El Train
What do you look for in a gravel bike? What don't you like now that you would do different next time? After a few thousands of miles on a Redline Conquest Disc frame from a few years ago I often think about my next rig. 

Must Have:
  • All top-tube cable routing. My current rig has the front shift cable on the down tube and it always gets munged up. This is a no compromise item for me in the future. I don't see why any bike that is meant to be ridden in dirt would ever be designed any other way. This eliminates many many bikes. Even with full length housing they still catch a ton of crud (and ice if its cold enough)
  • Disc. Because mountain biking.  So much easier to work on, adjust, and replace pads. And they work way better. 
  • At least 70mm BB drop. This is the sweet spot and less drop seems less stable to me in loose conditions. This rules out a number of bikes that otherwise seem good. Kona CX bikes for example. 
  • "40mm tire clearance". Actual clearance seems always less than claimed, especially as rims get wider. With claimed 40mm clearance, you may have room for 38c and some mud. 
  • Non-proprietary standards: like Specialized weird rear hub deal. I want as much parts interchangability as possible. 
  • Front derailleur. There are some steep as hell roads and trails around me. 1x isn't happening for this clyde. 
  • Decent paintjob/colors/design. There are a lot of really bad looking bikes out there. 

Would like
  • 3rd bottle mounts under down tube. I live in Montana and in 90+ degrees on a long ride, water doesn't last long. 

Dont Care About: Frame material. Last on my list of importance. With big cushy tires, I could care less what my frame is made out of. 

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I'm in the process of searching for a new gravel bike too. Besides the stability factor, two key factors are tire width, through mid-40's minimum, and compliance (the back doesn't take to getting beat-up on long rides like it used to). Haven't settled on a material, but primarily focusing on carbon and steel frames, from established manufacturers but also custom frame builders.
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I picked up a used 2013 Specialized Crux Evo that I am really liking.
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I just got a two year old carbon foundry that was pretty afforadable seeing that they came with 105 componets on them but i will be looking to upgrade some parts and so far i really like the full carbon feel. it seems to soak up some of the chatter and tracks pretty good, I'm running 40's on it
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Any thoughts on chainstay length?
I'm thinking I like stays around 430mm, although most of my rides are in the 20-30 mile range. The 450mm range may be better for all-day rides?
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