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Discussion Starter #1
Beside different geo and on some models wider tires what advantage does a rigid mtb have over a rigid gravel bike?

If I have a rigid gavel bike that can take 29x50mm(1.9") tires, would a rigid from the factory(but suspension corrected) mtb be redundant? In my case looking at 27.5+ bikes, which for 2020 some models I looked into have changed geo to be more oriented towards 29x2.6 tires.

Would I just be better off adding a suspension fork to my bike like the Lauf or that 40mm Canondale lefty fork I've seen on youtube? Or go for a gravel fork that has clearance for wider tires 29er tires, while possibly being lighter?
 

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where your riding the bike will dictate, what is best for you. if you ride 10 miles of pavement to get to easy trails, then get a gravel bike.

if the trails are rough build a hard tail, I personally find no need for a rigid mtb
 

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A rigid mtb will be a bit more sure-footed when the terrain starts getting rougher than what you see on typical gravel roads. It might be worthwhile if you need extra flotation over a bunch of really loose and unconsolidated gravel or if you're bikepacking on singletrack, but when the gravel is firm and especially on pavement, the gravel bike will definitely be faster and lighter. It will also be more comfortable over long distances, owing to the multiple hand positions on the drop bars.

Depends what I'm doing, but as far as I'm concerned, a rigid mtb is a more limited-use bike. A gravel bike, especially if you can switch between a suspension fork and a rigid one depending on where you're riding, would be a good choice.

I'd want to stay away from that Lefty fork unless you were all-in on the lefty design and its requirement for a special front hub. If not, stay with something more traditional. The Lauf is an option if you just want to take the edge off, but aren't looking for true suspension. If you're looking for true suspension, then there are some traditional telescoping gravel suspension forks from Fox and MRP you can look at that don't require you to build a new front wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
where your riding the bike will dictate, what is best for you. if you ride 10 miles of pavement to get to easy trails, then get a gravel bike.

if the trails are rough build a hard tail, I personally find no need for a rigid mtb
Riding 10 miles to get to intermediate trail with hard rock, sand & climbs that can be 8%+ on desert sandstone rocks out here in the desert south west.
 

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Riding 10 miles to get to intermediate trail with hard rock, sand & climbs that can be 8%+ on desert sandstone rocks out here in the desert south west.
That's still kinda vague, but I'm apt to say to use the bike that is the most fun on the part of your ride you'll spend the most time on.

But, me, I don't want to waste time riding 10 miles to get to some trails, then ride the trails, and then ride 10 miles home.

If I rode a mtb, that's going to wind up adding a bunch of time to the part of the ride I like the least (the road part). If I rode a gravel bike to go faster on the pavement, it's going to limit the enjoyment I get out of riding the trails.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A rigid mtb will be a bit more sure-footed when the terrain starts getting rougher than what you see on typical gravel roads. It might be worthwhile if you need extra flotation over a bunch of really loose and unconsolidated gravel or if you're bikepacking on singletrack, but when the gravel is firm and especially on pavement, the gravel bike will definitely be faster and lighter. It will also be more comfortable over long distances, owing to the multiple hand positions on the drop bars.

Depends what I'm doing, but as far as I'm concerned, a rigid mtb is a more limited-use bike. A gravel bike, especially if you can switch between a suspension fork and a rigid one depending on where you're riding, would be a good choice.

I'd want to stay away from that Lefty fork unless you were all-in on the lefty design and its requirement for a special front hub. If not, stay with something more traditional. The Lauf is an option if you just want to take the edge off, but aren't looking for true suspension. If you're looking for true suspension, then there are some traditional telescoping gravel suspension forks from Fox and MRP you can look at that don't require you to build a new front wheel.
I don't think my gravel bike can work with the MRP or Fox 32 as it's not really suspension corrected, but was told it can with the Lauf & possibly lefty gravel fork. But, if that requires new hubs then no.

How would you say a large tire gravel bike(27.5x2.6+ or 29x2.4) compare to a rigid mtb? Like that Crust Evasion or Surly Ogre.
 

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I don't think my gravel bike can work with the MRP or Fox 32 as it's not really suspension corrected, but was told it can with the Lauf & possibly lefty gravel fork. But, if that requires new hubs then no.

How would you say a large tire gravel bike(27.5x2.6+ or 29x2.4) compare to a rigid mtb? Like that Crust Evasion or Surly Ogre.
"Suspension corrected" is a rather old term that referred to bikes that could accept an 80mm or 100mm travel fork.

The MRP Baxter, for example, has a 424mm unsagged axle-crown dimension (415 sagged). A 100mm 29er fork (like the MRP Loop SL at 509mm unsagged and 489mm sagged) is significantly longer. Yes, the Lauf Grit is still shorter (415mm unsagged, 409mm sagged), but the difference between the Lauf and the MRP is 9mm unsagged, and even less at sag at 6mm (the Baxter has more travel). That's not even worth quibbling over, to be honest.

It doesn't really matter WHAT the rigid mtb is. Some things you can deal with through tire selection. Other things, not so much. For example, modern mtb drivetrains are going to lose a lot of top end gearing compared to a gravel bike. That alone is going to cause you to lose out on speed on your 10mi of road to get to the trails.
 

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10 miles on pavement, ride the trails and then 10 back ?

I get tired riding more than about 15 or so on a flat bar. I can do it, but a drop bar bike is more comfortable if only as I can switch hand positions.

But the choice of bike really comes down to can a gravel bike, even with 2” tires, handle the more technical terrain ?. Flat bars are a better choice for that stuff, suspension fork or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"Suspension corrected" is a rather old term that referred to bikes that could accept an 80mm or 100mm travel fork.

The MRP Baxter, for example, has a 424mm unsagged axle-crown dimension (415 sagged). A 100mm 29er fork (like the MRP Loop SL at 509mm unsagged and 489mm sagged) is significantly longer. Yes, the Lauf Grit is still shorter (415mm unsagged, 409mm sagged), but the difference between the Lauf and the MRP is 9mm unsagged, and even less at sag at 6mm (the Baxter has more travel). That's not even worth quibbling over, to be honest.

It doesn't really matter WHAT the rigid mtb is. Some things you can deal with through tire selection. Other things, not so much. For example, modern mtb drivetrains are going to lose a lot of top end gearing compared to a gravel bike. That alone is going to cause you to lose out on speed on your 10mi of road to get to the trails.
That's good to know. the axle to crown length on my bike is 400mm. So a Lauf could work(seen a few for cheap on CL). Not sure if the Baxter would work, but that also kind of pricey for what it is.

I ride once a week so its the only day I get exercise outdoors, ie not at the gym. So I like the 10 mile(well really 9.1 miles but rounded up to sound a bit longer than it really is) ride to the trail. I am usually the only one on a gravel bike there as most people are mtb, including a lady who I see time to time on a 90s mtb. I have mullet setup for my gearing as I have mtb in the back(11-40) and road in the front(50/36) & it acceptable for me. I am sure if my ankles were a bit stronger or I lost 10lbs it be a bit more easier to climb.

I ride in Orange County/San Diego are normally & in the California/Arizona border areas when I have 3 day weekend. If that gives an idea?
 

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Build a hard tail, its what I use when im riding a lot of pavement to and from trails. We have such extremes here, but still have 4 miles of pavement mixed with technical areas, but average 2000' of climbing in a 12.5 mile loop. Love the full suspension but I value the lighter hardtail on climbs, and you will get more stability out of a bike with front suspension you cannot on a rigid, unless your a pro. Me I don't want to go down in sketchy stuff because I didn't do enough suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am thinking about that. Do I go plus tire hardtail like Timberjack or Unit or put a suspension fork on my gravel bike.

I take the geo advantage goes to the rigid mtb, but is that just for descents or does that apply to climbs too?
 

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If you are riding mixed pavement and trails:
1. Your bike has to be capable of handling the trails. Make your bike choice based on this.
2. It's OK to ride a mountain bike on the road. It's slow, but in reality it's mostly a function of tires and tire pressures. If you are riding a gravel bike with tires and pressures suitable for the trails that you are riding to, it will be almost as slow on the road as the MTB.
3. Addendum: plus size tires suck on the road

Conclusion: Get a hardtail 29er with about 2.1" tires, and with a suspension fork that locks out completely. Ride to the trail on the road with the fork locked out, then have fun on the trails, then ride home. Save the gravel bike for actual road or gravel rides. Forget about plus size tires and suspension forks for the gravel bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for your reply. I'm thinking plus size bike with suspension fork, either TJ or Unit, unless I find a good deal on a PM1 or PM and aftermarket suspension fork. But personally I think I would prefer 29x2.4 over a 27.5+ tire bike. Which 29x2.2(?) ht(or rigid bike then add an after market fork, say save a little extra to go for a fox fork over suntour I am seeing on some of these budget bikes) would you suggest along the lines of what I am looking for?

Side note I have a frame pump for my bike so I have at the right pressure for the ride there, lower the pressure for the trail then pump the rear tire to proper pressure for the ride home. Works fine for me.
 

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Based on your description of your rides and knowing what a gravel bike is capable of, I really think the right choice was stated above. A fast/light 29er hardtail with 2.1 inch xc rubber. My xc race bike was still way more capable on the trails than my gravel bike running 48mm tires. It also was fine riding on the road to get to the trails. I used to ride about 6 miles to the trails, do a 7 mile loop and the 6 miles back home on my cannondale fsi multiple times a week.

If I was doing so much road riding to get to the trails, plus tires would be the absolute last thing on the list for changes. I am not sure I understand why you seemingly rule out a xc hardtail with a good 100mm fork that can be locked out. It is more capable on the trails and really is just marginally slower on the road than a gravel bike with big tires. Throwing something like a lauf or the lefty oliver on isn’t going to make the gravel bike more capable. Just keep you ever so more comfortable. The lauf has zero rebound dampening so it is just going to pogo stick on chattery stuff.

A plus sized mtb will ride like an absolute pig on the road while still feeling really sluggish on the trails. Going with that or making your gravel bike more of a monster cross bike are both solutions that seem far from ideal. I grew up riding around orange county and now live in san diego. There are trails here that are doable on gravel bikes, but they really are just service roads. Anything with fun single track is probably too rocky or steep to be fun on a gravel bike, regardless of 45 mm of travel.

Tire choice is key too for a hardtail to be able to ride ok on the road and trails. I always ran racing ralphs. 2.1/1.9 combo was really good for the pedaling into the trails.

Edit: for bike recommendations I would look at the cannondale fsi, the new specialized epic hardtail, santa cruz highball, or any xc hardtail race bike.


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I agree with the others that a plus sized anything is the absolute dead last thing you should be considering here.

It's worth pointing out that your gravel bike has massive gearing range. You're going to want to compare gearing between that (and the gears you ACTUALLY use) and any hardtail you choose. You simply will not be able to get a 50/11 gear on a mountain bike, so if you rely on those big gears on your gravel bike for the pavement parts of this ride, you're going to need to set your expectations appropriately for a mtb.

A mtb will be slower. Heavier, knobbier tires. Heavier overall. Less aero body position. Less top end gearing. But more low end gearing, better control in technical terrain, more confident descending at speed.

Also keep in mind that this is a mountain bike website, so folks' opinions will be generally biased towards the mountain bike side of things.

As for bike geometry, it depends what you're riding, really, and specifically which bike you choose. Any mtb should have geometry suited for more confident descending over a gravel bike, but some gravel bikes are starting to overlap with some mtbs on that. As for climbing geometry, I haven't actually found climbing geometry to be that much of a limiting factor on my Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead, which is a much slacker bike (and mine is built at the upper end of the mfr's fork recommendation, so it's even slacker than the mfr stated geo) than any of the xc hardtails people are recommending here. But that said, the positions are VERY different. My gravel bike (2014ish Salsa Vaya) has a geometry that makes STANDING climbing for longer distances more comfortable. That makes pushing a bigger gear more feasible, so I climb faster. My Pedalhead is more comfortable with SEATED climbing and spinning a higher cadence in a lower gear. The more "trail" oriented the bikes you look at, the more they'll lean towards my Pedalhead. The more "race" oriented the mountain bikes you look at, the closer they'll be geometry-wise to your existing gravel bike.

When I take my gravel bike out, I generally look for stuff with at most, a couple miles of easy trail. That bike gets pavement use and well-packed gravel (open to motorized traffic as well as gated gravel forest roads). I might take that bike out this afternoon on a gravel route that includes a few miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway (pavement) that's currently closed to cars for winter. I try to limit as much of my pavement riding to traffic-free or traffic-lite routes like greenways, gravel, and the Blue Ridge Parkway in wintertime as I can. Got a bunch of rain yesterday, so would be good to give the trails a break. But too nice and sunny to stay cooped up all day.

My mtb comes out when the amount of singletrack in the ride gets to be a higher proportion. I still do lots of gravel on it (such is the nature of the rides in my area. lots of long gravel climbs followed by technical singletrack descents), but I really dislike road riding, so I think the longest stretch of pavement I ride on it is a mile or two long. It'll also come out if there's a lot of fresh, loose gravel, but that's not common. It's got 29x2.6" tires, and the extra flotation in that kind of situation is helpful.
 

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Regarding gearing, here's a radical solution: You can run a 2x drivetrain on a hardtail! Another point: in my opinion, adding a dropper post dramatically increases the descending capability of a bike. I have a hardtail with this setup that I often ride on an 8 mile commute which consists of about 1.5 miles of dirt, including one good singletrack descent and one very steep dirt climb. The bike is a steel 2009 Raleigh XXIX+g, 2x10 drivetrain 39-26 rings x 11-36 cassette, 80 mm travel fork. I added a 100mm PNW dropper post (the only good option for 27.2 seatpost diameter). It currently has 29 x 2.2 tires running tubes, usually at about 30 psi. Though it has a steep 71 degree head angle, it feels fine on my descents because of the dropper. Pedaling on the road is fine.
 

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Regarding gearing, here's a radical solution: You can run a 2x drivetrain on a hardtail! Another point: in my opinion, adding a dropper post dramatically increases the descending capability of a bike. I have a hardtail with this setup that I often ride on an 8 mile commute which consists of about 1.5 miles of dirt, including one good singletrack descent and one very steep dirt climb. The bike is a steel 2009 Raleigh XXIX+g, 2x10 drivetrain 39-26 rings x 11-36 cassette, 80 mm travel fork. I added a 100mm PNW dropper post (the only good option for 27.2 seatpost diameter). It currently has 29 x 2.2 tires running tubes, usually at about 30 psi. Though it has a steep 71 degree head angle, it feels fine on my descents because of the dropper. Pedaling on the road is fine.
Yes, you can run 2x on a mtb. But you still won't be able to replicate the top end gear you can potentially use on a gravel bike.

Yes, a dropper post increases descending capability of a bike. It may or may not be an option.
 

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Lots of people ride plus size wheels on the tour divide race, if you like that ride then go for it. 10 miles each way on pavement is no big deal.

Hardtail mtb's are super versatile so any decent xc-ish would also work great.

Gravel bike with a little narrower tires is nice if the roads/trails you're traveling to are mostly smooth.
 

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Yes, you can run 2x on a mtb. But you still won't be able to replicate the top end gear you can potentially use on a gravel bike.

Personally I've found that even 1x mtb drivetrains aren't very limiting on mixed surface rides and I'm no dilly-dallier. Depends whether or not you're racing though I guess.
 

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I usually ride to and from the trails, and connect trail systems with road sections of several miles in length. My bikes of choice are XC hardtails with 100mm forks. I usually run a reasonably fast rolling 29x2.2 on the rear and a beefy 29x2.4 up front. My bike with the 2x is the one I grab the most often because it has higher gearing for the road sections. I've considered a 29+ bike off and on the past couple of years, but for me the advantage of plus size tires on trails does not outweigh the disadvantage of riding them to and from the trails.
 
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