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Do I need a Gravel Bike?

  • 03-06-2022 9:13am
    Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭

    So I have been a road bike user for a long time, doing about 100 - 150km at weekends. I changed my job and now commute 12km each way, so I'm doing about 120km now Monday - Friday and just doing the occassional weekend spin, as I like to have a break from the chaos of Dublin traffic at the weekend.

    I'm in the market for a new bike. I currently have a Bianchi Sprint, I've been looking at the Giant TCR as an upgrade.

    I've been getting a few punctures lately, even after replacing tyres, the roads/cycle paths are in a crap state between Dundrum and Tallaght.

    I was looking at one of David Arthurs videos of the Giant Revolt and it's pretty much a road bike with chunky tyres. Is this what I need, as my cycling is now predominately commuting? I'd like to think it would cut down on punctures and make my life easier.


  • Registered Users Posts: 162 ✭✭pairofpears

    The bike wont stop the punctures but the tyres would. Having the Revolt will give you way more options for tyre choices due to clearances etc and it would be fairly comfortable. To cover your commute and weekend riding a spare set of wheels with racy tyres would be recommended.

    David Arthur knows his stuff and its because of him I bought a TCR but its on 25mm tyres so if I am doing really rough roads with a chance of punctures I would bring my CX bike with 32mm Schwalbe commuter style tyres. For the CX bike I have 2 sets of wheels and 4 sets of tyres to choose from so can stick 25mm Gatorskins on it and still be relatively fast on it or hit the canal on 40mm gravel tyres.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,256 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    As said, the tyres will decide the punctures. For commuting I've used Marathon Plus, but to be honest they sucked the joy out of weekend spins! But presumably you could go Marathon Plus/ Gatorskins/ A.N.Other on the Sprint (if you were keeping it) for commuting and then bike the new bike based on the weekend spins?

    I love getting out for gravel spins (after never really getting into MTB, despite a few attempts), but I have fireroads and trails within a couple of kilometers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭Suvarnabhumi

    I have Gatorskins on the road bike at the moment. I've just been on a bad run of punctures.

    I would be trading my Bianchi in either way, for the TCR or the Revolt, so I'll just have the one bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 162 ✭✭pairofpears

    Tough decision to make between the TCR and the Revolt. I really like my TCR and it is a very comfortable bike but I have seen the Revolt being used on the Oldcastle CC on road/off road cycle and it can take a bashing as some of that terrain was unforgiving.

    Is the Revolt you are looking at 1X or 2X as you may lose some top end road speed on the weekends if its 1X?

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭Suvarnabhumi

    I've only started my research, so still a bit to go before I make a decision!

    I'd probably look to get the Advanced 0 or the Pro 1,

    I'd like to see them in the flesh first, which isn't easy at the moment with the supply issues my LBS is having.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,808 ✭✭✭fat bloke

    There's one of those on donedeal if you're lucky with sizing.

    Seller is full of no-offers bravado but I highly doubt he'll get his asking - if it's your size it might be worth keeping an eye one.

    Course if you like a TCR, and who doesn't, then maybe a TCX is the better answer? I don't think 42mm tyres are necessary for a South Dublin commute and a CX bike would do just grand. Should be a bit sharper and lighter than a gravel bike I'd say.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,505 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    A lot nicer to ride for sure. Also keep an eye out for a CAADX, fab bit of kit and you won't get lumped in with the gravel mob on one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭Suvarnabhumi

    I'm confused now!

    I have at one end a road bike, at the other end a gravel bike. Where do TCX and CX fit into this? Like I say, I'm at the early stages of research. It was road bike all the way until I seen the David Arthur video. If there's better options than a gravel bike, I'm certainly open to going for another option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 162 ✭✭pairofpears

    Have a Look at David Arthurs reviews of the TCR. He did 350km one day on one and rates it very highly. Every review I read and saw rates the TCR very highly so going on that I bought one, I brought mine in from Girona as it had the spec I wanted and was available.

    TCX probably doesnt have the tyre clearance the Revolt has and is possibly more an aggressive fit than the Revolt but I have done 80-100km on my CX bike and been fine. The Revolt has the changeable rear wheel distance thing which changes the comfort level.

    It all depends on the type of cycling you want to do in the future as I wanted to do longer distances in comfort and the TCR came up as the one for me, That said I have the CX bike and my other racy road bike if I want to bike pack or go along the canal.

    The Revolt 0 is a good chunk of money so you will get a good bike. If you could see that and the equivalent money TCR in the flesh it might help you make your mind up. Gravel bikes are a great option for a do it all bike and all you need is a spare set of wheels to go from commuting to a fast group ride.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,505 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Gravel bikes are Middle-aged Male Marketing Manifestations.

    For decades we had cyclocross (CX) bikes with light frames, relaxed road geometry, room for wide tyres, and the ability to go virtually anywhere.

    Now all of a sudden we need a new label to part folks who desperately need a new thing from their cash and hence we have 'Gravel Bikes'.

    Oh, and because it's new, there's a premium!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,808 ✭✭✭fat bloke

    You're not too far wrong. If you have a road bike on one end and a gravel bike at the other then the tcx (a cx bike) sits in the middle.

    But I take from your postings that you won't actually be riding off road or on gravel as such and will be riding predominantly on road, in which case just get a road bike.

    A new disk braked tcr will take tires plenty wide enough to smooth out the road undulations and imperfections between Tallaght and Dundrum. Great bikes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,256 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Not sure I agree there's no difference between CX and Gravel tbh. A lot of CX bikes didn't (and don't) have much clearance above UCI minimum, and are more agressive than a gravel bike (notwithstanding things like BB height as well). The TCX mentioned was, and I think still is, specifically designed to be a crossover with wider clearance and relaxed geometry compared to most CX bikes - it had more clearance than other CX bikes I looked at when I was last shopping anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,178 ✭✭✭PaulieC

    I have a Caadx and I love it, so much more comfortable and less jittery than the previous road bike. Having said that, the first thing I did was to replace the knobbly tyres with 32c Gatorskins and haven't had a puncture in years and that inclides on some light off road spins.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,505 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    Yes, true, the point being 'Gravel' bikes are too far in the other direction. It's a solution to a problem that didn't exist, and a new channel to exploit for the bike industry.

    It even has grown men using words like "fire roads" around the watercooler 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,417 ✭✭✭Gerry

    Another vote for the caadx, I've a 2019 here. The standard wheelset isnt great, got some dt swiss splines, and it's used as a road bike. Would be nice to get another wheelset and put proper cx tyres on it, if I ever went back to cx. but its more likely I'll put larger slicks on it, its got 40mm clearance.

  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators Posts: 14,682 Mod ✭✭✭✭Dcully

    Former Roadie only rider moved to MTB a few years ago.

    Not that i didnt enjoy the road , i loved it and the social side of it with the club spins but had a knee issue that went on for 12 months 3 different bikes and a total of 5 bike fits nothing helped so i quit fully until i discovered a good mountain bike.

    Must be a combination of the 18+ months away from proper cycling and the relaxed position on a MTB but i could cycle again, mainly canal ways,forest trails nothing too technical and backroads.

    We have about 45k of newly laid gravel paths on the old canal towpaths approx 20K South and 25K North sadly 5Km North and South of me are not complete yet but when done thats a lovely stretch of about 55k.

    The MTB while great is overkill for these gravel paths and i wanted something more efficient but can also take it on the backroads ive grown to enjoy on the MTB.

    I couldnt be happier with it, relaxed geometry, 40mm tyres roll well on the gravel and the road, obviously not as fast as a road bike but faster than the MTB.

    For my needs the gravel bike is perfect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,417 ✭✭✭Gerry

    The efficiency angle I find interesting. I've a giant xtc hardtail mtb. its at most 1kg heavier than my caadx. 2.25 fast rolling tyre on the back. ( think its a rocket ron ). Nobby nic on the front to give off road capability. On the road its maybe 10 to 15% slower than my road bike. I've commuted to work on it, can average 26/27kmh on it.

    On a fire road or gravel track, unless it was very fast, where aero would come into play, I'm just not buying a gravel bike being noticeably quicker. And that advantage could easily be wiped out by any roughness or slippier surface, where the mtb will simply be faster.

    I get that a drop bar bike offers change of hand positions and makes a simple trail more challenging, but I'm not seeing it being faster than a good light mtb.

    But the mtb is a lot more capable on trails. And on smoother tracks its more comfortable/less likely to puncture.

    Now a full suss mtb is a different story.. that could easily be 30-40% slower. I'm taking mine to work on Tuesday and expect it will be quite tiring.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,179 ✭✭✭DaveyDave

    If you're getting punctures with Gatorskins either move up to Gatrorskin Hardshell or the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. The only reason I ever got a puncture on Marathon Plus, aside from a rare screw, was because I neglected them for months and a small of glass eventually worked it's way in. The occasional check for glass would have prevented this.

    You could just get a second set of wheels, throw nice tyres on for the weekend and the original wheels could have something beefy for commuting. You could also consider tyre liners for extra protection.

    All this gravel and all-road stuff is silly now. My carbon road bike has taken a beating over rough roads, dirt/gravel paths, dropping curbs etc. My road ebike could be considered gravel as it has clearance for larger tyres, the wheels I have on it are classed as gravel. My carbon bike doesn't feel any less capable on rougher surfaces.

    Post edited by DaveyDave on

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,256 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    I'm reclaiming my CX bike from my daughter, and it's lovely and light with the canti brakes, but at the same time I'm not sure I'd want to do a long gravel spin on it - it's much more race bike than anything endurance. I've done 6 hour plus gravel spins, so a relaxed set up is just fine thanks!

    Gravel Bikes are a solution for a problem you didn't have, rather than one that didn't exist! 😉

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,107 ✭✭✭nilhg

    I had a ridley alu CX bike, it was lovely to ride and with slicks more than capable of keeping up on a winter club spin but when I took it off road on anything rough it was like riding a jackhammer....

    I now have a alu Cannondale topstone, not nearly as capable on the road but much more comfortable off road even before I got wider tyres for it.

    If you look at the bikes marketed as gravel there's a huge spectrum, from almost road bikes to MTB with drop bars, some with munts to carry half your belongings to some with none, you have to be aware what you're looking for or go down the N+x route....

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