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Anyone switch from a titanium gravel/cross bike to carbon.... ?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Anyone switch from a titanium gravel/cross bike to carbon.... ?

Old 06-04-20, 07:49 PM
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rumatt
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Anyone switch from a titanium gravel/cross bike to carbon.... ?

If anyone has spent time on both titanium and carbon gravel bikes I'd love to hear your thoughts on how they compare and if you can relate to anything I'm saying below.

I have two bikes I switch between:

1) Carbon road bike (Parlee Z4) with small-ish tires (25/28c Continental)
2) Titanium cross bike (Habanaro) with large-ish tires (38c Gravel King's)

I'm wondering if buying a carbon gravel bike (like the Open UP) would give me what I'm looking for by combining the best of both bikes into one... or am I throwing money up the wrong tree.

The carbon road bike feels so responsive, I love it. When I stomp on the pedals I can feel that energy translate to forward movement - it's so rewarding to put down power. I feel very connected to the road. And the handling is great too.

However, when I hit bad sections of road - bumps, cracks, etc - the road bike is flat out unpleasant. Even with 25/28c tires it still sucks. Bumps go right up my wrists and I miss the other bike.

Ti bike on 38c tires is a Cadillac on rough roads. I blast right through them comfort. However, the rest of the time bike just feels both a) slow, b) less responsive, and c) disconnected from the road. I'm trying to figure out how much of this is from the tires and how much is the frame.

I also ride a lot of short-but-steep hills (15+% grade) and they really suck on the Ti bike. It has lower gearing than the road bike yet it still feels harder to get up the hills. It feels like I'm putting down power but going nowhere. Standing up and putting down power is thoroughly unrewarding compared to the road bike. I know the BB flexes a lot under power - I've had it on a trainer and seen it moving. But is this actually sucking half my power, or just creating an illusion/perception that it's slower because I can't feel the bike shoot forward instantly? I'm not sure, but I do know that climbing hills on this bike is significantly less.

So the question is - can I get the best of both worlds with a carbon frame on the same 38c (or maybe 32) tires? Or is it the tires that are sucking the life out of me on the climbs and making me feel so slow and disconnected from the road? I'd put my 38c Gravel Kings on my carbon road bike to test them out if I could, but they obviously won't fit!
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Old 06-04-20, 09:41 PM
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I have to apologize to the Ti lovers in advance.

I have owned both an was in love with the idea of Ti, but the reality is, durability aside quality carbon is hands down better at just about everything related to gravel. Carbon is really outstanding especially for gravel because you can vary the material, thickness, ply direction etc. everywhere in the frame to really achieve the holy grail for gravel of laterally stiff and vertically compliant. You have a lot more limits with a round metal tube, even with hydroforming and selective tempering. I ride an Open as my main bike and frankly, it is black magic. Vroomen from Cervelo and Kessler from BMC really know what they are doing and you will find an Open as crazy fast, handles like it is on rails and incredibly comfortable. You can ride it forever it seems like and you may get tired but not fatigued from road vibration. It makes the Specialized Diverge look like a winter beater in comparison. In gravel you look back and wonder where all of the bumps went. An Open is expensive but worth every cent. My wife rides a WI.DE and I ride an U.P. Mostly 650b wheels with Rene Herse tires and for now Ultegra drive train with Easton 46-30 sub compact crank. We ride gravel maybe 3 times a week sometimes and some road in between. I do not even own a road bike anymore, there is no point to it as far as I am concerned as the comfort on gravel becomes comfort and speed on the road. I have a Ritchey Ti Breakaway for sale right now actually and it is a beautiful bike. It will last forever, hanging in my garage however. A great ride is way more important to me than a bike that will last forever at this point. Go out for a test ride and see for yourself.

Gravel King 35 or 38 slicks, or Rene Herse or Challenge Strada Bianca tires on it for the best experience as far as I am concerned with 700c or Vittoria Terreno Dry for 650b.
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Old 06-04-20, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
I ride an Open as my main bike and frankly, it is black magic. Vroomen from Cervelo and Kessler from BMC really know what they are doing and you will find an Open as crazy fast, handles like it is on rails and incredibly comfortable.
Wow, thanks dwmckee. I think this secretly what I was hoping to hear.. and my wallet was hoping not to hear.

My wife rides a WI.DE and I ride an U.P. Mostly 650b wheels with Rene Herse tires and for now Ultegra drive train with Easton 46-30 sub compact crank.
Any thoughts on WI.DE vs U.P.? I'm not convinced I'll need massive tires to justify the WIDE, but I do like the additional stack. And who knows, maybe I'd use the additional tire space from time to time.

Is there any down side to the WI.DE other than having to be 1x?
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Old 06-05-20, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by rumatt View Post
So the question is - can I get the best of both worlds with a carbon frame on the same 38c (or maybe 32) tires? Or is it the tires that are sucking the life out of me on the climbs and making me feel so slow and disconnected from the road? I'd put my 38c Gravel Kings on my carbon road bike to test them out if I could, but they obviously won't fit!
I'm the opposite, currently have a carbon gravel bike (and love it!), but thinking about ti for durability, because I'm beating the crap out of the carbon bike. You can't put big tires on your carbon bike, but you can put road tires on your ti bike and see how it feels, then you'll know if it's the frame or the tires.
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Old 06-05-20, 07:27 AM
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very interesting thread indeed! I had a steel bike, tested many carbon gravel bike and now I own Enigma Escape titanium gravel bike. My thoughts are that Enigma titanium Escape is far superior in terms of frame stiffness and power transfer to my previous steel Jamis Renegade bike but it is still worse in that department than a proper carbon gravel bike like Canyon Grail of Cannondale Topstone carbon. But, it is at the level of new Specialized Diverge (which interestingly also has a threaded BB) so I can at least say that I am somehow in a carbon ballpark in terms of the frame stiffness. Compliance is very comparable to steel but achieved with less noticeable flex so I like it more and compared to carbon gravel bikes, especially at the rear my titanium bike is superior in terms of comfort. Front with Redshift suspension stem and carbon handlebar is also very good but something like FutureShock from Spec is better and even Topstone Carbon with Save handlebar is very close to my titanium bike, so nothing spectacular here. But to sum everything up: I like titanium much more than my steel bike but I do too think that a great carbon frame can be very similar in terms of compliance to titanium and noticeably better in terms of power transfer so yes, a premium carbon bike (like Open bikes you have mentioned) is superior. And lighter at the same time. Now I ride with my son using kids carrier mounted on the rear rack (a thing that is rarely possible with carbon frame) but next year, when he will finally ride alone, there is a very good chance that I will be switching to carbon...

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Old 06-05-20, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by rumatt View Post
Wow, thanks dwmckee. I think this secretly what I was hoping to hear.. and my wallet was hoping not to hear.


Any thoughts on WI.DE vs U.P.? I'm not convinced I'll need massive tires to justify the WIDE, but I do like the additional stack. And who knows, maybe I'd use the additional tire space from time to time.

Is there any down side to the WI.DE other than having to be 1x?
The wide is just wider than I will ever need and I am a 2x hang-on so regular is fantastic. No real downside other than 1x only. What size are you and do you have parts to build on a frame? I might have a line on a used one.
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Old 06-06-20, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
I'm the opposite, currently have a carbon gravel bike (and love it!), but thinking about ti for durability, because I'm beating the crap out of the carbon bike. You can't put big tires on your carbon bike, but you can put road tires on your ti bike and see how it feels, then you'll know if it's the frame or the tires.
my ti is bombproof. i ride it rain, snow or shine no fears.
howwver since it is more road/cx 35-36 is about max with current wheels.
but i do crave newer full blown gravel bike of any material.
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Old 06-08-20, 09:54 AM
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I think you are right on - I high end carbon frame, like the UP, can be stiff in the right areas, and compliant in the right areas. I got a "cheap" competitor to the UP with a Canyon Inflite (a more aggressive version of Canyon's Grail). The power transfer is amazing, the hill climbing better than anything I've had, yet I can be going down harshly wash-boarded gravel roads on 32mm tires without realizing how rough things are. A lot of this I think is the seat post which is just amazing. First couple of weeks I had it, I kept stopping to see if my rear tire was going flat, it was so smooth.

I will say, if I'm not sprinting, climbing or accelerating, my 25 year old steel bike may be better in some regards, but the carbon bike is so responsive that I just have more fun on it.
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Old 06-09-20, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by thehammerdog View Post
my ti is bombproof. i ride it rain, snow or shine no fears.
howwver since it is more road/cx 35-36 is about max with current wheels.
but i do crave newer full blown gravel bike of any material.
Looking at the Ribble CGR Ti at the moment, can do a di2 build for around $3500. Clearance for 45's, geometry that I like, actually a bit lighter than my carbon gravel bike, good reviews, looks great, and can pull road duty too since I have multiple wheelsets.
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Old 06-12-20, 06:29 AM
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Buy at TCX. Clearance for 45's and rides on the road like a race bike.
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