There are very few things I love more in life than shredding singletrack on my Santa Cruz Hightower. Unfortunately work, kids, life limit the amount of time I get to ride. I’m lucky if I can squeeze in a few rides a month in the summer and before I know it, the riding season is over. As I get older, it’s harder to maintain a high level of cardio, only riding a few times a month. So I committed the ultimate sin and picked up a gravel bike to commute to work on. So when I do get a chance to hit up the trails, my legs and lungs are strong. I honestly knew nothing about road bikes with dropped bars. So after a lot of research I went with the Raleigh Tamland 2 as a nicer bike but not breaking the bank, retails for around $2k. I found out gravel bikes offer more relaxed ergos and typically have cromolly steel frames to absorb a lot of road clatter and wider tires, although comparing it to my 2.8in mtb tires, these things look twizzler thin. Bike also comes with a carbon fork, 1×11 drive train and disc breaks.
So after putting about 60 miles on the bike, I’m really happy with the purchase. Still not crazy about riding on roads, mostly because of other drivers, give me tech rock gardens any day. The gravel bike is great for all the road debris I’m forced to ride thru. I’m also so deep rooted in my mtb ways I ride with my Smith Forefront helmet and baggie shorts. Could care less what the other roadies think. All in all this is a great way to stay fit and train for what I love….Singletrack. Anyway, here’s the new rig. She’ll always be second fiddle to my Hightower, but still a fun little bike.
Not totally sure on the weight of each wheel. Bike weighs 23.5lbs which is more than light enough for me. I don’t want to train on a bike that is so light, that when I go back to my mountain bike it feels like I’m pedaling a tanker. In total this bike is roughly 6lbs lighter than my Hightower.
I will say my plan is working thus far. Each commute to work is faster than the day before, setting PR’s each time on Strava.
Cool bike. I’ve got a Salsa Warbird with a fairly similar setup. The best thing about gravel/cross bikes is they’re fun on trails too. Check your rims and tires to see if they’re tubeless compatible, that helps when heading off road. Finding little sneaky bits of trail on your commute is part of the fun.
I got into gravel grinding this year and find it awesome. Very relaxing and great work out. I ride an aluminum Devinci Hatchet which came under $2000 but for that kind of price I got a bike with pretty high end parts. I think gravel bikes will take over the road bike market because they are almost as fast, more capable and way more comfortable then ordinary road bikes.
Don’t worry about the roadies, I suspect the vast majority of them are cool with your bike and attire. Many of the roadies I know are looking at (or already own) a gravel bike themselves.
I was hoping to pull the trigger on a gravel grinder this fall, but I’m still really hesitant as I’m not convinced I’d use it enough to warrant the expense. Would love to hear from you a year from now on your experiences with the bike; good and bad.
So I’ve got about 350 miles on the bike over the past 2 months. You could say I’m a YUUUUGE fan. A few things that I’ve noticed over the few hundred miles I’ve put on it.
The Good- I hate to admit it, but this bike is a blast to ride and I’ve easily ridden it 5x more than my mountain bike. Mostly because I have great roads just outside my neighborhood, where as there aren’t any great MTB trails within 30-40 minutes, also weather has been a factor. I can say without question, road riding is hands down easier. My typical MTB ride was in the 15 mile ball park. On this thing I average around 30 miles per ride and even squeezed out a 60 miler. It’s great for training, which was the intention of the purchase. My fitness levels have gone through the roof. I can’t wait to tackle some of my MTB segments on Strava in the spring. A minor bonus, but a bonus at least….cleaning is a cinch. Way less moving parts and tough to reach places. Can have it sparkling new in 5 minutes.
The Bad- The brakes on this thing , particularly the rear is horrible. I figured getting disc brakes would be an upgrade but it takes all four fingers and all of my strength to slow down once I get going and on long descents, I reach muscle fatigue. The brakes definitely miss the mark, but I haven’t encountered any situations that made me regret getting the bike or spending the money. And I can’t leave out the saddle. It’s a Raleigh brand saddle and it’s rough. Even with chamois I’m hurting after 20 miles. It could be that my a$$ was pampered riding a dual suspension all these years, but gun to my head, I’m going to replace the saddle first and foremost.
All in all, I’m really glad I picked this bike up. I honestly can’t compare it to any other gravel/cx bikes, but as a whole, it’s a great way to keep the pedals churning for those of us who have logistical issues hitting the trails as often as we’d like.
It could be the brake pads and not the brakes themselves. Looks like you’ve got the TRP Spyre on there? If so, I’ve got the same brakes on my gravel bike and have been pretty happy with them. Swap out to some metallic pads and take the time to bed them in properly before dropping money on a new brake set. Also, if you feel like you’ve got more lever pull than you want, you can move the pads in. There’s a little 3mm hex on each side of the caliper. Wind that in and the pads will move closer to the rotor. That will cut down on lever pull substantially.