bopApocalypse Show full post »
Zurichman wrote:
I ride a 2006 Lemond Victoirre which is a carbon/ti bike with a triple. It's a sweetheart of a bike and a climber for sure. I still have the stock wheels on it after around 20,000 miles even though the rear went out about 4000 miles ago 5-6 splits around the nipples. I found another used just like it at a LBS. My test tells me the big difference is in the wheel and in the spokes and the weight of the wheel  versus tires. The new wheel set that I had built up had the Saphim race lite aero spokes on it and yes you can tell a big difference. I still contend though that most people would get much better results from losing a few lbs off the engine to go faster. If you want blingy wheels/tires that is another issue. I try not to get too techy or read into things and just go out and ride my bike. I do know before I bought the Lemond Victoirre that 110 - 120 lb guys use to pass me on downhills because they had a better rear free wheel hub. On my rides now I have no problem at all passing riders that weight more than me and I weigh right around 200 lbs.


The original post is about using a 'gravel' bike as a road bike. It's pretty well established by the responses that it's certainly not bad and many prefer it over bicycles designed for road racing. Maybe the people doing the most spirited group riding or racing will be held back riding a cx/gravel bike with slicks, but most people will not. I DO ride competitively and have strong technical experience with bicycles, along with owning mid range and high end bikes.

Telling people that 110 lb riders go downhill faster than a 200 lb rider because of freewheel drag, that wider tires have more rolling resistance, that spokes and wheel weight are more important than tires, that anybody can tell a 'big difference' in speed due to using certain spokes and that a 'blingy' wheel and tire combo is only $'s all crap. Just stop. Having wrong information scattered throughout most forum threads makes it really hard for the beginners. As a self proclaimed newbie, you should understand how hard it is to get 'good' info from forums. Pay attention to the many people that provide evidence to support their claims. Try to get more hands on experience with your own equipment.  I love the enthusiasm and wish more people had it. I'm sure there's plenty of things you're extremely savy and knowledgeable with, but it appears you're still in the learning phase here. It's great that you are quick to ask questions and trying to learn.
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Bo - 

IT rather depends on whether you want slack geometry or not.  To pick a bike, you need to know what size tires you want, and how responsive you want.

People who ride a lot of road want a responsive bike.
People who ride a lot of trails want a stable bike.

What do you want?

Here are two quotes of the same bike (buy a roadie reviewer, and a packpacker reviewer:
1) Though impressively stable at high speeds, it’s somewhat reluctant to initiate turns and has to be muscled into corners. 
2) Steering speed: The Slate is designed around 66mm of trail. While the steering speed feels great on the road, a slower steering speed is preferable in rough, technical trail conditions, which is why I prefer the bike with a 3-5kg handlebar load. To optimise the steering speed for off-road use, I would slacken the head tube angle by about one degree to give it ~72mm of trail.

bopApocalypse wrote:
Finally starting my search for a new bike in earnest, and I feel like I've had a bit of a revelation:

Since I'm not racing on the road anymore, maybe get a 'gravel'/'adventure'/'latest-marketing-buzzword' bike that can cover what I had previously thought would be a quiver of 3+ bikes?

The maybe-unfortunate reality is that 90+% of the time, the bike will be used as a plain-old-road-bike, probably on 28s - so my biggest question is:

How bad (or not) is a bike that's built to fit 40c (or bigger) tires, going to be for normal road riding, on normal road tires?

Terrible?  No worse than a 15-year old aluminum Kona?  Not as good as a purpose-built road bike, but just fine for all but the most discerning bike owners?

Assuming that I'll be happy primarily using a gravel bike on the road, "what bike"?
My near-requirements are pretty short:
  • "aspirational" frame material - carbon fiber, maybe Ti.
  • clearance for 40c minimum.
  • disc brakes
My nice-to-have list is a lot longer:
  • Provisions for mounting front/rear racks
  • Bosses for fork-mounted bottle cages
  • Under-downtube bottle cage bosses
  • Double chainring (the Power2Max powermeter I've got on my road bike now will be going onto the new bike, so it'd be nice if I don't have to change more than just a BB)
  • SRAM doubletap preferred

My short list so far includes the Salsa Warbird, Niner RLT 9 RDO, Why Cycles R+, and Jamis Renegade.

Longer list includes the Specialized Diverge, Ridley X Trail, GT Grade, maybe 'cross bikes? (I've already got a CX race bike...)

Other bikes I should be looking at?  Recommendations?
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A little bit of an update:

I managed to find a Geo chart for the road bike I'm currently riding.  Based on the numbers, it's probably closer to a lot of the bikes on my list than it is to a modern road bike - HA in the 71-72 range, longer wheelbase and chainstays than anything on my list.  Biggest difference appears to be BB drop - based on their numbers (calculating from the nebulous 'BB Height'), it's less than 60mm of drop. Trail Donkey is 65, everything else I've looked at is 70+.

Somewhat driven by the reviews that chas mentioned, I also started looking at trail numbers (all calculated w/ 25c tire), and that's where I've started seeing some interesting trends...
One group of bikes - Diverge, Crux, Renegade - form a tight group of relatively low trail - 58-61mm.
Another group - Warbird, RLT, R+, Trail Donkey - have much more trail - 70-76mm.

It looks (still need to nail down the exact size I'm on, not to mention any changes the fork I've got may have caused) like my current ride sits pretty squarely in the middle - 65mm.

The new Diverge looks potentially promising, assuming I don't hate the "Future Shock" [rolleyes]
The new Crux, on the other hand, drops a lot of stuff that made the old one a conceivable option for some light adventure.  I can't deny that I love some of the new paint jobs though, but maybe an old one on sale would be a prudent option.
The Trail Donkey looks pretty interesting, but would definitely want to try that before I buy as it appears the most out-there geometry-wise.

My real conclusion?  I'm going to need to demo some bikes! [comp] and looking at numbers will only get me so far, any of these bike are clearly going to be a bit different than my current steed.
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Fully agree about the Crux - IMHO, the current model is much more appealing for a fast gravel bike...

Some ride review opinions in the below blog...  Unfortunately Jan doesn't give the value for the trail of the bikes he is testing - instead he talks about how the different amount of trail affects the ride and handling.

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This process that you are going through is almost exactly the same process that led me to the R+. I am very intrigued by the new Diverge as is my wife. Had I waited a year to buy a new bike I may have ended up on one.

My wife's team is sponsored by Specialized through our local shop and we are friends with everyone there. They have all ridden the new Roubaix with the future shock and all had positive things to say about it. Basically they said you don't really notice it until you get on another bike without it. They stated that you don't really notice any dive under hard braking either. Can't say I have ridden one with it but seems legit per them. I would take one out for a ride, but trying to stay away from the whole n+1 especially since I am planning to sell my current Roubaix and just go with an extra wheelset for the R+.

Keep us posted on your findings very curious as to what you end up on. Happy test riding.
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A bit more on the tire rolling resistance from Jan at Bicycle Quarterly and his Off The Beaten Path blog...

A couple weeks ago I would have agreed with Jan's questioning of the need for flat resistant tires, but last week I hit something which put a 3/4" slash across the tread of a very nice Vittoria Pro tire.  Fortunately it was the rear tire as it instantly deflated and I was riding the rim as I came to a stop.  So while I do agree with Jan that supple casing is key to a faster tire, when I'm not racing I think I'm going to opt for a stronger more cut resistant casing.

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