RadDogRoadWarrior

I have a personal spin on this well worn topic.

I love the gravel bike I bought for my son and need to stop stealing it.

The plan was to get myself a dedicated Gravel bike (I have a road bike) but the more I ride the gravel bike the more I realize that I love the gravel trails....but I want to go further offroad.

I tried taking the gravel bike into the more difficult stuff but was soon overmatched by giant holes, sharp pieces of tree stumps and even steel, lots of metal. Even if I were younger the gravel bike would get eaten alive it was so rough.

Really, this was something best suited for a full squish, but I don't like suspension.

I really like gravel bikes because they are fast, I can power along at 15 plus mph on dirt/gravel whereas I could not keep that pace on a dedicated MTB.

I was thinking that a carbon fiber hard tail 29er might be the best compromise, but I would love to hear the opinions of others.

 

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EBG18T

Or drop down to 650c run a 50 and a Lauf or MRP Baxter on the front then go rock it. 


I find myself running my Ti hardtail (w/dropper post) & 120mm travel fork using 29x2,3 tires more and more over my carbon full suspension bikes. If I know I’m hitting certain trails with a particular group my full suspension comes out. Otherwise I am really enjoying doing less aggressive XC trails on my hardtail. Once my new gravel frame gets here the Ti hardtail will be relegated to backup duty. 

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chas

I do fall gravel road training rides with mountain bikes (Cross country mountain bike race training) with riders who are faster than me (well, they would be if we were on the same bike).  I’m using a 17lb Gravel bike (actually a CX bike) with 54mm tires on the front end.

 

My bike climbs faster, and is much faster on, a slight downhill.  This is due to gearing (I’m 2x), weight (especially tires/wheels) and Aero.  Just on the rolling stuff in a pack, its probably not much different.   Because my bike is the opposite of long/low/slack (it is very short), it doesn’t drift and doing single track at 20-25mph with hard tails really keeps me on my toes. 

So, if your not sprinting, there really isn’t a lot of difference on a gravel road (well, going into a head wind on a hard tail isn’t great either).  A good hard tail can be a fast bike for mixed use.

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RadDogRoadWarrior
EBG18T wrote:

Or drop down to 650c run a 50 and a Lauf or MRP Baxter on the front then go rock it. 


I find myself running my Ti hardtail (w/dropper post) & 120mm travel fork using 29x2,3 tires more and more over my carbon full suspension bikes. If I know I’m hitting certain trails with a particular group my full suspension comes out. Otherwise I am really enjoying doing less aggressive XC trails on my hardtail. Once my new gravel frame gets here the Ti hardtail will be relegated to backup duty. 



To be clear, you are suggesting running a suspension fork on what would otherwise be a gravel bike.....interesting.
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EBG18T


To be clear, you are suggesting running a suspension fork on what would otherwise be a gravel bike.....interesting.


keep in mind a Lauf Grit or MRP Baxter is very short travel & specifically designed around the gravel/adventure arena of 700c wheels. I’m putting a Lauf Grit SL on my new grinder frame to take more of the edge off.
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RadDogRoadWarrior

Is it possible to run a suspension fork on 700 tires?

Edit: I see the the Lauf is exactly that.

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EBG18T

Is it possible to run a suspension fork on 700 tires?

Edit: I see the the Lauf is exactly that.



lauf Grit, MRP Baxter & Fox Stepcast are designed for 100mm hub spacing (non-boost) with proper AC & rake. They are limited travel solutions for gravel (road based) bikes.
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RadDogRoadWarrior

Yes but they are really sweet looking. I really do need suspension for where I want to go, I just hate giving up the speed of a gravel or CX bike.

My budget for the whole bike (if hardtail 29er) is $1200...there are some deals on pretty well sorted bikes. There is a Carbon with Deore for $999 but it has a junk crank and the 10 speed parts might be hard to replace. I am biased towards deore because I had it decades ago and it was super durable.

I have the entry SRAM Apex 1 11 on my sons gravel bike and I really like it. Decent shifting and never drops a chain. I doubt it is as durable as deore. There is a carbon 29er with the full SRAM Apex driveline for $1200. The advantage would be, if I liked the bike, I could upgrade to higher level SRAM.

If I were to go for a Gravel Bike with front suspension, since the suspension is already $1k it would be a waste to put it on a cheap bike.

That would be an expensive long term project. I would lean Titanium and near top of the line SRAM. With front suspension that would probably be a $5k project, but that would be a dream bike.

I am very familiar with the fit of the Motobecane frames, I have 2.

 

 

 

 

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EBG18T

Sram Apex is pretty solid. I’ve serviced a ton of bikes with it, very few issues. I just hate bleeding SRAM brakes.

Deore is the hold over 10 speed stuff in an 11-12 speed world.

You can find a Lauf Grits ‘slightly used’ for $600, Or new MRP Baxter’s for $499. 

Did you ponder the idea of dropping to 650 & going 50 Add suspension later?

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RadDogRoadWarrior

Great suggestions everyone. I want to stay with the larger wheel regardless. Since it is possible to put suspension on a gravel bike (as I have learned here) I am thinking maybe I will go the gravel bike to eventual suspension.

Def something to ponder. I do like the hand options that come with drop bars and even if I went with a 29er I would probably run tires no larger than 2-2.25.

I have a road bike, ideally I want a gravel and MTB. In the near future my budget limits me to only 1 choice.

I did just slap a nice pair of platform peddles on my sons gravel bike.

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Angstrom
For years my "gravel bike" was a steel hardtail 29r with 2x gearing and fast XC tires(Conti RaceKing Protect).  Did dirt-road rides up to 60 miles with no problem plus more off-road riding.  I cut the bars down to be narrower and swapped on a more flexible seatpost.  I found that Ergon-style grips with the added palm support worked well.

When I was doing mostly dirt roads, I swapped on a rigid fork.  The suspension fork bob on climbs was annoying, even with lockout, and the fork didn't help much with small fast washboardy chatter bumps.  The 2.3" tires were doing all the work.  When I got another gravel bike the suspension fork went back on.

I've got a drop-bar bike now for the mixed-surface riding I do most, but for rougher stuff I still prefer the flat-bar bike.  I've often thought that flat bars plus aero extensions might be a good setup for trails linked by roads.
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RadDogRoadWarrior

Thanks guys. I keep going back and forth, but the decider will probably be price and weight. If I can get a light enough hardtail, sub 25 lbs for cheap then that is the way to go.

MTB's are so much cheaper than gravel bikes right now. The Deore kitted (mostly) $1k hardtail is carbon with a heavy crank (hence the cheap price). If I swapped out for a carbo or hollowtech crank and built some wheels I could really get the weight down and do so for around $1700.  

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ccand51997
I've gone through 5-6 iterations of my gravel/all-road bike since I started.  I think I have the final configuration now in a dual-suspension drop bar bike with a 700c rear/650b front wheel configuration (with aero bars).  During the summer when the sand/dust is at its worst then I run a Thunder Burt up front with a Conti Raceking in back.  That bike glides over high speed flat riding, bombs down hills and mountains and frankly, I suspect that it climbs better than the hardtail it replaced on all but the smoothest trails or paved roads.  
A year ago, I thought my bike (essentially the same bike without rear suspension) was the perfect bike, but now I regret not trying dual suspension earlier.  
I race some fire road events a few times a year and I suppose some folks would be horrified at the idea of a 30-pound all-road bike, but that is because people think weight matters much, much more that it actually does. 
Of course, if you ride much more regularly graded roads than I do, suspension may not be necessary, but where I live, I would not ride without it. 
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