Slightly off topic but I’m wondering if any of you have a gravel bike in your arsenal and if so:
a) the Make/model? b) do you actually ride it?
I certainly do not need another bike, but I do have miles and miles of “seasonal” dirt & gravel roads in my area. I’ve focused my search on the Niner RLT and the Salsa Warbird, but am not wedded to either. Interested in hearing your thoughts, but more interested in hearing from those of you who own a gravel bike if you actually ended up riding it (consistently) after you purchased it.
I started doing gravel races this year with some of my MTB buddies. I just ride my MTB (2016 Scott 930) and lock out the suspension (so its like 90% locked out). I find that its perfect for the gravel roads! We recently did a 200 mile gravel race here in Texas. Me riding my full suspension Scott, one buddy riding a Trek hardtail with a Thudbuster seat post and my other buddy on his Giant gravel bike. Half way through the race my buddy on the gravel bike said “I wish I had a front fork with some suspension and some bigger tires”, I smiled and said “like a mountain bike?” On several gravel rides we have come across riders on gravel bikes that had flats due to the rough gravel roads. The two of us riding MTB have never had a flat on our tubeless tires. On the 200 mile race we even came across a rider on a gravel bike that had some how broken his rear derailer on the gravel road.
On pavement or “smooth” gravel roads the gravel bike certainly has the advantage as far as speed, but for me my MTB with some fast rolling tires and 90% suspension lock out is my choice for comfort, distance and durability.
I purchased a Raleigh Tamland 2 (Reynolds steel frame, carbon fork, Shimano 105). I absolutely LOVE IT. It fills the void between my full suspension mountain bike and my road and track bikes!! I use it for everything from running errands, shortcuts on singletrack/deer trails through local parks to light off-road! A good riding friend of mine told me it would become my “go to” bike and he was absolutely correct!!
I had one. Well it was sort of a gravel bike, more or less a jack of all trades, master of none sort of bike. It was a Trek Crossrip Elite. Space for 40c tires and it was pretty stable. It had a compact road crankset with a wide range mtb cassette for the climbs. I will say I did love the drop bars, the positions and ability to change it up was a godsend for long rides.
My longest was a 40 mile gravel ride with it, and while it was a fun experience, I never really fell in love with the bike. Sold it for a fat bike instead as I never really rode it much once I moved from Wyoming to Utah.
I’ve got a Salsa Warbird and I ride it a ton. The Warbird is basically a road bike with massive tire clearance. I’ve set it up with slicks, with cross tires, and with tires in between.
I really enjoy the bike, but the one thing that disappointed me is the ride quality. Even with large tires (700×37) running tubeless and low pressures, I get a lot of feedback into my hands and wrists. I feel like my carbon fiber road bike does a better job of muting chatter and damping vibrations. The Warbird isn’t uncomfortable, it’s just not as cush as I was hoping.
The biggest improvement over my road bike is that the Warbird has disc brakes. Maybe I should just get a road bike with disc brakes instead.
I’ve looked at these a bit, and while there are definite differences between a gravel bike and a CX bike, I don’t find those differences to be significant enough to justify a gravel bike. I also don’t have many gravel roads local to me (although I have traveled for gravel rides and races). Conversely, there is a 10+ round cyclocross series. That’s where I’ll probably spend my money.
The only thing I like more about gravel bikes is that they seem to be suited more toward comfort on longer rides. I don’t own a road bike, so whichever route I go, that will BE my road bike when the trails are closed, just with different tires.
Options are good, but I’m not sold on gravel bikes as a place to spend thousands…
Thanks, folks…..this is all really useful feedback.
I think I’ll sit on the fence on this a little longer. Maybe check out the excess inventory sales at my LBS this fall…… Though it’s always nice to have a “new toy” I really don’t need this bike at the moment.
I had a Niner RLT, It is a nice bike. Did some gravel, smooth single track and road rides with it, but I found that my fat bike with 4″ tires pumped up was just as fast on the gravel, more comfortable and a lot more fun to ride. Ended up selling the Niner
Orbea terra tlt, love the bike. I use it for gravel trails, road rides and when I go on vacations with the wife we both take our gravel bikes. Hate the friggin brakes. If you get one, get one with disc brakes!
I’ve been riding a Salsa Vaya for about six months. I love it. I ride it a lot. It is my road bike, but I also ride some dirt roads, gravel, and easy singletrack on it. I went with they Vaya as it can take up to 50mm tires. I’ve since discovered that 40mm is enough for what I’m doing, but I still like having the flexibility. The plan is to load it up for some touring when time allows.