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Which bike to choose?

Old 09-14-22, 11:25 AM
  #1  
gthomson
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Which bike to choose?

After looking at RB1-lvr's post about his new Trek 520 I think I'm at a cross road in my life to change the cycling path (figuratively and literally!) I've been on for so many years which has been on the road. Riding on the tarmac is losing it's appeal, more and more cars, all driving faster to get where they need to go and to be honest, just bored with the same routes after what seems like hundreds of times. I'm in a built up area outside of the city so there's some quieter streets to ride on, down by the lake and good MUP trails but I've done it all.

I really like the idea of gravel rides. I enjoy them on the MUP trails through the forest, have driven out to some rail trails and was riding up in the north country on old back cottage roads and had a blast. No cars in sight! Now trying to decide which would be the best bike.

Gravel, touring or converted vintage mountain bike? I don't see myself ever getting into the technical trails and would mostly be on some light or crushed gravel and a bit of tarmac. Can't see myself getting into bike camping but one never knows.

I know most people on this forum probably have one of all of the above types of bikes so what do you prefer?
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Old 09-14-22, 11:42 AM
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I still think a C&V bike looks nicest and if I was to choose by looks alone, it would be be something like these rides below (not mine) but I know they aren't necessarily the most comfortable or perform the best. Modern bikes provide brifters and disc brakes which most people would recommend.


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Old 09-14-22, 03:07 PM
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I think your UO-14 can do all that. But if you want a new bike, an early 90s light weight rigid MTB with full XT is much fun with drop bars or north roads with appropriate stem for reach etc.
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Old 09-15-22, 03:52 AM
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My only recommendation is, if you can, avoid a Unicrown fork. I saw somewhere recently that this was a "gift" from Tom Ritchey to cycling. If so, it was clearly his ugliest contribution to the sport.
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Old 09-15-22, 04:50 AM
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I have transitioned from a steel frame road bike with friction shifters in the '80s, a low-end MTB style bike when I retired in 2014, Hybrid caliper, Hybrid Disc, and Gravel/Allrounder now. Had back surgery in 2001 so that has influenced my choice of bikes through the years and have also found road traffic and the temperament of said drivers of the cars/trucks to be less than inviting so now I ride the Greenway here 90% of the time. The only thing I have to contribute would be to give yourself the ability to adjust the fit of the bike to you as you age and your fitness and abilities change. Enough tire clearance if you decide to go for a 40mm tire. A frame size that allows you to change the stem and the gearing to allow you to take on any hills you may have in your area and/or the gearing to enjoy the flats with speed. I, through purely dumb luck, found a frame and gearing to fit my needs at this point of my life and I have changed a lot on my current bike. Try to find a setup that allows you the option of making adjustments that you don't know now that you will need/want in the future. I realize how stupid that last statement sounds to project into the future your needs but hopefully, you get my gist. For information reasons only and not a form of recommendation I ride a Cannondale Aloy 2020 Topstone with 105 mec. Have changed most everything on the bike and now run 32mm tires w/tubes.
Be safe and hope you find what you are looking for.
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Old 09-15-22, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
For information reasons only and not a form of recommendation I ride a Cannondale Aloy 2020 Topstone with 105 mec. Have changed most everything on the bike and now run 32mm tires w/tubes.
Be safe and hope you find what you are looking for.
That's a nice looking bike, might consider that. One of my rides is a Cannondale CAAD 8 which I really like. Fits me great and super comfortable to ride.
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Old 09-15-22, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
I think your UO-14 can do all that. But if you want a new bike, an early 90s light weight rigid MTB with full XT is much fun with drop bars or north roads with appropriate stem for reach etc.
The UO 14 is one I baby a bit as I've had it for years and I'm afraid that it's getting frail with age but I do have a few other steel bikes that I could convert. They all are set up for road though so I would need to put cantilever or V brakes on them to fit the wider tires.

I just worry about those skinny forks, would they be OK on trails?
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Old 09-15-22, 09:22 AM
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Before there were "Gravel Bikes", we road skinny forked bikes on trails and less technical single track. Your bikes will be fine. One of my road bikes uses medium reach brakes, can fit 35mm tires with room to spare, and I raced Cyclocross on it. No Problems. BUT, I am not discouraging buying another bike
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Old 09-15-22, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Before there were "Gravel Bikes", we road skinny forked bikes on trails and less technical single track.
Underbiking...

I currently have nothing but vintage bikes. I have several which will fit 28-35mm tires. I don't really need anything more.
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Old 09-15-22, 01:37 PM
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I've thought about this a lot lately and I've done rides with people on newer gravel bikes. I have a enduro type mountain bike and it's a bit heavy for road and even dirt road use. I was thinking of either a low end gravel bike (like a Topstone) or a lightweight hardtail 29er.

For what I want it to do a 29er mtb might be best. Drop bars like on a gravel bike would be an advantage on the road but I would be more confident sliding around on a mtb.
There are several out there which are fairly cheap. This aluminum Canyon is $1200. I'd still have the enduro bike for the rough stuff.
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Old 09-15-22, 02:28 PM
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For the type of riding you describe, "light or crushed gravel and a bit of tarmac," 32mm to 35mm tires should be plenty wide. Put a pair on a bike you already have and see what you think.

Here's a seventies Motobecane Le Champion I outfitted with brifters, clipless pedals, and lower gearing along with the wider tires for exactly this sort of riding.



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Old 09-16-22, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
For what I want it to do a 29er mtb might be best. Drop bars like on a gravel bike would be an advantage on the road but I would be more confident sliding around on a mtb.
There are several out there which are fairly cheap. This aluminum Canyon is $1200. I'd still have the enduro bike for the rough stuff.
This bike looks like it would be great for a tall rider like yourself and really has all that a gravel bike would have with the option of suspension. Very nice!
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Old 09-16-22, 06:36 AM
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Very nice Brent, what size tires do you have on the Motobecane? i think it's great to re-purpose an older bike to something new.
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Old 09-16-22, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
This bike looks like it would be great for a tall rider like yourself and really has all that a gravel bike would have with the option of suspension. Very nice!
I thought about trying to take some weight off of my current mtb for smooth or mixed surface rides. It's great in the rough stuff but trying to keep up with climbers on 23 pound gravel bikes is tough. Here, I'm about to get dropped by a friend on his cf bike with 38mm tires. We're on a fairly loose gravelly surface.
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Old 09-16-22, 12:02 PM
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the 'gravel bike' and similar appeals to me because it's sorta/kinda like a road bike / cx / off-road combo ... road bike with relaxed geometry / position, lower gearing and wider tires

been riding primarily vintage MTBs and hybrids lately - miss the drop bars ... especially the longer rides

could convert one of the vintage MTB's to drop bar ... ? ...

but found a Topstone at a flea market late this summer - so excited to see how it works out

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Old 09-16-22, 01:15 PM
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There are a number of ways to get a bike for the roads less traveled.


The first is to convert an older steel frame bike to 650b. The smaller wheel diameter will allow you touse a wider tire. Some frames will accept 38mm wide tires and fenders, others will take 42mm tires with fenders.. these tires are just as fast on pavement, and permit you to ride dirt rads and trails..


Another possibility is to buy a bike from Rivendell or Crust, or Velo=Orange. Grant Petersen was one of the first to question the popularity of narrowrrow tires, and he is partially responsible for saving the 650B size from extinction. Crust has the Lightning Bolt and the Romanceur, Both look interesting


Then there are custom builders if your budget will permit it. The second bike in your second post looks like a custom.


You mention disc brakes and they seem to be taking over, however they require a stronger fork with less flex and shock absorption. In my opinion brazed on centerpulls work great. and permit the fork to flex..

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Old 09-16-22, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
Very nice Brent, what size tires do you have on the Motobecane? i think it's great to re-purpose an older bike to something new.
700x32 when the photo was taken, later 700x35.
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