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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    really? You can't guess it?
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    713

    School me: CX vs 'gravel' vs roadie disc

    The least favourite thing I can think of is riding a bike when I could ski, so I won't be racing CX on this (that and my balls aren't big enough and I don't want to suffer that badly).......but I do want something that I can seriously fuck around on and take it without exploding. Expert at handling a bike, fitness and flexibility is moderate, 200lbs (and not likely moving down anytime soon).

    Most of it will be road because anything mountain will be on a mountain bike, but I definitely need something that can handle gravel/logging road/occasional smooth firm singletrack. Tires will probably stay at 28-30, and discs preferred because I hate rim brakes. Technology is making things possible that 5 yrs ago people would have laughed at you for thinking of.

    Is a CX overkill for a bike seeing mostly road duties despite the heavy bastard I am riding it?
    Should I just buy a Norco Search fitted with a 'gravel bike' marketing moniker and stop bothering you with my indecision?
    Should I get a Giant Defy and then buy another bike, because face it, more gear is more awesomer.

    I imagine lots of the lovely people on here have similar interests, so I'd be interested in hearing what your thought process was and what decision you took
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    This is kinda like the goose that laid the golden egg, but shittier.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Shadynasty's Jazz Club
    Posts
    7,246
    Buddy loves his Salsa Fargo for road and gravel rides to mellow singletrack. May be overkill for mostly road. Have another friend that traded his road bike for a CX bike for gravel roads. He says he prefers it on the road to the road bike.
    Remind me. We'll send him a red cap and a Speedo.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    SLCizzy
    Posts
    2,382
    Norco Search or GT Grade

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    SF & the Ho
    Posts
    2,469
    I like the versatility of my CX being able to hit fire roads and gravel as necessary. Geometry is probably a little harsher for long rides than some of the more relaxed roadies like Roubaixs but trade iff works for me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Missoula
    Posts
    918
    Was riding with a guy on a giant defy disc last weekend and noticed there wasn't a ton of tire clearance. You can put skinny road tires on a gravel/cx bike, but a treaded cx tire won't fit on a road bike.

    I have a straight up cx race bike and it's a little less convenient for general riding. The brakes kind of suck, there's only one bottle cage mount, and obviously no provisions for fenders or racks or whatever. Plus the 46/36 chainrings give me a narrower gearing range than my road bike. It's still great for riding around, especially on the dirt and rougher roads around here. I have a 28mm rear slick and a 33 semi slick up front right now which is a nice mix of comfort, speed, and flat protection.

    I'd look for something with a compact double instead of cross rings, mounts for two bottles and maybe fenders, room for tires, and then after that it doesn't really matter. Salsa warbird and santa cruz stigmata are pretty sweet looking bikes. Or just get a kona jake the snake.

    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/warbird
    http://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en/us/stigmata
    http://www.konaworld.com/jake_the_snake.cfm
    Last edited by jamal; 03-27-2015 at 05:10 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CRG!
    Posts
    52
    I used to ride a surly cross check everywhere. Commuting, 100 mile road rides, Vancouver b.c. to San Fran one fall, local singletrack trails. Then I bought an actual mountain bike and realized why mountain bikes were invented. No disc tabs but you can rock full fenders and front and rear racks if you ever wanted to go for a tour.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Rawesome, BC
    Posts
    1,402
    I've got an older Jake (pre disc) that I use for the everyday ride. Commuting, hooliganism, touring. Ripped some Whitefish single track with full panniers and skinny ass 28 rubber bands last summer. Now it's got some fat 40s for cush. Frame can run the whole show, bottle cages, fenders, racks, etc... If I were to go new, it'd be a Jake the Snake with the carbon fork though.
    Life is simple. Go Explore.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    309
    I think what is going on is that roadies are discovering that the only *real* way to have fun on a bicycle is to use a mountain bike. They resist this temptation, however- and only move incrementally toward it.

    Rock Shox Ruby? Shunned. Too much too fast!

    So it looks like this:
    1. Road bike
    2. Road disc
    3. Gravel
    4. Cyclocross
    5. Dirt Touring
    6. Monstercross
    [expect this realm to grow]
    7. 29er

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    264
    I'd want the ability to run fenders on any bike I'm using for these kinds of things. Good fenders are pretty easy to take on and off once set up (Bontrager makes some sweet ones. SKS are a pain in the ass), so they don't have to be a permanent feature, just something you can use seasonally or when necessary. Once I started using fenders, I found myself riding on a lot of days I would have otherwise skipped, and using my 'cross/gravel bike for a lot more purposes. Just a thought.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    YetiMan
    Posts
    8,826

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Missoula
    Posts
    918
    Those have straight gauge tubing and are stiff and heavy compared to a cross check or jake the snake. And don't have as nice of parts.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Elmore, VT
    Posts
    839
    X2 on the cross check. I put flat bars on mine with thumb shifters and Bruce Gordon rock n road tires. It's a great set up for what you are describing.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    150
    If you want max fun for what it sounds like you are going to do I'd say go CX. Slacker geometry will give a more stable ride in the loose gravel and singletrack. A "gravel road" category could work as well but will skew more towards long miles in the saddle with the added asset of stability.

    The main question is:
    -do you want to ride ST/paths and once and awhile pound out the miles
    or
    -do you plan to put in some miles and want the stability/forgiveness when you go off the beaten path?

    Disc brakes are your friend. Make that a requirement.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    really? You can't guess it?
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    713
    I think I would fall into option B, good way to look at it.

    Thanks for all the input mags.
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    This is kinda like the goose that laid the golden egg, but shittier.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Fac 51
    Posts
    13,445
    Quote Originally Posted by jamal View Post
    Those have straight gauge tubing and are stiff and heavy compared to a cross check or jake the snake. And don't have as nice of parts.
    Another vote here for not going with a touring bike for this choice -

    I have a Kona Sutra touring bike, disc brakes, steel frame and fork. I really like this bike as a tourer, and it can fit wider tires (up to 700x38, with fenders) . But it's very stiff and heavy, to be able to handle heavy loads. I've ridden it a tiny bit on dirt, and it beats you up.

    I used to have a Kelly Knobby cross bike, steel frame and fork, and it rode much better on anything rough, and was fun on pavement too. It had the springy feel that you want from a steel bike. Sold it because I didn't use it on dirt much, was a little too large for me, and I liked my real road bike more on pavement (duh).

    Have you checked out the titanium disc cross bikes that Bikesdirect.com has? They're like $1400, complete.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    near zombies
    Posts
    422
    Many "true" cyclocross bikes still have a high bottom bracket and a pretty agressive body position so that they can be quick and twitchy for CX racing. Many of the "gravel" bikes take the CX tire clearances, but use a more road geometry to kick up the stability, but don't go as long in the wheelbase as a touring rig does.

    That GT grade looks nice, I like the allowance for bigger tires that the Diamondback Haanjo or Salsa Warbird have, and they ride like road bikes when on the road.

    That said the Crosscheck is super versitile, or the Straggler if you like a disc option. I never got into the Crosscheck, from a geometry stance, without messing with the stem to get the handlebars more level with the seat.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    85
    GT Grade sounds right up your alley.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Easy D
    Posts
    2,643
    I don't know much about it, but the Specialized Diverge sounds like it might fit your requirements. Here's a review.

    I have a Jake the Snake, but mostly use it as a commuter bike. It all depends on what you want to optimize for. I'm more of a roadie at heart, so for a longer road ride that has some gravel sections, I use my road bike and treat the skinny-tired off-roading as a challenge.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wenatchee
    Posts
    6,082
    Quote Originally Posted by The Suit View Post
    I don't know much about it, but the Specialized Diverge sounds like it might fit your requirements. Here's a review.

    I have a Jake the Snake, but mostly use it as a commuter bike. It all depends on what you want to optimize for. I'm more of a roadie at heart, so for a longer road ride that has some gravel sections, I use my road bike and treat the skinny-tired off-roading as a challenge.
    What's the max tire size that will fit on a Roubaix? A bike like that with sturdy 28 mm tires will handle any dirt and gravel roads you throw at it. I ride my Rambouillet all over central WA on dirt and gravel FS roads and mellow single track. A bike that has a geometry for long stage rides with clearance for 28-32 mm tires is the best for this type of riding. A mountain bike or cyclocross bike would be less than optimal. Mtbs are too slow and Cx bikes aren't comfortable for the long haul.

    That Diverge looks really nice. Most folks don't how nice it is to ride a road bike with 28-32 mm rubber, even for pavement it's so cushy and secure. My Rivendell Atlantis is another example that fits this class, my only offroad bike for over ten years, but a bit heavier and I wish it had discs.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    [a] Van [down by the river]
    Posts
    1,115
    I'd go with a roubaix disc, with 28mm tires. I'm currently on a pure road racing bike with 25mm slicks, and non-paved stuff is even fine on that bike (as long as it's not loose gravel).

    Advantage to that is, when things get spicy on the roubaix, it'll only help your bike handling skills

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    where the rough and fluff live
    Posts
    3,899
    "gravel" = better geometry all around, slacker than road or CX at HA, lower BB than CX.

    high BB on CX is doofus incarnate. % of CXers who bunny hop - 3%. most get off and carry, at which point BB height irrelevant.

    you can race CX on your "gravel" bike but the leg-shaving Stravassholes and rice-dicked Egos on Wheels might chide you for not having the latest 16 lbs race rocket even if you are bottom of pack material.

    the IRO Rob Roy I got via group buy here in 2007 or so, it's got excellent geometry and a fantastic ride of the sort that make people spout cliche BS like "steel is real." only cost something like $100 for the frame. yeah, it's limited to SS. yeah, it's canti-posts and not disc mount. funny thing, it rides trails great, and I ride with my friends on lighter fancier CX bikes and don't have any issues being held up by the bike.

    on the new bike front, Norco has a pretty slick looking gravel/all-road/latest-hype-name thing that I'd consider if I wanted to spend between $1k and 2k.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Park City
    Posts
    1,363
    High BB on cc bike isn't for bunny hopping, it's for not driving your pedals into the ground on slippery corners.

    That said, I would def go w a "gravel" bike. Been riding road bikes on gravel roads and single track for a long time, not critical bikes but more road/stage bikes.

    Add tire clearance and a touch of wheelbase and you'll love it.


    Killing it with the 3-5 year old crowd!
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Easy D
    Posts
    2,643
    Quote Originally Posted by AaronWright View Post
    What's the max tire size that will fit on a Roubaix?
    28 mm should be no problem. I don't have first-hand experience, but I'm pretty sure 32 mm is too much.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Missoula
    Posts
    918
    This whole "you need a gravel bike not a cx bike" thing needs to stop. Here's the geometry comparison between a Jake the Snake and Norco search in 56/55.5.

    Code:
                  Kona      Norco
    ETT length    565       560
    HT angle      71.5      72.25
    wheelbase     1029      1019
    BB drop       62        70
    So the kona is longer and slacker, norco has the BB 8mm (0.3") lower.

    Which one is the cross bike and which one is the gravel bike?

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    7,592
    Quote Originally Posted by detrusor View Post
    High BB on cc bike isn't for bunny hopping, it's for not driving your pedals into the ground on slippery corners.

    !
    Yeah this ^^. Legit cross race courses usually have lots of tight 180-degree-ish turns that can be off camber that you really need to pedal through as much as possible to keep the speed up while not pedal striking the ground. Higher BB's on CX race bikes help with that. They're not designed with high BB's just for the sake of making it easier to jump a barrier (which is debatable I guess if it even makes it any easier at all).

    For gravel-ish style bikes with all the tire clearances you could want, but with a bit slacker HA's, lower BB, slightly longer more stretched out than a true CX race bike also check out the new Salsa Warbirds or the Niner RLT's
    Waste your time, read my crap, at:
    One Gear, Two Planks

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