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Gravel vs. Touring

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Gravel vs. Touring

Old 03-10-19, 12:08 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
But I have seen enough variation in gearing on newer touring bikes and newer gravel bikes, I just don't know if there is a typical norm any more.
vrey true, and the fun/imformative thing about looking at a gearing chart is that no matter the combination on different bikes of chainrings and cassettes, and as tourist states, there are all kinds of combinations--you can get a pure, black and white number of the lowest (and all) gearing.
In stores, as a regular customer, you will never...and I mean never, get a detailed answer from a salesperson. For lots of diff reasons. What you will get is, "sure this bike would be fine for touring", or "absolutely the gearing is so low on this bike you can pull tree-stumps", and while I am being cynical, this is nearly always from someone who has never toured, or is young, and or young and strong, and only rides very light bikes very fast, or wouldnt want to appear wimpy gearing wise.
Cynical, I know, but its always been like this, was the same 30 years ago when I started getting interested in touring, so nothing new.

but like I said, at least with an actual number, you can compare X gear inches with a bike+load that weighs X, going up whatever hills you can find.

ideally mr spectrum, perhaps you could borrow a bike that takes panniers, and see how X and Y feel to you. I realize this is probably not going to happen, I never got to do this, and had to figure it out on my own.

the other factor here is your age and fitness and all that, so only you can answer these questions, our blah blah is only a reference from strangers.
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Old 03-10-19, 01:17 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
...
In stores, as a regular customer, you will never...and I mean never, get a detailed answer from a salesperson. For lots of diff reasons. What you will get is, "sure this bike would be fine for touring", or "absolutely the gearing is so low on this bike you can pull tree-stumps", and while I am being cynical, this is nearly always from someone who has never toured, or is young, and or young and strong, and only rides very light bikes very fast, or wouldnt want to appear wimpy gearing wise.
Cynical, I know, but ....
Yup.

Before I got into touring the only off-the-shelf-production touring bikes I could look at in stores was the Trek 520 and a Fuji. I wanted steel, did not go into a Cannondale store.

One sales person told me that the bike I REALLY needed to get was one that he then showed me how great it was because it had extremely short chainstays. Yup, he said I wanted short chainstays for touring. I knew better and promptly walked out.

Now if you go in a store that sells camping gear and bikes, at least there is a chance that the sales staff might know someone that does touring if they have not done any themselves. But they still are only selling their brands.
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Old 03-10-19, 01:32 PM
  #28  
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Problem with bike shop guys and touring, is you have to quit the job to go touring in the summer ,
since that's when you get the most work hours.. (and it's not IT wages)

unless you can flip hemispheres, and visit the other side of the globe.. for your winter lay off,
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Old 03-10-19, 01:37 PM
  #29  
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tourist, I say all that stuff sounding like a real grump, but at least nowadays, its very easy to get good information and details about equipment on the internet, so if one has the interest, one can at least be a better informed customer than I was 30 years ago as an example.
Sure, one can get all "internetty" and get obsessed with minutia and whatnot and never get out there actually riding, but in the end, the interwebs is a great resource, so at least there is that.

mr spectrum, check out some of the vids by The path less pedalled, a couple from Seattle that put out tons of vids,and recently the guy has brought up how so many bikes are over geared, especially for regular folks like him and his wife who want to put panniers on and stuff and still be able to get up hills, often dirt hills etc , where one is even going slower than pavement riding due to the surface.
Ross i think is his name, should be easy to find the vids he brings this up.

just another opinion anyways.
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Old 03-10-19, 04:19 PM
  #30  
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Touring bike will have thicker wall tubing in frame and fork and more stretched out geometry and thus be more stable when heavily loaded going fast downhill. Gearing issues you can fix with upgrades but a frame that shimmies under a load you can do nothing about.
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Old 03-10-19, 06:20 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by SpectrumTi View Post
I have a classic road bike. Itís almost 20 years old, chainstays only allow a 23mm tire. 53x39 crankset. 11-25 10 speed cassette. I love the bike. Custom geometry fits perfectly and Titanium lasts forever.
Please don't tell me it's in the Red-Blue-Yellow paint scheme Kellogg seemed to adore so much.
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Old 03-10-19, 09:44 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
mr spectrum, check out some of the vids by The path less pedalled, a couple from Seattle that put out tons of vids,and recently the guy has brought up how so many GRAVEL bikes are over geared, especially for regular folks like him and his wife who want to put panniers on and stuff and still be able to get up hills, often dirt hills etc , where one is even going slower than pavement riding due to the surface.
Ross i think is his name, should be easy to find the vids he brings this up.

just another opinion anyways.
I had neglected to put in the word "gravel", he specifically is commenting on gravel bikes being over geared for the average, non racing rider who wants to carry baggage.
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Old 03-10-19, 11:02 PM
  #33  
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If the bike frame is sub-optimal, a trailer might be an option to consider.
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Old 03-11-19, 07:15 AM
  #34  
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Interesting thread. As a beginner bikepacker who rides gravel, I can offer the following.

I rode my gravel bike fully loaded for the first time this weekend, just to see how it felt with all the gear. The statement below sums up the experience well...

Originally Posted by djb View Post
You will see how more bike+load weight completely changes what you considered adequate gearing before.
The bike has a 34 ring in the front and a 36 sprocket in the rear - about 26 gear inches. It did OK in the north Georgia peidmont but it was lots of work. A lower gear is going to be needed for real mountains.

Looking at Absolute Black 46/30 chainrings but a bike from Rodeo Adventure Labs is starting to look better and better, or something capable of true mountain bike gearing.


-Tim-
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Old 03-11-19, 07:30 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Interesting thread. As a beginner bikepacker who rides gravel, I can offer the following.

I rode my gravel bike fully loaded for the first time this weekend, just to see how it felt with all the gear. The statement below sums up the experience well...



The bike has a 34 ring in the front and a 36 sprocket in the rear - about 26 gear inches. It did OK in the north Georgia peidmont but it was lots of work. A lower gear is going to be needed for real mountains.

Looking at Absolute Black 46/30 chainrings but a bike from Rodeo Adventure Labs is starting to look better and better, or something capable of true mountain bike gearing.
about how heavy was your bike+stuff?
for every touring situation, light or heavy load, having a gear lower than what you think you normally "need" is always a godsend those times of coming upon a really steep hill happens. Or you are tired that day, or your legs are sore, or you are hungry--its these times that being able to dial the output back and spin at a cadence that makes everything easier on you, makes all the difference.

but its really only being out there on your own bike with a given bike weight and given hills that you personally see what works, and if you hardly ever use that low gear, thats fine, just snick snick up gears when needed.
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Old 03-11-19, 01:07 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Please don't tell me it's in the Red-Blue-Yellow paint scheme Kellogg seemed to adore so much.
No. Medium shade metallic blue fading into raw Ti. Nothing too crazy.
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Old 03-11-19, 02:56 PM
  #37  
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This was a fun, if somewhat rambling, explanation for me.

It is mostly geometry but you will find lots of people using gravel bikes with either bikepacking bags or front panniers only for touring.

I know I get somewhere between 70-80L with a rando bag, saddle bag and front panniers which is more than enough for touring
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Old 03-11-19, 03:59 PM
  #38  
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I use the All-Rounder for everything except group rides. Small rack with basket for commuting, front low rider and rear rack for touring, remove basket for off-road. Sometimes a Carradice bag and Bagman support.

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Old 03-11-19, 05:19 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by GP View Post
I use the All-Rounder for everything except group rides. Small rack with basket for commuting, front low rider and rear rack for touring, remove basket for off-road. Sometimes a Carradice bag and Bagman support.

Your handlebar looks strange. Do you ride in-the-drops?
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Old 03-11-19, 05:48 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Your handlebar looks strange. Do you ride in-the-drops?
Les and less as I get older. They're Salsa Bell Laps.

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Old 03-11-19, 09:10 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
about how heavy was your bike+stuff?
for every touring situation, light or heavy load, having a gear lower than what you think you normally "need" is always a godsend those times of coming upon a really steep hill happens. Or you are tired that day, or your legs are sore, or you are hungry--its these times that being able to dial the output back and spin at a cadence that makes everything easier on you, makes all the difference.

but its really only being out there on your own bike with a given bike weight and given hills that you personally see what works, and if you hardly ever use that low gear, thats fine, just snick snick up gears when needed.
I'm not sure about actual weight. I was too scared to weigh it.

Again, yes, at points toward the end of the ride I had no room to dial it back and had to mash. That's going to make for miserable trips.

Lesson learned. Learning is half the fun,


-Tim-
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Old 03-11-19, 09:29 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I'm not sure about actual weight. I was too scared to weigh it.

Again, yes, at points toward the end of the ride I had no room to dial it back and had to mash. That's going to make for miserable trips.

Lesson learned. Learning is half the fun,
-Tim-
Absolutely, that's life.
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Old 03-14-19, 05:54 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by SpectrumTi View Post
I have a classic road bike. Itís almost 20 years old, chainstays only allow a 23mm tire. 53x39 crankset. 11-25 10 speed cassette. I love the bike. Custom geometry fits perfectly and Titanium lasts forever. However, time does march on and I can foresee doing more traveling. I would never replace my existing bike for another road bike, but can foresee adding something more travel friendly. Trying to figure out if a full on touring bike is really necessary or if a gravel bike would be sufficient. Donít fully understand the distinctions.
The bike doesnít define your use but some bikes are better suited to some uses than others. Most of my touring in the 80ís was on a road racing bicycle. I adapted my touring to what best fit the bike and fast riding, low load 10-15 lbs and bar height about 1/2Ē higher than what I used for racing. rear rack, medium stuff sack and camp pad, small handlebar bag. Tire size 25-28mm. But I was light with no beer belly.
Once you decide to carry rear panniers itís worth getting a bike known to handle well with rear panniers, simply putting them on a bike that is designed to carry a rear rack doesnít mean the bike is designed to carry rear loads well. Same with a ďGravel BikeĒ or cyclo-cross bike that has provisions for a rear rack.
My suggestion is to jettison your idea of picking a particular bike by itís marketing term and get specific about your criteria. How much do you anticipate on carrying? If you do not know narrow it down. Itís like the difference between getting a F250 pickup or a Lexus sedan. You can tour on both but you wouldnt tow a 5000 lb trailer with the sedan and yould probably enjoy a more responsive vehicle if you didnít need the trucks load carrying capability.
Second, what tire size? That varies according to road surface conditions and your total weight we could be talking 32mm to 58mm. So do you want road bike responsiveness on multiple terrain and surfaces or do you want truck like carrying capability, where shear mass precludes quick responsive handling.
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Old 03-15-19, 02:03 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Touring means different things to different people which is why your question doesn't have a quick answer.
^this.

For example, I tour fully unsupported on surfaces from gravel to pavement on a cross bike with 30c tires and carrying less than 25lbs (and closer to 20lbs) of stuff including tent and sleeping bag. I've done lighter touring on my road bike. I can't imagine riding around with 4 panniers on two racks like some. They can't imagine going without all the stuff I don't want. Different needs = different bikes.
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Old 03-16-19, 10:27 AM
  #45  
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Lots of good advice here. I would just add that i never regret having low gears ever. At least once every couple of days on a loaded tour the granny makes it so much easier. This year i installed a micro drive style crank. 20-29-40 to a 12-30 8 speed cassette. Low gears are your friend when touring. You can coast down the hills.
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Old 03-16-19, 11:33 AM
  #46  
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Wowsers, a 20 granny. I swapped out the crank on on my 26" tourer for a 42/32/22 and find that low.

Through working on two bikes with similar rear gearing (13/28) I've both swapped cassettes to 7 speed 11/34 and from 7 speed to an 8 speed 11/40 by changing the hub body.

I also agree with low gearing, even if it's just an odd bailout like the shimano megarange cassettes offer. Long time ago in my youth I stubbornly mashed my way up a big hill on a loaded 2x5 bike trying to keep up with a guy who had a 3x7 in granny gear and wound up hurting my knee which took about 6 months to fully heal. These days, if I'm worried about speed, I probably am not heavily loaded also.


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Old 03-16-19, 04:58 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Wowsers, a 20 granny. I swapped out the crank on on my 26" tourer for a 42/32/22 and find that low.

Through working on two bikes with similar rear gearing (13/28) I've both swapped cassettes to 7 speed 11/34 and from 7 speed to an 8 speed 11/40 by changing the hub body.

I also agree with low gearing, even if it's just an odd bailout like the shimano megarange cassettes offer. Long time ago in my youth I stubbornly mashed my way up a big hill on a loaded 2x5 bike trying to keep up with a guy who had a 3x7 in granny gear and wound up hurting my knee which took about 6 months to fully heal. These days, if I'm worried about speed, I probably am not heavily loaded also.

actually on 26 inch wheels 22-34 is lower than 20-30 on 700c. My low is about 18 inches. Last year i ran 24-36 for the same low gear but i like the smaller cassette better.
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Old 03-17-19, 09:54 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
Lots of good advice here. I would just add that i never regret having low gears ever. At least once every couple of days on a loaded tour the granny makes it so much easier. This year i installed a micro drive style crank. 20-29-40 to a 12-30 8 speed cassette. Low gears are your friend when touring. You can coast down the hills.
While I agree that low gears are your friend, you aren’t even trying hard I hate coasting down hills so I do the 20 tooth inner with a 46 tooth outer. Your low is okay (18” gear) but it’s not a 15” gear. I have a 46/34/20 with an 11-36 cassette. Here’s mine compared to yours. I can crawl up hills but I can also fly down the other side.
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Old 03-17-19, 10:57 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post


While I agree that low gears are your friend, you arenít even trying hard I hate coasting down hills so I do the 20 tooth inner with a 46 tooth outer. Your low is okay (18Ē gear) but itís not a 15Ē gear. I have a 46/34/20 with an 11-36 cassette. Hereís mine compared to yours. I can crawl up hills but I can also fly down the other side.
u r the man! Been gradually getting lower each year but i do love a good coast.
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Old 03-17-19, 12:09 PM
  #50  
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My low gear on my Rohloff bike when I set it up for touring has a low gear of 16.5 gear inches. But, the high gear is only 86.5 gear inches which means I spin out on the long shallow downhills. But I do not want to give up the low gears that got me up the hill, so I willingly give up the abilty to go fast down the other side.

But for riding around home, I gear it up much higher because the most weight I am carrying then is a sack or two of groceries. It is easy to change a chainring to switch from one gear range to the other.
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