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"Gravel Bike" is just the newest term for "Sports Touring Bike" of the C&V era

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"Gravel Bike" is just the newest term for "Sports Touring Bike" of the C&V era

Old 05-15-20, 08:36 PM
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"Gravel Bike" is just the newest term for "Sports Touring Bike" of the C&V era

Other than some tires with more aggressive tread and the ever evolving tech refinements any sports equipment sees, these two things are the same thing. Prove me wrong....
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Old 05-15-20, 08:50 PM
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Your perception is valid, until the point where it bumps into mine. Riding a bike off pavement is different from riding a bike on pavement. Bigger tires make a less smooth surface more enjoyable. A less smooth surface is probably going to have less motor vehicles on it. Therefore a gravel road bike is likely to be more fun than a paved road bike that is limited to paved roads. Or maybe I didn't understand the question.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa View Post
Your perception is valid, until the point where it bumps into mine. Riding a bike off pavement is different from riding a bike on pavement. Bigger tires make a less smooth surface more enjoyable. A less smooth surface is probably going to have less motor vehicles on it. Therefore a gravel road bike is likely to be more fun than a paved road bike that is limited to paved roads. Or maybe I didn't understand the question.
I don't deny the truth to everything you've said, except possibly the part where you question yourself for not understanding my question... I'd say to your arguments, that the world has changed, and many bicycle riders have just been pushed off paved roads, more or less, because the increased possibilities of being hit or ran over, and that gravel roads only represent a shared road level frequency of motor vehicles, on par with the paved roads 20 years ago. I actually live just beyond the same paved roads I used to frequent with my road bike in the late 80's. In the 80's, if I had to share the road with 10 vehicles during the whole ride, I would have thought of that as a "car heavy" ride. Now, I can count two dozen vehicles, traveling at speeds 15+ mph over the posted speed limit, in a matter of a few minutes. Gravel just equals "safe experience", like less travel paved roads did 30 years ago. I just can't find any paved roads less traveled now.. anyway, the gravel bike just represents the bicycle for the average ride who wants to do it all... and most of that all, to be safe, is happening on gravel.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:15 PM
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I think if you're going to call it with an old sports tourer and a 650B conversion... I think you're on.

Don't a lot of the 80s S/Ts kind of top out at 32mm without fenders? My 86 Trek 400 Elance was happy on 32s, but you weren't getting any more out of it. Right now it's rolling with 27x1 1/8" and that's all the brake bridge will let through.

Honestly, my 86 Trek 400 Elance is my most aggressively angled bike... FWIW.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:17 PM
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I grew up in montana and you rode in town paved (except alleys), On Hiway 2 (still popular with bike tourers) or on gravel. So all our bikes were gravel bikes..... single speed schwinn clones, stingrays, english racer and 10 speeds... I would say bike tires were a bit bigger 1 1/2 1 3/8 1 1/4
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Old 05-15-20, 09:20 PM
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Seems the Op has newer actually road gravel likely washboard more than 20 miles in there life.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:26 PM
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A gravel bike is a bike that you ride on gravel.

Really, though, the one commonality of gravel bikes are wide tires. Everything else is optional, and I'd dare say depends on where you're riding gravel at. Here in the PNW we have miles and miles of forestry roads, which are often steep and twisty, so powerful disk brakes are helpful.If it's wet, fenders with lots of clearance make sense.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
I grew up in montana and you rode in town paved (except alleys), On Hiway 2 (still popular with bike tourers) or on gravel. So all our bikes were gravel bikes..... single speed schwinn clones, stingrays, english racer and 10 speeds... I would say bike tires were a bit bigger 1 1/2 1 3/8 1 1/4
I grew up in small town/rural Kansas... except for Streets A, B, Main, C, & D going North/South, and Streets First, Second, & Third going East/West, every other road was the locally mined, gray/white crushed limestone. So, that's what I road, mostly, on my knockoff Stingray, from the local Western Auto store. We didn't know no better.

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Old 05-15-20, 09:33 PM
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Heres my gravel bike build, 650b wheelset with a S5 (5 speed) Sturmey archer hub, yea, it weighs 30 pounds, but I love it, 41c tires, set up tubless just for the juxtaposition between 1968 tech and modern tech, plus tubeless is pretty sweet... *ducks!*...



And man does that Campy crank and 53 tooth ring look so good tucked under the chainguard!
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Old 05-15-20, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
A gravel bike is a bike that you ride on gravel.

Really, though, the one commonality of gravel bikes are wide tires. Everything else is optional, and I'd dare say depends on where you're riding gravel at. Here in the PNW we have miles and miles of forestry roads, which are often steep and twisty, so powerful disk brakes are helpful.If it's wet, fenders with lots of clearance make sense.
I don't need to stop... the wind and entropy do that for me. I live on Mother Nature's pancake... flat, windy, endlessly straight gravel.

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Old 05-15-20, 09:39 PM
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I thought it was another term for rigid mtb.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:43 PM
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A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went for a walk on a "gravel" bike trail. I used to love riding out there because it was rough enough that the 23mm tire guys weren't out there... In the little stretch we walked, there were no fewer than 3 skinny tire guys trucking' along at a high rate of speed. At least they looked like skinny tire go fast bikes to me.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
Seems the Op has newer actually road gravel likely washboard more than 20 miles in there life.
I think you mean "never", not "newer". And no. You are not even close to being correct about that.
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Old 05-15-20, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
I don't need to stop... the wind and entropy do that for me. I'm live on Mother Nature's pancake... flat, windy, endlessly straight gravel.
Yep, local conditions, local bike.
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Old 05-15-20, 10:07 PM
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I'd say a modern gravel bike is a lightweight bike with >40mm tires, sensible gearing for steep terrain, and a more upright geometry for long distance. Sure, C&V sports tourers might have had sensible gearing and more upright geometry, but the wide tire and lightweight categories kill the comparison.

In my mind the only C&V subset that is truly comparable are the old 650b x 42mm French or Japanese randonneur-style bikes, the high-end ones that are below 25 pounds.
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Old 05-15-20, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Yep, local conditions, local bike.
I was going to add too Gugie, prior to having to close the shop and take a shower, that weren't current generation disk brakes developed first for mountain bicycles, and then adapted to road bicycles? So, in a way, disk brakes are an "every bicycle" brake... not just the new gravel bicycles. So a tech evolution for the gravel bicycle, not a revolutionary discovery that then "allows" the creation of the gravel bicycle. Plus, I'm somewhat sure that disk brakes were available for bicycle back in the seventies (even if they weren't very good or popular). I think the bestest appeal of the gravel bike is not really about how it goes on gravel, but more that it's a "can do everything" bicycle, much like the old sports touring segment of C&V bicycles... and the gravel selling point is only to allow you to get on roads less traveled by motor vehicles. Maybe I'm full of it...
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Old 05-15-20, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
I'd say a modern gravel bike is a lightweight bike with >40mm tires, sensible gearing for steep terrain, and a more upright geometry for long distance. Sure, C&V sports tourers might have had sensible gearing and more upright geometry, but the wide tire and lightweight categories kill the comparison.

In my mind the only C&V subset that is truly comparable are the old 650b x 42mm French or Japanese randonneur-style bikes, the high-end ones that are below 25 pounds.
I have 700 X 35mm tires shoved up underneath my late seventies Schwinn, and I ride it on the gravel... doesn't that make it my "gravel bike"? Other than it steering like the bicycle version of a John Deere... both of them on paved roads is about as fun to steer as a garden tiller. But on gravel, the bike seems fine. Confident. Competent.
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Old 05-15-20, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
Seems the Op has newer actually road gravel likely washboard more than 20 miles in there life.
Drunk post? Or just autocorrect? We may never know...

scuse me, *newer know
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Old 05-15-20, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
I was going to add too Gugie, prior to having to close the shop and take a shower, that weren't current generation disk brakes developed first for mountain bicycles, and then adapted to road bicycles? So, in a way, disk brakes are an "every bicycle" brake... not just the new gravel bicycles. So a tech evolution for the gravel bicycle, not a revolutionary discovery that then "allows" the creation of the gravel bicycle. Plus, I'm somewhat sure that disk brakes were available for bicycle back in the seventies (even if they weren't very good or popular). I think the bestest appeal of the gravel bike is not really about how it goes on gravel, but more that it's a "can do everything" bicycle, much like the old sports touring segment of C&V bicycles... and the gravel selling point is only to allow you to get on roads less traveled by motor vehicles. Maybe I'm full of it...
Anybody that takes the time to study bicycle history knows that just about every "new and better" thing has already been done. The 650b conversions I do are basically copies of what the french constructeurs were doing in the 50's, which isn't too far from the "sports touring" bikes that we now realize were just about right.

Modern disk brakes are much better than earlier attempts, but I'd also have to say that most people don't need them. Oddly enough, the MAFAC centerpulls of old work just fine, play well with fenders, and can be purchased new as Compass Rene Herse or Paul for multiples of what you can find a good set of used RAID's for.

Tires, plump, lightweight, supple tires are the real improvement, IMO. For years marketing sold us on skinny high pressure tires, which meant staying away from those nearly car free gravel roads that you and I enjoy. I've never ridden in Kansas, but I imagine gravel roads there to be similar to the wheatfields of the Palouse in Eastern Washington. scozim introduced several of us to them on a ride he organized a couple of years ago. It was the first time I tried "floating" on gravelly washboard, pushing a good pace and finding it quite fun!

Yeah, that's the big appeal of gravel: very few cars. Marketing people need to make a living, so we're sold "gravel bikes" when maybe all you need to do is pull that 70's-80's sports tourer out of the garage and put some new fat rubber on it. And as you imply, they ride great on pavement too!
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Old 05-15-20, 11:26 PM
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You could certainly do real gravel, even mtb rides on a 70's sport-touring machine like my Pro-Tour, I do it all the time.

You don't even need big tires, 26mm can get the job done (with a bit more in the way of rider effort and controlled speeds).

The modern gravel bikes I've ridden felt kind of ponderous, especially with the very wide, flared bars. I didn't care for the configuration and would be loath to put much on-road riding on one.
But it just depends on how much time is spent on what kind of terrain vs. on the road. Any old mtb or hybrid can easily do both, and I've even set up a couple of touring bikes with "flat" bars and ~30-35mm tires and went everywhere on them, even rough mtb trails and rocky fire roads.

I rode a modern Specialized Sequoia just yeterday and the thing was a tank. My 24-lb Pro-Tour feels like a lively road bike compared to that.
But weight's not everything, and for softer and rockier surfaces the fatter tire always wins.
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Old 05-15-20, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
A gravel bike is a bike that you ride on gravel.
This!

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Old 05-16-20, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
Other than some tires with more aggressive tread and the ever evolving tech refinements any sports equipment sees, these two things are the same thing. Prove me wrong....
Very different in terms of the specifics of the targeted versatility, except maybe at the fringes of the umbrellas. There are plenty of dirt and relatively-smooth gravel roads which are reasonable to ride on traditional road bikes. But the vast majority of gravel bikes try to accommodate vastly rougher and steeper riding than sport tourers did. It's typical to see gravel bikes have much wider clearances, and be ready to accommodate much lower bottom-end gearing, and gravel brakes are less likely to have brakes that are weak or suffer from spongy modulation. As a genre, the fat-tired mid-century randonneuring bikes targeted for mountainous use seem like a much closer match to modern gravel bikes than "sport touring" bikes were.

Originally Posted by dddd View Post
You could certainly do real gravel, even mtb rides on a 70's sport-touring machine like my Pro-Tour, I do it all the time.

You don't even need big tires, 26mm can get the job done (with a bit more in the way of rider effort and controlled speeds).
Depends on your "real gravel." I've been on gravel rides where people on cyclocross-width tires went through all the spare tubes in the group*. Thorns, lips, spots where the road crews "solved" the age-old question of drainage by dumping a bunch of 4" chunk... none of my riding gets very technical, but riding anything less than a 40 out in the low-maintenance forest road here is a bit silly unless your bike can't go that wide.

*Except for mine. Most people need to become very desperate before they will attempt to shove a 2" 26er tube into a 33mm 700c tire.
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Old 05-16-20, 01:06 AM
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I'm currently building a 93 Giant Innova hybrid into a gravel bike and think it will perform as well as anything.
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Old 05-16-20, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
I don't deny the truth to everything you've said, except possibly the part where you question yourself for not understanding my question... I'd say to your arguments, that the world has changed, and many bicycle riders have just been pushed off paved roads, more or less, because the increased possibilities of being hit or ran over, and that gravel roads only represent a shared road level frequency of motor vehicles, on par with the paved roads 20 years ago. I actually live just beyond the same paved roads I used to frequent with my road bike in the late 80's. In the 80's, if I had to share the road with 10 vehicles during the whole ride, I would have thought of that as a "car heavy" ride. Now, I can count two dozen vehicles, traveling at speeds 15+ mph over the posted speed limit, in a matter of a few minutes. Gravel just equals "safe experience", like less travel paved roads did 30 years ago. I just can't find any paved roads less traveled now.. anyway, the gravel bike just represents the bicycle for the average ride who wants to do it all... and most of that all, to be safe, is happening on gravel.
I agree with you. I am fortunate in that I have found an area in which to live that has lots of rural paved roads with little auto traffic. Sometimes I ride for ten or fifteen minutes without seeing a motor vehicle. I wish I had gravel roads to ride without driving an hour to get to them. I guess we can't always get what we want.
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Old 05-16-20, 02:45 AM
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Gravel bikes, at least the ones I compared from Giant look to me like slightly less aggressive road bikes with wider, treaded tires. Perhaps lower gearing, but they all go well beyond what is needed for a fast road bike.

A welcome option for those who don't need the ruggedness and speed penalty of a mountain bike, But need more capability, including tire size options then a road bike. That said, some road bikes might do just fine if we can fit proper 32+ mm gravel tires and we are riding on firm gravel roads.

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