blutow
I've been holding out buying a "real" gravel bike for a few years.  Been riding/racing gravel mostly on my Spark RC MTB with 45's and every once and a while on my Trek Madone with 28's when I feel like rolling the dice with flats.    

I'm looking for a fast bike for racing near the pointy end.  While I also enjoy "non-race" social gravel rides and mixed surface stuff, I can always use my MTB for cruising around and I want this new bike to be optimized for racing.  Most of my racing is around TX and our gravel is pretty tame. 

I've been riding a Madone road bike for years and really like the isospeed system for smoothing out rough roads and gravel.  So, one of the first bikes I looked at was the checkpoint SL7 with the rear isospeed.  Then, I saw that the Domane SL7 has very similar geometry, has isospeed in front and back, and has a few other features I like (2x rather than 1x shifting, threaded BB, aero frame, storage in frame).  The only downside I see with the Domane on paper is the 38mm tire clearance (and I've read that they take 40+ no problem).  While I like the idea of having flexibility of running larger tires, I think I'd rather save a few watts with the more aero domane frame if that's the trade off.  I also really hate the BB90 press fit BB on the checkpoint, so the threaded BB on the Domane is a big plus.

I'm a little torn on this because I was all ready to pick out a gravel bike and the bike I'm leaning toward isn't really designed to be a gravel bike.  Unfortunately, I don't have the opportunity to do any serious test rides to compare actual performance.  Is there something important I'm missing (besides tire clearance) that the Checkpoint (or another "gravel" bike) would give me over the Domane as a gravel race bike?  
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ljsmith
I don’t know if you go to mtbr, but there is a guy using one as a gravel bike.  You could message him and he could probably give you a lot of info.

https://forums.mtbr.com/gravel-bikes/2020-domane-slr-gravel-build-1124417.html
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mtgrvl
I'm on a Checkpoint and considered the same thing. The only suggestion I have, and it's a small thing, is the rubber frame protection on the bottom of my down tube has taken a beating in 1500 miles of riding. If I was running a top line Domane I'd for sure install aftermarket frame protection.

Otherwise, if you're wanting to go fast, don't need massive tires, and are mainly riding tame gravel I feel like the Domane would be totally fine. 
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blutow
Thanks for the replies.  I just pulled the trigger on the Domane and it should be in next week.   That post on MTBr answered a lot of my questions.  I may add a little frame protection, that's a good call out.  

While looking at gravel bikes, one of things I've seen a lot of different opinions on is the 2x vs. 1x gearing, especially with SRAM's limited cassette options with AXS road.  For a lot of the courses I do, that 2x road gearing is going to be great and gear jumps will be nice and tight.  On more challenging terrain, I'll have the flexibility to easily swap to a 1x system by swapping in a single chainring, 10-50 eagle cassette, and eagle AXS RD.  I'll just pull the Eagle AXS RD from my MTB when I want to run that config on the Domane.  The force crank can take 2x or 1x rings and the integrated power meter works with either.  Pretty slick and flexible setup the way they engineered the force crank and PM.   
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mosinglespeeder
pls post your thoughts after your first rides

i agree, that geometry is great and for 38s that is ideal
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GSPChilliwack

Here’s another thread on the Domane—just click the link: 

https://www.ridinggravel.com/forum/?p=post%2F2020-domane-gravel-build-10391771%3Fpid%3D1310436507
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blutow
pls post your thoughts after your first rides

i agree, that geometry is great and for 38s that is ideal


I've got a few weeks and 500+ miles on the bike.  

So far, very happy with the bike.  I've been enjoying it so much on the road that my Madone has been mostly sitting unused.  It certainly takes more power to push it along at speed on fast group rides, but I'm a lot fresher at the end of a 5-6 hour ride. 

I've only done one gravel day on it, took it out to ride the 60 mile Castell race course.  Averaged over 18mph without pushing it too hard and felt fast and smooth and handled the rough sections fine.  Just what I was looking for in a gravel bike. 
   
It easily fits 38mm ramblers or 40mm Velocitas with plenty of clearance in 1x or 2x gearing setup.  I mounted up 45mm ramblers and they are right up against the FD in 2x and barely clear in 1x setup.  I wouldn't run 45's and there certainly isn't any room for mud.   This is all with the stock 25mm internal rims, so most of these tire setups measured about 2mm larger than the stated size.  
  
One negative - the storage door (with attached bottle) popped off on the first washboard section at Castell.  The latch was still in the locked position, but the fit is so loose that it just pulled out as soon as I hit a really rough section.  My dealer has a call into Trek to see if I maybe have a defect, but I suspect this is just a bad design.  It's a very loose fit and the latching tabs are flimsy flexible plastic.  There is a lot of force when a full bottle is being shaken around.  I'm using a velcro strap to make sure it doesn't happen again and I have a feeling it might be a permanent addition. We'll see.  I still like having the storage, it's a good idea that just needs a little more engineering.

It's also pretty heavy, around 20.5 lbs with pedals and cages, 38's and sealant.  I'm not a weight weenie, but it's still noticeably heavy compared to my road bike and only a few lbs lighter than my full suspension XC MTB running 2.2's.  

I really like the AXS 2x road gearing.  46-33 crank and 10-33 cassette.  Very tight gear jumps balanced with good range.  I ran it 1x 40t w/10-50 for Castell and the big jumps were annoying and I never used the 42 or 50 cogs.  I'll reserve the 1x for any courses with extreme climbs, othewise the 2x setup is going to be good for most of the gravel courses I do.  I'm doing BWR in Utah in a few weeks and will probably run 2x despite the big climb near the end.       
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