70/30 gravel bike?

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70/30 gravel bike?
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Posted: Sep 20, 2020 at 7:38 Quote
Looking to transition to a gravel/crappy road friendly bike - my road bike, which I will probably swap, is a Specialized Dolce Comp - a nice enough bike, but twitchy on rough roads. I'd like something a bit more forgiving for the roads I ride. Not planning any pack trips or x-country races - just want to do 15-25 miles and be comfortable. Suggestions appreciated! My budget is $2k and under, preferably used. Thank you in advance for suggestions.

Posted: Nov 23, 2020 at 6:38 Quote
I have a trek dual sport...Great on and off road. Worth a look

Posted: Dec 23, 2020 at 7:53 Quote
Take a look at the Diverge. I like mine quite a bit. Its geo is stable and it has responsive handling.

Posted: Dec 25, 2020 at 7:27 Quote
It's really hard to beat the Cannondale Topstone. I love the spec on the 105/GRX versions. The cheaper bikes have some dubious spec which might need upgrading (square taper cranks, not tubless, etc.)

At a little lower price-point, you can get a Salsa Journeyman, which is similar.

Posted: Jan 11, 2021 at 13:59 Quote
I just ordered a CANNONDALE Topstone, it should arrive this week, i can give you more info after i have ridden it for a few rides. But based on my research, there is currently nothing better out there.

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 15:15 Quote
Oh, man there are so many options now. I think the key is to determine if you want a 1X or a 2X drivetrain first. Some bikes to consider are the Kona Rove or a Brodie Romulus. Trek Domane's have lots of tire clearance now and I know lots of people are enjoying them as adventure style bikes. MEC had a number of good bikes - the Cote, the Provincial Road series. Surly's Midnight Special is said to be a real fun roadish gravel bike - although if you are a weight weenie you will want to splurge on a carbon fork. Norco Search?

Posted: Jan 16, 2021 at 16:48 Quote
I've been looking at gravel bikes myself the last little bit. Just pulled the trigger on a Landyachtz AB1. 27mm wide rims, 650b x 47c tires. Overall a good build. Vancouver company and they have stock ready to ship. At this point though, you can't be picky because gravel bikes are scarce.

Posted: Jan 16, 2021 at 20:15 Quote
If you want to dip your toe in without much financial risk, a 29er hardtail isn't far off and you'll be able to use 700c tires without any concerns about clearance. Cut the bar as narrow as practical, consider a slightly longer stem and outboard or inboard bar extensions.

It's a fine line between a stable gravel bike and a XC race hardtail. You'll be able to find a lot more of the latter at reasonable prices, especially used. If you like it, keep it; if you want something more posh or "gravel-specific", sell it for about what you paid and make a great decision a year from now with more experience.

Posted: Jan 18, 2021 at 15:35 Quote
GCN did a video a while back where they compared a modern gravel bike to a vintage 26'er mountain bike and found the geometries to be much more aligned. I don't think a modern 29'er - even a Surly hardtail - is going to give you the vibe of a modern gravel bike. If someone wants to do it cheap I'd advise doing what I did - get a vintage 29'er hybrid from the late 80's / early 90's and convert it to drop bars and bar end shifters with used parts and run some 38mm panaracer gravel kings. If you like that then maybe spend a bit more on a gravel specific bike with disc brakes. Another option is to convert an old fully rigid 26er to drop bars and bar ends and run some fatty slicks or supple gravel tires. The modern mountain bike has travelled a long way from its origins - even the XC ones. Oh, another option that a person could follow is to get an old touring bike and slap on some CX tires and ride that on gravel.

Gravel is about underbiking by riding a drop bar bike with fattish tires in a roadie position fast on dirt and easy single track. Its not about overbiking by riding a piggish mountain bike in a sit up and beg position.

R-M-R wrote:
If you want to dip your toe in without much financial risk, a 29er hardtail isn't far off and you'll be able to use 700c tires without any concerns about clearance. Cut the bar as narrow as practical, consider a slightly longer stem and outboard or inboard bar extensions.

It's a fine line between a stable gravel bike and a XC race hardtail. You'll be able to find a lot more of the latter at reasonable prices, especially used. If you like it, keep it; if you want something more posh or "gravel-specific", sell it for about what you paid and make a great decision a year from now with more experience.

Posted: Jan 18, 2021 at 16:56 Quote
A hybrid is pretty much a flat-bar gravel bike, so yes, that would obviously work and would build up into standard gravel geometry, which is very close to road geometry.

If we compare the Dolce to a "proper" gravel bike, like the Diverge, in a similar size, we see the Diverge is about 50 mm longer, 10 mm lower, and has slightly less steering trail. Overall, the Diverge should be a touch more stable, but it's a small difference. This is in line with dirttorpedo's comment:

"Gravel is about underbiking by riding a drop bar bike with fattish tires in a roadie position"

However, cvana said:

"my road bike, which I will probably swap, is a Specialized Dolce Comp - a nice enough bike, but twitchy on rough roads. I'd like something a bit more forgiving for the roads I ride."

If cvana wants a more stable, less nervous ride, a "proper" gravel bike may not give the desired experience. This is why I'm thinking a cross-country race hardtail, with a bit more length and a head-tube angle that's 1.5° slacker, may achieve the desired level of stability. All three options (hybrid, touring, XC race) would be viable to improve the gravel experience over a road bike.

"Its not about overbiking by riding a piggish mountain bike in a sit up and beg position."

That may not be how you like your gravel riding and many would agree, but your favourite flavour of fun doesn't have to be everyone's favourite. It's nice to have a range of options, which we've presented. All of them are within a few millimeters and a couple degrees. An overly upright posture isn't always the case with cross-country bikes and is easily lowered.

If the XC race hardtail option seems appealing, the Specialized Diverge Evo could provide guidance. My suggestions, some of which have already been mentioned:

• Narrow flat bar.
• Longer stem than what's typical on modern hardtails, possibly flipped upside-down for a negative rise if you want to replicate more of a road / gravel position.
• If the bike comes with a suspension fork, a rigid fork can be substituted, with the option to choose a short one that will convert XC race geometry to gravel geometry (with a slightly steep seat-tube angle). A couple of my friends have purchased ~750 g Mosso forks for about $100.

Posted: Jan 18, 2021 at 20:20 Quote
cvana wrote:
Looking to transition to a gravel/crappy road friendly bike - my road bike, which I will probably swap, is a Specialized Dolce Comp - a nice enough bike, but twitchy on rough roads. I'd like something a bit more forgiving for the roads I ride. Not planning any pack trips or x-country races - just want to do 15-25 miles and be comfortable. Suggestions appreciated! My budget is $2k and under, preferably used. Thank you in advance for suggestions.
Specialized Diverge Comp E5... ticks all your boxes. Really outstanding bike and the only places it would suffer would be weighted down with packs or in a race environment, which you don't intend to do. Super stable on rough roads and gravel and really rides better than you'd expect a drop bar bike for $2k to ride, while still carrying decent speed on the road depending upon tire choice. Spesh isn't necessarily known for their value propositions but they killed it on the Comp E5; mixed GRX 600/800/SLX drivetrain with in house finishing kit and even a very passable stock saddle.

Posted: Jan 20, 2021 at 11:48 Quote
Here are two very affordable gravel bikes that review well. If you actually want the gravel bike experience I'd take a serious look at one of these.

Libre - A more pure gravel bike
https://konaworld.com/libre.cfm

Rove - A roadish gravel bike
https://konaworld.com/rove_al_650.cfm

FYI, this is what I'm riding on gravel and mixed surface adventures. This bike is low trail so it handles different than a lot of gravel bikes (faster steering), but it calms down nicely with a front load.

http://www.elephantbikes.com/stock/

Good luck with the search.

Posted: Feb 26, 2021 at 11:26 Quote
Hey RMR, check out Russ's gravel bike flavour wheel video on the path less pedaled. Its a good way to get a sense of the diversity of design approaches in the gravel bike niche. I'm sure cvana could find something in the gravel niche that fits his desire for stability and predictability without having to make the compromise required by adapting an xc mountain bike to gravel.

R-M-R wrote:
A hybrid is pretty much a flat-bar gravel bike, so yes, that would obviously work and would build up into standard gravel geometry, which is very close to road geometry.

If we compare the Dolce to a "proper" gravel bike, like the Diverge, in a similar size, we see the Diverge is about 50 mm longer, 10 mm lower, and has slightly less steering trail. Overall, the Diverge should be a touch more stable, but it's a small difference. This is in line with dirttorpedo's comment:

"Gravel is about underbiking by riding a drop bar bike with fattish tires in a roadie position"

However, cvana said:

"my road bike, which I will probably swap, is a Specialized Dolce Comp - a nice enough bike, but twitchy on rough roads. I'd like something a bit more forgiving for the roads I ride."

If cvana wants a more stable, less nervous ride, a "proper" gravel bike may not give the desired experience. This is why I'm thinking a cross-country race hardtail, with a bit more length and a head-tube angle that's 1.5° slacker, may achieve the desired level of stability. All three options (hybrid, touring, XC race) would be viable to improve the gravel experience over a road bike.

"Its not about overbiking by riding a piggish mountain bike in a sit up and beg position."

That may not be how you like your gravel riding and many would agree, but your favourite flavour of fun doesn't have to be everyone's favourite. It's nice to have a range of options, which we've presented. All of them are within a few millimeters and a couple degrees. An overly upright posture isn't always the case with cross-country bikes and is easily lowered.

If the XC race hardtail option seems appealing, the Specialized Diverge Evo could provide guidance. My suggestions, some of which have already been mentioned:

• Narrow flat bar.
• Longer stem than what's typical on modern hardtails, possibly flipped upside-down for a negative rise if you want to replicate more of a road / gravel position.
• If the bike comes with a suspension fork, a rigid fork can be substituted, with the option to choose a short one that will convert XC race geometry to gravel geometry (with a slightly steep seat-tube angle). A couple of my friends have purchased ~750 g Mosso forks for about $100.

Posted: Mar 23, 2021 at 9:16 Quote
badbadleroybrown wrote:
Specialized Diverge Comp E5... ticks all your boxes. Really outstanding bike and the only places it would suffer would be weighted down with packs or in a race environment, which you don't intend to do. Super stable on rough roads and gravel and really rides better than you'd expect a drop bar bike for $2k to ride, while still carrying decent speed on the road depending upon tire choice. Spesh isn't necessarily known for their value propositions but they killed it on the Comp E5; mixed GRX 600/800/SLX drivetrain with in house finishing kit and even a very passable stock saddle.
Regarding the Diverge Comp E5 for $400 over the Elite version; for 2021, you get a FutureShock stem and a 1x11 drivetrain vs the Elite’s plain stem and 2x10. I have the Elite because, although my mountain bikes are 1x11 and 2x10, the 2x10 drivetrain was my priority on a gravel bike (hydraulic brakes on everything I ride).

Posted: Apr 6, 2021 at 22:52 Quote
Personally I picked up a used Kona Jake bike a while ago and I love it. Geometry wise, it's got an extra degree of slackness in the steering, which makes it a bit less twitchy than your average cyclocross bike. But I also really like the Libre. I was talking to a guy at the Kona factory store in North Vancouver, he told me they made the Libre because people were buying Jakes and modifying them into more gravel/adventure style bikes, so they just went and gave people what they are looking for. I also like the Brodie Romax, which is available with all kinds of options.

Of course, these days you pretty much gotta take what you can get. I don't think I'd be doing some kind of hardtail conversion or something like that though.

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