Need help deciding if Gravel is best option for me

Hi,

I’m really struggling right now to chose my new bike (yeah I know, there are worse problems in the world at the moment !), and I don’t know if a Gravel is the right fit for me.

I’m a recreational rider. I ride alone and don’t do races (which is as good, with my 2.3 FTP). I go for short rides of 1h30 to 2h in the French countryside with small hills (nothing more than a few miles at a 5% average) and a lot of forest. I ride an entry level road bike : Orbea Avent 30 with Shimano Claris and recently put some 25mm tires on it.

Here’s my struggle: I don’t understand tire widths. I read the entire thread related to it (Big difference between road bike and gravel bike with road tires), but it didn’t help as much as I’d hoped. I like the idea of having a polyvalent bike, that allows me to go in the woods, especially during the winter days and to stay on the somewhat beaten paths. But they tend to get very muddy in winter.

When all is said and told, I’m sure it’ll be 80% road and 20% off road

I suppose the obvious answer would be to try a gravel bike and see how it feels, but it doesn’t seem to be an option where I live. There’s this French maker (Origine) that allows you to conceive your bike from A to Z, and it looks fantastic and I want to give them my money. But I don’t know which one to chose.

On their gravel bikes, that have a very racy feeling to them, you can mount 30mm to 42mm tires on 700c wheels. With a 105 Shimano groupset, this puts it at a $2000 price tag ($150 more for Ultegra, but I know I don’t need it) for 8.6 kgs.

I don’t know if it makes more sense to have 35mm tires, or if I should get 30mm tires for the summer and switch to 40mm ones for the winter ? How big is it a difference between 25mm tires and 35mm tires in terms of power ? If I’m used to 27km/h for 1h30, will I go down to 25km/h on the same distance with 35mm instead of 25mm ? That’s really my biggest concern.

Or should I invest in a complete wheelset (one with 25 or 28mm and the other with 40mm), so I can switch between both easily (but I figure that’s another $300 investment) ?

OR I could just buy a 1 700$ road bike and a $300 mountain bike…hehe…

Here’s the bike I have in mind, but with a compact crankset and 105 shimano

https://www.origine-cycles.com/fr-FR/velo-820996-Graxx-R27.html

thanks a lot for helping me brainstorm this !

for more or less similar reason i bought this bike (2020 Edition), this one looks like the new 2021:

i am totally happy with it, the only thing i changed was the Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000, 11-Speed, 46x36T to Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000, 11-Speed, 50x34 and Schwalbe X-One Allround to Schwalbe G-One

The replacement haven’t cost extra Money, my local Bike Dealer replaced them and of course, it isn’t really expensive

Years ago i had a big crash with a car, so i try to ride not on roads with cars, with this bike it’s perfect

and what tires do you find yourself using the most ?

(and yeah, I want to avoid cars also !)

i replaced the original with this one:

they are fast on road and gravel too, especially on gravel, without any noise not like MTB tires and they have enough grip

EDITH: think the original tires could be perfect for winter:

EDITH2: i haven’t tubeless tires, if you ride a lot indoor, then you can get probs with tubeless tires, couldN#t explain it detailed, because my english isn’t the best

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If it gets really muddy in winter, you might want to get knobbly tyres, like cyclocross tyres, to give you grip in the mud. To fit them on the bike, you’ll need more space than the actual tyre width (because of the knobs, and for mud clearance). A typical tyre would be 33mm, but needs extra space.

You could have just sets of tyres to change, but it is easier to have two sets of wheels tbh.

For the summer, if you ride those roads now on 25mm tyres, you probably don’t need to change much, but a 28mm or 30 mm tyre might feel more confortable, and is less likely to puncture on gravel etc.

Regarding the bike - can you try contacting them, and let them give you advise?

They told me that there definitely was a difference in efficiency on the road with a 35mm tire, but they didn’t really go into detail.

but if 33mm tires can also be confortable on mud, this could be a way…

I’m not going for top aerodynamics, so I could live with, say , a 3% decrease in speed. There must be graphs showing this, right ?

A tyre for mud with knobs will definitively be slower on the road. I wouldn’t ride it in summer, if a smooth road tyre works.

With regards to speed and watts lost for different road tyres - this depends on many factors, tyre width, pressure, road surface, if you run tubes or tubeless, rubber compound, aerodynamics of rim/tyre combination…there are some general rules that say a wider tyre isn’t necessarily slower, but there isn’t a simple graph that shows that.

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From what I understand, 35mm all purpose tires are very good on the road, as long as you don’t go beyond 40km/h. I’m more in the 30-35km/h range myself, so maybe I’m just overthinking things

I often overthink

Personally, having a bike capable of wider tyres is nice. I have a Cannondale where I swap between a set of 28mm GP5000s and 40mm WTB Nanos depending on road vs gravel. The swap is quite quick and if I would say fitness will always slow me on the road over the endurance vs race style of the bike.

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I would save up and spend the extra $150 for ultegra. That’s a steal.

I’m also looking at combining a road bike/gravel bike. Been looking at the Open.

Personally, I would buy 2 wheelsets. One for 28mm road tires and one for 42mm gravel tires (assuming they fit well on the bike and provide plenty of mud clearance). Make sure you pick a gravel tire that sheds mud well (or as well as can be).

Since you’re in France and the bikes are made in France, can the manufacturer get you in touch with a customer who might let you test ride their bike?

Bonus points for using “polyvalent” in a sentence!!

do you swap wheels, or tires ?

Wheels

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Here’s where I am:

I think I’ll go with a gravel, but with a carbon and racy frame (they also have an aluminium model for 15% less, but I don’t like the looks as much). I’ll get 2 sets of wheels. One that’s sold with the bike (Fulcrum 500) with 40mm tubeless tires for the winter and some road.

And a set of basic $150 wheels with 30mm tires so I can still ride on dirt paths during the summer

This looks like a good compromise

(i love those group brainstormings, they really help me think things through)

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Just make sure you post a picture of it when you get it, we all like looking at new bikes :stuck_out_tongue:

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