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Gravel buying / try before you buy?

Old 01-10-23, 04:10 AM
  #1  
alibaba2010
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Gravel buying / try before you buy?

Hello! I was wondering if any of you had any advice for buying... for the last few years I have used a 100 ancient marketplace bike to go all over and now saved enough to buy a new (or near new if out there) shiny thing.
There are two gravel bikes i am interested in (Pipedream ALICE and the Pelago Stavanger). I would like to use for short-medium length bike touring, i am 5ft 4 so weight matters a bit as cannot carry as heavy load (fair enough if people think weight doesn't matter, but it is fairly important for me)
My questions are:
  1. Any opinions on either of those bikes / others?
  2. Is it possible to try before I buy? I live in london so thought there would be options for pipedream/pelago dealers however my google searches arent bringing back anything. IT worries me parting with that much money when I haven't even ridden the bike to see if its 'right'
Thanks- any advice welcomed!
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Old 01-10-23, 09:57 AM
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Ive read about both bikes, but never seen them. I cant imagine either is a popular choice in the US. That isnt because they are bad, simply because they are smaller brands in Europe.
The two bikes have significantly different stack, reach, and trail numbers. For me, those would be a big determiners in which I choose.

The Pelago in a size 48(your size) has a stack height of 543mm, a reach of 384mm, and 52mm of trail due to the significant fork offset and more traditional head tube angle. This will result in a slightly quicker feeling front end for steering, but the geometry works well with fork mounted gear and steering will typically be pretty stable as a result.
The ALICE in size Small(your size) has a stack height of 580mm, a reach of 377mm, and between 78 and 85mm of trail(depending on which fork you choose) due to the very slack head tube angle. This will result in a slower feeling front end for steering, and when the fork has gear mounted, steering will tend to 'dive' left or right when you turn those directions. Basically, it will want to turn you more than you want. Not a huge deal, but it is something to consider.

You have two very different fitting bikes here. The ALICE will be significantly more upright feeling because the stack height is much taller and the reach is shorter. Meanwhile, steering will be slower feeling and when the fork is loaded, it will want to twist a bit more.
The Pelago will feel less upright, so more stretched out. That isnt to say it will be uncomfortable, its just less upright. That could be want you want, who knows. The steering will feel twitchier when there is no gear on the fork.


The reason why geometry is so wide ranging like this is because people like different things. There is no 'good' or 'bad' geometry or bike here, its just preference. And you chose a couple bikes that are very different. So I guess think about your current bike and what you like or dislike about it, then pick based on that.
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Old 01-10-23, 11:28 AM
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No opinion on either bike as I am in the states and unfamiliar with either.

The question about trying before you buy is really a question for the bike shop where you intend to buy. My experience here in the states is from an LBS (local bike shop) they will let you test ride with a spin around the block. They will not let you take to the local trails and ride for a day, has been my experience. I've been OK with that as I've owned many bikes and know what I am seeing when I test ride around the block. OTOH I could buy from a local Recreational Equipment Store (nationwide chain) where they have a liberal return policy, so you could spend a month riding on trails, decide you don't like the bike and return it. The LBS does not do that, so this is the question you have to ask wherever you are buying from.

Last edited by Steve B.; 01-10-23 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 01-10-23, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by alibaba2010
...I live in london so thought there would be options for pipedream/pelago dealers however my google searches arent bringing back anything. ...
Have you contacted the manufacturers and asked whom the closest dealers are that carry the brand?

If you have an unusual size, you might not be able to find one locally that you can try.
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Old 01-11-23, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by alibaba2010
Hello!....
I would like to use for short-medium length bike touring, i am 5ft 4 so weight matters a bit as cannot carry as heavy load (fair enough if people think weight doesn't matter, but it is fairly important for me).......
.......
!
okay.
you want a bike.
you wanna do some touring.
that pretty much tells us nothing.

what type of touring? fully loaded with 4 panniers, guided tours, credit card?
how much gear? camping or hotels? cooking or mcdiners?
what terrain? cruise along the wattenmeer or cycle the grossglockner?
road surface? all paved, dirt trails, icelanic morraine?
infrastructure? a week in surrey or 6 months in lower wakanda?
climate? summertime beach weather or arctic blizzards?
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Old 01-11-23, 08:08 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
okay.
you want a bike.
you wanna do some touring.
that pretty much tells us nothing.

what type of touring? fully loaded with 4 panniers, guided tours, credit card?
how much gear? camping or hotels? cooking or mcdiners?
what terrain? cruise along the wattenmeer or cycle the grossglockner?
road surface? all paved, dirt trails, icelanic morraine?
infrastructure? a week in surrey or 6 months in lower wakanda?
climate? summertime beach weather or arctic blizzards?
Literally in the original post: "There are two gravel bikes i am interested in (Pipedream ALICE and the Pelago Stavanger). "
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Old 01-11-23, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
okay.
you want a bike.
you wanna do some touring.
that pretty much tells us nothing.

what type of touring? fully loaded with 4 panniers, guided tours, credit card?
how much gear? camping or hotels? cooking or mcdiners?
what terrain? cruise along the wattenmeer or cycle the grossglockner?
road surface? all paved, dirt trails, icelanic morraine?
infrastructure? a week in surrey or 6 months in lower wakanda?
climate? summertime beach weather or arctic blizzards?
I consider this a fairly hostile response to a new person. Did you think about posting something like this?

"Welcome to the forum. Lots of experienced touring riders here who can give you good advice. Would be helpful to know more about your plans for touring - how far, how long, how much you intend to carry and where you want to go."

But a post like that wouldn't give you the opportunity to be a jerk. Do you know anything about the two bikes the OP asks about? I'm guessing you don't, hence your unhelpful response.

To the OP: Welcome to the forum. Hang around. Other people will be along to give you better advice.
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Old 01-11-23, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
okay.
you want a bike.
you wanna do some touring.
that pretty much tells us nothing.

what type of touring? fully loaded with 4 panniers, guided tours, credit card?
how much gear? camping or hotels? cooking or mcdiners?
what terrain? cruise along the wattenmeer or cycle the grossglockner?
road surface? all paved, dirt trails, icelanic morraine?
infrastructure? a week in surrey or 6 months in lower wakanda?
climate? summertime beach weather or arctic blizzards?
The OP listed 2 bikes they are interested in and said they plan on short-medium tours. They asked for opinions on the 2 mentioned bikes as well as any other bikes. It is fair to assume opinions should be focused on similar style bikes- gravel, steel, mounting points, wide tire clearance.

Either help, or just dont respond. The OP gave plenty of info for me to give a detailed response about both bikes and how they will likely feel and fit when loaded with gear.
Further, your unhelpful questions seem to make it look like one would need multiple bikes to accomplish all the things you mention. A single bike can cruise along some river or climb mountain passes. A single bike can handle a week on developed roads or half a year in an MCU country. A single bike can handle CC tours and fully loaded tours.
What the OP plans for in the immediate doesnt mean they would need to stick to the same style of riding for subsequent tours.

You of course know all this, and yet...
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Old 01-11-23, 10:32 AM
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a shame you guys don't seem to understand.
OP wants a bike, and is looking at popular gravel bikes. yippee.
pretty meaningless marketing term, so we need to narrow down what he/she/they/them plan to do with the new bike.
OP has a couple examples, but wants to also know about other options.
touring means different things to different people, soooo.......need more detail.
wanna know how much gear, how many panniers, what gearing is needed, what size/type tyres, whether suspension is called for.
how to know whether these gravelly bikes have the mounting points and chainstay lengths to mount the bags to carry the gear.
how much gear? what size tent? winter gear? camping gear? what's a mid-length tour? where and on what terrain?

so many questions.
but "gravel bike" doesn't answer them.
so we ask.
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Old 01-11-23, 11:28 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
a shame you guys don't seem to understand.
OP wants a bike, and is looking at popular gravel bikes. yippee.
pretty meaningless marketing term, so we need to narrow down what he/she/they/them plan to do with the new bike.
OP has a couple examples, but wants to also know about other options.
touring means different things to different people, soooo.......need more detail.
wanna know how much gear, how many panniers, what gearing is needed, what size/type tyres, whether suspension is called for.
how to know whether these gravelly bikes have the mounting points and chainstay lengths to mount the bags to carry the gear.
how much gear? what size tent? winter gear? camping gear? what's a mid-length tour? where and on what terrain?

so many questions.
but "gravel bike" doesn't answer them.
so we ask.
Oh, I understand perfectly that you could have asked polite questions instead of coming across as a hostile know-it-all. Which continues in this post. I hope the OP isn't driven away by your attitude. Welcome to my ignore list.
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Old 01-11-23, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
a shame you guys don't seem to understand.
OP wants a bike, and is looking at popular gravel bikes. yippee.
pretty meaningless marketing term, so we need to narrow down what he/she/they/them plan to do with the new bike.
OP has a couple examples, but wants to also know about other options.
touring means different things to different people, soooo.......need more detail.
wanna know how much gear, how many panniers, what gearing is needed, what size/type tyres, whether suspension is called for.
how to know whether these gravelly bikes have the mounting points and chainstay lengths to mount the bags to carry the gear.
how much gear? what size tent? winter gear? camping gear? what's a mid-length tour? where and on what terrain?

so many questions.
but "gravel bike" doesn't answer them.
so we ask.
Oh, I understand perfectly that you could have asked polite questions instead of coming across as a hostile know-it-all. Which continues in this post. I hope the OP isn't driven away by your attitude. Welcome to my ignore list.
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Old 01-11-23, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
a shame you guys don't seem to understand.
OP wants a bike, and is looking at popular gravel bikes. ....
I somewhat agree with you. Touring to one person means four panniers, to the next two panniers, to someone else it means bikepacking gear, and to yet someone else it is credit card touring. So, it is nice to know more about their plans if we are asked to assess their choices for equipment.
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Old 01-11-23, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
a shame you guys don't seem to understand.
OP wants a bike, and is looking at popular gravel bikes. yippee.
pretty meaningless marketing term, so we need to narrow down what he/she/they/them plan to do with the new bike.
OP has a couple examples, but wants to also know about other options.
touring means different things to different people, soooo.......need more detail.
wanna know how much gear, how many panniers, what gearing is needed, what size/type tyres, whether suspension is called for.
how to know whether these gravelly bikes have the mounting points and chainstay lengths to mount the bags to carry the gear.
how much gear? what size tent? winter gear? camping gear? what's a mid-length tour? where and on what terrain?

so many questions.
but "gravel bike" doesn't answer them.
so we ask.
No, we understand. You could have asked for detail. The OP asked about two specific bikes. You could have responded with your opinions about them. You could have looked at the bikes if you were not familiar with them and said the OP might have difficulties attaching panniers, if that is the case. You could then follow up with questions about specifics regarding the type of touring the OP wants to do. You have a valid point, but the OP was not completely vague, they did specify two different bikes they are interested in. Many people today tour on gravel bikes. They can be used, but they may require different equipment, bags for example.
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Old 01-11-23, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by alibaba2010
Hello! I was wondering if any of you had any advice for buying... for the last few years I have used a 100 ancient marketplace bike to go all over and now saved enough to buy a new (or near new if out there) shiny thing.
There are two gravel bikes i am interested in (Pipedream ALICE and the Pelago Stavanger). I would like to use for short-medium length bike touring, i am 5ft 4 so weight matters a bit as cannot carry as heavy load (fair enough if people think weight doesn't matter, but it is fairly important for me)
My questions are:
  1. Any opinions on either of those bikes / others?
  2. Is it possible to try before I buy? I live in london so thought there would be options for pipedream/pelago dealers however my google searches arent bringing back anything. IT worries me parting with that much money when I haven't even ridden the bike to see if its 'right'
Thanks- any advice welcomed!
I am not familiar personally with either, but they both look good for touring,. They both seem to have brase-ons for mounting racks, and plenty of water bottle cage brase-ons. With the ALICE, I would opt for the CrMo fork over the carbon. Either would work. The Stavanger seems to be a complete bike with a 1x system with a 40 tooth chainwheel up front, and the largest in the back is a 42. I would want lower gearing than that myself. I have a 24 tooth up front as my smallest on a triple, and a 34 in the back as my largest.

The ALICE has longer chainstays, so that would be a plus for the ALICE in my opinion. That will help keep you from hitting your heels on any panniers you mount in the back. I honestly lean towards the ALICE between the two. Just my opinion, however, the Stavanger might be better for you, it comes down to personal preference, and how you plan on setting up the bike. If you plan to run rear panniers, I would lean towards the ALICE.
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Old 01-12-23, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Inusuit
Oh, I understand perfectly that you could have asked polite questions instead of coming across as a hostile know-it-all. Which continues in this post. I hope the OP isn't driven away by your attitude. Welcome to my ignore list.
not sure what's wrong with the yutes of today.
must be life on sociable media makes people more easily butt hurt over nothing.

must say i'm amazed at how many people seem to take offense at a non-offensive post.
it's like you're going out of your way looking for an excuse to be offended.
more amazing is that you're going out of your way to take offense for the OP.

tell ya what, if the OP is offended, he/she/they/them can say so, in PM or otherwise.
in that case, i'll be more than happy to apologize and explain.
otherwise, well, you know....the thing.
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Old 01-12-23, 08:24 AM
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Yeah its everyone else's fault.
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Old 01-16-23, 03:49 AM
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Hi - thanks so much your input was actually really useful!! It is quite a daunting group to ask questions to because there is so much information (particularly regarding geometry its so confusing to a beginner - particularly as I am used to just jumping on my bike and going off for a week I had never really thought about any of this until now wanting to spend some actual money on one).

After your post, I found an article on cyclingabout that explains geometry of road/touring and cyclocross bikes well. I think I have probably narrowed down my clearer aims for a new bike (am sure that other forum user will be chuffed lol), so thankyou for helping me towards that!
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