Dirty Reiver Bike setup

I’ve got an entry into the Dirty Reiver in 2020 and don’t think my current bike setup will be optimal.

It’s a Cube Cross Race c:62 SLT cross bike with Ultegra di2.

I plan on changing the tyres to Panracer Gravel King SK in a 38mm (I’m hoping they will fit).

The standard gearing is 46/36 with 11-28 at the back, I’m thinking that this won’t be enough but I don’t really want to spend a heap changing the group set.
Is this gearing going to be enough or if not what are my options for getting an easier gear.

Also what other things on the bike should I be looking at for this event?

I’m also doing the DR next year.

My gravel bike runs 38mm GK’s and they will be a great choice for that kind of riding. Just make sure you set them up tubeless.

I’m currently also having a gearing debate with myself as I have a compact chainset and an 11-28 cassette. I might put an 11-32 on as an easy way to get a few more gears. I’ve heard that the climbs are pretty steady though so I think that should be fine (I did the Fred Whitton with an 11-32 and I don’t think the DR will be as hard as that!). You could put a long cage derailleur on and go as high as 11-40?

I’ve done the DR200 a couple of times. Both times on my aluminium cube crossrace.

1st year:
35mm rocket rons
56/36 chainset with 11-28

2nd year
43mm gravelking SKs
38t chainring with 11-32

Now, I’m no great shakes but have done the DR 200 all four times it’s been held and have an entry for next year too.

On year 1 I rode my cannondale Super X with 33mm Challenge Almanzo tyres and a 36 single ring up front with an 11-42 cassette. I was battered and with poor fitness that year it took me almost 12 hours to complete.

The next couple of years I rode my mountain bike with Schwalbe Big One tyres. Probably had a 34 tooth 1x settup with 10-42 cassette and it was so much more comfortable and I didn’t run out of gears.

Last year I went full franken-bike: Cannondale Fsi with drop bars and a microscopic chainring. Got me round in under 10 hours at long last.

Not sure what I’m going to do this year but I just got a new cross bike and I’ll be hard pushed not to use that…

I guess it’s difficult to answer the question about gearing without knowing how strong you are although I would go as low as you can. After 3500m of climbing you’ll want something to winch you up the hills. They aren’t steep but there are alot of them. Also, last year it was a block headwind for about 60km…

Get the biggest tyres you can fit in the bike - you don’t need any grip but you do need comfort.

Double-wrap your bar tape. You won’t regret that.

The couse has changed ofer the years and is a bit mellower than it was at the start and there have been promises of taking out more of the roughest sections this year.

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2018 course profiles from the Fred Whitton and DR200 for comparison

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I run an R8050 set-up on my road bike with an 11-30 in the rear, you can run an 11-32 without issue in my experience if you do the e-Tube setting that prevents cross-chaining little-to-little(2 cogs). You can also just buy a new RD cage which is cost effective.

I’ve heard of people running 6870 with an 11-30, the limitation is cross-chain tension on little to little.

Good grief… FW is a real ripsnorter but DR200 looks monstrous. I did FW route from Keswick on a warm summer day and all I managed to do at the end was hide in the shade behind my car and drink Jennings Cumberland Ale from the coolbox. Absolutely fantastic route on a good day though. Have you heard of Triathlon X, where they do an Ironman length swim, the FW route, then marathon up Scafell Pike? :nauseated_face:

I did the DR in 2018 in 9hrs 24mins. There seems to be more climbing in the current route. I’d fit the biggest tyres you can to reduce the chance of punctures but also to reduce impact on your body. Some of the trails were very rough. I used a 42t with an 11-46 cassette and got plenty of use out of the 42 x 46 . Some of the climbs are very long and spinning is preferable to grinding . A good day out though so enjoy.

Missed out on this years event but took part last year for the first time.
Having never tried a ‘gravel’ event before I took my cyclocross race bike. Ridley Night SL with Force1 42t and a 11-28 on the back. Yes I was running totally UCI legal 33mm tires.
Made it round fine but there are probably better ways to do it :wink:

I did it in 2018 with G-One 38mm and a lowest gear of 34-32. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much with smaller tyres or a harder gear.

I’m in. My Domane is the most suitable bike I have. I think the biggest I can realistically go is 35mm.

Thanks for the tips. So I’ll probably go with the tyres ( Ive ordered the 38 But might get some 40s nearer the time if the frame has enough space and will just invest in an 11-32 cassette and double wrap the bar tape. I might change the inner chainring to a 34 as well from a 36.

What did you all do with regards to accommodation?

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My wife and I did it in 2018, we just bivvied by the side of the car park up the hill behind the bike shop. Lots of folk in cars and vans.

I did it on a singlespeed On-One Pompetamine with WTB 37c Riddlers set up tubeless. I also double taped the handlebars. No trouble from anything - when on singlespeed you were either stood up for the climbs or stood up for the descents so no chance of saddle sores :grin:.

If I did it again I’d seriously consider going singlespeed again but maybe not 39:20! It was the only gearing I had, well apart from 39:18. I did OK until the last bit of the climb up the Forest Drive when I had to walk a bit then again after the third food stop. Took 11hr45.


Good effort getting round in that gear.

Can’t help as relatively new to gravel, and will be doing on a tbc n+1! The comments are swaying me towards the revolt or topstone for gearing though!

I did the Dirty Reiver the first 3 years, each time on my canti CX frame - Ritchey Swiss Cross. The first 2 years I did it on tubeless Schwalbe X-One 33c and the last time on Vittoria Terreno Mix, also in 33c. I ran 38t x 11-36 each time. FWIW, I finished in 9:15 in 2018. If you can fit bigger tyres then all the better, (Nano 40c and Gravel King SK were popular), but they’re not essential.

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Did last years event on my Crux.
46t AbsBlack Oval with 11-42 XT Cassette on the back.
Panaracer Gravel King SK - 43F/38R (cant get any bigger in the back)
Double wrapped the tops.
Got round in 8hrs 1min

For 2020 I’m moving to GRX and likely drop to a 44t front - Mainly based on last year nightmare headwind leaving you fairly cooked for the long draggy climbs.
Oh, and a bar bag for food so I can actually eat it this time.
Turns out I carried 1.3kg of food and drink powder all the way round to the finish for no reason.

Any chance you have a build thread for your fsi? I’d love to know how you like it and whether you had to do anything special to get the geometry to work when you went to drop bars…Was it the same size frame you used in mountain bike form or did you go down a size?

I don’t really have many details on-line so here goes:

The bike is my normal mountain bike and I didn’t change the stem length or angle because it was already as short and low as I could go: a 90mm and -20 degrees Leonardi Lefty stem. The bars are just the cheepo Deda Vero 44cm shallow drops that I used on the cross bike. I must admit that the setup was ever so slightly long even with my saddle all the way forward, but it wasn’t by much and I would consider riding it again.

Anyway, braking was via TRP Spyre mechanical calipers on Magura disks front and rear. Shifters/brake levers were SRAM Force 1x with a SRAM Force 1x rear mech.

Cranks were the stock Hollowgram SI arms with a left only Stages power meter. I think I ran Time iClic road pedals for the race to get a better platform. The chances of having to walk are super slim.

The wheels were just the stock Stans Arch on Cannondale hubs - the front is cannondale’s Lefty and the rear is whatever they re-badged. Tyres were Schwalbe BIg One 2.25 front and rear running tubeless. They are supper fast and have enough grip. Just a shame they aren’t tan walled as it looked awesome in the photo with the Maxxis tyres on.

Seat post was the stock cannondale Save post and the saddle was my go-to Specialized Phenom (Although it appears to be a Fabric in the photo) and the cages are a left and right pair of Z-cages.

It was an easy enough job to swap the stuff over from the old cross bike but that won’t be happening this year since the cross bike has full internal routing (through the stem style) and that is a total pain in the arse.


Just got the email saying that Dirty Reiver has been cancelled for 2020. Gutted.