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Road bike or Gravel bike?

  • 22-05-2020 7:42am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 3 mimiminx


    I’m relatively new to cycling. I currently have a very basic starter bike thats too small small for me. I want to upgrade but not sure if I should get a road or gravel bike. I‘m looking to use it for long rides, but there’s a lot of bad roads around me and don’t want to wreck a road bike so maybe gravel would be better?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,765 ✭✭✭ CantGetNoSleep


    If you are really going to be only on roads, I'd go for a road bike with 32mm tires or that could take 32mm tires.

    Although if you put road tires on a gravel bike they will almost be the same thing, maybe only the gearing will be a bit different


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    I use a CX bike for my main bike these days which is very close to a gravel bike and works well on crappy roads as well as unpaved and off road stuff given the right tyres. I find it a bit slower than the road bike and not as nimble cornering but really enjoy it for all that and find it very versatile. Main consideration on bad roads is comfort, where wider tyres at lower pressure soak up a lot of road noise that otherwise becomes quite literally a pain in the ass. A road bike on 28c tyres would be a good option for poor roads if you never leave the road, if you're looking to include some unpaved sections or Coilte tracks a gravel bike is the better option. Unless you're very heavy, on bad roads the bike will probably break you before you break the bike.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,397 ✭✭✭ Macy0161


    I think if there's any chance you'll do fire roads/ trails/ paths/ bike packing, go gravel bike. It's great to get off road away from the significant minority of c*nts who drive cars (who seem to be back with a vengeance this week), without the narlyness of mtb.

    Very little between an endurance road bike and most of the gravel bikes these days, even in terms of weight if you're going aluminium frame. Gearing*, tyre clearance and mounts the main ones, with the Gravel bike having more options. My aluminium tiagra topstone is the same weight as my AL 105 Giant Defy, but has hydraulic disc brakes rather than mechanical disc brakes. The Defy is my "winter" road bike, but if space was an issue I'd have no problem using the Topstone on the road with a second wheelset. And I still might get a second wheelset for audax some time in the future.


    *tbh when it comes to replacing my chainset on either road bike, I'll be considering going sub compact on them too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,761 ✭✭✭ cletus


    I'll throw my tuppance in here too, because I'm also relatively new to cycling. Prior to getting the gravel bike that I now have as my main bike, my only experience of cycling was to and from school, and to and from work, no more than 3 miles either way. Any bikes I had were heavy generic mountain bikes.

    I did a charity cycle a few years ago, having not been on a bike in maybe 7 years, on a borrowed Orbea road bike. I loved it, couldn't believe how light it was, and decide if get a bike, I enjoyed the experience so much.

    I started to research what type of bike I wanted, and I realised I had no interest in racing, joining a club, group rides on Sunday morning, audaxing or any of that.

    I came across gravel cycling and gravel bikes, and realised that's exactly the type of cycling I wanted to to. Plan a route get out into the countryside, and off the beaten track as much as possible.

    I bought a gravel bike, and haven't looked back. Is it slower than the Orbea I rode? Probably. But it definitely feels more fun, especially when you're throwing it over a barrier to head off up an access road you've never been on before.

    TL/DR: I can't say whether you should get a gravel bike or not, but I was in your position, I bought one, and I love it


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,681 ✭✭✭✭ keane2097


    What's the difference in gearing between the road bike and gravel?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,374 ✭✭✭✭ loyatemu


    cletus wrote: »

    I started to research what type of bike I wanted, and I realised I had no interest in racing, joining a club, group rides on Sunday morning, audaxing or any of that.

    the only one of those you're really ruling out with a gravel/CX is the racing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,147 ✭✭✭ positron


    smacl wrote: »
    I use a CX bike for my main bike these days which is very close to a gravel bike and works well on crappy roads as well as unpaved and off road stuff given the right tyres. I find it a bit slower than the road bike and not as nimble cornering but really enjoy it for all that and find it very versatile. Main consideration on bad roads is comfort, where wider tyres at lower pressure soak up a lot of road noise that otherwise becomes quite literally a pain in the ass. A road bike on 28c tyres would be a good option for poor roads if you never leave the road, if you're looking to include some unpaved sections or Coilte tracks a gravel bike is the better option. Unless you're very heavy, on bad roads the bike will probably break you before you break the bike.

    My only bike is an el cheapo Boardman CX with 32mm tires, and I have been doing everything with it - ride everywhere, canal path, country lanes, tractor tire paths (?), commuting as well as couple of 200km rides.

    The only time I was on a proper road bike (rental in Spain), I noticed it was a lot nicer and easier in general, but I don't if it will last long with the riding I mentioned above.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,761 ✭✭✭ cletus


    loyatemu wrote: »
    the only one of those you're really ruling out with a gravel/CX is the racing.

    I'm aware of that, I suppose it's just that knowing I didn't have any real interest in those things meant choosing the gravel bike was even easier


  • Registered Users Posts: 646 ✭✭✭ Tony04


    If you care more about a speed a Road Bike, if your care more about getting something that will endure anything get a Gravel bike


  • Registered Users Posts: 434 ✭✭ jayjbe


    Gravel is the new 'thing'. If you don't mind the look of wider fork for tire clearance and think you might do some off road then go gravel.

    If you're doing primarily road cycling then you can get endurance geometry road as mentioned. I've a Specialized Roubaix and it's a great do it all bike. Close to racing geometry but with a bit of tire clearance.

    Definitely go disc brake if buying new. Maybe tubeless ready wheels. Lower pressure tire will help comfort.

    Other decision would be 2x or 1x. If mostly road definitely get 2x.

    Probably mirroring other comments. Hope that helps.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,815 ✭✭✭ bullvine


    Gravel everyday of the week for me except for long distances. I have been everywhere on mine in last year.

    My poor Defy has been neglected so much.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,974 ✭✭✭ iwillhtfu


    You really shouldn't be trying to limit yourself, get one of each. I don't recall anyone saying cycling is cheap :D


    FYI I have pretty much one of everything and the gravel bike gets the most use of them all with the exception of the turbo bike at the minute. Sure long road spins I'd take the road bike but the gravel bike is nice when you're headin out with no plan and it's nice to take the road less traveled sometimes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 705 ✭✭✭ mad turnip


    What's the difference in gearing between the road bike and gravel?
    Lower max speed for downhills.
    Easier gearing for bigger climbs.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,681 ✭✭✭✭ keane2097


    mad turnip wrote: »
    Lower max speed for downhills.
    Easier gearing for bigger climbs.

    Ah ok - I thought there was something more fundamental in terms of mechanics I was unaware of!


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,397 ✭✭✭ Macy0161


    keane2097 wrote: »
    What's the difference in gearing between the road bike and gravel?
    Often, but not always, easier gears for climbing. Most come with a sub compact. You lose some of the top end speed on the road.

    Gravel bikes tend to be more endurance focused, and have more stability than a CX bike. Just the nature of CX racing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,185 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    keane2097 wrote: »
    Ah ok - I thought there was something more fundamental in terms of mechanics I was unaware of!

    More 1 x also, i.e., only one ring on the front

    I have a light road bike and a gravel bike, I regularly miss the extra gear(s) of the gravel bike but once you're a bit fit you enjoy the speed of the road bike and can get up the hills easily enough anyway


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,185 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    smacl wrote: »
    A road bike on 28c tyres would be a good option for poor roads if you never leave the road, if you're looking to include some unpaved sections or Coilte tracks a gravel bike is the better option.

    OP this is really the answer to your dilemma. If you're worried about the poor roads a bike that can take 28mm tyres, as I imagine most if not all new road bikes now will do, should be grand for you

    If however you want to do a bit of off road such as coillte fire roads or grass tracks and trails etc consider a gravel bike. I think most of that stuff can fairly easily be done on "endurance bikes" such as the Roubaix mentioned above. Most of those bikes can probably take 32mm tyres.

    Seeing as your new to bikes, basically the wider the tyre the greater the level of comfort on a bumpy surface. I ride a 26mm tyre on the road bike and find it grand on almost all paved surfaces, but I wouldn't take a delicate road bike off road as a habit, as I wouldn't want to put it under stress. So the gravel bike does that for me.

    I find the gravel bike about 10 % slower than the road bike BUT, and this is a big but, you don't really notice it, unless you're planning on cycling with a group of quite fit aggressive cyclists in which case you might find yourself dropping behind them more on a gravel bike

    Basically sometimes I'm in the mood for going fast, in which case I take the road bike, and sometimes I'm in the mood for going off road at parts, in which case I take the gravel bike

    But don't buy into the marketing ****e, really its about tyre size and what you want to do on it, for me by far the most important factor is how comfortable the bike is so I'd try to ride as many as I can and just choose on that basis (may not be viable in the current world)


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 22,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CramCycle


    I have a CX bike, I swapped out the crankset for 52/39 and it's pretty much a bomb proof road bike.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 mimiminx


    iwillhtfu wrote: »
    You really shouldn't be trying to limit yourself, get one of each. I don't recall anyone saying cycling is cheap :D

    Don’t encourage me :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,426 ✭✭✭ maestroamado


    mimiminx wrote: »
    I’m relatively new to cycling. I currently have a very basic starter bike thats too small small for me. I want to upgrade but not sure if I should get a road or gravel bike. I‘m looking to use it for long rides, but there’s a lot of bad roads around me and don’t want to wreck a road bike so maybe gravel would be better?


    look at the pashley bike website, they have a range of bikes, some it just a matter of changing tyres if your need to do different...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3 mimiminx


    jayjbe wrote: »
    Gravel is the new 'thing'. If you don't mind the look of wider fork for tire clearance and think you might do some off road then go gravel.

    If you're doing primarily road cycling then you can get endurance geometry road as mentioned. I've a Specialized Roubaix and it's a great do it all bike. Close to racing geometry but with a bit of tire clearance.

    Definitely go disc brake if buying new. Maybe tubeless ready wheels. Lower pressure tire will help comfort.

    Other decision would be 2x or 1x. If mostly road definitely get 2x.

    Probably mirroring other comments. Hope that helps.

    Was definitely think of going for disc brakes, but what is 2x/ 1x?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,974 ✭✭✭ iwillhtfu


    mimiminx wrote: »
    Was definitely think of going for disc brakes, but what is 2x/ 1x?

    2 front v 1 front chainring

    Most mountain bikes are gone over to 1x in favour of a larger rear cassette, it saves faffing about with a front derailleur, clears up the bars for a dropper switch and saves on maintenance I guess.

    You'll find most of the mid/higher end gravel bikes are 1x but a lot still have 2x as the bike packing guys like to have easy gearing for carrying a load of gear.

    It hasn't transitioned to road biking but you do see it from time to time on TT bikes.

    On a 1x mtb you'll see between a 28-34 front chainring with a 12-50/51 cassette and on a gravel 1x it'll probably be between a 40-48 with a 12-46 cassette.

    If I were buying myself I'd go for a 1x with hydraulic brakes they cable actuated hydraulic brakes are good enough for road biking but there's a better feel from the full hydros.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,185 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    mimiminx wrote: »
    Was definitely think of going for disc brakes, but what is 2x/ 1x?

    Basically 2x has twice as many gears, but is slightly heavier as a result and there's an extra thing that can go wrong (the derailler which moves the chain between the big and small rings at the front of the bike). This is more attractive to people who are going on long distance tours in remote places as it is harder to fix if it does break

    Logical thinking is the more gears you have the better the bike is, when we were kids we were all about 21 speed etc, but really its the range of gears that's most important. Once you have an easy gear for going up hills and a reasonably fast gear for downhill / flats you'll be happy. you don't need that many gears in between them. Lots of gears only really helps people who are racing because they want only a small gap between each gear, its more efficient for them.

    However, this ought only be a minor concern for someone buying their first bike and just getting into it. 1x / 2x difference is really for someone buying a bike with a specific purpose in mind that either of these options benefits.

    Listen, you can torture yourself about what the best option of all this stuff all you want, 90% of it is marketing twaddle, really the most important thing, for me, is how comfortable you feel on the bike. I wouldn't worry thereafter as to whether its 1x, 2x or a "road" "endurance" or "gravel" bike thereafter

    You want a bike for what you described as long rides on roads which may be bumpy. Really an "endurance" bike, which is basically a road bike which can take slightly bigger tyres and is shaped for comfort rather than out and out speed, sounds like the fit for you. In an ideal world you would ride a few bikes and see what you like the best. I think specialized used to allow you to rent a bike for a day on a Saturday, I presume not any more. If you could borrow a few mates bikes it might help.

    If you did ride and prefer a gravel bike instead then just get it, there's very little between the two styles, a gravel bike will probably be a bit heavier and could fit tyres to go off road more.

    Otherwise just dive in, you won't go far wrong. The best bike is the one you actually get out on!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,093 ✭✭✭ Peterx


    All good advice above, the only thing I would add is insist on hydraulic disc brakes.
    Don't be tempted to settle for cable actuated disc brakes, they are endless faff.


    If I could only have one bike I think it would be a aluminium CX* bike with pannier mount bolts, hydraulic disc brakes and 2x gearing. With 2 expensive wheelsets :)

    *gravel if you don't race CX


  • Registered Users Posts: 631 ✭✭✭ danoriordan1402


    Any recommendations for a Gravel Bike for a heavy set rider, 6ft and 125kg, had road bikes and mtb/hybrids but I feel a Gravel bike will suit me better with the routes I will be hitting. Bike to work have provided me a 1000 one4all voucher and quite willing to push up another 500/600 on this for the right bike. Been looking around last few months however availability is not there. Cannondale Topstone's look good - am wordering if the 2021 models will be in soon enough and there might be a drop on some prices as well... Any ideas appreciated.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,185 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    Top stone, slate, diverge, kona rove, grail, voodoo nakisi, not sure there's much between them beyond personal preference and, in current market, availability

    See which you can actually get and which you can test ride and then choose the one you like the best?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,380 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Given you're heavy set, I'd tend to pick a bike with lower gearing. Dying on a climb that you don't have gears for is way more painful than freewheeling downhill if you spin out on your top gear.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,397 ✭✭✭ Macy0161


    Alu Topstone have a sub compact (to smacl's point). No idea when the next models are due out. I replaced an Alu Kona Rove with the Topstone Tiagra, and the Kona was heavy, unforgiving and just compact gearing. Voodoo would also be lower end imo. Any of the others a148pro mentioned though.

    Wheels is what you should look at - I wouldn't think you'd have an issue with any frame, but some wheels have weight limits.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,761 ✭✭✭ cletus


    So, I have a Voodoo Nakisi, and it would definitely be considered a cheaper or budget bike, coming in at €660. It has a sub compact chainset (48/32) and it comes with Shimano Sora.

    My mate just bought a Felt FR30, which is twice the price. His chainset is 50/36, I think, and his bike is lighter than mine. Going fast on the flat, I definitely had to push it to keep up with him, but that is probably partially to do with him being a stronger rider than me.

    Where my bike came into its own was on rough road surfaces (back roads and bog roads). He was definitely more cautious than me on the bumpy stuff.

    TL/DR: I'd sacrifice the top speed to be able to cycle some of the roads/lanes/paths that I take. If I had the money you have to spend on a bike, I'd just buy a newer, lighter gravel bike


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  • Registered Users Posts: 646 ✭✭✭ Tony04


    As well as specced wheels I'd be looking at groupset. Grx is a much better groupset than the road groupsets for gravel as it has lower gear ratios and a clutch derailleur, much less chain slap. Probably can see it on bikes from 1200€ up
    Previous poster made a point about frame not mattering, I would disagree as something to look out for is a frameset with well positioned bottle cage bolts, mud cage mounts etc.


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