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Help choosing a new bike (Flatbar/gravel/hybrid)

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Help choosing a new bike (Flatbar/gravel/hybrid)

Old 06-24-21, 03:43 PM
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Help choosing a new bike (Flatbar/gravel/hybrid)

Considering a new bike for taking along on our travels. Retiring and we have a truck/travel trailer and will be hitting the road to tour the country (USA/Canada) and see the sights. We like to take our bikes for short to medium excursions primarily pavement, but also gravel/dirt roads and trails.

We currently have both mountain bikes (hardtail 29'ers) and nice road bikes (carbon/Ultegra). We usually take the mountain bikes which seem to be the most versatile, but sometimes, I wish I had the road bike. On the other hand, it seems necessary to bring along the full kit for road biking which sometimes is just overkill for hopping on the bike for a tool around the campground. I have the capability to transport four bikes, but really don't want to do that. Which brings me to the idea of something that could give me flexibility to ride gravel and light trails as well as putting in some miles on the pavement. Is the solution a flat-bar fitness or gravel bike?

Further background: Our mountain biking is quite limited to gravel/dirt roads and VERY mild trails. Not really seeking out technical single-track or downhill rides mainly cause I'm a giant wuss. The hardtails serve us well and do ok for road riding (can lock-out front fork suspension), but kinda heavy and with 2.25 knobby tires, not the best for longer rides. We do road bike rides weekly at ~30-35 miles with several century rides throughout the year. Really like the comfort and speed available from the road bike setup but they are just not versatile enough for the travel/camping bike.

Could it be possible have one bike to satisfy the urge for both types of riding? Some sort of flat bar hybrid or gravel bike perhaps... Flat pedals... mid size tires ~38-40mm... Lighter than the MTB... Can ride without the "kit"... Comfortable and efficient for 30-40 mile road rides... Not "too expensive..." Alum frame(?) $1-1.5K ?

Research yields some choices:
"FITNESS BIKE" These seem to be a hybrid bike with a bit more performance. Most brands offer something in this line but with a few exceptions, typically with low end components.
"FLAT BAR GRAVEL / ADVENTURE BIKE" Finding some interesting offers that have better components, but typically with a 1X drivetrain and perhaps tires a little bit wider that what I was thinking...

I am not opposed to a 1X drivetrain, just unfamiliar with them. My hardtail MTB and road bike have 2X drivetrains. The 1X chainwheels seem small... I would like to achieve comfortable road speeds at a reasonable cadence. The use would be mostly paved, with some smooth-unpaved with road type inclines (not some single track hill grind).

The other thing is, I'm not sure how to evaluate the frame geometry...

Help me with the pros and cons!

Trek FX 4: $1050 Deore 1X (2020 model had Tiagra 2X)
Spec Sirrus. X 4.0 ($1450) 1X Deore, 38mm tires - looks very interesting
Canyon Roadlite 6: ($1100) 2X 105, 30mm tire, great price but odd geometry? agressive?
Cannondale Quick 1 ($1600) 2X 105, 32mm tires, very nice... Quick 2 ($1100) with 2X Sora

Spec Diverge EVO
Marin DSX
Salsa Journeyman
all with 1X drivetrains, 40-45mm tires, bit heavier

Can I simulate the highest gear of the 1x on my road bike by calculating the gear ratio and choosing something similar? Just to see how fast I'm spinning at 16-18 mph ? i.e. 40-11 (3.64) max on the 1x vs 50-14 on the road bike (3.57)

THANKS for your thoughts!
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Old 06-24-21, 04:20 PM
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You're probably best to go see what's in-stock/available in your size at your LBS. Start there.
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Old 06-25-21, 07:13 AM
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Any bike that has can fit a 32 mm tire or larger would work from what you describe. Not just any 32 mm but a lightweight or supple casing tire would be something I would factor into the price. All the bikes you listed would work just fine. Just something to note, the Trek FX4 has some wacky front propitiatory front thru axle, that may not be compatible with your rack to carry your bike. If you are putting them in the trailer or have a rack that holds by the wheels you will be fine. Other than that I think it is a great bike.

I would be less concerned about 1x or 2x. This debate has been discussed ad nauseam on this board so you can spend a day reading about it but again you won't find a problem keeping your speed in the range provided by a 1x setup.

I do agree with the poster above, your problem will be availability and you may have to choose something that isn't perfect. Good luck.
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Old 06-25-21, 10:29 AM
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My solution - a drop bar bike with the ability to mount larger tires. Get a second wheelset. In my case, it's a Domane each for me and my wife and they can mount 38mm tires.

The other, lesser-used wheelset doesn't even need to be that good, really
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