Gravel bike? - tell me you 'roady' experiences

A lot of my friends have bought Salsa Cutthroats which take a 55-60mm tire and they do so much better in these kinds of conditions. A Cutthroat is basically a drop bar mountain bike.

We are moving out of state so I’m leaving the desert moon dust behind me but if I were staying I’d get a Cutty or some other bike that will take a 2.4" tire or maybe even a 650B/27.5" wide tire option.

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Yeah, that’s my plan in the future. I have aspirations of doing some long distance bikepacking (and eventually the Tour Divide) so I have been looking at Cutthroats and the Fargo. However I bought a TT bike from the classifieds yesterday so my spouse might kill me if I turned around and picked up another one, haha. In the meantime I have a gravel/road bike, a fat bike, a FS MTB, and now this TT bike so plenty of things to entertain me and keep me riding.

If dirt was my only domain, I would definitely have a drop bar MTB setup with 27.5+ or 29+ capabilities. Big tires are fun!

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I have a Topstone alloy with Sora, which acts as my gravel, CX, second road and occasional turbo bike. I mainly bought it to save my main bike miles and the grief of being put in a car often (I often take bikes with me on the road). In this respect it’s been perfect, I don’t worry about scratching it up and Sora is perfectly adequate. It can handle almost any surface short of MTB territory.

However, that word ‘adequate’ sums up a lot about the bike, which I knew when I bought it, but is important to remember if you think it’ll feel as good on the road as a proper road bike. It’s nearly as fast, can definitely take it on the club run if I had to, but it doesn’t come close in terms of putting a smile on my face vs my Supersix. But that’s ok if you’re heading for gravel trails and road is only a small part of the route, and like I said, it’s not like it’s that bad!

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Whoa guys - thanks for all the really helpful responses. It looks like once I’m back riding after my recovery I will be pressing the Go on a gravel bike. :+1:

Now which one to choose from?? :thinking: :thinking: :thinking: :grin: :grin:

Liking at the moment (early days of internet searching):

  • Cannondale Topstone (I have a synapse so keeping it in the Cannondale family)
  • Canyon Grail (seems to be a hell of a lot of bike for the £££)

Diverge seems a bit more pricey
Unsure about a Ribble
Cervello is out of my wallet range

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FWIW as a point of reference, my Ribble R872 has been great. Quality is good, build was good etc. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another and the price difference with “name brands” allowed me to buy carbon wheels. The CGR Ti looks amazing

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That’s great feedback - thanks :+1:t2:

I’ll second this, I dont have a Ribble but know a ton of people that do and they’ve only had good things to say about them.

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Two years ago I jumped on Niner RLT9 Ultegra build that I found on clearance. There’s nothing radically different from the drivetrain of my road bike, actually less range at the extremes. 11-32 cassette and CX style 46-36 crankset versus an 11-32 and 50-34 compact on my road bike. It also came with 35C Schwalbe G-ONE tires. They roll very well on the road and are plenty good for the gravel roads around me.

I took it out for a maiden voyage on very familiar route, 30 miles round trip, all paved. I honestly felt slow that whole ride, somewhat demoralizing. Once I started reviewing the data however it turned out to be my best time ever on that route. I think it was just the fatter tires running at lower pressure blunts a lot of the road vibration and I perceived that as feeling slower, when in truth I was moving along an average 1/2mph faster over the entire ride.

Since then I’ve come to appreciate it more and more and it’s pretty much become my go to bike now. It’s certainly more stable, comfortable, and my fitness level it’s been consistently faster than my road bike.

That being said, this is all experience from a rider that has never done any structured training until very recently, figure I was in the 2.2W/kg range. I suspect my perceptions will change as my fitness improves and I’ll begin to find my dedicated road bike has an advantage as I get fitter and faster. I don’t know if it will sway me one way or the other, but I look forward to figuring it out.

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Only had one ride on my gravel bike but thought I would share my experiences. After doing the Rapha day in hell ride on my Canyon road bike with rim brakes, I had an absolute ball loving trudging through some mud and carving my way over fast gravel, I made my mind up I would be buying a gravel bike.
I bought a Vitus Substance in size small, I was amazed at how tall it felt, one thing I hadn’t really taken in to account was the higher BB. It felt borderline too big, even though my reach etc was perfect, it just felt so strange being that bit higher, used to my Tarmac and Canyon I suppose.
It runs 650b wheels and as yet not converted these to tubeless but I will. I cannot believe how much comfort there was, as I say only had one ride and not true gravel but some of the roads are shocking around me and this made them all feel like glass.
Once I got used to the higher position and the resulting centre of gravity difference I really enjoyed it, yes it was slower but the gearing made climbing easy(ish) and the comfort made me want to keep riding.
I have said I have only had one ride on this and the reason is whilst on my return home I made a normal left turn on a descent and came off, simple silly thing but alas I have broken my hip and my face. I was looking forward to riding the winter on gravel the year and once I heal I will be back.
My biggest take away was the higher BB, I also felt this on a CX bike I had, made the ride feel so different from my road bike. Once you get past this gravel bikes seem great fun.
I will let you know how my second ride goes lol

Bloody hell- ouch! Speedy recovery mate, hope to hear more of your gravel rides when you’re back up and riding again!!

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Holy thread resurrection Batman … :joy:

Coming back here to update. Recovery from injuries took (a lot) longer than anticipated with some partial hand paralysis that decided to show its face in October and basically confine me to indoors until very recently.

On the up side my gravel bike hankering received a welcome shot in the arm.

New thread / topic recently started below:

Happy days :grin::grin::grin:

I’ve done 8-10 gravel grinders here in central Texas over the past year and love it. I’m using a Ridley cx bike w/ Hunt tubless wheels and 38mm Gravel Kings. Most of the routes are about 70% gravel/30% tertiary paved roads (ie rough chip and seal). Yesterday was a 68 mile race. I fell in with 4 other people working well together in a pace line. We averaged 18.5 mph over the first 50 miles (most of that into head/cross head wind). Group fell apart at some point and I soloed in w/ final ave of 18.2, so no, I don’t feel like the efforts are much slower than road. Biggest shock to me was riding washboards - kind of like dirt pave. So I got a Red Shift suspension seat post and that made a huge difference. YMMW

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I Love gravel bikes

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I am perfectly happy that people don’t seem to be picking up on the advantages of a suspension seatpost. I’m OK keeping that advantage to myself. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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