Best Racing Gravel Bike 2023

Using the whole cassette is the point… Of course… but having your most often used gearing near the centre of the cassette gives you the most usable range in both directions.

Of course there are going to be outliers in regards to riders, terrain, courses, etc. but pairing a chainring with a cassette that allows you to spend more time in the mid-range is preferable, most of the time, to one where you’re in, say, the 11-15 range 80% of the time.

Sounds like Ekar or a 2x setup is best for you. But again in most situations, those should be setup so you’re using the mid-range gearing more often.

I was right there with you when I first started riding 1x and wide cassettes for gravel riding/racing. I was a card-carrying cadence diva and stuck with 2x for a while. I ended up doing a bunch of training on the road (including pretty fast group rides) on my mtb while training for leadville a couple years ago and it totally threw my cadence sensitivity out the window. My checkpoint came with the xplr w 10/44 and I actually run in in mullet setup (10/50) pretty much all the time if I have anything on the schedule with climbing (I’ve had in on for months prepping for unbound). I just don’t notice the jumps any more and I honestly think the cadence flexibility has made me a stronger cyclist. I actually believe it helps with fatigue by working at different cadences on long rides (might all be in my mind, I’ve never seen any science that backs that up). N=1 and all the crap, but I’d honestly just keep the 10/50 on all the time even for road stuff if I didn’t have to share a pretty expensive AXS RD with my MTB (and those big eagle cassettes are pretty heavy and I’m too cheap to buy the high end lighter version). Not saying others would come to the same conclusion after riding with the big jumps, but figured I’d share my history since I used to be super sensitive to it. It almost makes we want to try single speed to see how my body would react to dramatically wider cadence swings, but that might be a bridge too far for my knees.


The responses above where already sufficient. But I still have an addition.

With a 46 10/36 the jumps with a rotor cassette are: 10,11,12,13,14,15,17,19,21,24,27,31,36. So you have the same range as a 50/34 11/30 compact. But miss one unique gear.

You can play around with a bigger cassette if you want to for extremely mountaines terrain. But all in all you can manage yourself with a good cassette.

Yes, I agree. Looking back on it I should’ve went 2x GRX but liked the SRAM system better with the swappable batteries and wanted to try 1x on the (all)road. I tried out Ekar but didn’t like the thumbshifter. I have blips in the drops and would miss them on a mechanical groupset. And I think the 1x would work for me just fine if the XPLR casette would be thighter spaced in the small cogs. There is a Rotor casette with 11-39 or 11-46. Might need to buy another cage for the derailleur, HG freehub and KMC chain to test that out. The Rotor casette has thigther cogs in the ‘fast’ gears, which I’d prefer.

I identify as a card-carrying cadence diva, no doubt. The 11 to 13t jump means a jump of more than 10 rpm @35-40kph, in which I spend a lot of time doing Z2 outdoors. With undulating terrain I shift from 11 to 13 to 15 a lot and I still try to adapt to the cadence jumps.

I find it interesting that you were training with your MTB on the road and that this helped you become less sensitive to cadence jumps. I run a 34t with an eagle casette and the jumps are really noticeable to me on flat gravel/asphalt roads, less so on undulating terrain like trails and climbs because the speed is usually slower. I think training with TR made me more cadence-concious as I was before :man_shrugging:

thank you for the input. I will try out the Rotor casette once the XPLR wears out. They have 11-39 and 11-46 12 speed casettes. I won’t buy a new groupset just for this bike. I’m stuck with 1x now and have to make it work with another casette as SRAM doesn’t offer what I want (yet). There is still no RED casette for XPLR and I hope they come out with something like 10-40 or 10-42 with thigther spacing in the small cogs. Would save me a cage, freehub and a new chain…

define extremely mountainous terrain. 7-10% gradients on sustained climbs is normal for the Alps. For 10kph on a 10% climb I would have to push 300W @85rpm with a 1:1 gear ratio. I agree that the 46/33 with a 10-36 casette would’ve been my ideal setup or GRX 48,31 with 11-34. Somehow I was determined to go 1x on this bike. Now I know better.

For me the Best Racing Gravel Bike in 2023 comes with a 2x GRX with external batteries or a 2x Sram Setup that doesn’t throw chains left and right :sweat_smile:

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What’s everyone running with an Aspero? 42s fit in there easily with a 24-ish internal width rim?

I am currently running Pathfinder Pro 42’s on a 23mm internal rim…from last Sept until last week, I was running Rambler 45’s on the same rims.

Zero issues with either tire on my Aspero.

Agreed. I’m currently on a 1x SRAM mullet with 40t and 10-50. It’s fine and I do love the lack of shift cables which makes traveling easier as well as operating my AXS dropper.

But my previous gravel bike had GRX 2x with 46/30 and 11-40. Turns out this gearing is wider than the mullet. That was the sweet spot for me in terms of range, cadence, and ergonomics. If GRX ever goes truly wireless I’d go back to that.

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No wonder you’re an outlier. I’m probably looking at it with myopic North American lenses but I think many of us don’t think “the Alps” when thinking about 1x and gravel.

G-One RS 45s on the Aspero 5


@Power13 , @Todd_Palmer How much clearance do you have? I think the Aspero is spec’d for 40mm tires. I’m concerned about mud clearance without wrecking the frame.

I like the e*thirteen 9-45 Helix Gravel cassette. I just change out the chainring depending on the course profile. It works well with the SRAM AXS XPLR Derailleur.


This is what I was reading and wanted to confirm. I have this issue with my RaceMax and was thinking of selling it and going with the Aspero but don’t want to have the same issue, ha.

What chain ring sizes do you swap between? Do you also change chains / length?

I have 38, 40, and 42 chainrings. The 42 is perfect for a rolling to flat course with a 42/9. The 38 is great for a course with a lot of climbing where you want easier gearing, as the 38/45 works well for steep long climbs, and the 38/9 is still pretty big for the flats.

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Yeah I wouldn’t run the 45s in mud, def would gum up quickly

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Honestly, I never even checked……for whatever reason I thought the Aspero was officially rated for a 45 so I just slapped them on for Big Sugar last year.

I just repacked my bike for my flight home, so it will be a day or so before I can check and see what it looks like w/ the 42’s.

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