My wife and I bought hybrids this year, not really knowing what we wanted or how much we would ride. We did this for exercise as we were tired of the elliptical. Good news! I've logged around 1200 miles since the beginning of June. I did my first Century ride on August 18th, on my Specialized Sirrus hybrid.
Nice work! Hopefully your wife has been keeping active as well. I keep searching for a used one of those Sirrus' as a commuter as well.
With this said, I've done some group rides and mixed terrain rides and some road rides. I love the gravel, but it sucks on my current bike. So, this leads .e to some questions.
I'm leaning towards a Salsa Warbird. I am 6' 1" and 170 lbs, and Salsa says I should ride a 58cm. Honestly, the 56cm felt more like I was an extension of the bike, if that makes sense. Do you generally go by the manufacturers suggestion or with what just feels right?
It depends on a few things, but my initial thought would be 58 assuming your arms are proportional to your height. "Reach" tends to become one of the most important numbers when choosing a bike. I don't think you have a lot of baseline coming from a hybrid bike. My initial thought is kind of worthless without knowing you or looking at the Warbird's geometry chart.
The Warbirds are not very long (horizontally) and there's almost no difference in length between the 56 and 58....which is a little weird. It's just my opinion, but a 56 and 58 shouldn't have felt much different. A 1.5 mm difference in length should be imperceptible. The deciding factor here would be how low you want your handlebars. If you rode with 2-3 cm of spacers below the stem on the 56, you might as well get a 58 and ride with no spacers under the stem. The only 'real' difference between the 56 and 58 Warbird (according to their own sizing chart) is how tall the front of the frame is. The 56 with 25 mm of spacers under the stem and the 58 with no spacers under the stem only have 1.5 mm of difference otherwise. This is unique to the Warbird though. I have a couple 58 CX/gravel bikes and their reach is a full 10 mm longer than the 58 Warbird. That's why sizing numbers like '58' aren't very valuable. Learn your preferred reach and stack over time. Generally they should be pretty close between road bikes and gravel oriented bikes. As you get into more off-roading, we are seeing that longer reach and shorter stems is becoming more popular.
I had a bit of sticker shock with how much bikes cost. So, here's my thoughts. I enjoy the fundraiser roas rides. Id also enjoy the freedom of having a gravel bike because of the roads less traveled. Literally, I feel safer in these roads! So, buy the Warbird, and also an extra set of wheels/rotors/casette? I am looking at the Carbon Ultegra build, but the 2019 builds have been very hush hush. I can't find anything yet.
* Buy the extras ot just ride it on the road as it comes?
* Should I expect a noticeable speed difference between the road wheel and tires? I'm averaging 16 on longer rides and 17 on shorter rides on my hybrid.
* Who has suggestions on a road wheel/tire set?×
The extra wheels are a great idea, but it's an easy hole to fall into. I think I have 7 full wheelsets between 2 cx/gravel bikes right now. A gravel set and a road set makes sense. Something like a 28 mm tire will be 95% as fast as any road bike out there. Aerodynamic resistance is such a greater factor than rolling resistance at the speeds you're talking about, so I don't think you will "notice" a big speed difference between a road specific and gravel specific tire if they are both high quality. 1-2 mph with all else being the same except tires. Check out some of the builders that frequent here. Ol' Ritter is very reasonable and makes some cool stuff. A lot of wheel companies are selling hype and not much more. Builders know the ins and outs of making the best wheel for you and your budget. Generally you want rims with a minimum of 20 mm inner width, probably not much over 23 mm inner width, tubeless compatibility, and then spokes and hubs that fit your budget. Most hubs now have end caps that can convert to different sizes.
My last question is about components. What are your thoughts on electronic shifting for gravel riding? Looks cool, but comes with a price. Worth it?
Not worth it to me. I use it on my time trial setup, but I just can't bring myself to bother with it for road/gravel/cx. Sure it's cool, but not worth it. Say you're comparing mechanical ultegra to ultegra di2 on a new bike. You're paying roughly an extra $1000 for the di2. If you sell your mechanical, buy the di2 parts you need, you will probably only be out half that amount....but your bike is at least half a pound heavier and it still shifts basically the same. The only thing that might change my mind is if I get crazy and make an aero setup for a looong race like DK or similar. I had a 200k last year that I really would have liked to have tucked in for several spots or just have been in a different position. Being able to borrow my TT shifters, put aerobars on a CX bike and shift from multiple spots would be nice. I could drop the Roadlink and run an XT rear derailleur full time too...but I have never had a problem with drops or shifting with my current setup. Ooh, sorry...that got long. Anyhow, welcome to the forum and enjoy your riding!