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I Bought A Gravel Bike!!

Old 09-13-21, 05:18 PM
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gregjones
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I Bought A Gravel Bike!!

Hi, guys n gals. It's been a bit over three years since I made a one line reply to a post, and I've been through three years of life changes since then. But, I knew where to come to for accurate advice.


I injured myself the last week of Feb, seven months ago. I broke my first bone....my right femur. My surgeon said it's a horrible break, you're old and it's gonna take a long time to heal. After five weeks of live in therapy I was walking with a walker, and had a torn down touring bike in storage I had been changing into a "gravel" bike........ So, with a Covid bump, winter fat, and an injury it was time to do something. I bought a Kona Rove AL 650. Bikes are scarce and I found two in stock in Phoenix. I ended up with a 50 over a higher end 52 going for fit over component level.


So, I've started riding and have come concerns. I have never ridden dirt bikes or any surface but asphalt. I am not used to the various surfaces encountered at every turn. I broke my leg after a fall standing still at 0 mph and am not so comfortable with this new dirt/hard pack/volcanic rock stuff, and that's all that I ride on. The tires are WTB Venture Comp 650X47. The have a great center tread for commuting to work in the city. A bit slick for a newbie not on pavement. The tread rolling into a corner is more aggressive and comforting. It's the transition that has me uneasy.


Do you think that I should change the front tire that is not so "streety" in the middle to more of a mountain or CX type tread. Maybe something that feels more stable and secure entering a corner will leave me with more confidence?


This is all new to me and appreciate any help and advice that ya'll can provide.

Thanks!!
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Old 09-13-21, 08:06 PM
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We can't know exactly what surface you're riding on, so it's hard to evaluate your tires from here. Just know that every tire has a limit to how hard it can be leaned, especially on a loose surface. But typically, a smooth center doesn't create cornering problems; it's all about the side knobs. FWIW, I'm running WTB Byways, which have an even smoother center but similar side knobs as the Ventures. So far, they've been really predictable offroad. My advice is to take it slow until you learn what you can get away with. You might find that going tubeless and running lower pressure helps. All that said, if it will help bolster your confidence while you're still recuperating, there are lots of good knobbies out there, like the WTB Sendero.
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Old 09-14-21, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
My advice is to take it slow until you learn what you can get away with. You might find that going tubeless and running lower pressure helps. All that said, if it will help bolster your confidence while you're still recuperating, there are lots of good knobbies out there, like the WTB Sendero.
This.
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Old 09-14-21, 09:43 AM
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Congrats, and enjoy!

Simple answer - yes. I often will use a tire with more tread on the front. My rear is often slick, or close to it, but I don't mind having some bite up front if its gonna be a challenging trail.

Gravel is slippery, and needs some good technique. The very basic thing is to stay loose and supple. Stiff arms will cause a crash where a loose body and arms can make it through. The same applies to some extent with tires - tubeless with low pressure are your friend for a lot of reasons on gravel.

I rather think tread is over rated in people's mind. The tread isn't going to give you more traction on pavement or gravel in the dry. Yes, if your tread leaves marks in the dirt/mud then yeah, it is often making a difference - typically this when it is wet.

I'll say though, IMHO the biggest difference in tread is how fast the tire lets go when it starts sliding. A slick tire goes down very fast and can be impossible to catch. Treaded tires tend to have a lot more progressive breakaway characteristics.
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Old 09-14-21, 10:43 AM
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Gravel bikes work well on smooth roads too. If recovering from a broken femur I would not recommend ridding on uneven terrain. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of gravel bikes that's for sure. The fact that your bike is a little on the small size is a good thing. It will allow you to adjust to your new dimensions and developing abilities. Just like you are learning to walk without a limp so to are you learning to ride. Your previous ridding experience is definitely going to help but you will need to use your brain to temper what you remember as your ridding abilities. There are going to be twists and turns that you no longer will be able to make regardless of the terrain and surface. I am sorry to say this but you should not be off road until you can walk without a limp. You are relearning how to ride. So having a new bicycle that is adaptable is important. I think you made the right decision to buy a gravel bike even if you don't use it on gravel...
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Old 09-14-21, 05:39 PM
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Thank you, all. I know nothing about even starting a non-asphalt ride and you have given me some basics to get going. I'm eight miles from a paved road and in-between is mostly hard packed, sometimes graded dirt. The only thing else I have is just a pair of tire ruts through the dirt. I take that very slow, especially to miss the chunks of lava here and there. I think what helps the most is the consistent remarks about low tire pressure. I had no idea where to start....so I've dropped from 60 to 45! Looking for an improvement in the morning.
Thanks,
Greg
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Old 09-15-21, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by gregjones View Post
The only thing else I have is just a pair of tire ruts through the dirt.
I'll add that one of the biggest benefits to tires with tread is getting out of ruts. With a slick tire, I have to bunny hop out. It will not climb out on its own - while a tread with side knobs will.

If you have tubes in your tires, and you "bottom out" you may get a pinch flat (aka snake bite) in your tube. That is one of the reasons people use tubeless - you almost never get pinch flats, and thus can run really low pressure. Tubeless is a PITA to set up though - but worth if for many.

If you want to get fancy - most bikes have something like a 60-40 weight distribution, meaning you really need the same ratio in front and rear tire pressure to get the same traction. For instance, you can run 45 psi front and 65 psi rear. That is probably more than most people want to do, but it actually works well. If you have 60 psi both front/rear and ride through something damp - it becomes obvious that the front tire has a much narrower contact patch that the rear tire - I kinda like to have them the same size. ;-)
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Old 09-15-21, 07:26 PM
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Thanks. The I'm right at a quarter mile to the Forest Service road...that's where the ruts are. I'm getting better at them. The biggest problem is I'm in the middle of the third largest lava cone area in the US. Anything not paved, or graded, just wears down and exposes chunks of lava. That's the biggest problem in the ruts. Slow is working good.
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Old 09-15-21, 08:03 PM
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Congrats on the Rove! I have run Byways, Ventures, and now Senderos on my Rove ST. Where I ride, the Ventures were easily the most versatile, but I'm digging the Senderos right now 'cause they're so great on the rough and rocky singletrack here. On the road, I'm sure some folks would feel there's a penalty with the tread, but it doesn't really bother me. That said, if I start riding this bike less like mtb, I'd go back to the Ventures in a flash. But as I say, it's rocky here, it's not "gravel". Doesn't sound like you're currently riding anything that would demand a really knobby tire. Give the Ventures some time, they're pretty great all-rounders.

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Old 09-16-21, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by gregjones;[url=tel:22230198
22230198[/url]]I think what helps the most is the consistent remarks about low tire pressure. I had no idea where to start....so I've dropped from 60 to 45! Looking for an improvement in the morning.
Thanks,
Greg
Lower pressures will definitely help! Even 45 PSI may well be more than you need. For reference, I ride 650b x 48mm tires at 2 bar, or around 30 PSI, on all kinds of surfaces. You could check out the tire pressure calculator here: https://axs.sram.com/guides/tire/pressure
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