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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another bike category that is calling my name to buy! Gravel Bike. So with all the hype why not just ride a fully rigid Hardtail mountain bike? You have the ability for a wide range of tire sizes and it seems all the gravel guys want bigger tires. You can run a suspension fork if you like and lock it out, you can ride it easily on single track, gravel and pavement. Perhaps I am missing something, educate me please.
 

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Wanna ride bikes?
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shhh, don't tell the wives you can ride gravel on a XC rigid/hardtail. if they hear you we may not have a good enough excuse for N+1.

really, for long and/or high speed gravel rides, or if the bike will be used part time as a road bike, or as a cyclocross bike i think a gravel/cross bike is a better option. lighter, more aero etc. it's designed specifically for that environment and to be a versatile bike.

yes, a XC bike can be made to be very similar. certain frames even work really well as drop bar XC bikes. hence the term "monstercross" and it's popularity. :thumbsup:
 

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I do gravel races and ride lots on gravel on my HT with fast tires....it works really well but ultimately I'd like drop bars/lower aero position and lighter weight.

I thought about going with a rigid fork...but I really want drop bars too.

A CX or gravel bike w/ tubeless setup and light wheels is on my list of wants.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not saying to put drop bars on a hardtail, just use the flat bar or riser bar that you normally use. I just would like to see what people think, rather than buy a completely new bike, just put on some narrow 29er tires and run your hardtail. Whats the difference and like I said everyone seems to want wider tires on their gravel bikes.
I'm not saying I don't want a gravel bike, I already have a road bike, 5.5" travel mountain bike and a gravel bike might be cool, but what about setting up a super light hardtail for the same thing?
 

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Some folks do just roll mountain bikes on the roads. Geometry is important and tire choice is key...running fat knobby tires will suck and you'll be buying new ones every couple hundred miles...that is if you see much pavement. Gravel roads will eat them up too but not as fast. But if you are ok with the comfort of a mountain bike and can ride one for long distances or for 4-5 hours or more at a shot...go for it. I personally don't like it. I tried riding mountain bike on roads...paved and gravel. It's ok for 15-20 mile rides but nothing compares to a proper road/gravel road bike for that type of riding. That's where the geo comes in to play and the dropbars giving you more hand position options. Of course there's bars out there that will work better with a mountain bike that have hand position options. There's also some monstercross bikes one can consider. Something like the Salsa Cutthroat is pretty popular in the gravel scene from what I read. I've never seen one. Majority of the bikes i see are CX bikes or gravel bikes with a smattering of mountain bikes. The events I've seen it's about 80% gravel/CX bike to 20% mountain bike.
 

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Cactus Cuddler
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I don't want to ruin your N+1 justification either... but for a three-bike total solution I think you'll want something a bit closer to your all-mountan bike.

So, I'd definitely set up a lightweight hardtail for your uses, but I'd also go about it slightly differently. FWIW, I run a 5.7" travel all mountain bike, and it's stablemate is my Diamondback Overdrive Sport Carbon, which has seen some revisions.

That said, Maxxis Asspen's on a light 21mm IW rim present a remarkably good set of wheels for this application. Semislicks like those are really pretty decent for extended paved road, and worlds more comfortable on gravel and XC stuff - side bonus is that they're a hoot on loose over hardpack if you want to unleash your inner 5 year old and lay down hilarious skids.
The cheap taiwanese made carbon hardtails are a great base - there are some which are basically warranty-included rebrands. For the type of bike you're describing, you won't need boost, or even necessary a rear through axle, which saves lots of cash.
A 2x10 drivetrain is totally adequate for that use, and seeing what prices stuff like X0 cranksets, XT cassettes, and 10s Ultegra chains run, I'm really happy I've got that setup basically.
Suspension fork I'd say is a plus - considering that there are a lot of really good, genty used, and remarkably light 120mm travel forks, I'd still look that direction somewhat. A Reba RLT or Fox32 can be a great base (especially a ~2014 Fox32 for a bargain that needs servicing anyway - just price in a new damper cartridge and you'll able to have a top end fork for under $400). That said, carbon rigid fork is great for super-lightweight.
 

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Live Free & Ride
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Here is my own personal 3 bike solution that should round out the year and keep me happy for quite awhile. More wheels and tire options make it happen with more popping up all the time!
1. 29er XC -100/120mm trail bike
2. Fatbike with 2 wheelsets - 4/5 in tires & plus size w/ 3-3.8 (3 season bike)
3. Gravel/CX/Road - Still looking at frames/bikes that accept 40c+ tire
I find its really not easy to build just 1 all-around bike that can do it all, just not possible, but more tire options on just a few adaptable frames should fit the bill!
 

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You don't NEED skinny tires for gravel. I run a bald Bonty XR1 2.1 (guessing till I can check) out back, and a 2.2 Race King up front....they are fast and ride fantastic as well as still rocking on single-track.

I wanna get smaller tires primarily to drop as much rotational weight as I can...however I hate riding skinny tires on a mtb, it's too weird, that and I really like how my bigger tubeless tires ride.

As far as drop bars....I am actually more comfy on my flat bars (hands) on long rides than drop bars. I recently did a 62mile gravel ride on my HT and it was great. I tend to struggle more on my road bikes...seems u NEED multiple positions with drop bars lol. Never needed it on mtb.

Now I still want drop bars for gravel...for that lower more aero setup... Plus I do like riding drop bars for road/gravel even though I hate how my SRAM hoods feel.

Really though a CX bike would be really nice.


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The other thing I really love, which some will hate :D... is having a triple up front.

I love using the that 42 chainring, u need it on the downs for sure, flats, staying out of the 11 as much as possible, and it's fun to climb with when it legs are good.

Bump down to the 32 when u don't want to push the 42 on climbs, and the 24 is for when it gets really steep, and or your legs are struggling or cramping.





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Fat-tired Roadie
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Why not ride a mountain bike, and also make route selections that keep you on singletrack? ;)

I've been flirting with gravel for a while. I don't think I $1000 like it, so I've been using my 'cross bike. I haven't done an organized event; I hear they spend extended amounts of time on pavement and on pretty easy gravel. So people are going fast enough for aero to count and staying in the same position long enough for the ergonomics of drop bars to count.

On my rides, I'm typically starting at home, riding to a mountain I climb via gravel road, and coming back via roads. I'd appreciate wider tires - I'm not even confident I could run a 40 - but for the asphalt road sections, I appreciate being on a road bike, and the gravel and trail sections (of course I usually sneak in a little singletrack) are mellow enough by MTB standards that I'm okay being on a road bike.

I also enjoy the novelty and challenge - stuff that's not that interesting when I'm on a mountain bike, including a hardtail, is more engaging again.

It's not exactly an N+1 bike for me since I gave up my tight-clearance road bike a while ago. I had narrow slicks on my 'cross bike for a while, and bought 'cross tires again for an event before the access to lots of dirt roads got me curious about that type of riding. It's more the tight-clearance road bike that's redundant to me. Though since I can't commute by bike anymore, my former commuter has been doing the skinny slicks job this summer.

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I actually agree...mountain bike on gravel certainly works...but it's better on a gravel road/CX bike. IMO of course. But in all honesty...I'm not much of a mountain biker. I enjoy it. But do it little. I'm on the road whether paved or unpaved 90% of the time. So for me it was a no brainer to get a gravel bike. And then a SS gravel bike.
 

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The other thing I really love, which some will hate :D... is having a triple up front.

I love using the that 42 chainring, u need it on the downs for sure, flats, staying out of the 11 as much as possible, and it's fun to climb with when it legs are good.

Bump down to the 32 when u don't want to push the 42 on climbs, and the 24 is for when it gets really steep, and or your legs are struggling or cramping.

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Triples have their place. I run a 36T out back with a compact double rather than a triple but regardless how you do it...low gearing is definitely appreciated when it's needed.
 

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Triples have their place. I run a 36T out back with a compact double rather than a triple but regardless how you do it...low gearing is definitely appreciated when it's needed.
Yeah, I was thinking about a compact double when I was writing that... Thinking about how it would it would work etc. (I have road bikes with compact). Seems like might want a larger cassette or something.

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I have my 'cross bike set up with a 46/34 crank and have been using a 11-32 cassette for gravel and trail riding.

I have mixed feelings about lower gears. I think of gravel more as road plus than trail minus, and super deep gearing doesn't really fit that. I don't have the parts kicking around to lower the gears any more. I'm generally riding on smooth enough roads and trails to pedal out of the saddle.

OTOH, I was pretty thoroughly out of gears yesterday. And the bike is a tool, so whatever my aesthetic idea of what seems right on a road bike may be, if having some lower gears would help, maybe I should bring on the trekking crank.

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