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Gravel lessons learned last weekend

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Gravel lessons learned last weekend

Old 08-04-20, 07:07 AM
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Gravel lessons learned last weekend

Had a blast Fox Ridge Filth Ride last weekend South of Cedar Falls Iowa.
​​Lots of fun on varied terreign but none of it flat or paved. Went over the handlebars once when I rode into a sandbox.

​​​​lessons learned this ride:
1) wear shoes, not sandals for gravel events. My Big toe lost some flesh during a unplanned flip over the handlebars when said toe clipped my pedal cleat.

2) bigger, fatter tires are always needed. I had WTB 42 Resolute front and 44mm Byways back (Tubeless, 35-40psi). These were marginally OK for dry conditions. Wet conditions would have needed 2-inch minimum. I'd want clearance for 3-inch if needed.




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Old 08-04-20, 07:15 AM
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Sorry about your toe. I have driven some on Iowa gravel, never ridden there. Do you think the sand was from the way they built the road?
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Old 08-04-20, 07:16 AM
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So back to lesson learned #2 . Bigger tires, gonna require a bigger bike (clearance for wheels/tires). I do have a Fatbike with a 2.2" wheelset, but that Al Motobecane frame is a DOG with a heavy fork that's like a boat anchor. The Fat Bike's Aluminum frame feels so dead also.

I'm thinking a new bike with a sweet spot between my Jamis Renegade (~46 mm max tire width) and the Fatbike is what I need for more versatile gravel riding. Yes, I am aware we always need N+1 bikes! Want clearance up to 3" tires.

What bike frame to look at? 6'4 I'm a 270# Clydesdale

I've been eyeballing the Surly Krampus rigid frame. Talked to another guy riding one single speed that day. He had to be beat riding single speed on all those hills.

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Old 08-04-20, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Sorry about your toe. I have driven some on Iowa gravel, never ridden there. Do you think the sand was from the way they built the road?
The sand was unusual in a low creek bottom. At some point the creek overflowed and deposited sand at the low point. Literally a sandtrap! Cruising downhill around 30mph and shaded by some trees I didn't notice the sand until I was in it.

To clarify, this sand is not normal or typical of Iowa gravel.
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Old 08-04-20, 07:26 AM
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Found a good article relative to my interests:

https://bikepacking.com/gear/29-tire...DLCRDmsmqJIY0M

I read on Bikepacking.com a lot and they have other good articles on hardtail 29" bikes, I need to go back and re-read some. Surly has a couple models I like.

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Old 08-04-20, 07:27 AM
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Sandals?? The thought would never even enter my mind, but then again, I use SPD pedals.

Sand can be tough, I've had it yank my front wheel a few times and scare the crap out of me, but thankfully was able to stay upright.

If you need that much tire, sounds like you need a mtb, most gravel bikes top out at 47-50mm.
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Old 08-04-20, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
Sandals?? The thought would never even enter my mind, but then again, I use SPD pedals.
If you need that much tire, sounds like you need a mtb, most gravel bikes top out at 47-50mm.
His bikepacking.com link was to a batch of full rigid mtb's. I haven't seen sand here in Pennsylvania, but occasionally they will dump a lot of gravel on the forest roads and it's pretty hard to stay up. If you dig in so far as to go over the handlebars, I'm not sure if there is much you can do about it. Especially if you come upon it at speed. Seems like it's relatively rare, so Im not sure I would buy a bike for it. My next bikepacking/gravel bike will be able to fit 650b x 2.3" tires though.

Shimano and others(?) offer spd sandals. I have thought about getting some, but I'm not sure about using them for gravel. Socks recommended in most cases.
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Old 08-04-20, 07:58 AM
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I'm trying to imagine riding in a place without sand. As a Southern Californian, it seems impossible. Here, we have sand, sand with rocks in it, sand with clay in it, and most commonly, sand with sand in it.
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Old 08-04-20, 08:19 AM
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I feel like a shill because I’m always promoting this bike, but it might fit the bill for you:
https://www.rei.com/product/122463/c...es-adv-31-bike

I have one and love it. I can go up to 2.35 in the front and 2.4 in the back.
I ride it in the road, dirt, and single track. (Using different tires of course)
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Old 08-04-20, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
Sandals?? The thought would never even enter my mind, but then again, I use SPD pedals.

Sand can be tough, I've had it yank my front wheel a few times and scare the crap out of me, but thankfully was able to stay upright.

If you need that much tire, sounds like you need a mtb, most gravel bikes top out at 47-50mm.
I used to ride Shimano Spd pedals but changed this summer to the flat Crankbrothers 7, glad I did. If I was clipped in, my sandtrap crash would have been worse connected to the bike!

My sandals are leftovers from my spd pedal days because I like the stiff soles and breathability. I removed the Spd clip and inserted a plug. They cover my toes 90% but my big toe poked out just enough.... Feet get HOT during summer rides LOVE the ventilation sandals provide. I'll only use them for casual and road rides now I think.

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Old 08-04-20, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by walnutz View Post
I feel like a shill because I’m always promoting this bike, but it might fit the bill for you:
https://www.rei.com/product/122463/c...es-adv-31-bike

I have one and love it. I can go up to 2.35 in the front and 2.4 in the back.
I ride it in the road, dirt, and single track. (Using different tires of course)
It took me some time to figure out why I dislike that bike so much, and to be clear here- it isnt that I even dislike the bike. I dislike the size bike they chose to use. Its on the small side of things and therefore looks wonky. It'd be the same if my big bikes were used for pics- it'd look wonky.

I have bar end shifters on my first gravel build. Had em on hand already and I wanted to keep costs down to see if I even liked riding gravel. i liked them more on gravel than pavement because I'm in the dtops more often on gravel, so my hands were more frequently already right near the shifters.

That is a good option for the OP's required tire clearance.
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Old 08-04-20, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I'm trying to imagine riding in a place without sand. As a Southern Californian, it seems impossible. Here, we have sand, sand with rocks in it, sand with clay in it, and most commonly, sand with sand in it.
​​​​​​LOL, yeah I'm just not used to sand and wasn't expecting it. Near term (2-3 year) plans are to bike the Southwestern states Bikepacking and I'll need a bike that can handle flotation for sand. Thus the desire for clearance up to 3" on a future bike. I've watched some good YouTube vids on Bikepacking the SW and fat bikes seem popular there for good reason.
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Old 08-04-20, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
Sandals?? The thought would never even enter my mind, but then again, I use SPD pedals.

Sand can be tough, I've had it yank my front wheel a few times and scare the crap out of me, but thankfully was able to stay upright.

If you need that much tire, sounds like you need a mtb, most gravel bikes top out at 47-50mm.
Yes, looking at rigid steel 29".
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Old 08-04-20, 08:38 AM
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I use resolute tires that measure out to 43mm on my bike. Wider would be great for washboard sections, but besides that I would rsther have the lighter weight and lower rolling resistance when compared to wider tires.
Everyone's point at which they say 'enough' varies from person to person though.

I'm always amazed at people flying by me on fatbikes. The amount of power it would take to ride that fast would kill me. I'd be a couple mph slower than I already am if I rode one!
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Old 08-04-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I'm trying to imagine riding in a place without sand. As a Southern Californian, it seems impossible. Here, we have sand, sand with rocks in it, sand with clay in it, and most commonly, sand with sand in it.
we have gravel with giant rocks mostly buried in it, which you only notice when you hit them at speed. Which is why I got 20 flats the year before I switched to tubeless. I always thought the giant rocks were too big to move, but then they rebuilt some of the roads and they had a big pile of giant rocks next to the pile of gravel.
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Old 08-04-20, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I use resolute tires that measure out to 43mm on my bike. Wider would be great for washboard sections, but besides that I would rsther have the lighter weight and lower rolling resistance when compared to wider tires.
Everyone's point at which they say 'enough' varies from person to person though.

I'm always amazed at people flying by me on fatbikes. The amount of power it would take to ride that fast would kill me. I'd be a couple mph slower than I already am if I rode one!
I know EXACTLY what you mean. I got a bike that is slightly under-gunned and a fat bike that is over-gunned. Trying to find that sweet spot.
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Old 08-04-20, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
It took me some time to figure out why I dislike that bike so much, and to be clear here- it isnt that I even dislike the bike. I dislike the size bike they chose to use. Its on the small side of things and therefore looks wonky. It'd be the same if my big bikes were used for pics- it'd look wonky.

I have bar end shifters on my first gravel build. Had em on hand already and I wanted to keep costs down to see if I even liked riding gravel. i liked them more on gravel than pavement because I'm in the dtops more often on gravel, so my hands were more frequently already right near the shifters.

That is a good option for the OP's required tire clearance.
Yeah, the photo they use must be of an extra small. It looks ridiculous. The bike looks more normal in person in a regular size. And yup, I have a similar experience with gravel riding and bar ends.
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Old 08-04-20, 12:14 PM
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Looks flat to me
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Old 08-04-20, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Looks flat to me
Ugh, snide comments about elevation are the worst. Over 50' of climb per mile is not insignificant, even if it is a laughably easy recovery ride for Trail McThunderquads.
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Old 08-04-20, 01:19 PM
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No thread is complete without the IF YOU AIN'T CLIMBIN' YOU AIN'T RIDIN' guy. Evokes the same response from me here that it always does... <extended fart sound>
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Old 08-04-20, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Toadmeister View Post
I know EXACTLY what you mean. I got a bike that is slightly under-gunned and a fat bike that is over-gunned. Trying to find that sweet spot.
Salsa Fargo or Cutthroat. I can tell from the amount of things on your bike that you're a Fargo kind of guy.
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Old 08-04-20, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Looks flat to me
2200 ft is no walk in the park for this 6’ 4” 270# Clydesdale.

Did you have a point you were trying to make?

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Old 08-04-20, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
Salsa Fargo or Cutthroat. I can tell from the amount of things on your bike that you're a Fargo kind of guy.
Fargo probably more my speed, thanks for mentioning it as I had forgotten about the Fargo.
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Old 08-04-20, 05:11 PM
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Wow, is every intersection 90 degrees there!
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Old 08-04-20, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Wow, is every intersection 90 degrees there!
Itís hip to be square in Iowa
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