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Looking for my first gravel bike.

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Looking for my first gravel bike.

Old 08-01-22, 06:32 PM
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WarrenC
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Looking for my first gravel bike.

I currently have a 2019 Giant fastroad that I'm thinking of letting go so I can get a gravel bike. We just moved to an area that has quite a few trails and gravel roads, as well as the regular city stuff so I'm wanting something different. Still thinking budget as I'm not an "all in" biker. Any suggestions to what I should be looking for. To be perfectly honest, I've spent hours researching and now my mind is mush. There are so many that im confused. From Canada, if that makes a difference. Thanks
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Old 08-01-22, 06:58 PM
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What is your budget, and how rough is the stuff you want to ride?
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Old 08-01-22, 06:59 PM
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If you can go to $2K there are a lot of great choices. If under $1K the pick'ns are slim.
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Old 08-01-22, 07:20 PM
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From what I've seen 2K is about where I want to land. Groomed multi use trails, mostly
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Old 08-01-22, 07:43 PM
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I was very surprised and happy with my Cannondale Topstone aluminum with the 105 group. Very well behaved bike, fits me very well. I added a 2nd wheel set with 28mm road tires and a more road oriented 12-25 cassette. When I am on dirt I swap to the 1st wheel set with Gravel King 43mm tires. Its a very nice rows bike as well as gravel and easy single track. C-Dale has different designations for this mike now, not sure if its yhe 2,3 or 4.
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Old 08-01-22, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I was very surprised and happy with my Cannondale Topstone aluminum with the 105 group. Very well behaved bike, fits me very well. I added a 2nd wheel set with 28mm road tires and a more road oriented 12-25 cassette. When I am on dirt I swap to the 1st wheel set with Gravel King 43mm tires. Its a very nice rows bike as well as gravel and easy single track. C-Dale has different designations for this mike now, not sure if its yhe 2,3 or 4.
Iím currently riding a Cannondale Quick CX, and have been looking at going to a Topstone 2. Might swing for the 1. Might wait till the fall for the 2022 models to hit my LBS
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Old 08-06-22, 08:32 PM
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For under $2K you are limited to Steel, Aluminum and now MAGNESIUM. Magnesium is 1/3 lighter than aluminum and much stronger yet dampens vibration almost as well as good carbon. It is also 1/2 the weight of comparable titanium and also stronger per unit weight. Lately I have been riding a VAAST A1 magnesium gravel bike that has GRX on it and costs $1900. Frankly it is the absolute best riding gravel bike you can get for under $2K. The ride is absolutely excellent! VAAST is a newer company with a parent company that has been doing Magnesium fabrications for quite a long time. They have developed their own alloys and coating processes that make it an extremely practical material for bikes. I expect you will be seeing Magnesium replacing aluminum on some bike models over the next few years. I currently also ride an Open U.P. and a Salsa Warbird and in the past have owned Giant, Jamis, Fuji, Bombtrack, 3T, Felt and Cinelli gravel bikes so I have a lot of experience with many brands and gravel bike models. This is at the top end of your budget but well worth every penny.

Magnesium has been used for bike frames in the past and has even won the TDF in the past so it is a proven material. It fell out of popularity due to corrosion problems, but the newer alloys and treatment processes have completely resolved those issues to make it a new but outstanding option for a bike.
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Old 08-07-22, 06:55 PM
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Ignore frame material and focus on fit and componentry. Take a look at Marin bikes; they offer a good value in their gravel bike line-up.
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Old 08-07-22, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
For under $2K you are limited to Steel, Aluminum and now MAGNESIUM. Magnesium is 1/3 lighter than aluminum and much stronger yet dampens vibration almost as well as good carbon. It is also 1/2 the weight of comparable titanium and also stronger per unit weight. Lately I have been riding a VAAST A1 magnesium gravel bike that has GRX on it and costs $1900. Frankly it is the absolute best riding gravel bike you can get for under $2K. The ride is absolutely excellent! VAAST is a newer company with a parent company that has been doing Magnesium fabrications for quite a long time. They have developed their own alloys and coating processes that make it an extremely practical material for bikes. I expect you will be seeing Magnesium replacing aluminum on some bike models over the next few years. I currently also ride an Open U.P. and a Salsa Warbird and in the past have owned Giant, Jamis, Fuji, Bombtrack, 3T, Felt and Cinelli gravel bikes so I have a lot of experience with many brands and gravel bike models. This is at the top end of your budget but well worth every penny.

Magnesium has been used for bike frames in the past and has even won the TDF in the past so it is a proven material. It fell out of popularity due to corrosion problems, but the newer alloys and treatment processes have completely resolved those issues to make it a new but outstanding option for a bike.
Checked them out. They are either ordering short, to make sure they sell all OR they've also been affected by supply issues OR they're been selling well OR all 3.
all the +- $2K gravel bikes are sold out, all sizes.
seem like nicely config'd bikes, worth watching them to see how they progress...
nice to see new companies! Thx!
Ride On
Yuri
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Old 08-07-22, 10:47 PM
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Look for a used cyclocross bike that's in good shape. It will likely have rim brakes (cantilever or V type) and max out at about a 35mm tire. They work great for gravel and also can easily double as a road bike with a skinnier tire (or better yet, a second set of wheels with the second tire and cassette installed).

There's nothing wrong with good rim brakes and that size tire is a very common size for gravel. I used my Jamis Nova Pro for a decade for what today is called "gravel" riding, and I used it as a quickly transformed, lively road bike with the second set of wheels.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
Checked them out. They are either ordering short, to make sure they sell all OR they've also been affected by supply issues OR they're been selling well OR all 3.
all the +- $2K gravel bikes are sold out, all sizes.
seem like nicely config'd bikes, worth watching them to see how they progress...
nice to see new companies! Thx!
Ride On
Yuri
Have you contacted a dealer directly? We have a 56 in stock are getting 3 more in during September (54 & 56 I believe). A lot of their newer stock is supposed to ship out in later September. Next tier down is the Giant Revolt Aluminum that is well equipped and a bit less $ than the VAAST. We also have well equipped Cinelli aluminum gravel bikes in all sizes for around $1500. The lull in consumer purchasing has let some dealers build up a bit of stock lately.
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Old 08-08-22, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Look for a used cyclocross bike that's in good shape. It will likely have rim brakes (cantilever or V type) and max out at about a 35mm tire. They work great for gravel and also can easily double as a road bike with a skinnier tire (or better yet, a second set of wheels with the second tire and cassette installed).

There's nothing wrong with good rim brakes and that size tire is a very common size for gravel. I used my Jamis Nova Pro for a decade for what today is called "gravel" riding, and I used it as a quickly transformed, lively road bike with the second set of wheels.
If you are trying to stay under $700 then a used cross bike might be a consideration. But if the budget is up to $2K then I'd pass on the used cross bike. Just my opinion but Cyclocross bikes are good at Cyclocross, but not great at other things like road riding and gravel though many shops certainly have tried to sell them as do-all bikes. The frames are too stiff, steerer angle too steep, BB height too high and tire clearance too low to make a decent gravel bike. Get something that you will enjoy much more for gravel riding.
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Old 08-08-22, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
If you are trying to stay under $700 then a used cross bike might be a consideration. But if the budget is up to $2K then I'd pass on the used cross bike. Just my opinion but Cyclocross bikes are good at Cyclocross, but not great at other things like road riding and gravel though many shops certainly have tried to sell them as do-all bikes. The frames are too stiff, steerer angle too steep, BB height too high and tire clearance too low to make a decent gravel bike. Get something that you will enjoy much more for gravel riding.
I think I replied before I saw a $2K budget. I definitely agree with what you've written above on which bike to look for.

I don't agree that Cross bikes can't be a great all around bike for rough/gravel surfaces as well as road riding. Perfect for both? No. The characteristics of a cross bike you listed are indeed true, and distinguish them as ideal for their intended purpose, and less than ideal as "real" gravel bikes or "real" road bikes. But they actually do work great for both with the right tires and swapping wheelsets can be very quick and easy.

Yeah, you can't fit much larger than 35-38mm. But a lot of, if not most, people I know that use their gravel bikes for what I think is very typical gravel bike use - mixed pavement, decent gravel and mellow single track - use about that same size tire. I have two options for my current Lynskey GR300: 700cX35 and 650BX50. I use the 35's much, much more than the 50's. I really think sub-40mm tires are more typical than larger for most "gravel" riders.

But my opinion is just that, based on about 10 years experience using my Jamis Nova pro as both a gravel bike and with a wheel swap, a lively road bike. (this I did while RV traveling - one bike, two sets of wheels; at home I have some real road bikes).

The bottom line for me, and I think most enthusiast riders is that a "real" gravel bike is only a bit better at being that, and a "real" road bikes are only a bit better at that.

But of course, you can also say that about a "real" gravel bike - it can easily function as both with different tires.

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Old 08-09-22, 07:10 AM
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My experience with CX bikes (Giant TCX) is they steer quick, are not as comfortable and are geared low. In contrast, I have a Giant Revolt Advanced that feels far more stable and rides with noticeably more comfort. The latter is a big thing for long days in the saddle which is what gravel tends to be - at least for me. The Giant Revolt or Cannondale Topstone are great choices and accept much wider tires than any CX bike. For midwest gravel roads, 40mm tires are the middle ground and not too slow for pavement sections. Find a good shop near you and see what they recommend.
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Old 08-10-22, 05:19 PM
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Cycling Tips is posting their field tests of gravel and gravel/road bikes. Some of them are well within your budget: https://cyclingtips.com/2022/08/welc...ps-field-test/
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Old 08-12-22, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Have you contacted a dealer directly? We have a 56 in stock are getting 3 more in during September (54 & 56 I believe). A lot of their newer stock is supposed to ship out in later September. Next tier down is the Giant Revolt Aluminum that is well equipped and a bit less $ than the VAAST. We also have well equipped Cinelli aluminum gravel bikes in all sizes for around $1500. The lull in consumer purchasing has let some dealers build up a bit of stock lately.
been meaning to reply...
I'm not really in the market - at least not in the states... or that price point. Thinking of getting a budget gravel for my family home in Germany - heading there for a mo. in Oktober.
But when it comes around for me in the states, I will definitely consider a VAAST, and they have a dealer listed in Ventura, not too distant...and I like the geometry...
thanks for the tip.
Ride On
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Old 08-13-22, 06:25 PM
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Cool. I upgraded the stock tires to Schwalbe G-ones but other than that I am riding it stock. The factory seat is actually comfortable.
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Old 08-16-22, 09:14 PM
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If you are a Giant guy the Giant Revolt series is really great.
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Old 08-17-22, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by WarrenC View Post
I currently have a 2019 Giant fastroad that I'm thinking of letting go so I can get a gravel bike. We just moved to an area that has quite a few trails and gravel roads, as well as the regular city stuff so I'm wanting something different. Still thinking budget as I'm not an "all in" biker. Any suggestions to what I should be looking for. To be perfectly honest, I've spent hours researching and now my mind is mush. There are so many that im confused. From Canada, if that makes a difference. Thanks
if you can swing it - keep the Fastroad also

and/or at least until you are certain you prefer the next bike you get

unless you are getting good $ for the Fastroad - might regret the sale
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Old 08-17-22, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Ignore frame material and focus on fit and componentry. Take a look at Marin bikes; they offer a good value in their gravel bike line-up.
Been shopping for my first gravel bike for fun rides and RAGBRAI in July. Have my eyes on the Four Corners for gravel and also bikepacking. Would this bike be a good fit? I am also looking at the Cannondale Topstone 4 with Microshift Advent X10. Not sure about 1X drivetrain though for distance riding. Thoughts?!?!
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Old 08-17-22, 09:53 PM
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I ended up getting a GT Grade Expert alloy. Specs were pretty good and you couldn't beat the price. . Put on about 50 km already and it's a blast. Haven't had this much fun since I was a kid.
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Old 08-18-22, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by veloz View Post
My experience with CX bikes (Giant TCX) is they steer quick, are not as comfortable and are geared low. In contrast, I have a Giant Revolt Advanced that feels far more stable and rides with noticeably more comfort. The latter is a big thing for long days in the saddle which is what gravel tends to be - at least for me. The Giant Revolt or Cannondale Topstone are great choices and accept much wider tires than any CX bike. For midwest gravel roads, 40mm tires are the middle ground and not too slow for pavement sections. Find a good shop near you and see what they recommend.
I'd agree with that. CX bikes are designed for mud/grass racing for less than an hour, and are (I think) restricted to 33mm tyres for most competitions.

Great if that's what you want to do, but for general purpose stuff a gravel bike is going to be better.

I've got a Giant Revolt (alu) and I've been pretty happy with it.
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Old 08-18-22, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
been meaning to reply...
I'm not really in the market - at least not in the states... or that price point. Thinking of getting a budget gravel for my family home in Germany - heading there for a mo. in Oktober.
But when it comes around for me in the states, I will definitely consider a VAAST, and they have a dealer listed in Ventura, not too distant...and I like the geometry...
thanks for the tip.
Ride On
Yuri
If you're in Europe and want a cheap gravel bike, then the Triban RC120 GRVL is what I'd go: https://www.decathlon.de/p/gravel-bi...330?mc=8603085
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Old 08-18-22, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove View Post
Been shopping for my first gravel bike for fun rides and RAGBRAI in July. Have my eyes on the Four Corners for gravel and also bikepacking. Would this bike be a good fit? I am also looking at the Cannondale Topstone 4 with Microshift Advent X10. Not sure about 1X drivetrain though for distance riding. Thoughts?!?!
I'm a BIG fan of 1X drivetrains, but if you're going to do any loaded touring or backpacking, I think a double is the way to go. Might be true for distance riding as well, depending on the terrain you're covering. That said, I recently built a Ritchey Ascent with Sram 1 X 12 that has an 11-50T cassette, and the range is pretty impressive. Bottom line: 1X can be pretty great, but I don't think you'd regret having a 2X set-up.

With the right tire choice, I think either of those bikes would be perfectly capable for the kind of riding you're planning to do. I'd give the nod to the Marin, just because I prefer steel (this, after telling you to ignore frame material lol), but the Topstone is a very popular bike, for good reason. Hard to go wrong with either.
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Old 08-18-22, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Herzlos View Post
If you're in Europe and want a cheap gravel bike, then the Triban RC120 GRVL is what I'd go: https://www.decathlon.de/p/gravel-bi...330?mc=8603085
LOL! we think alike, except I'll get the 'Herren' version... (mens...)
been looking for a gravel bike and contacting a bunch of local shops, in the past few months... since I'm only over there for maybe 2 mos out of the year, no sense to get something pricey...
I have had a Sworks tarmac over there for the past 10 yrs, great for all the wonderful roads in my area. And I've bumped thru some forest trails on it also. But when the going get wet, it's not as much fun, and cleanup is always longer... Was thinking something Under 1500 €, but stocks are very low in Germany, and much of the remaining stuff has Claris or similar 'road' grade stuff.
I really like my Advent X stuff, especially the clutch DR.
So I pretty much have decided on the Triban RC 120 GRVL... LOL! All reports are it punches well above it's weight. I think it'll be great for the riding in my area, which is mostly rolling forested and farm lands, with connecting paved country lanes. I mean, 'gravel' was made for that area ! Will be ordering in the next few days...
Ride On
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