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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been bouncing around some ideas in my head for a new bike build. I've been wanting a bike for mixed surface Gravel + street riding around here. Drop bar bikes tend to not cooperate with the vertebrate in my neck so I sold my drop bar bike and I just ride my trail bike when riding the street/gravel roads around my house. 2.6" tires and full suspension tends to not be the ideal mount for this scenario. I've been toying with the idea of building a hardtail or rigid bike with the upright riding position of my trail bike but outfitted with faster rolling tires and wheels more suitable for mixed surfaces. I envision the riding breakdown would be 50% gravel 20% street 30% XC trails.

I want it made from steel and I'm considering a custom frame. I'm undecided going back and forth between what geometry I want to start with. I want a longer reach and longer wheelbase of modern mountain bike using mountain bike drivetrain and even a dropper (And I can steal from my pile of extra mountain bike parts). Seat tube will be just long enough to get a 2nd water bottle cage in there and hopefully short enough to use ~100-125mm of dropper travel with my short legs. The real question is how slack do I want the bike to be. My current bike is 66HTA 75STA 445 reach with 140mm travel fork. Not super slack by todays standard but works great for me on my local trails. But that's quite a bit slacker than you normally see gravel and road bikes. It's a bit floppy wheeled on the front end but not too bad with short stem and 760mm bars. Or do I go with a more traditional 69.5/73 and give it better road manners at the expense of a bit of off road stability. Maybe I choose something in the middle like 67/74.? I've never ridden a super slack hard tail but I'm thinking 65 and lower wouldn't work well rigid or with a short travel fork. I can't wrap my brain around what would be the best all in one geometry. I think I will run it rigid with a 485mm fork or swap in a spare100-120mm travel fork depending on what I plan on doing with the bike that day.

For tires I was originally thinking gravel tires but now I'm leaning towards fast rolling XC mountain bike tires for the increased volume. I think I wouldn't mind sacrificing a little efficiency and rolling speed for more comfort.
 

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Find a builder you like, tell him what you want and see what shows up. I haven’t ridden a new school bike that rides as well as my 2012 29er. When I was talking to the builder a couple of years ago he said he builds bikes to ride great 95% of the time. He said the other 5% that people stress over that benefits from the slack HA and such isn’t worth the compromise on that 95% unless you want something very specific. I tend to believe him because it is fast, smooth and fun but certainly not new school.
 

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My adventure/gravel/short track XC/CX bike is a carbon forked 2011 26" Stumpjumper hardtail with a dropper.
71° head tube.
650b Maxxis Ramblers for gravel.
650b Specialized Fasttrak's for XC/CX.
650b Maxxis Re-Fuse for urban.
700c GP4000s2's for the occasional road race (back when it had drop bars).

The HTA hasn't held it back at all.
 

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Sounds like you want a bikepacking type of ride. If you're wanting to go custom I'd get with someone like Walt and have him advise you. If you want an off the shelf, honestly I'd go with something cheap like the On One Bootzipper. I tend to use gravel bikes as a second option for riding though. If you're willing to spend more a Surly Ogre with nice parts would be a good choice.
 

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Salsa Fargo might be what you are looking for. It can be setup drop bar, alt bar & with up to 100mm of travel. In all sizes except XS it can fit up to 29x3.0. I think XS only fits up to 27.5x3.0. I've seen weight of the bike be around 25lbs.
 

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easy- Fully rigid, 29'er/700C. You choose bars and brakes because bars is per your thoughts, and disks aren't needed on most of what you mentioned. Ppl will mention "this one time I was happy to have discs", but all in all, they're not needed except for hard mtbg and snow-riding. Wife and I did tandem riding with rim brakes in the rain and if you can do that in the rain, you don't really need discs.

(I'm an avid supporter for discs on mtbs... nice to avoid the gritty brake tracks of sand-riding or mud riding and in snow, rim-brakes just don't work... but wife and I did survive long rain-rides of tandem riding, and I wouldn't trade my rim-brake Emonda road-bike for any disc road-bike.)
 

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easy- Fully rigid, 29'er/700C. You choose bars and brakes because bars is per your thoughts, and disks aren't needed on most of what you mentioned. Ppl will mention "this one time I was happy to have discs", but all in all, they're not needed except for hard mtbg and snow-riding. Wife and I did tandem riding with rim brakes in the rain and if you can do that in the rain, you don't really need discs.

(I'm an avid supporter for discs on mtbs... nice to avoid the gritty brake tracks of sand-riding or mud riding and in snow, rim-brakes just don't work... but wife and I did survive long rain-rides of tandem riding, and I wouldn't trade my rim-brake Emonda road-bike for any disc road-bike.)
I agree for the most part , problem is it is getting more difficult to find rims.
 

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I built a Specialized Chisel into something similar and really enjoyed it. Carbon fork & cockpit, light-ish 25mm iw rims and 2.1" Vittoria Mezcals. It had more traditional 69HA/74STA.

It was really well suited to mixed surface rides that included pavement, gravel, and tame single track. If I had the space for a 4th bike I'd build something similar again, and my only change would be a nice X01/XX1 11 speed drivetrain to better match the lightweight spirit of the bike.

1945805
 

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A ride a Salsa Fargo for most of the riding you describe. I have had a few drop bars on it, but now run Surly Moloko bars. It is a Dingle speed with 55 and 70 gear inches. I always run a 29 x 2.5 Hookworm in the back. Front has a Surly Rabbit hole rim and I switch between a hookworm for mixed rides and a 29 x 3 Fat B Nimble for rough single track rides. Racks go on and off as needed for bikepacking or hunting trips.
 

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I've been bouncing around some ideas in my head for a new bike build. I've been wanting a bike for mixed surface Gravel + street riding around here.


I built this bike primarily for bikepacking on trails, but I ended up riding it more and more on less techy stuff and using it as my trail bike for mountain biking. I eventually sold my gravel/road bike and use this for all sorts of different riding. I did 170kms in a day on gravel and pavement and would have hit 200kms except a missed the last ferry for that day. It's got a 65 deg HTA with a 140mm fork. I've run Maxxis Rekons in 29 x 2.6" & 2.8"...they both work well for mixed use riding and I wouldn't hesitate to ride a paved century with them.



I've got a set of Soma Dream bars on the bike now which are great for long days in the saddle grinding out miles and good for trail riding greens and blues. This bike really is a one-bike-to-rule-them-all for me and if I had to only own one bike it would be this one. The great thing with this bike is I can turn down any road or trail on a big day and know the bike can handle it fine.

 

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I built this bike primarily for bikepacking on trails, but I ended up riding it more and more on less techy stuff and using it as my trail bike for mountain biking. I eventually sold my gravel/road bike and use this for all sorts of different riding. I did 170kms in a day on gravel and pavement and would have hit 200kms except a missed the last ferry for that day. It's got a 75 deg HTA...

*65 degree HTA ;)
 

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I tried drop bar gravel bikes but hated the drops…just not for me, so I set up an older Niner with an ENVE MTN fork, with some other parts I had, put on some 50mm tires and found that this setup makes a nice gravel ride plus it cruises a bit of everything. I could put on wider tires but don’t need em for what I ride this bike for. Just saying it doesn’t take much to modify an older frame into something more “modernish”
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I tried drop bar gravel bikes but hated the drops…just not for me, so I set up an older Niner with an ENVE MTN fork, with some other parts I had, put on some 50mm tires and found that this setup makes a nice gravel ride plus it cruises a bit of everything. I could put on wider tires but don’t need em for what I ride this bike for. Just saying it doesn’t take much to modify an older frame into something more “modernish”
View attachment 1956496
View attachment 1956497
Are you need Sandpoint? We researched the area a few years ago, while deciding where to live next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here is the bike I eventually built. 65.5 HTA 74STA 430 Reach 1163 wheelbase on 27.5 x 2.6s. I'll use the bike to ride local single track, urban free riding riding through campus and downtown, and gravel and road. I really love these Schwalbe Smart Sam for mixed surface riding. The tread with thick double down case is aggressive enough I never have to worry about the tires when I'm riding off road. But the continuous center tread rides buzz free on the tarmac. If I had it to do over again I would open up the main triangle instead of having such a sloping top tube. It's great offroad but limits how much gear I can fit into the main triangle. I thought I would like the bolt on top tube bag instead of a in frame bag but I don't much care for the top tube bag off road. It's fine for the city and gravel but I tend to knee it when single speeding off road. I have a shifter/derailleur set up on a continuous housing I can throw on with a cassette in about 5 minutes when I am riding long distance gravel/road but I haven't used that setup yet outside of setting it up and pulling it off. I have a rigid carbon fork I can put on there but I've leaving the 120mm fork on it for the time being since 75% of the miles have been on single track so far.

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I just built up a Surly Lowside with 1x11, a 100mm travel fork, and Continental Crosskings, kind of fits the bill as an all around trail/gravel/urban bike.

Can take 26,27.5,and maybe even skinny 29 wheels, boost or non boost, can be run geared or SS, high rise or flat bars, whatever.

I also had a beautiful Canyon Grizl CF, but discovered I did not like the drops. Sold the beautiful machine.
 
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