Gravel Bikes for DK200

So I unexpectedly got unto the Dirty Kanza 200. To celebrate I am going to buy a new bike. What should I get? Right now looking at the Niner RDO, Salsa Warbird and Cannondale Topstone Carbon. I was also thinking that I would be electronic group sets. Thoughts?


Had a buddy test ride the Warbird and the Salsa Cutthroat back to back and bought the Cutthroat. He felt if was close to the same speed, can run bigger tires, and more comfortable in the long haul. I have a Cutthroat upgraded to carbon wheels and it will be gravel bike this year and hopefully at DK next year.

No. 22, Mosaic, DeSalvo, Engin,

I’ll be riding a Lauf True Grit with SRAM Force/Eagle 1x 12-speed Etap, despite our new BMC sponsorship and incoming URS bikes. Currently planning to be on 40mm 700c tires.


I’m on a Lauf True Grit as well. Not etap version. I will likely have size 40 or higher tires. The size 40 maxxis ramblers that came on it measure small. I have wtb resolute 42s on it right now.

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I started crushing really hard on the Norco Search XR series. The bike handles very intuitively. Confidence inspiring on the downhills, and snappy handling. Tons of tire clearance. Mounts that would facilitate whatever light and fast bikepacking ideas I have in the future.

Top of the line build is 6k with etap and Reynolds Carbon wheels:

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Everyone should be buying Evil Chamois Hagars! #belikenate


I know the RLT 9 RDO & Warbird are good choices, and the Topstone probably is too. My finishing year was on a Niner RLT 9 Steel. I’ll probably be on that or a Rodeo Labs Flaanimal with a Lauf fork this year. I would add to your list the Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey and Salsa Cutthroat. FWIW, the people I’ve talked to from Salsa & Rodeo Labs are good humans. Niner has a history of sponsoring and taking care of good people. That matters to me.

Some things to consider:

  • Electronic shifting is great, especially on a day this long and rough. Hand fatigue & numbness is real ya’ll.
  • Watch for clearance on SRAM electronic bikes. The battery on the front deraillieur sticks out in a way that interferes with large rear tires. The rear tire on a factory eTap gravel bike is likely the largest you can fit… on a Di2 bike you can likely still go larger.
  • Be realistic. Unless you’re racing Ted King you’ll want to prioritize comfort over weight and fast handling.
  • Tire width = control & comfort. Most will say you want at least 700x42mm, with clearance for mud. If you’re not used to dirt & rocks consider going wider.
  • A carbon bike with minimal mud clearance will lead to mud sawing through your stays. I’ve seen it happen.

I’m not doing DK but will be doing Rebecca’s Private Idaho and Big Sugar. Big Sugar is sounding like it going to be fair rough terrain. I’m putting together a build centered around a Trek Checkpoint frame. It’s looking like Enve G23 wheels, Enve gravel cockpit, and then SRAM Force/Eagle 1x drivetrain with Quarq PM.

Picked the Enve wheels based on similar design to M525 XC mountain bike wheels which I’ve had incredible results with in terms of resisting flats. G23’s are more compliant and will be a bit more comfortable on long rides. Their gravel bar has some flex engineered into it as well. I considered a 2x Shimano drivetrain, but ultimately I think a 1x is a safer bet in terms of reliability on the long days.

It will be interesting how many Niner MCR’s are out there on the long gravel events this year. I bet there will be some at Leadville as well.


They are close to perfection IMO. Got mine a year ago and still love it. Only wish it had top tube bolts for a bento, and 3-pack mounts on the fork instead of 2 bolt. Highly recommend a test ride if you can do it. I rode it back to back with the warbird, and the ride feel is very different.

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The 2020 Warbird comes with GRX and DI2.

Looks like the perfect tool for the job. Not cheap though.


Not doing DK, but that pink flamingo WB GRX 810 Di2 (should just be 815 :stuck_out_tongue: ) is on the top of my list for this season. There is the mechanical GRX 810 version for a bit less ($4100 vs $5700 for Di2) and in boring black, but it is barely down on specs (alum instead of carbon bar & stem and lower wheels).

I am debating that vs a Lynskey GR300 and a distant maybe for a Trek Checkpoint SLR rumored to be coming in Spring.


FWIW, you want GRX. The ergonomics on the shifters, in particular, are worlds better than Ultegra or equivalent SRAM. The grip feels less like you’re going to bounce off descending into bumpy stuff, and the brake pivot point gives much better leverage for stopping from the tops.


I rode an Otso Warakin steel last year and it was great. I did put a red shift stem on, which I loved. Basic Rival 1x but with a Quarq PM crank, mechanical brakes. Overall very happy with the set up. I did have a derailleur problem where I couldn’t shift into my lowest gear. But sram warrantied it and it has been great since. My only upgrade since then is an amazing pair of November AllRoad wheels with White Industries hubs (sick wheels). My carbon bike pretty much stays on my trainer these days and this is my go to outside bike.

I’m in this year and just trying to decide if I defer or not as I have a lot of travel with family and work.


I have had a Warbird and Diverge, and much prefer the Diverge. It feels more nimble and handles more like a road bike. I like the future shock as well.


Fwiw, @Nate on one of latest podcasts said he was purchasing or did purchase the Cdale Topstone. Looks like a cool bike. My n+1 turned into an n+none after last years Tarmac SL6 purchase.

@cramer312 Cervelo’ Aspero with GRX DI2. 2x up front…48/31 with an 11/34 cassette. Carbon, high volume wheels, Carbon seat post and bars…Boom! Dream build fo that race. Comfy and Fast as heck. Squeezing maximum efficiency from every pedal stroke for all 200 miles. :call_me_hand:t3:


He was looking at the Topstone, but saw the new Evil Chamois Hagar and decided to get that.

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I’m not sure I get the point of that bike. It’s caught in the middle between a gravel bike and an XC MTB. What style of riding/trails is it intended for?

The salsa cutthroat is also a cross between a gravel bike and an XC MTB - but that has a distinct purpose - long cruising rides and multi day bike packing.

Feeling confused :man_shrugging:

Yeah, geometry is very personal and some want a roadie feel on the dirt while others want more stability. I have a Google Sheet with geo’s for bikes I’m considering. It’s showing 55-56cm bikes (my size), and sorted by Head Tube Angle, slack to steep (left to right).

Interesting to see the Wheelbase differences too, despite most being close in terms of Reach & Stack, as well as Seat Tube Angle. All leads to a basic “Stable” on the left to “Agile” trend on the right. BB Drop is another interesting one that varies quite a bit, where lower will tend to keep a center of mass lower.