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Gravel bike?
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Pat Clancy
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Posts: 1352
Location: Manchester, CT

6/26/19 12:26 PM

Gravel bike?

I saw Walter's post about the Lynskey and I have to admit I've been effectively out of cycling for nearly 2 years. What the h*ll is a gravel bike? Is it simply a cross with fatter tires?

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/26/19 12:59 PM

To me, a cross frame and a gravel frame are synonymous.

Now a gravel BIKE may have fat tires and other non-racing components.

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henoch
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 1663

6/26/19 3:06 PM

While you can certainly use a Cross bike for gravel and and gravel bike for CX and true cross bike and true gravel bike will have very different geometry.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/26/19 4:05 PM

Much lower Bottom Bracket drop. But if you wanna run 650b with the disc ready frame, the CX BB drop winds up working perfectly.

CX may have steeper HTA, usually will. But I like the steeper HTA personally. Thus my Gravel bike IS a Pro-CX Linskey.

Also CX bike generally do not fit bigger than a 35, although this has been less so last 5-10 years.

I fit a 1.9 700c MTN tire to test clearance on my Pro-CX. Fit with clearance, although less than I'd wanna get mud closing in the small spacees...

'CX' also generally have a good amount less stack than 'gravel' frames/geom.


Last edited by Sparky on 6/26/19 4:24 PM; edited 1 time in total

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 6312
Location: Maine

6/26/19 4:15 PM

Gravel vs. cross

I have an old cross bike and a new gravel bike. They both ride great on dirt roads. I got the new bike because of component advances, not differences in the frames. Evaluating geometry differences for the most part is above my pay grade, but they both ride had handle fine. The gravel bike has a shorter top tube which I like for climbing and also because some discs (back, not brake) have collapsed in the interim.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/26/19 4:32 PM

More BB drop is a less than subtle geometry trait IMO.

Example, I did 52 miles on a 66mm BB drop bike Monday. Did same ride today with my old Strong with 1CM more drop, both 175mm cranks. Same WB and general geom.
The slight rotation forward makes me hammer more effectively. Does it matter, on a fast group ride, probably.
On a long 100-200 mile ride, also matters, guess which one I prefer for each ride. Higher BB rocket ride [bottle rocket in my case], low BB for century/double...

I finished the first ride in the big ring. In fact never used the 34 Monday. Today I did some... How well I can recover with one day off at my age is another question...

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/26/19 5:07 PM

To henoch‘s point, I think there’re a lot more people using “cross” frame as gravel bike than the reverse.

Cross bikes has been around for decades, albeit a tiny niche (in this country). People have been using them to go anywhere unpaved. But then again, people have also been using touring bikes for the same unpaved roads just as much.

A “gravel bike” is really the latest marketing gimmick, opened to wild and limitless free interpretations. That said, the better offerings are taking the best of the above and coming up with a good compromise. (but no attempt to be a lean and mean cross racing machine)

I suspect “gravel” bikes may completely replace the already on-life-support touring bike market.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/26/19 6:38 PM

>A “gravel bike” is really the latest marketing gimmick.

Not really [IMO], although I felt that way at first back about 2 years ago.


>I suspect “gravel” bikes may completely replace the already on-life-support touring bike market.

A shoot off of gravel 'adventure' will replace touring IMO. The gravel direction changed these pre-existing 'adventure' bikes to be more like 'gravel' marketed designs it seems like. Way more places to bolt stuff on and slower front ends even yet. Some 'plus and fats et al.

I think they will MOSTLY replace the amateur road bikes. Seems like they already have here in the PDX bike mecca, suspect other huge #bike_mecca_cities same.

I am waiting for Trek to discontinue the Domane line. Once they make fat tires fit them they will just be crosschecks at that point anyway.

>To henoch‘s point, I think there’re a lot more people using “cross” frame as gravel bike than the reverse.

Opposite here in PDX observed, and all non disk bikes are super cheap or do not sell.

Examples being the Lynskey Ti Helix Road bike and BMW M road race carbon bike I bought for the Campy 11 speed groups. One SuperRecord, one 80th Anniversary SR. Both wheelsets originally in the 1200-1400.00 range. Both barely used. I paid $2100.00 for both. Ti seatposts, carbon stems and handle bars, tubeless wheels/tires, yada...

I assume markets to be similar elsewhere...

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/26/19 8:31 PM

Given I haven’t been to a cross race for years, I will wait for Henoch (or Brian) to give us their observation on the percentage of “gravel” bikes on the cross courses.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/26/19 8:48 PM

There is cross here big time. Altbough i have not gone to a race since 2016 season. I bet a lot of hardware differences in a few seasons judging by all the cantilever bike foks are trying to call 'gravel' bikes for sale. ;)

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 4553
Location: Nashua, NH

6/26/19 11:28 PM

There's nothing "gimmicky" about gravel bikes...

...and April's assumption that 'cross and gravel frames are interchangeable is completely false. Yes, a lot of people use 'cross frames for more than 'cross racing. After all, you need to train and it's not like there's a boatload of 'cross courses that are kept open all the time for that purpose. Linda uses hers for all kinds of off-road riding. There are also a lot of people like me who use 'cross bikes for gravel/dirt road/singletrack riding, but don't race 'cross. I haven't seen many people racing 'cross on gravel bikes around here, but it's becoming somewhat more common.

That said, the current crop of gravel bikes is dramatically different from traditional 'cross bikes in many more ways than just having disc brakes, which all new 'cross designs do as well. The geometry is completely different, they have huge tire clearance, they have mounts for numerous water bottles, racks and fenders. Many have some form of shock/vibration mitigation, if not actual suspension. These features are typically absent on dedicated 'cross racing bikes.

There is a broad variation in designs depending on their intended use. Those that are aimed at being "one-bike for everything" tend to lean more toward road geometry. Those aimed toward the "adventure" end of the spectrum are more like touring bikes. Although I don't know that gravel bikes will cause the death of touring bikes, they're certainly adaptable to touring and could easily serve a dual purpose.

One thing that's certain is that gravel bikes have inspired a tremendous amount of creativity in design and features. The sheer variety is mind-boggling and some of the new technology is now showing up on road bikes, too. That's been a huge benefit to riders AND manufacturers.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/27/19 5:34 AM


quote:
There is a broad variation in designs depending on their intended use.

That, I call “marketing gimmicks”!

Unless one call all bikes (mtn bike, touring bike, cross bike...not to mention “century bike”, “club ride bike”) as “gravel” bikes!

Last edited by April on 6/27/19 5:42 AM; edited 2 times in total

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/27/19 5:40 AM

My 2008 Gunner “CROSS-hare” has eyelets for racks and fenders. I wonder if Gunner should have marketed it as “gravel bike”?

It’s over 10 years old. Must be the oldest “gravel design” out there?

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walter
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 4380
Location: metro-motown-area

6/28/19 8:39 AM

this is debateable. IMO "very different" is overstated. a few MM in BB height. fractions of degrees in STA/HTA. a few MM in stack/reach.

i see a continuum -- there are road-biased gravel bikes and off-road biased gravel bikes. the former are closer to 'cross, the latter are closer to MTB in some cases.

the trek road bike i bought in the mid 80s had std-reach brakes with really nice tyre clearance and sport-touring geometry -- fitted with modern tyres its a perfect example of a gravel bike (albeit with marginal braking).



quote:
While you can certainly use a Cross bike for gravel and and gravel bike for CX and true cross bike and true gravel bike will have very different geometry.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 4553
Location: Nashua, NH

6/28/19 5:18 PM


quote:
i see a continuum

I agree, that's exactly what's going on; manufacturers are building bikes for the various types of riding that their customers do. Imagine that!? Riders have different needs and preferences and consequently need different features on their bikes.

April calling this a gimmick is ridiculous. It's no different than saying that the variations in nearly every consumer product on the market are nothing but gimmicks. Sure, there are some instances of it, but they're typically rejected by the market and die ignoble deaths.

BTW April, here is what Gunnar says about your CrossHairs:
"The CrossHairs is all about versatility. Though the geometry is ideal for both cyclocross and gravel grinding, you can use it for a wide range of riding, from citizen’s road racing to commuting to light touring. Clearly it’s not afraid of the off-season."

D'oh!

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 6312
Location: Maine

6/28/19 6:15 PM

Crosshairs

I also have an old Crosshairs, with a 531 fork even. It’s a great bike, used it 4x @ D2R2. One year waiting to start I ended up standing next to Sandy Whittlesley, the founder, and he told me how much he liked the bike.

As I said, I got the Checkpoint mostly for newer components, not because I thought the frame would be any better. Though I do like the slightly shorter tt for gravel (though I could put a shorter stem on the Crosshairs).

I have no idea what the bb drop is on either of them. :)

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/28/19 7:46 PM

Crosshares actually has a lot of BB drop for anything CX related. 7.5CM probably the same as the Checkpoint.

A quick 'check' show the Trek has 1mm more BB drop. ;)

The trail figure is almost exaclty the same between the two, as is the HTA. No wonder you liked it when you rode it. ;) It is a plastic lighter disc CX-check. ;) Maybe the Trek fits a little fatter tire??

WB is very close [depends on sizes]

Is the Cross in the name for cross use? Some other bikes I recall did that with more serious than hybrid lines.

Gunnar makes some nice steel stuff. Only complaints I have ready is finish durability. I have come close on the Sport road a few times. But decided I'd get my wheelbase and chainstay kicks with the disc Strong, and now the Mongrel.

So many bikes, and so little time and money... Well I got the time now.

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Nick Payne
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 2456
Location: Canberra, Australia

6/28/19 8:35 PM

I built up an Open UPPER last year, which is pretty much a road bike that can take fat tyres. I ride it in two configurations - on rides that are mostly or all paved, I use 700c wheels with Compass 700x35 extralight tyres, and if there are substantial amounts of unpaved road and fire trails, 650b wheels with Compass 650bx48 extralight tyres. I think the max tyre size it can swallow is around 45mm with 700c or 54mm with 650b.

It handles perfectly well with either set of wheels - even on fairly fast bunch training rides on the road, I don't notice a handicap compared to my road bike(s), and I've had it out on singletrack rides where some of the riders on MTBs were pretty surprised at how well it handled the conditions. Since I built it up, my Lynskey that is limited to narrow tyres has been hanging up and hasn't been ridden, and I'm seriously thinking of selling it, as I can't see that it is going to get ridden much if at all.

The Open frame wasn't cheap, but I'd highly recommend it for an extremely versatile do everything sort of bike.

https://opencycle.com/u.p.(p.e.r.)

I looked around for a similar frame for my wife, but had problems finding anyone making one that was small enough. I eventually found a Carbonda CFR505 frame that has a 44cm seat tube in the XS size, so I bought one of them, though I haven't got around to assembling it yet. The price was more than reasonable - about $US700 direct from the factory in China, and that included painting in the colour of my choice, plus seatpost and headset were part of the frame and fork package:

<a href='https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMmtTSNY6NREMvs9FycRnuVuMh4b2K6KyH2flSS_5ntOjb3WA1gP4LhhmjLV0l-3g?key=bU9Mc3ppU2p2QjVHLTgwSklpTlB2ZGthV2RNc1dn&source=ctrlq.org'><img src='https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/qF-p-TowTkxfdLWQAkaGNWKg9wxvkeIjqFyyib16wd6BJxZX4kfssfxCXsVbbkWufPOtJ97suPya-5G1700Oy27nj0s5kqW9kMcCZ1nv16hOo8hnqlQ3RkSN9jCfB_exgypIvabVFQ=w1200' /></a>

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/28/19 10:04 PM

What BB is it made for? To put in that gaping hole!


The color looks very orange on my PC. But on my droid it is more red. Coral but redder

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Nick Payne
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 2456
Location: Canberra, Australia

6/28/19 10:19 PM

The BB is 386EVO - 46mm diameter, 86mm wide. I had the choice of that or BB86, which is the same width but 41mm diameter. As I already have a couple of bikes with the 386EVO BB, I chose that. Fitted with Wheels Mfg screw-together BBs with angular contact bearings, they don't creak in the slightest and, so far, no trouble with wear in the bearings.

The colour is Pantone Orange 021 C. In real life, it's *very* orange: https://www.pantone.com/color-finder/Orange-021-C

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6592
Location: Westchester/NYC

6/29/19 8:51 PM

Full circle!

Pat Clancy started this thread asking “What the h*ll is a gravel bike? Is it simply a cross with fatter tires?”

Well, according to Brian’s quote from the Gunner description of the Crosshare: a bike can be “ideal for both cross racing and gravel grinding”

So, there’s no such thing as “gravel bikes”, there’s just...cross bike! Different variations of the same theme.

As Pat suspected from the start!

If THAT doesn’t put “gravel” bike into the gimmick department, I don’t know what does. [/list]

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/29/19 9:20 PM

Gunner description of the Crosshare: a bike can be “ideal for both cross racing and gravel grinding”

Ideal? 75mm BB drop Ideal for CX. OK...

Gunnar add speak? Don't CX racers like the choice of going over or having to hoist? Not just having to shoulder/hoist.

Unless this has changed in barrier crossing methods.

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Craig
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 575

6/30/19 8:13 AM

Oh, man, all these labels.... bikes come in all shapes and sizes, man, there are tall bikes, and fat bikes, and short bikes, man. And bikes come from all over.... bikes were coming from Europe and Asia a long time ago and informed what an American bike is in a lot of ways. Can we stop with the labels? And just accept that bikes are all on a spectrum? And some of those bikes do different things than other bikes? but it's wrong to assume that just because a bike is labelled as one thing, that it can't do other things just as well or, sometimes even better than bikes that were specifically made to do that thing?

But, yeah, it's important to understand what geometry does to the handling characteristics of a bike. I don't like high bottom bracket cross bikes so the Gunnar would be perfect for me. 75mm BB drop with larger cross tires puts it at about the same place as a road bike with 70mm BB drop, and, IMHO, that's a sweet spot for handling. 10mm less clearance? Not really worried about it. But I know I'm in the minority. Doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Sure would be nice if we could all spend a couple of weeks with a bike like this:

https://cyclingtips.com/2019/06/the-darren-by-baum-an-adjustable-bike-for-finding-the-ideal-gravel-geometry/

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/30/19 10:15 AM

From that link/article:

"Baum believes gravel bikes can be sorted into at least three purpose-built sub-categories that can be distinguished in various ways."


At least three, eh? ;)



I found that a good read. Take a-ways I have already found in my cycling life:

>fatter tire wider bar with shorter reach more stack etc.
>off piste lower saddle, for me 1 CM [less in article]

Also the wider bars for shorter reaches. I am down to 42s and lower on long road. This from the 46CM bar guy for forever.

Bar comment. I have had some wide Midge bars on and off my disc Strong. I am personally having trouble getting used to this style bars. After reading that I see for fatter tires and loose surface, something I hardly do, they shine. Getting the bike thru a doorway in the house, not so much...

Another take a-way I had not though much about: Steering/bite of front wheel. Something I guess you deal with in real time and not consider much. But how BB drop and/or lack of BB drop effect yada.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17554
Location: Portland, OR

6/30/19 11:18 AM

I am going to toss this in here.

Some seem to be "all that doesn't matter, BB drop? MEH! etc"

Opposite of side of the coin, me [and a few more]. Overly analytical, dissecting et al.

Maybe my 10 years of Moto-CX and the fact that I tend to go stupid fast [at least I used to] when off piste makes my minds eye take a different perspective on what and how the tires do or don't stay connected etc.

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