spencegill
Hey Gang,

Thanks for the add. I’m a cross XC/Trail rider, but after discovering Gravel riding, I think it’s something I would enjoy even more than mountain biking. My brother passed away last year and part of the Elora cataract trail (near Belwood lake, Ontario) has been sponsored in his name so I would love to ride that rail trail as well as the other rail trails around Guelph since that is where I live.

photo5051086715434936362.jpg 

I’m looking for my first gravel bike and looking to spend around $2000-$2500 CDN. (Roughly $1500-$2000 US) I’m hoping for something that will also get me to the rail trails fast too and maybe even some road rides. So far the Giant Revolt Advanced and the Devinci Hatchet have caught my eye, but I’m wondering what others opinions are on these bikes and if they have other suggestions. I’m also not sure if I want to go 1x or 2x on the gravel bike. I love the 1x on my mountain bike but I worry about the jump in gears on the road and am wondering how others experiences have been with both 1x and 2x on rail trails, and if any have experience on the rail trails in southern Ontario, that would be a big bonus!

Thank you so much for any help you can provide!

Spence, Gravel Noob
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ljsmith
1x or 2x really comes down to how, and where you are going to ride the bike.  For instance, the places I ride are mostly flat so I run 1x with a 36t and an 9-32 cassette.  This keeps my gear ratios tight, but obviously this isn't going to work for big hills.  I also do not use my gravel bike as a road bike, so I don't need more than a 36t with a 9t cog.  For a gravel bike that will also be used a lot on the road I always recommend a 2x, I love 1x, but it just doesn't work well on the road.  Choosing a gravel bike also comes down to how you will use it.  There are many variations.  Some are more road like with faster handling, while others are more long haul oriented with stable handling.  You just need to decide what you want out of the bike.
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spencegill
I think I would prefer something more road like as I'll be riding on the roads as much as the trails. Do you have something you would recommend? I've heard the both the Revolt and Hatchet are good as road bikes as well.
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dagowey
I recently bought a Canyon Grail AL 7 (the 2x version), which is in that price range. It has quite an aggressive riding position (long reach, low stack), and with stock everything seems to fit your bill as well. Only thing is maybe some less aggressive tires if you are doing more road riding.

Other bikes you might want to checkout:
Cannondale Topstone
Specialized Diverge
Jamis Renegade
Kona Rove
All City Space Horse 

I'd go ride as many of these as possible to make a choice. Unfortunately it would be quite hard to demo the Canyon.
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elorablue
Hi Spence 
i know your area very well since I live in Salem/Elora and ride the cataract trail about 5 times a week. I had been using my Surly LHT but just last week I bought the Devinci Hatchet carbon rival. 
All I can say is it’s the perfect bike for how I ride.  I’m probably 70-30 gravel to road and the hatchet is ideal. 
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spencegill
dagowey wrote:
I recently bought a Canyon Grail AL 7 (the 2x version), which is in that price range. It has quite an aggressive riding position (long reach, low stack), and with stock everything seems to fit your bill as well. Only thing is maybe some less aggressive tires if you are doing more road riding.

Other bikes you might want to checkout:
Cannondale Topstone
Specialized Diverge
Jamis Renegade
Kona Rove
All City Space Horse 

I'd go ride as many of these as possible to make a choice. Unfortunately it would be quite hard to demo the Canyon.


Unfortunately they don't sell Canyon in Canada. The Topstone seems a little too mountain bike like for me since I already have a hard tail for single track. I'll definetely try the others, especially the Rove, I've been hearing more about that.

elorablue wrote:
Hi Spence 
i know your area very well since I live in Salem/Elora and ride the cataract trail about 5 times a week. I had been using my Surly LHT but just last week I bought the Devinci Hatchet carbon rival. 
All I can say is it’s the perfect bike for how I ride.  I’m probably 70-30 gravel to road and the hatchet is ideal. 


I just rode the Devinci Hatchet Carbon Rival this evening, and oh man is that bike fun. I do still worry about the 1x for riding on the road though. For me it will be more like 50-50 road to gravel if not 40-60.

I also rode a Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 and man that bike seems to have the perfect geometry. Unfortunately I'm not really a fan of the matt black with silver color, and the orange is all sold out. Moving up to the ALR 5 I'd have to increase my budget and I'm not sure I want to do that.
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elorablue
I wouldn’t hesitate using the Hatchet as a rode bike. I grabbed some 28mm tires to throw on for a very hilly Muskoka road ride in a couple of weeks. 
This is my first 1X system as well. I really like it so far but I’ve only done 140 kms on it. Again, for me, the range is great. The 42-11 is plenty big enough for me and the 42-42 should see me get up most hills.  The gear spacing is good too. 
Did you go to Speed River? 
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sake
I recently went through the same process as you and my debate ended up being between the Canyon Grail and the alloy Cannondale Topstone 105. I went with the Cannondale as it had everything I wanted for US $1750 (2x system with solid groupset). I've only ridden it a couple times, but really like it. My only issue is that I will likely ride it more often on the road, so I need to replace the stock tires with something a little more road-friendly and save to stock tires for when I ride on gravel trails.
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BubbaS
I bought a Trek Checkpoint SL 5, I was mostly looking for a smoother riding road bike for some of our very broken pavement and to explore riding on Forestry roads. My only regret with the SL 5 is that I should have bought the 6 as I spend more time on this bike than I anticipated. 

I have really enjoyed the smooth ride, disc brakes and opening the door to gravel roads that have minimal traffic. Some days a lower bottom gear would be nice, I can probably fix this with a 11-36 SRAM cassette. I have dabbled at single track on it  but my FS MTB works way better for this than a gravel bike. 

All in all it is a great bike that is oriented to the Groad end of the scale.

BS
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Zurichman
Hi have both the 1x and 2x gravel bikes. Everybody is different in their likes. I love my Raleigh Roker Comp that is all carbon and has hydro brakes. It weighs in at 20 lbs in size 5 cm frame. It is 1x though and I am not a big fan of that. Probably will change it out to 2x in the future. You mentioned Jamis Renegade. I have looked at that bike and it looks like a great bike. I know that you said that $1500 - $2000 is in your price range. My best advice would be ride as many bikes as you can and buy the most expensive bike that you can afford. Spending more money upfront might be spendy in your mind but it cost a lot more to try and lower the weight of the bike than to buy it upfront. I really don't like the 1x while in group rides as the lower gears have too many jumps in them and you are shifting all the time just to try and stay in sync or up with the group. That might just be me though. I know I wouldn't buy a bike without the hydro brakes IMHO this is that much of a difference. Good luck on buying your bike.

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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chas
I like mountain biking better but I'm not willing to drive 1.5 hours round trip to ride 1.5 hours at this point in my life. (well the scenery can be better with a good gravel ride I guess).  Although the Niagara Escarpment has some nice biking and good views.

Dude, South Ontario is flat as a pancake - you are worried about gearing?

I struggled over 1x vs 2x for a while.
Bottom line: if you are riding solo it shouldn't make much difference - you set your own pace. In a fast group ride where others set the pace - cadence (and 2x) is more important.

If I'm riding in a fast road group on my gravel bike, I need the big ring (46t, lol) and tight gearing to maximize my power and speed at my limit.

I really wanted 1x (because of the bike color), but riding near my limit in group rides, and needing the gear spread (without the cadence jumps) pushed me to 2x.

Riding solo, I can do what I need with 36t chain ring. Riding in groups I need 46t most of the time (and 36t for climbing)

Canyon is possible to "demo" just budget 1 hour to unpack and 1 hour to repack if you send it back. I did it. But you are saying they won't ship from California to Ontario?

Just for emotional reasons (and because they are good bikes), I would get a Norco - because they are Canadian, and you know - Canandians like little canandian flags on their bikes. ;-)
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spencegill
elorablue wrote:
I wouldn’t hesitate using the Hatchet as a rode bike. I grabbed some 28mm tires to throw on for a very hilly Muskoka road ride in a couple of weeks. 
This is my first 1X system as well. I really like it so far but I’ve only done 140 kms on it. Again, for me, the range is great. The 42-11 is plenty big enough for me and the 42-42 should see me get up most hills.  The gear spacing is good too. 
Did you go to Speed River? 
Yes I did, the frame was too big for me as well so I need to go back when they get the 2020 models in.
BubbaS wrote:
I bought a Trek Checkpoint SL 5, I was mostly looking for a smoother riding road bike for some of our very broken pavement and to explore riding on Forestry roads. My only regret with the SL 5 is that I should have bought the 6 as I spend more time on this bike than I anticipated. 

I have really enjoyed the smooth ride, disc brakes and opening the door to gravel roads that have minimal traffic. Some days a lower bottom gear would be nice, I can probably fix this with a 11-36 SRAM cassette. I have dabbled at single track on it  but my FS MTB works way better for this than a gravel bike. 

All in all it is a great bike that is oriented to the Groad end of the scale.

BS
Nice!! Glad to hear how well it works on the road, but do you think the Carbon model is necessary for me? Right now I'm looking at the ALR5 as it has all 105 components and I love the lime green color.

chas wrote:
I like mountain biking better but I'm not willing to drive 1.5 hours round trip to ride 1.5 hours at this point in my life. (well the scenery can be better with a good gravel ride I guess).  Although the Niagara Escarpment has some nice biking and good views.

Dude, South Ontario is flat as a pancake - you are worried about gearing?

I struggled over 1x vs 2x for a while.
Bottom line: if you are riding solo it shouldn't make much difference - you set your own pace. In a fast group ride where others set the pace - cadence (and 2x) is more important.

If I'm riding in a fast road group on my gravel bike, I need the big ring (46t, lol) and tight gearing to maximize my power and speed at my limit.

I really wanted 1x (because of the bike color), but riding near my limit in group rides, and needing the gear spread (without the cadence jumps) pushed me to 2x.

Riding solo, I can do what I need with 36t chain ring. Riding in groups I need 46t most of the time (and 36t for climbing)

Canyon is possible to "demo" just budget 1 hour to unpack and 1 hour to repack if you send it back. I did it. But you are saying they won't ship from California to Ontario?

Just for emotional reasons (and because they are good bikes), I would get a Norco - because they are Canadian, and you know - Canandians like little canandian flags on their bikes. ;-)
I notice when riding my mountain bike on the road the jumps in gears on my 1x can be pretty big, and on flat surfaces I find myself having a hard time finding the perfect gear sometimes, which has kind of lead me to think 2x might be better for me. Especially since I would also like to do group rides as well.

The Norco I tried was frickin awesome but I found the handlebars way too narrow and the frame seemed a little heavy.

Updated Top Picks:

1) 2020 Giant Revolt Advanced 0 - $2899 CAD

Pros:
Full Carbon, 105 groupset, shock absorb technology through D-Fuse
Cons:
No unique color options, handlebars a little wide

2) 2020 Trek Checkpoint ALR5 - $2649 Canadian)


Pros: Love the look, love the color, full 105 group-set, handles like a dream
Cons: Aluminum, No vibration dampening tech, high price for aluminum

3) 2020 Giant Revolt 0 - $2199 CAD (apparently - price not released yet)

Pros:
Great price/value for full 105 group-set, hock absorb technology through D-Fuse
Cons: Not a big fan of the color (brownish gray), Carbon model only $600 more, handlebars a little wide

4) 2020 Devinci Hatchet - Price N/A

Will have to wait a few weeks for more info and test ride


What are your guys thoughts?
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epzamora
Here's a Norco in your price range, though I'm not a fan of the color personally. They should be announcing 2020 models (and always new colors) somewhat soon...  https://www.norco.com/bikes/2019/dirt-dropbar/gravel/search-xr-aluminum/search-xr-aluminum-105/

There's a cheaper 1x model too: https://www.norco.com/bikes/2019/dirt-dropbar/gravel/search-xr-aluminum/search-xr-aluminum-apex-1/

I almost always mention Norco. I have a 2018 Search XR steel 105, and love it. All models take either 700c or 650b wheels

There are so many options these days, it can be dizzying.

eric/fresno, ca.
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spencegill
epzamora wrote:
Here's a Norco in your price range, though I'm not a fan of the color personally. They should be announcing 2020 models (and always new colors) somewhat soon...  https://www.norco.com/bikes/2019/dirt-dropbar/gravel/search-xr-aluminum/search-xr-aluminum-105/

There's a cheaper 1x model too: https://www.norco.com/bikes/2019/dirt-dropbar/gravel/search-xr-aluminum/search-xr-aluminum-apex-1/

I almost always mention Norco. I have a 2018 Search XR steel 105, and love it. All models take either 700c or 650b wheels

There are so many options these days, it can be dizzying.

eric/fresno, ca.


I've actually ridden the 1x and it was great, however I wasn't a fan of the handlebars.
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tdilf
Don't let handlebars stop you from getting the bike you want - handlebars can be swapped out.
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spencegill
tdilf wrote:
Don't let handlebars stop you from getting the bike you want - handlebars can be swapped out.
There is other things I didn't like but that is what stuck out. Still a great bike though. I think I'd prefer a 2x now anyways.
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chas


spencegill wrote:
I notice when riding my mountain bike on the road the jumps in gears on my 1x can be pretty big, and on flat surfaces I find myself having a hard time finding the perfect gear sometimes, which has kind of lead me to think 2x might be better for me. Especially since I would also like to do group rides as well.


Yep, definately 2x for you - your similar to me in that reguard.

I liked the checkpoint I road, although it is designed for backpacking (low trail, longer wheelbase, lots of mount points).  I went for something a little lighter and more dedicated towards speed.  For a touring, endurance, backpacking ride, it is a good choice.  
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spencegill
chas wrote:


Yep, definately 2x for you - your similar to me in that reguard.

I liked the checkpoint I road, although it is designed for backpacking (low trail, longer wheelbase, lots of mount points).  I went for something a little lighter and more dedicated towards speed.  For a touring, endurance, backpacking ride, it is a good choice.  


What bike do you ride?
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spencegill
Well I've decided it would be best to head to an out of town bike shop that has both the Revolt Advanced AND Trek Checkpoints in stock to test out and ride back to back. That way I think I'll have a good idea of what bike I like most.

Now another conflict is the guy at the local shop said he'd swing me a really good deal ($600 off) on a 2019 with the Revolt with the 1x but I'm pretty sure I wanna go 2x. Decisions decisions! Would I regret the 1x :/
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Zurichman
I hate the 1x on group rides. Lots of people say I am crazy for changing my Raleigh Roker to 2x but I have no point of reference to how other gravel bikes ride as I came from a $150 Schwinn heavy than a rock mt. bike before buying my 2 Raleigh gravel bikes. It is really expensive to change out to 2x and on some bikes it might not be a go. I do wish I had 2x on my Roker but to each their own.

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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AlanEsh
Please consider mount points for fenders and racks etc., if you hadn't thought about that much. My friend bought a Giant all-road bike and didn't, now she is stuck with a seat-post rack when she wants to haul gear, and no fender mounts.

So if these things might matter to you in the long run, look at something like the Salsa Journeyman, it's a really nice all-things bike.
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spencegill
AlanEsh wrote:
Please consider mount points for fenders and racks etc., if you hadn't thought about that much. My friend bought a Giant all-road bike and didn't, now she is stuck with a seat-post rack when she wants to haul gear, and no fender mounts.

So if these things might matter to you in the long run, look at something like the Salsa Journeyman, it's a really nice all-things bike.


Thanks! I've already looked into mounts and both bikes have exactly what I need. The Giant Revolt Advanced just has them hidden under some rubber caps, and its sufficient for what I'm looking to do. The Checkpoint has a crap-load of mounting spots.
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BubbaS
I'm not sure about the checkpoint being way towards bikepacking, yes it has mounting points but I was told it is more endurance type riding. Either way I use it for road to and gravel rides and it rocks. I have the rear wheel all the way forward and probably won't change that: don't want slower handling. 

BS
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chas
spencegill wrote:


What bike do you ride?


I put a priority on Agility and Acceleration, so I went for a modern Cross bike (long top tube, short stem, short chain stays, cush ride, and 40mm tires).   I'm on a Canyon Inflite.  The Canyon Grail is similar, but more relaxed and has more mount points.  

Last time I looked, they didn't even carry my bike with 2x.  I wouldn't do without it because I'm cadence sensitive.   Yes, you specifically would regret having 1x.   But, you are not doing long mountain climbs, probably don't need ultra low gearing, and the top end (small cogs) of 11spd cassette can be pretty tightly spaced if you don't need mega range.  If you have a choice get 2x.  
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