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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    what bike for gravel?

    Signing up for some 100 mile gravel road races(rides). I'm 50 years old but do alot of road and mountain biking, also just bought a Salsa Mukluk this year and riding snowmobile trails to stay in shape.
    My Question is what should I be Looking forr as far as frame material, wheels, style of bike more of a cyclocross or touring bike?
    I am 5'6 and 160 pounds, Right now I am looking at a Masi special, Kona Major Jake, and a Motobacane titanium cross bike.

    Any advice or help would be appreciated,thank you in advance. And as for the Motobecane, I been down that rode and had no problems with Bikes Direct and my lbs also got business with the parts i swapped out and maintance of that bike and my other bikes.

  2. #2
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    I always use my Bianchi Axis cross bike for that stuff out here in NorCal.

  3. #3
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    I think you are on the right track. I do most of my training on a cross bike on gravel. Any of those bikes will work fine for gravel. The fit is more important than the differences between the bikes. I'd get the one with the best fit.

  4. #4
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    A Ti or steel cross bike would be ideal.

  5. #5
    MB1
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    The real question is, "What do you already own that can make do for the first race?"

    After that you will know if it works or if you need something else.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  6. #6
    What it is
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    What kind of gravel?

    Hard-packed? Use a cross bike
    Loose or fresh? Use a mountain bike

    I would base my bike choice on how loose was the gravel. I would want a bigger tire on loose small gravel.

  7. #7
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    Another option

    I've found myself intrigued by the Rawland Drakkar. Seems it would work extremely well for any variation of gravel race. See http://www.rawlandcycles.com/

  8. #8
    Anti-Hero
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    Whatever road bike you have now +25c hardcase tires.
    No turkey unless it's a club sandwich
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  9. #9
    waterproof*
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    Whatever road bike you have now +25c hardcase tires.
    this. or maybe 28 if you really feel you need it.

    Pic from a gravel road race. Most of the guys were on cx bikes.


    I was on my regular Cannondale road bike with 25c tires. 87 miles, no flats.
    The trick is to pump the up hard so they don't pinch flat.

    * posted by Creakybot 2013 all rights reserved.
    * not actually waterproof.

  10. #10
    m_s
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    oh lonesome road for you
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    ^
    for dirt roads that tame I might road tires too. Or more likely some tough touring tires in the 32mm range.

    Dirt roads to me usually means national forest/fire roads which get way nastier with bigger rocks and potholes, as well as being in the mountains so fast and curvy descents where you want cornering traction.

    So the answer is just "it depends." I'd look at what other people use for the specific races.

  11. #11
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    On rough fire roads using my cross bike I run Bontrager Jones CXR 700X34. They are sort of knobby. What I see above is smooth road by comparison and you would not need this Bontrager. An overkill and dead weight.

  12. #12
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    I believe a CX race bike is the best race bike for gravel.

    I disagree with the guy who said that 25s or 28s are fine- the early season gravel races around here often have fresh gravel and/or large chunks of rock on them. I run 28s all the way up to 44s depending on the situation.

    I'd want a bike that clears 40s at a minimum unless you are going to try to get by without buying a "gravel" bike and a road bike. Of course, your gravel bike should also make a great cx bike.

    I had a Vaya for a while this year (you can see two of us in the dk200 special issue of xxc on them) and honestly prefer my dedacciai fire aluminum frame I'm now riding.

    my 2 cents

  13. #13
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    If there are long distances between feeds, or water stops, make sure whatever you buy has 2 bottle cages. Many cx race bikes have one mount, some have none. There are other options, but nothing as nice or convenient as having two bottles on the bike.

  14. #14
    Avid indoorsman
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    I don't race but I ride gravel a fair bit. I have a Masi Speciale CX which I use for gravel and I like it. Most of the time I use 32c Panaracer Pasela TG tires which are probably not the best ones but work fine for me.
    Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
    -- Groucho Marx

  15. #15
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    if the race is long enough you'll need more than that anyways- cambelbak bladder in a jandd frame bag works great! I also have the profile design dual cage setup that mounts to the seatpost. You can also just add a mount either by drilling or with an add-on.

    This is a good point, but don't let the number of bosses determine your bike choice either... we'd all be on Fargos

  16. #16
    Formosan Cyclocross
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    Look at the Salsa Vaya or La Cruz Ti. They seem to have had this type of riding in mind when they designed the bikes.

  17. #17
    Abort Retry, Fail?
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    This Blogger I follow built this, its salsa and it looks like He put 26inch wheels on it instead.

  18. #18
    A wheelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenS
    Hard-packed? Use a cross bike
    Loose or fresh? Use a mountain bike
    I would base my bike choice on how loose was the gravel. I would want a bigger tire on loose small gravel.
    ^^^ This is the answer. I do LOTS of dirt & gravel road riding and it ranges (the same piece of road; different times of year) from hard-packed dirt that could be ridden ok with a regular road bike with 100psi 25mm tires to stuff that my mountain bike won't handle. When the roads are newly graded they're just about impossible to ride until some packing occurs.

    So before the OP's question can be answered, the road conditions have to be factored in. And those, for me anyway, are a big moving target.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

    I'm not cranky; I just have a violent reaction to stupid people.

  19. #19
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike TV
    visit my home wheelbuilding site for Newb motivation.

    "In most cases it is best to build standard wheels - standard wheels, but good ones - and not yield to fashion, folklore, or advertising." - Jobst Brandt. .
    Great looking site. I'm becoming inspired to build a wheel.
    1995 Waterford 1200
    1999 Waterford RSE-11
    Plus a host of old bikes too many to list.

  20. #20
    A wheelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    Great looking site.
    Hahahaha, it's in serious need of some fanciness but it works.

    I'm becoming inspired to build a wheel.
    See....it DID its job!
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

    I'm not cranky; I just have a violent reaction to stupid people.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2silent
    I disagree with the guy who said that 25s or 28s are fine- the early season gravel races around here often have fresh gravel and/or large chunks of rock on them. I run 28s all the way up to 44s depending on the situation.
    In my gravelly experience, 2silent is totally correct -- the type and size of tire to choose is road condition dependent. In mid-MO, our gravel ride/races cover roads with everything from finely crushed limestone to rivers of golfball-sized rocks. I used to ride regular cross-bike racing tires, but lots of punctures later (the chert in our limestone makes little arrowheads that go right through tire casings), I have moved toward puncture-resistant 700C touring tires. I happen to like Contis -- their touring 700X32 and 700X37 tires work well for me (Touring Contact, Country Ride, Top Contact), but any of the big brands have similar models.

    I personally think that tire tread pattern makes little to no difference on gravel (those little rocks are pretty squirmy), especially compared to tire volume and tread footprint, but that's just my take on it. Knobs do look cool.

    Have fun on the rocks!

    Dale

  22. #22
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    I did my first gravel ride/Fondo/race last march, I rode a cross check with 28MM gatorskins, worked well for the course, smaller smoother gravel and pavement, about half and half for about 80 miles, running a 48/39 front ring and a 12-26 rear 9speed, decent wheels, carbon fork w fender mounts I found on craigslist for cheap, didn't even take off the rack and fenders for the ride, and made it up some big hills just fine, along with keeping up in a fast pack on the flatter road sections, not super light, especially with rack and fenders which I should have taken off, but light enough, good easy geometry and it's a bike I've ridden since about 2001 when it started out as my SS cross racer, so it is really familiar ride to me.

  23. #23
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    Re: what bike for gravel?

    I used my Secteur with 28c Panaracer Paselas. But it was probably overkill. Most people were on race bikes. The organizers recommended 25c tires.

  24. #24
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    fargo

  25. #25
    Trigger Warning
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    Quote Originally Posted by screwylouie2day View Post
    I been down that rode and had no problems with Bikes Direct ...
    Why not the Fuji?

    Save Up To 60% Off Cross Bikes - Cyclocross - Fuji Altamira CX 2.0 Cross Bikes


    also in the $2000 range is this Wilier:
    2013 Wilier Cross Carbon/SRAM Force/Rival Complete Bike - Competitive Cyclist

    The latter has a 50/34 crank (the Fuji has 46/36). I'd prefer 50/34 for gravel but either will work.

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