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Which Gravel Bike?

  • 18-10-2022 8:08pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭

    Hi folks, I'm hopping on the gravel bike train! I've pretty much narrowed it down to the Fustle Trail Core or the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 (or 4 perhaps)

    The Fustle has an option of a dropper seat post, this does interest me as I do intend to try some MTB trails. I'm not so sure about having just one chain ring though, maybe a fear of the unknown there. The Terk is obviously a more established brand and Bontrager have loads of bag options for bike packaging with this particular bike in mind.

    I'm open to other suggestions too in the 2.5 - 3k budget. Any opinion/advice greatly appreciated.



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,857 ✭✭✭cletus

    The Giant Revolt range night be worth a look also

    The reality is, though, you might be limited by what's available, rather than what you want

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,457 ✭✭✭lennymc

    I have the revolt advanced 2, and find it a great bike. I have done long gravel spins, and single trail stuff on it. It's a lot more capable than me. I went for the 2 by set up rather than the single speed. I have a one by on the cross bike and it feels a bit gappy. I think the overall range is about the same tho. I also have a set of road wheels so can swap them out for weekend winter spins.

  • Registered Users Posts: 847 ✭✭✭gn3dr

    Fustle - that's a new one for me. Had never heard of them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 105 ✭✭PringleDemon

    Fustle is a MTB with drop bars . Seen a few , very heavy .

    Most gravel bikes can handle MTB type trails without the need for a dropper seat post.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    Thanks folks. Good to get some advice. I’ll have a look at the Giant range. I’m teen of stock I don’t think getting a Trek or Giant will be an issue and Fatbike Adventure will provide a Fustle. I was keen to support an Irish brand (Fustle is an NI brand) and the reviews I’ve read are positive. Buckley Cycles in Athlone have an ALR 4 in stock so that might be the way I go.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    Can't vouch for the Fustle, but yer man (Darren) who's one of the people behind the Lakelander Gravel Grinder seems to love his. Can only compare my AL Topstone to my AL Giant Defy, and the Topstone is bulkier tubing and heavier.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,857 ✭✭✭cletus

    I have a Giant Revolt 0. Top end of the aluminium framed Revolts.

    I love it. Spec wise it would be quite similar to the Trek above (with the Trek having, arguably, a better wheelset)

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,705 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    He's a brand ambassador for Fustle so pinch of salt with his view.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,705 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    I have a Genesis fugio which is close to hardtail territory, heavy as fcuk but very composed on the rugged stuff and great on gravel.

    It's pretty sluggish on the hilly roads, but I'm not racing with it. I kitted it with dynamo lighting, full mudguards.

    I would have been slow to buy a giant with their proprietary dfuse tech but they allow for normal seat posts in their latest model, and that change would make them a strong contender. Although it looks like internal routing and that might kill it for me!

    Gravel bikes get a rough time in Ireland and I'd be going with the lowest end groupset you are happy with. Hydraulic brakes and 2 by 10 makes sense to me, I'd put up with Sora before I'd be putting ultegra priced gear into the mud.

  • Registered Users Posts: 81 ✭✭DJB030244

    Giant revolt is a good shout , the higher end ones are light too . I have mine at 8.6kg all in with pedals cages garmin mount etc with road wheels and just under 9 with gravel wheelset . 2021 model . Fly’s along and comfort is great with the dfuse post

    One thing to be careful is the latest Giant revolt carbon model 2022 is cracking . All the Facebook groups etc have reported it . Plenty of lads on their 2nd and 3rd frame within weeks and months.

    It’s to do with a shim they have in the seat post . The solution is to replace the seat post immediately with a round one .2022 Carbon models only,to make the D-fuse seat post fit in the round seat tube.

    2021 models and before are fine in that regard

    Post edited by DJB030244 on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,457 ✭✭✭lennymc

    I'd try go for one of the gravel specific groupsets if possible - i have grx on mine and it's been great. Have previously had road groupset on cross & gravel bikes and they are a bit more fragile.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    There is GRX 2x10 as well. I have a Tiagra Topstone, and it has been fine. I swapped out the FSA crankset that came with it, to save a bit of weight and let me use a left side power meter I already had (and had plans to reuse the FSA crankset/ fd/ bb), but I can't say I really notice much difference bar it looks better. I plan, but have never got around too, swapping the rear derailleur to the GRX.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    Hi folks. I am down to a choice between these two:

    Trek Checkpoint AL4 2021 and

    Drag Sterrato 7.0 GRX-400

    @cletus was correct, I'm very much limited to what shops have in stock. According to shop owners there are bike hikes in prices coming in 2023 too.

    I am leaning towards the Trek but interested in boardies thoughts.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I've never come across the brand Drag (and I'm the sort of person who buys a bike of some sort every year). I'd go for the Trek if really a choice between those two. I'd also check if you can find a dealer with Cube in stock though, I bought a Cube Nuroad with similar spec in 2020 or 2021 for under 1500

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    Never heard of that brand drag but the fact they didn't even bother to try and blend the welds on the steerer tube I'd go with the trek.

    There's also a nice cervelo aspero on done deal which might be worth an offer. Based on the marks on the chain stay and down tube along with the rusty chain I'd say its seen a lot of use.

    I'd probably take this over any of them 🤷‍♂️ a shame its not a 1x

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    Cheers folks. I’ll look into the Canyon too but for now it’ll be the Trek. I use Look Keo 2 pedals on the road bike so I’m assuming that will suit the gravel bike fine too. I don’t intend having to hike and bike much.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    I'd go with mtb type pedals if you are planning any off road at all. I tried using the same pedals and shoes on my gravel bike and changed after two rides. Unless you know your routes very well, there's a good chance of walking from time to time

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    One last thing folks…on paper and by Trek’s own geometry I should go with a size 58, I’ve briefly tried both a 58 and a 56 and I felt the 56 was a little more fun, if you get my meaning. A bit more responsive. The 58 sturdy and comfortable, no doubt. It’s a tough one (pity there isn’t a 57 😆). Maybe at 41 I should be leaning more towards comfort but there’s still a fun side to me 🤣

    Any opinions? Thanks again for all comments.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭CantGetNoSleep

    A good bike shop will be the best place to answer that for you. As a general rule, if you are between two sizes you will be advised to go for the smaller of the two (mainly because it is possible to make a smaller bike slightly bigger but not vice versa).

    I'd say it depends where you are on the scale too (which is just an indication). You don't want a bike that is way too small for you, might feel more lively but after 3 or 4 hours you might start to feel it

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    Based on that I'd be going with the 56. As mentioned above I'd go with SPDs and mountain CX or MTB style shoes, I use Northwave and find them very good. Look keo and road shoes would just be a balls to walk in should you have to walk along a muddy track and if you're doing it right you'll be walking at some point. 😂

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,705 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    You are not doing gravel right if you are in road shoes 🙂.

    Before anyone buys a gravel bike they should do it with eyes wide open as to what Irish gravel is.

    It's often like above rutted tracks, with plenty puddles and muck.

    With that in mind any purchase should bear that in mind; for me that means threaded bottom bracket, mudguards and a cheap drivetrain.

    She's not light but close to unbreakable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    Very nice 😎 I'll ease into the gravel stuff but no don't I'll get more adventurous as I get more experience. Any recommendations for gravel events in Ireland? Is there a calendar of events for gravel somewhere?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    It surely is and nice to see another Genesis getting the dancing shoes muddy :) I can see those mudguards being an issue in mud though.

    The auld work horse doesn't fair much better at times either 🙈

    Mid ride baths aren't uncommon either

    For both of us 😂

    and as above seeing this is fun the first few times but they can break you when it's been a long day out. 😭

    Gravel's great craic though 😂😂

    Sorry for the spam post OP

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,117 ✭✭✭El Director

    😂not at all, class. Love that bar tape. Beautiful looking bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,705 ✭✭✭Large bottle small glass

    I've never ridden a gravel event, but most seem to be up the west;either Ballinrobe/Westport maybe Moycullen?

    Where I'm based, north Waterford/South tipp gravel means primarily Coillte forest with a little private/abandoned public roads/tiny amount of bord na mona. The best spins tend to be somewhere in the 80/20 - 50/50 backroads/gravel mix. It'll depend where you live (there might be lots of BNM if you live near midlands).

    A sense of adventure and not getting lost will matter more than whatever spec of bike you have. I had as much fun with a rim braked Ridley as the current bike, just wearing a rim in less than 3k km gets annoying pretty quick!

    Any more than 2 hours looking at Sitka Spruce and I'm ready for a change.

    Typically routes below; they are mostly really hard to ride but rewarding

    @iwillhtfu I've never had a bother in two years with mud/twigs or anything else with the mudguards. I'd never be without guards again on a bike like it. HAve had it out in the middle on wettest weather and heavy snow and its a gift. Might even put road tyres on for a few road spins over xmas period.

    BTW I can't view your photos; its probably my browser

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,261 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    I sometimes clip on a rear mudguard, but part of the fun is coming home filthy for me!

    The Lakelander in Fermanagh is the longest established, usually 2nd weekend in October. There's also the Galway Gravel Grinder, and Gravel Grind West from Westport. I've done the Lakelander a couple of times now (and plan to go back next year), haven't made the others as they're August/ September iirc and too many family commitments around then.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    Ah mudguards are great for everything except thick mud the pics would give a better idea but I've had occasions where the wheels wouldn't turn for the mud between the frame and tyre without mudguards let alone with they'd have been torn off. 🙈

    Also OP it's a toss up but for me 650b wheelset and plenty of clearance is a must on a gravel bike. 650b allows you to get in bigger tyres which are much more comfortable and offer more grip.

    Regarding gravel just look for wind turbines and you'll usually find plenty and along with some hike a bike you can usually stitch some good routes together, the joy of a gravel bike is that you can just saunter down a lane and see where it takes you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    The frames a bit of a mutt and has worn many a different guise. Personally I think this one is the best 😂 One day I'll throw her back into the pool for someone else to be creative with it.

    The bar tape is actually holding up great I had the brooks faux leather on it before and it just disintegrated but this leather one seems to be going strong. I generally use the gravel bike most in winter/mud so needed something robust. Oh I'd also look at some flared bars I thought they were a bit of a gimmick but they do make a difference if descending on the drops they get the elbows nice and wide.

    Also don't be adverse to some bike packing on a gravel bike it makes for a great adventure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,857 ✭✭✭cletus

    If you do decide to return that frame to the boards community, drop me a pm first 😜

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,857 ✭✭✭cletus

    Actually, given the direction this thread has taken, it might be worthwhile linking back to this again

    It's really easy to upload gravel routes or sections, especially if you have already ridden them and have the data on Strava, RidewithGPS, komoot etc.

    It would make a great resource for people who want to visit other parts of the country, or just for those of us who prefer going for a spin over organised events