Gravel Bike - suspension or not?

Figured I’d chime in here as one of the minority in favor of real suspension on gravel bikes. I’ve been running an MRP Baxter 2.0 fork on my Open UPPER for the last few months, and really think a lot of people would have their opinion swayed after a few big rides on the bike. I have found it to be faster, and more importantly IMO a whole lot more comfortable, over chunkier terrain than a rigid fork. I have pretty much constant neck pain from a spine disorder, and have found that the suspension fork makes a straight up night and day difference in how I feel after huge rides. The added comfort throughout the day also lets you feel fresher and focus on riding hard, which I think is a factor that people often overlook despite it being a very big deal. Additionally, the MRP has a lockout that I use whenever on pure asphalt and with it engaged genuinely forget I have a suspension fork. Very rigid.

My Open built up with the fork and Spesh pathfinder pro’s in 42mm, weighs 19.3lbs (with pedals and cages) in the setup I will be running for Unbound 200 this week.

I think if your “gravel” rides are primarily smooth dirt roads than it obviously doesn’t make sense to run true suspension. But as soon as the road is even slightly bumpier I’d be willing to argue that almost everyone would be faster as a whole when running a short travel suspension fork.

6 Likes

I’d rather for Future Shock type suspension, I suppose it has better characteristics

Where were you on the fit spectrum for your Lauf?

I’m 182cm which is top end of Medium and 183 starting for Large. Have ordered the Medium with aim to put on a 90mm stem.

I feel that going on a Large would be driving an oil tanker with their sizing. My previous bike I was 2-3cm into the bottom of their sizing chart and rode a Large with a 90mm stem.

Tires first, then you don’t need a suspension.

In my last “new” gravel (a very very Chinese one :D) I have 2,2" (real 56mm Kenda Saber Pro) tires. Big tires + low pressure and never thought about suspension, comparing to old bike with 40mm tires it is a totally different world in terms of ride smoothness and speed on even small rocks or well, gravel.

Very little frame, low stack - also not possible with suspension fork. It is just like my road bike. It rides like my road bike, it feels like my road bike. Just one with massive tires and I feel I can go anywhere with it.

Sorry, it’s been a few years and I don’t remember. The problem with those fit spectrums is they don’t take into account leg, torso, and arm lengths, or rider fit preferences (upright/aero). Every shop I go to tries to put me on a 56, and every fitter tells me to go 58. I think the reality is that I need a 57. I personally prefer shorter stems with longer top tubes.

@SirDAN did you get your Lauf? How do you like it? I’m seriously considering the Seigla Weekend Warrior Wireless and debating between the Lauf suspension fork and the RedShift or CaneCreek stem. In my case my gravel riding will primarily be mid-atlantic and north-east USA. I may also bring / store it at work for early morning workouts around a local, flat, park road, so the comments about the Lauf fork making the front end feel “loose” on pavement when putting out power have me a bit concerned. I’m very drawn to the fact that it has similar geometry as my road bike.

Where are you riding? By the time you need suspension you usually need MTB size tires too. The exception might be post hole and washboard dirt (proper) roads.

I rented a roubaix in Naples FL, which has (had??) the worlds smoothest roads. I didn’t find it distracting. The rear end rode like a normal bike.

Every other time I wanted suspension, really needed an XC mtb. Front forks aren’t good for road duty for a few reasons. Rear suspension takes up space I use for water bottles and a frame bag. A good seat post (like Ergon/Canyons post) goes a long way. In front, flexy bars and riding in the drops help a lot.

Hi. I did get it. Got the Race a wireless Rigid Seigla. Flys like a plane. Had no issues with delivery nor putting it all together. It’s light and responsive. Almost what I think a road bike would be like. And light. Swapped out my stem for a Redshift shock stem as per my last bike. I have added two wheelsets both with eThirteen 9-46 12spd cassettes and a SRAM GX AXS deraileur, and additional chain. Will use the extra wheel set components for the touring and bigger tyres. Have learnt that the flattop chain is exclusive to the XPLR 10-44 cassette, however, the chain ring is interchageable between a standard 12spd and flattop chain. Also got myself two chainrings 38 & 42. The white paint is beautiful. Love my bike. I am sure you will be happy should you go that route. Let me know :metal:t3:

3 Likes