TLDR: Please help me expand my search for a gravel bike beyond the 2-3 that I keep coming back to over and over again. It will primarily be used for solo and group gravel rides and possibly bike packing 1-2 nights per trip. If I enter any races it will just be to participate in the event, not to compete for the podium.
Carbon fiber frame and fork
700 x 45 mm tire clearance
SRAM Rival XPLR 1x
Max price $4000 USD
Geometry similar to my endurance bike (563 mm stack + 16 mm spacers, 388 mm reach + 100 mm stem)
Nice to have:
Front suspension (but not a RockShox or equivalent fork)
SRAM universal derailleur hangar
Stock 160 mm rotors front and rear
CURRENT BIKE: My current bike is a Fezzari Empire size medium. It is an endurance road bike that I’m quite comfortable on. I’ve had issues with a previous bike being too large so I’m (overly?) sensitive to deviating too far from this known geometry. (I don’t know what I don’t know.)
DRIVETRAIN: I’m interested in SRAM Rival XPLR to be compatible with my Empire’s drivetrain and to make switching the stock wheels between bikes easier. I have a set of Hunt Gravel 35 wheels with an XDR freehub that I plan to put on the gravel bike full time. I plan to switch the stock wheels between the gravel bike and Empire as needed if someone else wants to join me (hoping I can get my wife interested in riding).
I acknowledge that I might be able to get a low-tier mechanical SRAM or Shimano group set and upgrade to XPLR for nearly the same cost. For the simplicity of this exercise, let’s limit the suggestions to bikes that come with XPLR.
SUSPENSION: I think it would be nice to have suspension, either in a fork or something like a RedShift stem. Similarly I’d consider an Ergon seat post for the rear. It would be nice if the bike came with it to avoid future expenses, but not a “must have.”
BIKES I’VE CONSIDERED:
Lauf Seigla Weekend Warrior Wireless. This continues to be my top pick but some have commented on the relatively shallow bottom bracket drop and possible speed wobble with the Grit Fork.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 7 eTap. Chain stays are some of the longest I’ve seen (435 mm) but I haven’t heard anything about the handling being sluggish. Don’t really like the Curry Yellow color. Might buy it today if Canyon offered it in the US in Matcha or Dried Kelp.
Giant Revolt Advanced 1 (2022). At the very upper end of my price range. 2022 models have seat tubes crack with the D-shaped seat post - would run a wedge and shim to get to a 27.2 mm seat post ($). Stack, even if slammed, is 7 mm higher than my Empire. 140 mm rear rotor (easy enough to change to 160 mm to be able to swap wheels easily, but more $).
Orbea Terra, 3T Exploro, Trek Checkpoint, Specialized Diverge, Salsa Warbird, and Pinarello anything are all above my price point.
Cervelo Aspero only clears 700 x 40 mm.
Fezzari Shafer geometry is too slack, plus I’m not a fan of the colors.
I can only speak to the Checkpoint. I had a 2020 SL6 and loved it. I replaced it with a small builder handmade frame (to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime milestone) and I’m not sure the Checkpoint isn’t better for my riding; I may end up going back to one.
Anyway, the SL6 axs is just above your price point at $4,500 but it’s nicely spec’d and is basically the same bike as the highest end Checkpoint (SL7) when I bought mine.
The Lauf vs. the Grizl is a full 1º difference in seat-tube angle. If you need a slack STA, that probably works (i.e. use a setback on the Grizl), but if you were like me and need a 73.3º STA then the Lauf would be ruled out; running a negative offset post is generally not a practical option. In short, the fit seems different enough that there’s probably an option here that fits better than others (?)
I haven’t scrutinized the Lauf geometry, but it’s weird to have such a high BB on a gravel bike. The ~75mm drop on the other options here looks about right. But, the 80mm drop on the Giant Revolt sounds great too if you’re not planning to run 650B wheels. My main all-road bike has a 78mm drop and that’s just perfect w/ 40+mm tires.
Suspension is great, but unless you want to commit to a longer axle-to-crown fork, a stem (Redshift or Cane Creek, e.g.) is a lot easier fit-wise. Personally, I think it’s great for long races. I ran a Redshift at Croatan 150, but then swapped it back to a rigid stem when I got back home. For everyday riding, I prefer not having that extra play / occasional creaking sound / change of angle on my bars when hitting a bump.
Definitely +1 on going AXS XPLR. I love that on my road bike (Force XPLR). I have a mullet setup on my bike-packing gravel bike (max tire size 29x2.2") (Rival + GX on that bike) and am about to put Rival XPLR on my more general-purpose all-road bike (max tire size 700x45mm).
@rkoswald - I’ve got a few updates for you after doing gravel events the past two weekends on my Revolt Advanced. Muddy Onion - 55 miles w/ 5400 ft. of climbing and some very muddy Class IV roads, and Rasputitsa, 57 miles w/ 7500 feet of climbing and some singletrack and Class IV roads.
First, the Giant: I freaking love it, along with the SRAM AXS Mullet setup. Everything just worked perfectly without even having to think about it. I’ve got it set up in the long position with 700x50c Maxxis Ramblers and it was fantastic. The ride was smooth over some very chunky gravel and deep, early season washboards. It also handled some thick, muddy singletrack at Rasputitsa quite well, and I was able to ride through sections on the fatter tires that a lot of people had to walk through.
I do think the low BB height helps with stability, as the bike always felt rock solid, both cornering at speed and in the rough stuff. I’m a bigger rider (6’1" and 205ish pounds), but I saw a lot of riders getting kicked around on chunky gravel that I was able to just ride on through, I think because of the combination of low BB and big tire size. “Ride through” was kinda the theme of the day the way it was set up. I’m 100% sold on 50c tires for very rough gravel, although I’ll probably swap the Ramblers out at some point for something that rolls faster. They did feel a little sluggish on pavement and hardpack.
After some of the earlier discussion about the seatpost issues, I opted out of the stock D-shaped seatpost and went with a 30.9 Whisky carbon due to the potential for cracked seat tubes when using the stock setup. To clarify: the stock seatpost does require a wedge (which loves to drop down in the seat tube at every opportunity), but the round seatpost is 100% conventional and does not require a wedge.
For the Seigla: i spent a few minutes riding with a guy on a Seigla w/ the SRAM Red setup (who I weirdly suspect is on this forum), and he had some interesting things to say about it. He said he liked it overall, although since he was coming from a cross bike he didn’t have a ton to compare it to. He did mention a warranty issue with the ethirteen wheels, though. Lauf tried to kick it to ethirteen which would’ve taken a while, so he went back to Lauf and had to convince them to send him a whole replacement bike to get it taken care of quickly. I’d check in with Lauf to see if their new US-based assembly also allows to handle warranty issues directly, which seems like part of the motivation. I’m seeing a whole lot of people on Laufs around here, and I think they’re definitely doing good stuff. The recent price drop makes them even more tempting, and the other guy’s n=1 experience with wheel issues aside, think I’d probably be just as happy with one of those.
@FergusYL thanks for this - I’m always glad when you chime in on my deliberations as you bring up many good points! I’m glad your events went well and that you continue to love the Revolt. It remains one of my Top 3, I just don’t know how much of the increased stack relative to my current bike (+7 mm) I’ll notice. It’s also at the upper end of my price range.
As for the stock eThirteen alloy wheels I was tracking folks having difficulty setting them up tubeless, but most reports I’ve seen come down to poor initial taping. I’ll dig into this a little more.
@jfranci3 I’m definitely seeing the increased reach on some bikes. I’m less concerned about a longer reach as I can easily compensate with a shorter stem. The increased stack has me a little more concerned on some of the bikes because I (only) have 16 mm of spacers on my endurance bike to remove to get back to similar geometry. For bikes like the Revolt (or even Diverge) I’m not sure how much I’ll notice 7+ mm or increased stack, even if slammed.
For the Revolt, for example, the total stack increase is 23 mm, so removing all spacers and slamming the stem still results in a 7 mm increase in stack relative to my current bike. Not sure that’s significant, though.
Gotcha….makes more sense now. But since your previous bike is a road bike, going up a little in stack for a gravel bike is likely not the end of the world. Without seeing all your fit numbers, I’d say you could make it work.
One quick clarification though…
[quote=“rkoswald, post:1, topic:83407”]
Cervelo Aspero only clears 700 x 40 mm[/quote]
I am currently running 45’s on my Aspero with no issues. So if tire clearance was the only limiter for the Aspero, I’d put it back in the consideration mix. It was the perfect gravel bike for me….basically a road bike for gravel.
One other note about stack I’d keep in mind: a lot of will depend on the terrain you’re riding. The riding where I live (and what I enjoy most) tends to skew more to the off-road side than the on-road, with some technical descents and such on a lot of routes I ride. Because of that, I prefer something with a bit more stack. But if you’re primarily going fast on hardpack and such, the Cervelo definitely sounds like a great option.