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Gravel bikes for commuting?

  • 19-01-2022 3:12pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭

    I'm looking for a steer on getting a new bike. I currently have a hybrid bike which I largely use for commuting or doing trips around the city. I'm looking to upgrade and would also like to venture into longer weekend trips when I can. I'd probably still keep the hybrid bike for the city trips as I wouldn't feel comfortable locking up a new bike on a street for fear of it getting robbed.

    I understand that gravel bikes are well suited to more off road terrains (I don't really expect to be on many dirt roads or mountain trails), but I figure there is a benefit on the roads I travel as there are some very rough segments, speed bumps, potholes etc. I also am thinking of getting panniers to take the backpack off my back and I hear they're well suited to that also.

    I considered a road bike but I felt this was a bit of a stretch given that I'd only have occasional casual long trips and the roughness of the roads I normally travel to work.

    Based on the above, would I be right in thinking that gravel bikes the best step up from a hybrid?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,165 ✭✭✭Paul Kiernan

    I think a gravel bike would be ideal and would be my choice but you could also consider the more endurance end of road bikes e.g. Domane, Defy, Endurace, Roubaix. I think you've worked it out pretty well though and a gravel bike should tick all your boxes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,619 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    A gravel bike with road tyres is a road bike.

    A road bike with gravel tyres, on the road, is just silly.

    The gravel bike by itself does not give you anything intrinsically.

  • Registered Users Posts: 583 ✭✭✭ARX

    Something to consider with panniers is that your heel can hit the pannier ("heel strike"). It's no big deal as there's all kinds of adjustment possible, just something to bear in mind, particularly if you have big feet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,113 ✭✭✭mr spuckler

    I've just bought a gravel bike with the intention of it replacing my hybrid commuter as well as using it for gravel, light trails etc. Tomorrow will be my first commute on it, tonight I'll be heading off-road on it :D

    I got a rack and mudguards too and it's certainly well set up for those. There are also mounts on the front fork if I wanted to add a rack up front.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Does that not over-simplify things? I understand that there are subtle differences in the frame geometry which can give a bit of an impact on how you ride e.g. reach.

    Also on the tyres, the gravel bike gives you the flexibility to choose whatever tyres suits you best. In theory I could swap out the gravel tyres and go with a narrower wheelbase, but I figure those tyres will give me a more comfortable commute on the bumpy roads.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭Cyclingtourist


    I try to avoid gravel when cycling, which is easy in Ireland as there's virtually none.

  • Registered Users Posts: 583 ✭✭✭ARX

    And you simply must have a pair of gravel shoes:

    Of course, anything but gravel socks with gravel shoes would be a literal faux pas:

    How on earth did we ever manage without this stuff?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    Surely there's something to be said for having most of the benefits of a road bike with the added comfort you get from wider tyres?

  • Registered Users Posts: 171 ✭✭sudocremegg

    There's tons of them if you know where to look.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,948 ✭✭✭cletus

    But sure you could swap out gravel for road, or MTB for that matter.

    I don't get your point. My grandfather cycled many many miles around the country in the 50's on a 3 speed high nelly, while wearing trousers and work shoes. Sure we should all do the same...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,948 ✭✭✭cletus

    I have that book, and it's fascinating, but I would have loved more reading 😁

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭Breezer

    VonLuck, I was in a similar situation to you. I had a reasonably good hybrid that I used for commuting. I wanted something for longer trips, and to try a bit of off road, and decided a gravel bike would be a good “go anywhere bike.”

    I had no intention of using it for commuting, but my hybrid kept getting punctures a few months back (due to roadworks on my commute, I think), and I ended up having to take the gravel bike. Now I don’t want to switch back. It’s a much more comfortable bike to ride. I’ll keep the hybrid for locking up around town, but I can’t see myself going back to it for the commute.

    Caveat: my hybrid is reasonably decent; my gravel bike is high spec. Not all gravel bikes are created equal. Some are more like road bikes, others are more like old school mountain bikes. Most will give you a degree of versatility though. I don’t have a pannier rack on mine, but I could, and I do have 4 bottle cages, a lock that clips onto the frame, and full mudguards. Some road bikes will allow for some of this, and some gravel bikes less so: “gravel” is a to some extent a marketing term, so research a few individual bikes and see which one best meets your requirements.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,148 ✭✭✭✭Lemming

    From that first link, and I am sorry that I clicked on it to read the sh1te contained within:

    Gravel bikes can't handle the same level of terrain as a mountain bike with 130mm of suspension, so to have the same level of protection in your shoes is just extra weight that your legs have to drive in a circle.

    I am sorry but wtf do they think mountain bikers wear? Lead overshoes or something? That statement smacks of "I am overweight and rather than focus on losing some of it, I shall buy a carbon bottle cage to make my pedalling uphill easier."


    Post edited by Lemming on

  • Registered Users Posts: 583 ✭✭✭ARX

    Well, we can file my attempt at humour in the same box as the L-shaped cranks 😉

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,948 ✭✭✭cletus


    Apologies, there was me thinking you were just being a snide fecker 😳😳

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,430 ✭✭✭Gerry

    I decided to buy a cx bike as a combination commuter and occasional cx race bike. The mudguard and pannier mounts were appealing, and the tyre clearance also. it came with fairly low end 35mm cx tyres which are useless on road so I fitted schwalbe pro one 28s I plan on replacing the with larger road tyres next time but it has worked out well. Its a comfortable bike, but is it any more comfortable than a modern endurance bike? I don't really think so.

    I'd be interested to know what tyres you intend to run, presumably not gravel tyres as they will slow you down a lot.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭Cyclingtourist

    What's a touring bike? It's a bike you tour on.

    If the OP wants to use his hybrid for longer trips there's nothing stopping him/her.

    I've toured in France, Portugal and Spain on my hybrid bike, probably close to 5,000kms in total.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,691 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I commute on my CX racer all the time now, never the intention, even use the CX tyres, ain't much difference in average speed albeit the top end speed is way down. It is a class all rounder, I manage my commute and can keep pace on club spins, plenty of mini off road adventures over lockdown. Much like vs my road bike the top end speed is down, the same with vs my MTB, the top end speed is down but I still get around even fairly technical stuff. You get a look from the MTBers and the Roadies, even the commuters but as an all rounder thats it. Also Gravel Bikes are just CX bikes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭Breezer

    Yeah I commute on 38mm gravel tyres. It’s a short commute with lots of traffic lights. I can’t imagine road tyres would make a lot of difference to the overall time taken. No one’s ever commented, at least not to my face!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭Breezer

    Of course there isn’t, but drop bars and fatter tyres might make things more comfortable and open up more rugged terrain.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,691 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    The commuters it is more just generally leering, in a sort of, my god, look at this Adonis of cycling. From the other two it is more a look of, what is this muppet at 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 672 ✭✭✭Whatwicklow

    I used my cx last year to commute the N81, Blessington to citywest.

    All things being equal it was 4 kmph slower than the road bike but was x 3 the comfort while wearing the back pack.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,352 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Not sure "Gravel bikes are just CX bikes" - there is usually a difference in geometry. And I really wouldn't want to be shouldering my topstone up belgian stairs. Gravel bikes are more like an endurance road bike with better clearance, and if my Defy Disc had the clearance I probably wouldn't have even got a gravel bike. There's so much blurring of the lines between relaxed geometry cx*/ gravel/ all road/ wide clearance endurance road bike.

    Whatever about the socks, I am ambivalent about gravel shoes. Whatever about an Irish context, in the US there probably is a need for something more nuanced between road and mtb for the races there.

    *I very nearly when for the TCX when I got the Topstone - that years model was more relaxed than a pure CX racer, had the tyres clearance and mounts. Ultimately Quick Release put me off a bit. Not sure if that still stands now Giant have the Revolt.

  • Registered Users Posts: 895 ✭✭✭alentejo

    I got a genesis CDA 20 two years ago for the commute. I dont use clip-on shoes if cycling in the city - Great bike for getting around Dublin. I would bring it up some gravel paths such as Hellfire as well.

    I find my gravel bike much better cycling in an urban environment that my road bike - Just easier to use. I have mud guards, a pannier and have no issues. Also swapped the WTB RIDDLER tires with Marathon Smartguard 35 tires for the commute (and change the to riddler tires if doing a gravel cycle)

    I also have an old hybrid bike if locking it in a dodgy area.

    Would defo recommend a Gravel bike if commuting! Great for track-standing at lights!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭VonLuck

    What do you mean by your last point? I happen to haven been looking at the Giant Revolt as a potential purchase so would be curious if you have some opinions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,232 ✭✭✭DaveyDave

    Now that road bikes have disc brakes you'd easily fit a 32-35c tyre for more comfort and you'll have no issue going for longer spins. I don't think a gravel bike is necessarily any better here especially if you look at endurance road frames.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,619 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Don't let the marketers hear you say that - sacrilege!

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,352 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    It was more a comment on the TCX. I've been happy with my giants (not withstanding my irritation on the tyre clearance of my 2016 Defy Disc), but it would've been a wait (with no time frame given) for the Revolt. TCX and Topstone were in stock at the time, and the quick release of the TCX put me off. Both were previous models - I don't know if they're even doing a alu TCX anymore, but the "pro" is thru axle now, but they're not pushing the "do all" nature of it either.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,430 ✭✭✭Gerry

    would you notice the quick release though? particularly if its rear wheel only..

    I bought a caadx which has rear qr. hasnt been an issue. the crappy crankset has though, into the bin.

    Topstone does look like a nice bike.