KrKAlex
Hi everybody,

I am Alex from France but I currently live in Munich, Germany, for my Ph.D in Materials Science for Aerospace. I am 24 years old and started cycling "seriously" (i.e. more than only for commuting) 3 years ago when I had an ACL injury. It helped me a lot to recover. I was doing only road bike. During this time, I also learned a lot on bikes as I was a member of an association that was recycling old bikes and from it putting new bikes on wheels to sell it for a bargain in order to help people who wants to commute by bike in my hometown (Lyon, France) and I was also working a little bit on mines. That's it for the background.

Now the project. This is a long post, but I like to give a lot of details and I am keen on asking questions to fill my curiosity and my willingness to learn. I tried to divide in parts my post, and to make it the easiest to read possible.

Why ? I am interested in building a gravel as around my place and the south of Munich until Austria in general there are a lot of tracks I'd like to discover. Moreover, I work 20 km away from my place which takes me 55 minutes by public transportation, 20 by car but I avoid using it to reduce my carbon  footprint (this is something I do care). Commuting to work is also one motivation. On my way, I have to cross 10 km of forest, with unpaved path so this is another reason why I want to get a gravel bike.

What ?
Here is the interesting part I guess. This goes as well with the budget. I am quite short on budget as I recently got a car, the cost of life in Munich is quite high and I am also the kind of guy that like to get serious into something before getting the best gears and stuff. Obviously, cycling is more related to the material you have than other disciplines and it is always good to have a very good bike as it is something you cherish, but I am not yet there financially speaking. I would say that my budget is a low 1000€, but I already have helmet, cycling shoes, clothes for cycling so 1000€ dedicated only to the bike. I stared around to evaluate what is the market today, and the cheapest bikes from brands (Specialized, Trek, Canyon, etc.) are too expensive and also sometimes use low-end groupsets which is something I would like to avoid.
From your point of view, what is the lowest group you would use on a gravel bike ? I only have experience with Shimano, and would like not to go below 105 (not over neither) but maybe I am wrong and the Tiagra could work well)
For the frame, in my price range only 2 options are available : either Aluminum or Steel (including CrMo, etc.) I do not know if you guys know Decathlon, but they released 2 gravel bikes based on a road frame they have for 1000€ :
The 2 gravels are 1000€ whereas the road one is 850€. I was thinking that apart from the groupsets, the wheels will one day be changed so why not taking the 150€ "discount" and keep this money for future buy like a proper handlebar and wheels for gravel and in the meantime only putting gravel tyres. I like these bikes because they are ok from the groupsets POV (even though I have no idea what the SRAM Apex is equivalent to as it is the lowest end from SRAM), frames are under warranty for your whole life, and Decathlon has a good quality of frame usually. What I doubt is the maximum tyre you can use are 36 mm which might be small for some cases even though I am not planning to use my gravel on super uneven path so this might be sufficient. And the last point is I am not building my own bike, at least for the first months. afterwards I'll for sure bring some upgrades/updates to it. 
Before I jump to the second option, what are your thoughts about that ? 

The second plan is to buy parts and build the bike myself selecting the components I want. I have read that this does not get cheaper as bike sellers have discount by buying in big quantities form the components suppliers. But it can get cheaper is you plan to replace some components from a bike you buy. Anyway. For this part, I tried to look around what are the frames made in France or Germany (I like to support local business even though I know the tubes does not always come from the region). With my budget I cannot buy a custom frame but a standard one is possible. Something like this at 600€ for frame + fork in CrMo Steel. Or from the well known Bombtrack, the Arise which stands in the same range of prices (~600€ frame + fork). Do you guys have any recommendations ? I did not find a lot of others, it is quite hard I guess.

For the rest, I think the groupset will be link to the question I raised previously, the handlebar, wheels and tyres will also come while discussing the project with you. I hope you guys will like to give me some help to get my first gravel Ã°Å¸ËœÆ’.

Once again, sorry for the long post and the possible English mistakes.

Cheers,
Alex

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chas

I have always heard and used 105 or Ultegra – but I read lately that Tiagra has gotten pretty good.  So, I guess I wouldn’t discount that if I found a bike I liked.

I’ve had a lot of fun on my old Aluminum CX bike.  It was stiff, but a good seat post and good tires make it a comfortable all day ride for me. 

In general, 36mm should be OK for where you are riding.  In the US, they tend to put down gravel that is about 2-3cm in size, so a 40mm tire works well.  I tend to ride on 32mm in the summer when things are dry and more consistent.   It looks like that could be a good way for you to save 150€.  Is the geometry the same?  

(That is a lot of typing in English – I wouldn’t want to type that much in French or German (its hard enough just using a French keyboard, LOL.   Sometimes I use a German keyboard – But as there is a ‘y’ in my name – I have to be careful there too.)

MfG, Charles

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KrKAlex
Hi Charles, thank you for your answer.

Yes, It is already painful to go from the French keyboard to the German one and I am also used to the Qwerty keyboard English speakers use. It is sometimes a mess in my head.. Ã°Å¸ËœÂ±

For the Triban bike, the geometry is exactly the same. Only the painting, the handlebar and the tyres change. If you think 36mm is enough, I believe you (I don't have experience with offroad tyres). I read as well that switching to 650 tyres can allow you to go until 42mm tyres. I don't really know why though.

Do you think the best option is to go with the Triban bike rather than buying a framesets (like the Bombtrack for instance) and building my own bike ? At least this is what you would recommend. 
What is bothering me is that the Triban bike is not using full groupset from Shimano 105. The crankset and the chain are non-series. And in my area (Munich, Germany) it can be hilly so using the other version 1x11 Apex1 can be a limitation I guess

Thank you for your feedback Charles!

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djj8
You may want to check out the Sonder Camino Al Apex 1.  Right around your price range and has consistently positive reviews.  I ride the Apex 1x group on my Salsa Warbird and have no complaints with it.  Heavier than SRAM Rival or Force, but consistent and reliable shifting. 
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chas

Generally, you can get a similar gear range on 1x as with 2x if you really want to.  But if you do that, there will be larger jumps between gears.  I think 1x is ok if you ride by yourself, but 2x can be pretty important if you ride in groups (where you can’t just go your own speed) or if you are sensitive to cadence. 

 

Most of my German biking has been in Saarland or Luxembourg, and 32 - 36mm would be fine there.  Provence – maybe I would want something a little bigger (its so dry and rocky).

For 650b – often (not always) the front fork and rear chain stay are V shaped.  Thus, if the wheel is smaller (or actually the wide part of the tire) – then the tire is in a fatter part of the “V” giving you a little more room.  (this does not work on my bike with parallel rear chainstays that flare out near the hub).

 

In my experience building your own bike gets expensive as buying a prebuilt bike seems to have a large discount on the components.   

 

I rather like Canyon.  In Germany you can get the Grail 6.0 (Tiagra) for 1.199,00 €,  7.0 (105) for 1.499,00 € or even an Inflite for 1.599,00 € .   (2018 Best Price/Performance (aktivRadfahren 11-12/18)  (RennRad 11-12/18)).  That is something to benchmark against.  Either way, make sure you get hydralic brakes and tubeless compatible wheels. 

 

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chas
you would get more replies if this was moved to the  "bikes" sub-forum.
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KrKAlex

Thank you djj8 and chas for your answers.

I think I will have a look at already built bike as I calculated how much it will cost me to build my own one with a 105 hydraulic groupset I am already at 1200€ without handlebar, wheels and tyres so I guess this is not worth it. 

Ok, I understood for the tyres, it makes sense. 

I am having a look at your bikes, I must say that the Canyon have a very good reputation here and I do like the bikes. I do not know the Sonder brand, but the geometry looks more relaxed than the Canyon, am I wrong?

Unfortunately I am not able to move the post to the "bikes" sub-forum, maybe an admin could do it?

Alex

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HollyBoni
KrKAlex wrote:
I think I will have a look at already built bike as I calculated how much it will cost me to build my own one with a 105 hydraulic groupset I am already at 1200€ without handlebar, wheels and tyres so I guess this is not worth it. 


Financially it's never worth it to build a bike. If you have a bunch of parts already it might be worth it, but if you're starting from zero, it will always come out more expensive than a complete bike. Even if you only build from used parts, you'll be able to get a better deal if you look at complete used bikes. 
Building bikes is fun, and owning a custom bike is sweet (i've built my current bike from the frame up) but if you're on a budget, only look at complete bikes. 
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chas
In general, the Canyon Grail is not super relaxed - its kind of similar to an endurance road bike (in contrast to some gravel bikes that get similar to mountain bikes if they are real relaxed).  I have an Inflite, which is the opposite of relaxed.  It does fine on a tight road race if I want it to.  

Raleigh makes some good relaxed gravel bikes that are reasonably priced (especially if you find one at a discount.
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KrKAlex
Thank you HollyBoni for your answer. From all your advice, I am going to buy a complete bike.

It is fine for me the Grail being not so relaxed. The Inflite is more a CX bike, I think the Grail AL 7.0 is very good for my purpose because I have read CX bikes bring a big advantage when you have to do tight curves as well as going from 0 to 20 km/h very fast but it loses some of its interest while riding "longer period" at the same speed. Is it right or it is simply the theory but in the end the experience is almost the same?

I asked Canyon but apparently the Grail 7.0 is not available anymore, I do not know when they will have new stock. Maybe I will have to wait for the 2020 bikes ?
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chas
Yes, I have heard that the Grail is often out of stock.

KrKAlex wrote:
T The Inflite is more a CX bike, I think the Grail AL 7.0 is very good for my purpose because I have read CX bikes bring a big advantage when you have to do tight curves as well as going from 0 to 20 km/h very fast but it loses some of its interest while riding "longer period" at the same speed. Is it right or it is simply the theory but in the end the experience is almost the same?
?

That is true.  On the Inflite, I’m a little more bent over  (aero) (lower stack) compared to the Grail.  After 5+ hours that starts to get old.   The Grail will be a little better at going in a straight line and more stable through a fast turn.  Generally speaking, the Inflite will be more agile (and in some situations, faster), while the Grail will be a little more comfortable and stable.

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KrKAlex
Ok Chas, thank you for your answer. I am waiting for Canyon to answer to my contact form if they know when they will have some more Grail. I will keep you informed 🙂
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KrKAlex
Canyon came back to me saying that they do not know when hey will get the Grail 7.0 in stock again, and that I have to wait until they notify me through their mailing list. I do not know how long it can take.

In the meantime, I look around for other bikes, and I have came up with the Specialized Diverge E5 Comp 2019 available in 54 and 56 (I am 179cm and 86 cm inseam) so it should be between these 2 sizes. As well as the Felt F30X Cyclocross available in 55.
What do you guys think about these bikes ?
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chas
Those two are kind of different.  is kinda low and slack.  The Felt looks to be a little more agile.   The thing that stood out to me riding a divirge was that the BB was so, so low (85mm vs 65mm on the Felt).   This made the diverge feel a little slow to accelerate to me, and made me concerned about pedal strike.  But for some, that is a worthwhile trade off to make a bike a little more stable in fast and loose downhill situations.  
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Zurichman
chas wrote:
In general, the Canyon Grail is not super relaxed - its kind of similar to an endurance road bike (in contrast to some gravel bikes that get similar to mountain bikes if they are real relaxed).  I have an Inflite, which is the opposite of relaxed.  It does fine on a tight road race if I want it to.  

Raleigh makes some good relaxed gravel bikes that are reasonably priced (especially if you find one at a discount.


I wouldn't count out the Raleigh if you can find a dealer there or if they have shipping to Germany. I have a Tamland 1 and a Roker Comp that they don't make anymore. I know they have a Raleigh race bike in England that can't be bought in the USA but I don't remember the model. The Tamland 1 has the 105 group set and is a lot of bang for the bike buck.

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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pkram
Just over two years ago I was looking for my first all-road/all-purpose/adventure bike.  My budget was just over EUR1000, but was looking at the similar bikes.  I ended up buying a Tiagra build aluminium bike.  Here are a few things I have learned from this purchase:

The Tiagra groupset performs well. What I didn't like: the levers are spray painted and once (slightly) chipped the paint started to let go (I live in a very humid country, which might have accelerated the process).

Builds with Tiagra group sets are at a price point where typically shortcuts are being taken on other components.  Marketing wise buyers are sensitive to the Shimano branding, and less to the rest.  As a result, my bike came with some components I didn't like and I didn't have the experience to recognise at the time:
- The wheels were heavy, had quick release hubs rather than thru axle, the hubs were heavy, and the free hub needed maintenance regularly. 
- The brakes never performed well.  These were cable actuated disc brakes and had decent reviews, but I found the performance was more on par with my old cantilever brakes than my hydraulic disc brakes on my MTB.


Having learned this, what I would do with in your position is look for a second hand bike with the following criteria, max 2 years old;
- Thru axle frame and fork (the decathlon bikes you linked to were QR)
- Tire clearance at min 40mm
- Flat mount disc brakes, even if cable activated (the decathlon bikes you linked to seem to have post mount disc brakes)
- Carbon fork
- 11 speed 105 groupset or similar (4700 Tiagra could be considered, but not older)


This gives you a future proof second hand bike, where if you want, you can upgrade parts one at a time.  As many has mentioned building from scratch will not be cheaper, especially if you need to buy the tools and consumables (think grease, hydraulic brake oil, cables, hoses, etc) at the start as well.  On a second hand bike you can postpone those costs to whenever they need replacing.  Building a bike from scratch is a hobby, rather than a cost saving activity!
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pkram
Having written just my recommendation for second hand bike, I noticed Chain Reaction has their own branded bikes on offer...  The following would be within your EUR1000 budget, has stock in all sizes and comes with a pretty good specification:
Vitus Substance VR Adventure Road Bike -Tiagra 2019

It has hydraulic brakes, carbon fork, "gravel" gearing, and looks neat with internally routed cables.
It comes with 650b wheels and wide 650bx47c WTB tires, some might prefer 700c if they want to use more "road" like with skinnier tires but that's a personal preference.  The wheels and tires seem tubeless ready.

The Tiagra 4700 set means you can upgrade easily and incrementally to either 10 speed GRX, 11 speed GRX or 11 speed road components.
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KrKAlex
@pkram, many thanks for your detailed answer. It is good that you confirm more or less what I was thinking.

I would like not to go with a used bike, I've had a bad experience with a used CF road bike so I prefer to put more money in the beginning this time than saving little money. I am not experienced enough with bikes to know if the bike has issues or not. I agree that with Al or Steel frame you take less risks, but still on the components I find it a little bit risky. Of course, an exception can be made in case I find a used bike that has only a few kilometers but this is another story as it happens very rarely. 

For the Vitus, it's true that the offer is appealing. But I must say that from the reputation of Canyon, it is the first of my list. Of course this one is 500€ cheaper so... It's tough ÃƒÂ°Ã…¸Ëœâ€¢

@chas, Yes geometry-wise I understand the difference you mean. The Canyon Grail is my favourite for this as you recommended I guess. I think I will go in a bike shop, hopefully they will speak English, and test some bikes.

@zman, It's true that I look for bikes that are made in Europe or easy to have access within Europe. 
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KrKAlex
Hi everybody,

I am coming back to this topic. After waiting so long for Canyon to release their new collection of Grail, they released the new ones but only the CF ones. I do not know if they plan to release the AL ones soon but in the meantime I still look around and I found this bikes from Stevens Gavere and Prestige. What do you think of these? They are for Cyclocross so, as I answered earlier to Chas, I prefer going to something without the CX specs as they are more for quick turns and going from 0 to 20 km/h quickly whereas in my use their will be more straights for sure. From the geometry what do you think?

I really like the fact that the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 was so widely approved as a very good gravel bike for the price, maybe I stay too focus on this one I don't know.

Cheers,
Alex
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chas
well, the first one is the gravel bike and more relaxed/endurance, so that would be the one for you.

Geometry looks fine. The BB drop is a bit on the high side. Do you plan on going fast down long hills? I don't think it will be a problem unless you are doing a lot of passes in the alps, lol.

Ralleigh makes some good gravel bikes in steel (Tamaland) or Aluminum (Willard) (or if you can find one in carbon (Roker).  I'm not sure what builds you have available to you - sometimes they have inexpensive builds in the  US and nicer stuff in Europe.  Its a good frame it it has what you want - or just to compare to the 2 above:
https://www.raleighusa.com/tamland-2-r142
https://www.raleighusa.com/willard-2-r141
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chas
oops, looks like they have gone ebike in much of Europe.  I don't see anything on Rayleigh Germany page that looks interesting.  I think in the UK they called those bikes the mustang?
https://www.raleigh.co.uk/mustang-elite-21049
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Zurichman
chas wrote:
well, the first one is the gravel bike and more relaxed/endurance, so that would be the one for you.

Geometry looks fine. The BB drop is a bit on the high side. Do you plan on going fast down long hills? I don't think it will be a problem unless you are doing a lot of passes in the alps, lol.

Ralleigh makes some good gravel bikes in steel (Tamaland) or Aluminum (Willard) (or if you can find one in carbon (Roker).  I'm not sure what builds you have available to you - sometimes they have inexpensive builds in the  US and nicer stuff in Europe.  Its a good frame it it has what you want - or just to compare to the 2 above:
https://www.raleighusa.com/tamland-2-r142
https://www.raleighusa.com/willard-2-r141


I have 2 of the Raleigh bikes that Chas have mentioned. The Raleigh Tamland 1 in 57 weighs 25 lbs has mechanical disk brakes and 105 2x Shimano components. I have the Roker Comp all carbon which has 1x Sram Rival with hydro brakes. It weighs 20 lbs. in a 57cm again. They also make a Raleigh bike in England that shadows the Roker but I don't know what it is called. What I do know although I don't have a lot of experience riding any other gravel bikes. Both bikes are very comfortable to ride and if I was in better shape and not racing with lots of climbs the Tamland would be plenty of bike but the Roker is just that much better with the hydro brakes and 5 lbs lighter. They also make a Roker Sport which weighs in around 22 lbs. and is 2x.

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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KrKAlex

chas wrote:


Geometry looks fine. The BB drop is a bit on the high side. Do you plan on going fast down long hills? I don't think it will be a problem unless you are doing a lot of passes in the alps, lol.



I live in south Germany so I might go in the Alps, but still I do not plan to use the bike as I would ride a MTB. So I don't think this would be an issue.

Waiting is always terrible for me because I keep looking around and learning new things (don't get me wrong, this part is good to learn new things ðŸ˜) but then with all this geometry information I am a bit confused. Whereas, if Canyon had the Grail in stock I would not even be discussing it.. 

I have seen your recommendation for the Raleigh. The Mustang Elite you sent Chas is less than 1000€ which make it very low priced with Shimano 105. However, it is not available in my size anymore.

Thank you Zman for your feedback aswell. I would avoid using 1x gears, this is the reason why I always stick to the 2x criteria. 

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KrKAlex

I have seen one bike that look interesting because the spec look interesting to me: The Cube Nuroad Race. What do you guys think of it? From the price, it is impressive how these 3 German brands (Canyon, Stevens and Cube) manage to have a relatively high standard groupset (i.e. 105 / GRX800 - 600) for such low price (compared to other brand where you need to give 2000€ for this). I will try to test the Cube in a shop if I manage to find time and a shop that has it available as well as the Stevens.. I am a little bit desperate about the Canyon Grail ðŸ˜

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chas
The two German brands that people used to lust over that were unavailable to us are Canyon and Cube.  Now we can buy canyon (when they are available, lol).  Cube has a good reputation, but I don't think they are sold in the US.
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