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Thread: Gravel Racing

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    Gravel Racing

    The old Quiver Killers thread seems to be having some problems. I am finally at peace with my road fleet and now looking to make some progress on my gravel grinder project/dream. I flirted with adding a TT bike or CX bike, but this is probably what I would enjoy more and get a lot more use out of. I have whittled my bikes to check out list down to about 5 potential contenders. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on any of these, especially if you have ridden them in a gravel event:

    1) 2018 Specialized Diverge Sport or Comp

    2.) 2018 Salsa Warbird Apex or Ultegra

    3.) Niner RLT RDO w 105

    4. 2018 Norco Search XR Carbon

    5. Open U.P.

    As it stands right now, I like the Warbird and Diverge most, all things considered. They both check all of my boxes and offer a reasonably priced lineup with different component options plus look good. Both bikes have reviewed well and/or been used by scores of people in countless gravel events. Any thoughts?

    For your viewing enjoyment (or at least for mine):



    Gravel Mob 2017 – Peloton Presents – Gravel Mob
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Sidenote...over on BikeForums, we have a very active gravel board-with many people who built bikes off those exact framesets.

    https://www.bikeforums.net/cyclocros...-recreational/


    Since you're wanting to race, a strong word of caution...those races are grueling and you'll need a TT bag for nutrition and either a camelback or fork with bottle mounts. I mean it. I DNF'd on GravelWorld's 150, this year, due to poor nutrition planning and a murderous course....my roadie mate who finished, in total went through about 12 gels, a bag of jerky, plus water bottle refills at oasis stops and stuff from authorized roadside stands. Some races are very particular about bringing everything you need the whole race yourself or what you can find in towns--which means 8 hours worth of food.

    A few things I remember from seeing build logs on BF.net:

    -The RLT RDO, Open UP and Warbird has CX-style water bosses...it you want to run 2 water bottles you'll need to spacer the ST one as the bosses are low for CX shouldering....OTOH thanks to the low CX style mounts, the frame is better suited for a TT bag for nutrition
    -Only the Norco and the RLT RDO, non have cage provisions on the fork--so you'll need to get original on the others.

    The big thing is tire clearance. And tire choice and pressure are determined by what kind of Gravel you expect to meet. All the bikes on your shortlist top out at around 700Cx40mm, which will suit you on most dry surfaces short of pea-gravel. To go bigger with any of your shortlist bikes, you'll need to do a 650B retrofit--which with disc brakes is easy....and there are several good 650B tires.

    Another raced-hardened bike I'd add to your list:

    Trail Donkey - Rodeo Adventure Labs, LLCRodeo Adventure Labs, LLC

    I did a build log of my beast over on BF BTW, if you want more build ideas:

    https://www.bikeforums.net/cyclocros...ault-bike.html
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

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    Thank you man. This is precisely the kind of information I am looking for. I will try to check out the other thread soon. I sincerely appreciate it. I actually completely forgot about the Trail Donkey 2.0 to be honest. We talked about it in the old Quiver Killers thread and I liked it, but it got lost in the shuffle. I will take another look. Thank you again for all of this info, very helpful.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    Thank you man. This is precisely the kind of information I am looking for. I will try to check out the other thread soon. I sincerely appreciate it. I actually completely forgot about the Trail Donkey 2.0 to be honest. We talked about it in the old Quiver Killers thread and I liked it, but it got lost in the shuffle. I will take another look. Thank you again for all of this info, very helpful.
    Oh and one other bit of food for thought...

    If you look at say the Salsa Warbird Ultegra page....they show a hard-man on a muddy day racing... There's consequences for that kind of ugly messy riding.

    Bottom bracket overhaul.


    One of my mates with his all-weather gravel racing/riding habit racked up $300 worth of parts and labor in BB overhauls this last season due to mud infiltration of modern BBs. They just don't seal as well as good cartridge units of yore. In addition to ride/race entry-fees and travel/nutrition.

    He knew someone who suffered through Land&Run 100:

    The 2017 Land Run 100 Experience - Stillwater, Oklahoma - Gravel Cyclist: The Gravel Cycling Experience

    Which was just a fustercluck, 25% of registrants didn't start, of those that started 90% of the field DNF'd. Several people crashed due to hypothermia and simply being unable to steer anymore. One gal fighting to win ended up second in the women's--hypthermia mentally got to her and she got lost in the finish-town.
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    Oh and one other bit of food for thought...

    If you look at say the Salsa Warbird Ultegra page....they show a hard-man on a muddy day racing... There's consequences for that kind of ugly messy riding.

    Bottom bracket overhaul.


    One of my mates with his all-weather gravel racing/riding habit racked up $300 worth of parts and labor in BB overhauls this last season due to mud infiltration of modern BBs. They just don't seal as well as good cartridge units of yore. In addition to ride/race entry-fees and travel/nutrition.

    He knew someone who suffered through Land&Run 100:

    The 2017 Land Run 100 Experience - Stillwater, Oklahoma - Gravel Cyclist: The Gravel Cycling Experience

    Which was just a fustercluck, 25% of registrants didn't start, of those that started 90% of the field DNF'd. Several people crashed due to hypothermia and simply being unable to steer anymore. One gal fighting to win ended up second in the women's--hypthermia mentally got to her and she got lost in the finish-town.
    Wow, I have heard some horror stories myself. My plan is to participate in races like Georgias gravel series (Red Clay Ramble, etc.), nothing on the level of the major gravel events, but still tough rides. I am not excited about the havoc gravel races wreak on bikes, but CX is no walk in the park for a bike either and its probably the other thing I would seriously consider at this point, so it is what it is. Ill deal with it since not every day will be a race day as many days will probably just involve me cruising on light singletrack, etc.

    Chain Buster Racing
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Nice build btw! It looks like its ready for just about anything you throw at it.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    The Diverge might be moving into pole position as I take a closer look at tire and wheel options + storage, etc. I probably will just go with the Sport Carbon and upgrade/customize a few things to finish it off if I go that route.


    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/me...=239522-152240

    https://roadcyclinguk.com/gear/revie...pGekBwQ6mhe.97
    Last edited by Rashadabd; 11-28-2017 at 01:32 PM.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    There's also this, but this price does not include the fork and is frameset only. I've seen one in person at Podium Multisport and it's an amazing looking bike though. They can do slightly better than MSRP too. The total price probably ends up being a bit too steep for me with most builds though.

    https://shop.litespeed.com/collectio...ed-gravel-700c
    Last edited by Rashadabd; 11-28-2017 at 01:33 PM.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    I've ridden the RLT9 (aluminum version of the RDO) at DK200 twice now, and it did great even bombing the hills with no to very little braking. Also on a few gravel rides around here with 100 feet of climbing / mile on average. I was thinking about upgrading the frame to the RDO this year but really can't justify the cost for 1lb of weight probably. Either would do very well for you on any gravel course you want to ride I'm sure and both are designed to be gravel bikes, not cross bikes. I've also used the RLT9 as a back up bike and my winter / wet weather bike - works well for all that too. I don't have any experience with the others, so can't comment on them.
    Moderation is boring - do epic s##t

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    I've ridden the RLT9 (aluminum version of the RDO) at DK200 twice now, and it did great even bombing the hills with no to very little braking. Also on a few gravel rides around here with 100 feet of climbing / mile on average. I was thinking about upgrading the frame to the RDO this year but really can't justify the cost for 1lb of weight probably. Either would do very well for you on any gravel course you want to ride I'm sure and both are designed to be gravel bikes, not cross bikes. I've also used the RLT9 as a back up bike and my winter / wet weather bike - works well for all that too. I don't have any experience with the others, so can't comment on them.
    Thanks man, I definitely looked at those but wasn't sure about the ride quality and whether they were race oriented enough. I tested a Fuji Jari, which is a similar bike about a year or so ago and I actually felt pretty good on it. I will keep an eye on prices and try to stay open, but right now, I kind of like the price point and the versatility of the Diverge Sport.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    There's also this, but this price does not include the fork and is frameset only. I've seen one in person at Podium Multisport and it's an amazing looking bike though. They can do slightly better than MSRP too. The total price probably ends up being a bit too steep for me with most builds though.

    https://shop.litespeed.com/collectio...ed-gravel-700c
    If you want Titanium, There's a fellow over on BF in the Gravel boards that has that bike. Nice thing, Ti cleans after a dusty or muddy ride faster with less effort.

    Priced lower, variably depending on sales, is Lynskey. Also Carver, like above. Granted doing a build you'll pay more money, OTOH you'll get exactly what you want--also lots of holiday sales on parts this time of year. The Diverge at least comes with lower gearing than the standard roadie compact.

    The joy and curse....tons of options.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    Thanks man, I definitely looked at those but wasn't sure about the ride quality and whether they were race oriented enough.
    Put 40mm tubeless tires on most any bike and it's going to ride smoothly. As far as race oriented - On gravel (at least for me) fast is slow. Meaning I want stability over quick steering - stability is what you want on high speed descents when the road is rough, and lots of other gravel situations. A bike that feels less racey on the road might IS what you want on gravel.

    Not sure how you would go about trying them out this way, but if you can I would definitely try them on gravel vs road so you can see how they handle in the world you plan to use them.
    Last edited by Srode; 11-29-2017 at 03:27 PM.
    Moderation is boring - do epic s##t

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    The old Quiver Killers thread seems to be having some problems. I am finally at peace with my road fleet and now looking to make some progress on my gravel grinder project/dream. I flirted with adding a TT bike or CX bike, but this is probably what I would enjoy more and get a lot more use out of. I have whittled my bikes to check out list down to about 5 potential contenders. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on any of these, especially if you have ridden them in a gravel event:

    1) 2018 Specialized Diverge Sport or Comp

    2.) 2018 Salsa Warbird Apex or Ultegra

    3.) Niner RLT RDO w 105

    4. 2018 Norco Search XR Carbon

    5. Open U.P.

    As it stands right now, I like the Warbird and Diverge most, all things considered. They both check all of my boxes and offer a reasonably priced lineup with different component options plus look good. Both bikes have reviewed well and/or been used by scores of people in countless gravel events. Any thoughts?

    For your viewing enjoyment (or at least for mine):



    Gravel Mob 2017 – Peloton Presents – Gravel Mob
    Hard to beat a Santa Cruz Stigmata or a Pivot if your going to be racing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by biscut View Post
    Hard to beat a Santa Cruz Stigmata or a Pivot if your going to be racing.
    Those are great bikes that have performed well in events like the Giro Grinduro, but their tire clearance limitations can be an issue on muddier and tougher courses as discussed above.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Put 40mm tubeless tires on most any bike and it's going to ride smoothly. As far as race oriented - On gravel (at least for me) fast is slow. Meaning I want stability over quick steering - stability is what you want on high speed descents when the road is rough, and lots of other gravel situations. A bike that feels less racey on the road might not be what you find you want on gravel.
    Absolutely for sure. Although I think the last sentence isn't what was intended to say. Less racy on the road IS what you find you want on gravel. Any bike that feels 'racy' on a road test ride is going to be a disadvantage for longer gravel rides/races. Stable is fast on gravel.

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    Rash...thing you want to consider and test if possible if you go in the direction of the Diverge is whether you want the future shock or not. Opinions are divided for the simple reason that wider tires ridden at lower pressure remove much of the benefit of the future shock and of course a non future shock Diverge has a bit more control out of the saddle in particular. So you may want to consider a '17 Diverge without future shock versus a '18 model. Honestly, if you have ridden an Al Diverge with no future shock but with suitably wide tires at low pressure to shred gravel, bang for buck this is the sweet spot for the weekend warrior. Of course you can go carbon but you pay about $1K more for a handful of gram savings with very little difference in ride quality if you are on larger volume tires.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7me5U83ujk

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    Quote Originally Posted by 11spd View Post
    Rash...thing you want to consider and test if possible if you go in the direction of the Diverge is whether you want the future shock or not. Opinions are divided for the simple reason that wider tires ridden at lower pressure remove much of the benefit of the future shock and of course a non future shock Diverge has a bit more control out of the saddle in particular. So you may want to consider a '17 Diverge without future shock versus a '18 model. Honestly, if you have ridden an Al Diverge with no future shock but with suitably wide tires at low pressure to shred gravel, bang for buck this is the sweet spot for the weekend warrior. Of course you can go carbon but you pay about $1K more for a handful of gram savings with very little difference in ride quality if you are on larger volume tires.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7me5U83ujk
    Thanks man, I tested it on the Roubaix when they first came out and don't mind it at all to be honest. It was a little weird for the first 5 minutes or so, but not a problem at all after that. I openly concede that it can legitimately be viewed as overkill, but I think it makes a bit more sense on the Diverge than it does on the Roubaix as well and the pros outweigh the cons for me here. I get what you are saying though. Thanks again.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    More footage from some of this year's big races to follow:

    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    Thanks man, I tested it on the Roubaix when they first came out and don't mind it at all to be honest. It was a little weird for the first 5 minutes or so, but not a problem at all after that. I openly concede that it can legitimately be viewed as overkill, but I think it makes a bit more sense on the Diverge than it does on the Roubaix as well and the pros outweigh the cons for me here. I get what you are saying though. Thanks again.
    Cool. Wanted to give you both sides. I believe I may fall in your camp. No future shock on road but future shock may indeed be preferred for gravel and single track. You could probably tell that Durianrider was on the fence as well.

    There is a real compelling video about which bike is fastest on the cobbles from the GCN which is must see which btw comports with my experience as well. I was fastest on my 29'er versus a dedicated gravel bike on the rough stuff. I built a rigid Ti 29er 1x9. Loved the bike btw and preferred it to a dropbar bike on the rough stuff.
    Check it out....GCN boys rock da haus:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvO74sZxVs4
    Last edited by 11spd; 11-29-2017 at 06:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 11spd View Post
    Cool. Wanted to give you both sides. I believe I may fall in your camp. No future shock on road but future shock may indeed be preferred for gravel and single track. You could probably tell that Durianrider was on the fence as well.

    There is a real compelling video about which bike is fastest on the cobbles from the GCN which is must see which btw comports with my experience as well. I was fastest on my 29'er versus a dedicated gravel bike on the rough stuff. I built a rigid Ti 29er 1x9. Loved the bike btw and preferred it to a dropbar bike on the rough stuff.
    Check it out....luv the GCN boys:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvO74sZxVs4
    I saw that and almost went with a XC MTB because of it, lol. There's also a number of heavy hitters in the gravel racing world that regularly win and podium on HT MTBs. I am mostly in it for the fun though, so the Diverge with high volume wheels and tires is more than fine for me. I want to be competitive, but I am mostly hoping to just have a blast. I love me some GCN.....
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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