Recommend trainer and gravel alloy rig

Hi there,
Been looking for a new bike for a while. I already have a 61cm size Jamis Renegade Expert but the frames getting little chunks taken out of it by rocks/stones etc. So I was considering getting an alloy gravel bike as I think it would be more durable and keep the Renegade for purely road use and the Gravel bike for gravel, winter road use and the trainer, so since lots of you are based in the USA and have far more experience of gravel bikes a few questions:

  1. Is you gravel to road bike fit the same to the contact points?
  2. I’ve noticed that many gravel bikes have shorter stems and longer top tubes - is this the norm?
  3. Do any of you use an AL gravel bike on the trainer - any negatives?
  4. Recommendations for bikes - looking at reasonable price points:
    Have considered C/dale Topstone 105 in XL as reach stack match current, Canyon Grail but in XL top tube way too long, Orro Terra Gravel - but it only takes 35mm tyres. Guide to reach and stack would be about 405/640 though the reach depends on the stem too…

Be good to hear some suggestions so I can get something ordered. Have to say may of £1900, lower if possible and UK based. Wheels unimportant as have a good couple of sets already. I had considered that one bike would be good for everything but getting fed up of the frame getting damaged and when it’s away getting repaired difficulty of training…

Cheers and hope you’re all keeping yourselves and your loved ones safe.


Being in the UK, I don’t know what brands you have available to you, but if you were in the US I would rec the Salsa Journeyman. The Topstone is a great bike as well from what I’ve read. Grail is Carbon isn’t it? I wouldn’t consider a bike that limits to 35mm tires. 40mm would be the minimum I would consider, But I don’t know what your gravel is like either so maybe a 35 would be fine?

In a static setup like on a trainer frame material will be irrelevant. Outside on gravel? couldn’t pay me enough to ride aluminum

They offer an aluminum version as well.

Existing threads with lots of options.

UK has better affordable bikes than the US as far as I can tell. Ribble has Aluminium and Steel version of CGR - they are worth checking.

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Why not? :thinking:

@anirudh Good idea with the Ribble but none of the frames are big enough in terms of reach and stack.

Aluminum is horrible at dampening road buzz. Gravel, atleast around here, puts alot of buzz into the bike.

@mcneese.chad thanks I’ll check out those threads.
Still interested in views on bike fit though I would think it’ll be the same as road.

I would think comfort is more than likely down to tyre choice - I’ll be running tubeless and ideally around

Thanks for the clarification on that.

Fit is largely individual.

  • Some like the same setup as their roadie.

  • Others like a more upright and less stretched reach with an aim towards more comfort and potentially related to control on steeper, looser and rougher surfaces.


I’m the opposite. I wouldn’t buy a carbon gravel bike.

Road “buzz” can be greatly reduced by tire pressure. I don’t notice much difference between my carbon road bike and my aluminum road bike.

I have an older aluminum bike (20 years old) than is unbelievably uncomfortable. But aluminum has come a long way and the current crop doesn’t give up much, if any, to a carbon bike.

Anecdotal evidence of course but I wouldn’t rule out a bike based totally on frame material.


@ChrisJDunbar I’m not ruling out an alloy bike. In fact I’d rather have an alloy gravel bike as I think it’d be more robust off road…

I bought a Vitus cross bike from Wiggle to get an off-road bike back in the stable. It was super cheap, but to be honest, it feels great. The wheels are a little heavy, but the frame is superb. On par with the alloy Crux I used to use and a similar weight. It’s obviously not as light as a carbon bike with Force, but for 1/3 of the price, I can’t grumble.

They’ve been making carbon MTB’s for years, I don’t think carbon makes it any less durable.

But they cost way more than alloy versions and I’m not willing to go over my budget. I’m not arguing about the prospective merits of the frame materials.
Higher end alloy frames seem to be more well regarded than cheaper carbon and bottom line as above they’re outside my budget. Unless you can get me a Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra in my budget. :thinking:

Why not go for the top stone 105 in carbon?

Because its outside my budget by £300 by the looks of it.

Agreed. Cost per benefit just isn’t there for me on a carbon gravel bike.

Are we really having the “aluminum is harsh” argument here? Man I thought those days were long gone.

Anyway, OP, I’ve been looking at the Felt Breed for my next gravel rig. Seems like a lot of bang for the buck in that one. Has everything I personally want in a gravel bike, and it may fit your needs too.

My CAADX doesn’t have the tire clearance I want now, so I feel like I’ve “outgrown” it. But fwiw I’ve had that bike 4 years, put 11k miles on it, and rode it on the trainer for 3 years. Not a single issue with it.

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and Budget is a very good reason to exclude carbon. but you were implying that it was too fragile.

I don’t know if you have access to them but a friend has a Breezer Radar. Great steel bike for the price

2x10 SRAM GX and Hydro brakes for $1700 US.