Nonsense Sunday poll: Struggeling picking a gravel bike. Am I the only one?

I am in for a new gravel bike (since 2019). Though I cannot decide which one to pick. For most bikes I either don’t like their looks, value or geometry.

Am I the only one or do others feel the same?

  • Hell yeah, I feel somewhat similar.
  • Nah, I love my gravel bike. Was a no brainer.

0 voters

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Been on 2015 Trek Boone for 5 seasons. Amazing bike and really only limited by tire size, since it is a CX bike. The addition of Redshift Shockstop stem, 11-40 cassette and matching XT derailleur and Stages L PM let me do any gravel riding I needed. I lucked into what is effectively a limited edition color (flashy neon green) that Trek never sold to customers (long story, but related to SRAM disc recalls).

Upgrade-itus and access to shop deals always left me eyeballing other bikes. But like you, didn’t see the right combo of geometry, components, or even color left me sticking with the Boone.

That was until just now. I snagged the 2020 Salsa Warbird GRX Di2. It had the more relaxed and stable geo, with notable improvement in tire clearance and options (700x45 or 650x51), GRX (my first Di2 bike), and a flashy pink color (I really dislike bland and pure black bikes).

There are a ton of options out there, but hitting the right mix for each rider is a trick. The fact that “gravel” is a loose term and planned use by each rider vary widely leads to a spectrum of different takes on the bikes. It might be one of the toughest categories to shop since it spans so much.


You’re the only one. Just buy one, any one. You’ll love it until you don’t and at the point you can buy something else. Rinse repeat, congrats on being a cyclist.

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The problem in the first place is that I don’t find one that I love. Like I said above, I either dislike their looks, value, geometry or a combination of the three.

Sounds like you don’t want to buy a gravel bike. Solution found :slight_smile: All good.


Nah, I really want one. I really really do. I wouldn’t believe the amount of time I have by now invested in picking one. :slight_smile:

I’m kinda with you. My main problem is that I supplanted my hardtail with the gravel bike because the XC trails were too mellow. However, when things get sketch, I get a bit of the “it’s not enough” at times. I can’t carry enough speed, bounce around a lot, and with low pressure skinny tires, I have to wonder when I’m going to bend my wheels, so go even slower. I can ride it, but can’t really flow the tempo of the trail. I run my bike with SRAM levers, with SRAM MTB components. The 152mm Q-Factor SRAM XX crankset in 42/28, X.7 long cage derailleur and 11-32 road cassette. It’s great on road though, and some mellow trails though I can never keep up with friends on hardtails on the way down.

I got rid of the hardtail because I have a full suspension (Nomad) that rides really well, and my hardtail was more hardcore with a 160mm fork.

I’m thinking I need a fast hardtail, drop bars, road manners, that can handle a bit more burly terrain. In that vein, I have my eye on the Salsa Cutthroat. The Diverge kinda looks interesting, but I would like bigger tires as well, 29x2.1, and not too keen on proprietary parts.


@iamholland- Or just put wider tires on your current bike? :wink:

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@chancie.cycles won’t fit. :wink: I’ve already got the max 40c on there.


I’ve never ridden a gravel bike but looking at them, to the untrained eye they’re appear very similar to the old style mountain bikes I used to ride in the mid to late 1980s but with different handlebars.

Is this a gross misrepresentation or are they, by their nature a similar sort of bike?


I wouldn’t know. Was born at the very end of the 80s. :wink:

To me the interesting aspect of a gravel bike is using it , both, on tarmac as well as dirt roads. It would allow me to avoid busy roads and hence make me ride more outside.

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I use one as my commuter. It’s basically a gravel bike, in a way. It’s not as fast, as it’s heavier and it’s steel, but it’s a great commuter. It no longer looks like this.

Now running 105 triple crank, with outer ring removed, running 42/28 front with 11-23 rear. Shimano barcons, Cane Creek v-brake levers. Fit is like my road bike, 56 equivalent, but too small for a flat bar setup. I run the Rat Trap Pass tires now, faster and lighter. I also no longer use the quill stem adapter, went back to a Nitto quill stem with a Nitto Randonneuring drop bar.

The main difference. 26" tires vs 700c/650b. disc brakes, but I can move to a Surly Double Cross disc, as it’s basically similar geometry. The BB height is a bit higher. Not carbon. Old school quill stem stuff, though the later bikes did have threadless steerers.

FWIW, some bike touring bikes are very much the same. For a long while I’ve been lusting after a Crust Bikes setup. These also, for me, would fit my use, but I do want something lighter and racier, for the faster rides. Every little bit helps when you’re slow and your kids are faster than you.

Edit: The other thing is the head tube angle and the trail, but as the bikes get slacker/relaxed, they start to be more similar. Less road, more off-road. 70/71 HTA with 73 STA.


Hi, first time posting and saw your rockhopper–which is beautiful. Attached is a photo of my 1985 Rock Hopper. Angle was so that the bars would be obvious. No Redshift stem for this bike! I commuted on that bike in Boston for two years in sun, rain, snow, and the most daunting of all, Boston drivers, and the stuff you see on the bike was there then except the grips and pedals I think. The bar shifter were terrible and stiff when new, now only 35 years later they are still stiff and terrible–long live indexing.


I struggled too. Then I decided on the Ibis MX. It’s a great bike but it’s a (Slightly) relaxed road bike with improved (but not ideal) tire clearance. Hope you like 40c tires.

For me it came down to the need for a bike that would get me out there, the perfect bike doesn’t exist yet and I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. There’s better value bikes out there than the Ibis, but I got hooked in with the aesthetics and the vision of cruising forgotten roads and exploring gravel routes and trails. Funny thing is I enjoy it most on pavement now that I have good tires for it. Again, I chose a bike with 40c tires - for most of my riding it’s great but if I was serious about racing rough gravel routes I’d want more. Designers have a tough choice - more clearance leads to FD issues and for me, I need a double. Still it seems like a compromise that needs a better solution.

I think the gravel segment has the most room for improvement. The Ibis shares very similar geo to other gravel bikes. I still find it nervous as hell on high speed all out gravel sections and I’m left wondering if we could have something a bit more relaxed in the HA department with fork offsets to match.

Mountain bikes took forever to figure out geometry, and I’d like to see the gravel segment figure it out sooner, it ain’t there yet.


Thank you! Yours look great as well.

I got mine a long time ago, it was $100 with all original parts (worn out oval chainrings, etc.) It took a while to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Now, these bikes are much more expensive, for just the bare frame. They are quite awesome, I have to say. So versatile.

Three friends have Cutthroats. I’m eyeballing them too. I have a S-Works Crux which is an awesome bike for standard gravel or when doing half gravel/half road rides but when we do adventure riding out in the middle of nowhere and it gets sandy or bumpy they leave me in the dust and then I wish I had a Cutty too.

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Just buy a used one. Find something that will work and then just ride it and then you can think about what would be your perfect gravel bike.

A few years ago, I somehow decided that a Specialized Crux was the one to get. I found a like new one on ebay that was an $8000 build for $3200. It’s been an awesome bike and I’ve had so much fun on it. It was a fantastic winter bike when I lived in Spokane. Now I’m in New Mexico and we do more adventure riding so eventually I’d like to upgrade with something that will take larger tires.

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This year I’m riding a Giant Revolt Pro. It’s stupid fast, comfortable, and closer to a road bike than anything I’ve had before. My previous gravel bike is on the trainer right now Salsa Cutthroat, great choice to come from a mountain bike to.

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What made you go to the Revolt over Cutthroat?

The Cutthroat looks like a fanstastic bike? What would the drawbacks be, it seems to blur that line really well between a HT and a gravel bike.


The Cutthroat is basically a drop bar mountain bike. It’s a fantastic bike when you need wider/fatter rubber.