grail. Would consider another brand though, to try something else you know 🙂
Will check the Raleigh Mustang.
I've indeed read a lot of positive things about the Polish Rondo, they have this adjustable geometry which seems cool as well!

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chas
That adjustable geometry sounds cool, but the more I think about it - its probably a set and forget kind of thing.   People are pretty adaptable, and after 10 minutes you've adjusted to the geometry.

Trail and Wheelbase seem to be the biggest items in my experience.   

My fixed gear bikes, I can move the wheelbase a fair bit, but I've never really noticed the difference (although I'm not going sideways on those bikes).

I can change my trail by about 12mm+ by changing tires (going from 32mm to 54f 40 rear).  It does slow down the handling a bit which is nice, but its still a pretty lively bike.  It is a noticeable change.  

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owly
Another option could be the 2020 Specialized Diverge Sport 105 carbon. Press fit bb.  
Geo would be good for you at 574/367 (52cm). Has a lower standover than the Jari.  

Should be able to find a 52cm Diverge in a local shop to test ride. 


Here's another option: Dolan GXC carbon. 572/371 (54cm). Press fit bb. Online order only, however there are quite a few drivetrain build options in the bike builder, including compact crank options. Pricing comes out fairly good. Looks like no fork mounts but there are plenty of other mounts including bento mount. Lots of pics of the bike. Custom colours available though adds a bit to price.
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smoothmoose
Honestly there are two bikes that got my attention recently in around that price point.  Both have more progressive geometry but one is carbon and other recycled stainless steel:

Carbon: Devinci Hatchet Rival
Steel: Bjorn Bikes
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NilsT
@chas I agree with you
@owly 
thanks for the suggestions, although Specialized is overpriced for what they offer. You pay more because of the brand status. I'll check out the Dolan!

@smoothmoose 
Good suggestions, will check them out. The Devinci looks really neat, don't know to brand to be honest. You have any experience with their bikes?
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Zurichman
NilsT You haven't heard much about the Devinci because it is a Canadian built bicycle Company. I did look at the bike and it looks sweet. I think they have been around a long time and it's one of those Companies that has done research/ridden their bikes opposed to some of the new Companies just coming into the market. Read some about the Company on their site.

Good luck
Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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NilsT
Indeed, they also have an offroad background so that's a big plus. Btw anyone experience with the brand Kona, they have some nice gravel bikes as well. Another Canadian brand if I'm not mistaken
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smoothmoose
NilsT wrote:
@chas I agree with you
@smoothmoose 
Good suggestions, will check them out. The Devinci looks really neat, don't know to brand to be honest. You have any experience with their bikes?

NilsT wrote:
Indeed, they also have an offroad background so that's a big plus. Btw anyone experience with the brand Kona, they have some nice gravel bikes as well. Another Canadian brand if I'm not mistaken


Both Devinci and Kona have long legacy in mountain biking starting from the 1990's and are larger brands than a lot of the gravel specific brands.  Devinci is from Quebec, Canada while Kona is from Washington state, USA.

One of the unique things about Devinci is they source their aluminum locally in Canada and build *most* of their alloy frames in Canada.  That said it looks like their carbon is from offshores and they are starting to make some alloy frames off-shore as well.
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Chogolicious
Hi Nils,

I've got a Felt Breed 30 on order. You might check on those. 

https://eu-en.feltbicycles.com/products/breed-30-2020

Breed 20 is SRAM Force build.
Breed 30 is Shimano GRX 600/800 build

The price is right and IMO a lot of bike for that price.
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NilsT

@Chogolicious 
Wow, very interesting. Looks nice and like you say difficult to find a bike with these specs for that price! Will check some reviews 🙂 

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Chogolicious
Yeah, I was hoping to have mine by now to throw some reviews and pics up here.

I like that it has room for basically any wheel and tire combo, plenty of mounts, threaded BB, etc. 
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gijoewest
I know the Diverge was already dismissed because of the perceived price premium for Specialized. However, I got a pretty good deal on a 2019 carbon / Ultegra model. Honestly, as I was shopping around, Specialized seemed like the only brand -- in my area -- with any willingness to work with me on price. In the end, I felt like I did pretty well (value-wise). Rides like a dream. No 45mm tires though. I almost didn't buy due to the tire size, but had to be honest w/ myself and acknowledge 45mm wasn't really going to be my thing. For me, my rides are on mostly crappy asphalt to smooth dirt or gravel roads of varying degrees of maintenance. Doubt I'll do any bikepacking, and I have both HT and FS MTB for the singletrack. So 38mm feels great, and I "could" go up to 42mm if I want--or 650b.

Note: the carbon / Ultegra is slightly out of your stated range, but the Carbon / Shimano 105 should be reachable.
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NilsT
Hi guys, in the end I chose for a Rondo Ruut AL. Beautiful bike with generous tire clearance (bought it with 43mm tires), enough mounts and good specs for a reasonable price. I've done just 3 rides but I'm quite impressed. Offroad the bike really comes to live!
It's not the most agressive bike but didn't try the LO-geometry. I'll post some pictures later.
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chas
Uh, oh.  That was my suggestion.  Some day I have to ride one - certainly looks like a fun bike.  Interested to hear your impression of the variable geometry when you get more seat time.
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