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How much to spend on a gravel bike, and what do buy?

Hi, I'm new to the forum and not quite sure whether this is the right one for the question.

So, I have yet another "what bike to buy" question. This is easier to answer if you have a fixed budget, but I don't really have a specific limit and don't know how much is sensible to spend.

Bike type

This is my first real sports bike, until now I've been riding various city/trekking bikes (current one is a Rabeneick TS5 Alfine-8 2017 (sorry, no English spec sheet online)) since elementary school, so I'm not really a cycling beginner but a sportive-cycling beginner. As I'd like to avoid the N+1 trap and end up with 10 different bikes, I'd like one that does everything a little. Here in Germany, we don't really have gravel roads as in the US, but we do have a large network of forest ways, for which a MTB would be overkill but which are too bumpy/have too loose ground for a "real" road bike, especially on slopes (we have extensive hilly areas). Since car traffic takes the fun out of riding on roads, I suppose a gravel bike would give me the most options for (long) tours.

How I will use the bike

I would use the bike mostly for single-day rides just for fun. I'd like to improve my endurance to manage a century or perhaps more. I would also like to try bikepacking (for days or perhaps even weeks), but of course can't be certain I'll like it. I might some day even try to participate in an event/race, but just to be there, not to win (no chance of that happening). I'm not a pro athlete and will never be, I've an office job and average flexibility and fitness level. Therefore, fit and comfort are rather important so that I can tolerate riding on rough surfaces on longer rides. Of course going fast and going far is fun, so a bike that can do that is great, even though I won't reach competitive levels. I know about "Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades", but the fact is that I and many others have limited time for training, so I'm fine with buying additional range or speed via a "better" bike to get more fun out of it, even though I'd certainly get overtaken by more trained riders on cheaper bikes. I certainly won't attempt to shave off every last gram, but of course a lighter bike just feels better, and fun is the whole reason to buy the bike anyhow. On the other hand, paying a lot of money for things that would give a pro rider the edge in a race, but would make me, if at all, only marginally faster, doesn't make much sense.

Buy a cheap one first?

I'm unsure whether it is sensible to invest in a good but expensive bike that will satisfy my needs for many years, or go the budget route and perhaps upgrade later, since I can't be 100% certain that the whole road/gravel bike experience is the right thing for me. The first option would mean that I can ride a "better" bike for longer/earlier, and on the second one I would end up with an "old" bike that takes up space (you can only ride one bike at a time).

Durability

is a major point for me. If I spend a lot on a bike, I'd like it to last for many years. I would find it quite annoying having to be super careful with the bike at all times (especially when e.g. carrying it up stairs or transporting it via train), so I'd be fine with sacrificing some performance and spending more on that aspect. A related issue is maintainability; I'd like to be able to do most maintenance myself, as there aren't many good bike shops here.

Frame material

I suppose the last point affects the choice for frame material; I think that carbon fiber isn't the right one for me, as a carbon frame that can withstand impacts from all sides due to not-super-careful-handling would probably be as heavy as a metal one and therefore nobody makes one like that. After all, carbon bikes usually have a limited warranty for that reason. Existing aluminum frames are said to be stiff and therefore uncomfortable (can confirm that from my current bike). That leaves me with the rather opposite choices of steel and titanium.

Some given choices

On that basis, I can already make a few choices: I think I don't need electronic shifting, as I don't need super-quick shifting times as needed for racing situations, and electronics also means higher complexity, and I'm not sure about battery lifetime on long bikepacking tours. Higher-tier mechanical shifting components with better durability are probably more sensible for me. I'd also like a 2x drivetrain for more comfortable climbing, particularly when carrying loads. Hydraulic disk brakes are a given too. I won't need things that maximize speed when descending (super-high gears, aero?), as descents usually make up a small part of any tour, and I don't need competitive speeds. Also, at the bottom of every descend a 30km/h zone or red light awaits... For bikepacking, I'd also need mounts for bags and ideally also rear (and front?) racks, should I ever decide I need them. Fender mounts are sensible too. A threaded bottom-brackets and only standard components/interfaces are probably a good idea as well. The brand of choice should also have dealers in Germany so I can buy it here and ideally test-ride it.

How much to spend?

According to this article, the $2000-$3000 range gives the best value. As I said, I don't have a fixed budget, and I'd be fine with spending (a lot?) more if it is sensible to do so. The money saved on not owning a car alone is probably enough for a superbike... For me, value as such isn't all-important; I think it's perfectly fine to pay extra for a particular brand or cosmetics, as a bike is also a lifestyle product, like clothing or jewelry. However, one should of course be aware about how much you spend on the bling-bling and how much on function.

So the question is, how much is sensible for me to spend? I like the Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon, but it's probably not as durable as I'd like (carbon and suspension). The Moots Routt 45 ticks all the boxes and is just an awesome bike, and while I could afford it, does it make sense for me - who is far from competitive levels - to spend that much? Should I rather choose a high-quality steel one, as the weight difference wouldn't matter much for me? Do you happen to have another hot suggestion for me?

And another thing: Is it sensible for me to get a bike fit before buying? After all, I'm just getting started with sports bikes, but it's a big investment, so I better buy the right size.

Thanks for bearing with me and my wall of text, but I don't really have anyone to consult on such an expensive purchase.
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Posts

  • MattFalleMattFalle Posts: 1,158
    Hi

    Great to hear from you and great first post - very impressive!
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 3,114
    Seems like you want a bit of a do it all bike. If you go down the gravel bike route, also get some road tyres for when you do those sportives / centuries and probably the bike packing too as doing those rides on gravel tyres will mean expending more energy than needed!

    Sounds like you know what you want and what to do with it, so I wouldn't go down the budget route first if I was you as you'll probably want to upgrade within weeks if not days!

    When you say do possibly doing races in the future do you mean cyclo-cross races?
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • Thanks for the replies :)
    MattFalle said:

    Great to hear from you and great first post - very impressive!

    Thanks, I have now read a lot of reviews and buying guides and now seem to know less than before :# ... So I figured it's time to ask.
    elbowloh said:

    Seems like you want a bit of a do it all bike. If you go down the gravel bike route, also get some road tyres for when you do those sportives / centuries and probably the bike packing too as doing those rides on gravel tyres will mean expending more energy than needed!

    Yes that's exactly what I thought, road tires - or an entire lightweight wheel set with narrow road tires - would also be great for the occasional pure-asphalt tour at higher speeds/longer distance.
    elbowloh said:

    Sounds like you know what you want and what to do with it, so I wouldn't go down the budget route first if I was you as you'll probably want to upgrade within weeks if not days!

    Thanks, that's a good point. If I really found out that the whole thing isn't for me, I could still sell the bike, although I think that's rather unlikely.
    elbowloh said:

    When you say do possibly doing races in the future do you mean cyclo-cross races?

    I meant events like the famous Unbound Gravel or local equivalents like the Black forest gravel rally. Sorry, I shouldn't have written "race", a real race with timekeeping is probably not the right thing for me.

    I suspect cyclocross races are a little too crazy and fast for me, and the geometry of cyclocross bikes is probably too aggressive for me to be comfortable, and they can't really be used for bikepacking (I hate carrying backpacks when riding).
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,152
    You say that you like the Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon, are you aware that they have a E5 Elite aluminum 2x 10 speed GRX version without the Future shock front suspension? https://www.specialized.com/us/en/diverge-elite-e5/p/199688?color=320083-199688&searchText=96220-4244
  • Oh my an essay. If you want a do it all bike that not too pricey buy a steel frameset. Soma wolverine is my current favourite.

    Gravel bikes are not fast bikes. They are not fast road bikes and will never be. They are not fast over rough terrain. They are an in between. The quite capable on rough roads. Dont buy a light weight wheelset with 28mm tyres hoping it will be something its not.

    Use it on all roads. You wont set hill climb koms or tarmac but you will be able to ride all roads with a smile.

    Think of it as a hybrid with drop bars.

    www.thecycleclinic.co.uk
  • joe_totale-2joe_totale-2 Posts: 1,123
    edited December 2020
    Be aware that if you're buying a gravel bike designed for big tyres like 45mm ones, the handling may feel quite different on 25-28mm tyres. Larger slick tyres are available but will always be a bit slower than a 25-28mm one. However, they will be more comfortable so it depends where your priorities lie.

    I've ordered a Fairlight Secan as the geometry isn't too upright and is pretty similar to their Strael road bike. So many gravel bikes have very relaxed geometries which will contribute to it not feeling very fast on the roads and as Malcolm mentioned above, basically makes them feel like hybrids with drop bars.

    I was seriously considering a Titanium bike but just couldn't justify the extra expense over a nice looking steel bike despite the extra weight of the steel frame. Once you load on some bikepacking bags anyway weight becomes redundant.

    The Planet X Tempest was high up on my list, it's basically the same as the Reilly Gradient geometry wise despite the Reilly costing a fair bit more...
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,652
    edited December 2020
    I currently have 2 bikes, one is a "best" summer road bike and the other is probably close to what you are asking for - although mine is carbon.

    Its a carbon frame, drop bars and SRAM Force 1x11 gearing and a 42 front chainring.
    In summer it runs 27.5" wheels with 2.2" Maxxis Ikon tyres and a 11-42 cassette, and I use it to go riding on trails, towpaths and single tracks with my mates on their MTB's.
    In winter it runs 700c wheels with 32m slick gravel king tyres, full mudguards and an 11-32 cassette, and serves as a winter road training bike. It's not as fast as my best, dedicated road bike, but it's not too far off and that makes it better for training.
    My specific bike is an OnOne Free Ranger - but I think the same frame is sold by other companies under different branding / names.

    If I had to have just one bike, then a titanium version of this would be great - something like a Planet-X Tempest.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 3,114
    singleton said:

    I currently have 2 bikes, one is a "best" summer road bike and the other is probably close to what you are asking for - although mine is carbon.

    Its a carbon frame, drop bars and SRAM Force 1x11 gearing and a 42 front chainring.
    In summer it runs 27.5" wheels with 2.2" Maxxis Ikon tyres and a 11-42 cassette, and I use it to go riding on trails, towpaths and single tracks with my mates on their MTB's.
    In winter it runs 700c wheels with 32m slick gravel king tyres, full mudguards and an 11-32 cassette, and serves as a winter road training bike. It's not as fast as my best, dedicated road bike, but it's not too far off and that makes it better for training.
    My specific bike is an OnOne Free Ranger - but I think the same frame is sold by other companies under different branding / names.

    If I had to have just one bike, then a titanium version of this would be great - something like a Planet-X Tempest.

    I like the look of that Tempest (and it's price). Add that to the list for my winter bike.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • dj58 said:

    are you aware that they have a E5 Elite aluminum 2x 10 speed GRX version without the Future shock front suspension? https://www.specialized.com/us/en/diverge-elite-e5/p/199688?color=320083-199688&searchText=96220-4244

    Yes :) I suspect that the aluminum makes it less comfortable and it also has lower-spec components. Since I'm not on a tight budget, I'm not sure whether it's sensible to go this route.

    If you want a do it all bike that not too pricey buy a steel frameset. Soma wolverine is my current favourite.

    That's probably a good alternative. I should take a closer look at high-end steel bikes... I suppose the Soma "Double Cross" is closer to what I want. There is the German "Rennstahl" brand, but their gravel bikes "only" have 38mm tire clearance @ 700c. They also have a titanium offspring brand "falkenjagd" with an intriguing Rohloff-based gravel bike, but same tire clearance issue.

    Use it on all roads. You wont set hill climb koms or tarmac but you will be able to ride all roads with a smile.

    Yeah that's clear to me. For me, having the freedom to ride almost any road is much better than racing on roads while constantly avoiding cars. The drop bar aspect is also important, as I think the "hoods" position to be more comfortable than the flat-bar one, as the wrists are rotated differently (that's also why I wouldn't want a hybrid or even MTB).

    Be aware that if you're buying a gravel bike designed for big tyres like 45mm ones, the handling may feel quite different on 25-28mm tyres. Larger slick tyres are available but will always be a bit slower than a 25-28mm one. However, they will be more comfortable so it depends where your priorities lie.

    Comfort is good :smile: I don't need a superfast bike that hurts to ride!

    I've ordered a Fairlight Secan as the geometry isn't too upright and is pretty similar to their Strael road bike. So many gravel bikes have very relaxed geometries which will contribute to it not feeling very fast on the roads and as Malcolm mentioned above, basically makes them feel like hybrids with drop bars.

    That's an interesting bike too. I suppose I have to do a few test-rides and a bike fit to find out how low a position I can tolerate.

    I was seriously considering a Titanium bike but just couldn't justify the extra expense over a nice looking steel bike despite the extra weight of the steel frame. Once you load on some bikepacking bags anyway weight becomes redundant.

    Sure, but when going for an unloaded day tour a light bike feels better :smile:

    The Planet X Tempest was high up on my list, it's basically the same as the Reilly Gradient geometry wise despite the Reilly costing a fair bit more...

    The Gradient has 2x options, which I'd prefer. That bike looks like a good choice for me. I suppose I could buy the frameset and build it up with GRX RX810 2x11 if I decided to go that route?
    singleton said:

    If I had to have just one bike, then a titanium version of this would be great - something like a Planet-X Tempest.

    elbowloh said:

    I like the look of that Tempest (and it's price). Add that to the list for my winter bike.

    It sure looks great, sadly only 1x. It's so cheap compared to other titanium bikes, it's almost too good to be true!
    singleton said:

    In summer it runs 27.5" wheels with 2.2" Maxxis Ikon tyres and a 11-42 cassette, and I use it to go riding on trails, towpaths and single tracks with my mates on their MTB's.
    In winter it runs 700c wheels with 32m slick gravel king tyres, full mudguards and an 11-32 cassette, and serves as a winter road training bike.

    Sounds like a good choice of configurations; I think I could do the same thing and use it all-year. It would sure be interesting to ride with mountain-bikers and see who climbs best ;-) I suppose I can do without summer/winter bikes since I won't do all-out road racing in summer anyways; if the components wear out faster due to all-year use, replacing them more often is possibly still cheaper than maintaining two complete bikes, and occupies less space.
  • Boardman ADV 9.0, limited availability of large and small frames, £1530 with BC discount.

    https://www.halfords.com/bikes/road-bikes/boardman-adv-9.0-mens-road-bike-2021---s-m-l-xl-frames-426982.html
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • spatt77spatt77 Posts: 311
    I've got a Bombtrack Hook EXT, which is tremendous!
  • Nice post, I kinda went through something similar when I was looking for my gravel bike. I had decided on just a few things, must have 2x GRX, must be a kinda do it all bike ( commuter, winter and gravel fun bike) and be good value.
    If you want what’s suited for you then best bet is buy a frame, parts and build, but off the peg best bike for what your going to ride are IMHO Specialized Diverge with future shock 2 but expensive @ £4K+ and hard (impossible) to get at the moment. This put me off so I went down the value route, ended up spending less than £2k for a 650b equipped grx bike that will do everything I need/want.
    I wouldn’t worry about carbon and if it’s durability, I already tested that on my bike and my hip broke not the bike.
    Enjoy your research and good luck in your buying.
  • Boardman ADV 9.0, limited availability of large and small frames, £1530 with BC discount.

    Again, not sure about the durability of Carbon...

    If you want what’s suited for you then best bet is buy a frame, parts and build, but off the peg best bike for what your going to ride are IMHO Specialized Diverge with future shock 2 but expensive @ £4K+ and hard (impossible) to get at the moment.

    Yeah, that's definitely a great bike (lots of euphoric reviews) but I'm not sure about the durability and maintainability of the Carbon frame and proprietary FutureShock dampener.

    This put me off so I went down the value route, ended up spending less than £2k for a 650b equipped grx bike that will do everything I need/want.

    Yeah, about 2k £/$/€ is probably enough for a good bike, but I wouldn't mind paying more for something faster/better fitting/more durable.

    I wouldn’t worry about carbon and if it’s durability, I already tested that on my bike and my hip broke not the bike.

    That's probably something that can't be quantified. If a carbon bike falls over, is roughly handled during transport or of course crashed, you'd need to have it inspected for internal invisible damage. You'd have to be super careful all the time, like e.g. when wearing an expensive suit... This is just something that would make a carbon bike too impractical for me.
    spatt77 said:

    I've got a Bombtrack Hook EXT, which is tremendous!

    Looks quite nice too. It has only 3 years of warranty, less than some carbon bikes, not sure whether that means anything. It's a little more reassuring when manufacturers trust their work for longer...

    I made a comparison chart for various titanium bikepacking-capable gravel bikes on the market. For comparison I added the popular models Diverge and Canyon Grail, and also the Stevens Vapor Force which I had the opportunity to test once and liked. Interestingly, all the Ti bikes have a rather relaxed geometry and high trail compared to other gravel bikes. I think I'd prefer a medium-upright and medium-trail bike according to the do-it-all idea. My favourites in that lot are the Litespeed Watia (pro: tub tube mounts), the Bearclaw Thunderhawk (pro: very supple, Ti fork) and the Reilly Gradient. Their geometries are rather similar. I suppose to make the final decision, I'd have to get a bike fit and test-ride bikes with similar geometries to find out which one fits me best. There's probably no shop that has these bikes in stock for testing...
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,038
    profclonk said:

    Boardman ADV 9.0, limited availability of large and small frames, £1530 with BC discount.

    Again, not sure about the durability of Carbon...



    That's probably something that can't be quantified. If a carbon bike falls over, is roughly handled during transport or of course crashed, you'd need to have it inspected for internal invisible damage. You'd have to be super careful all the time, like e.g. when wearing an expensive suit... This is just something that would make a carbon bike too impractical for me.

    .
    Utter rubbish you don’t need get a carbon bike inspected if falls over. Watch a cyclocross race and see how many times they crash and just start riding again. Even in road races ride just get back up ride the bike if there is nothing broke.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,654
    Have to agree with you W. Local carbon repair place sends back nearly half of the carbon bikes as no fault found, the rest are obvious damage bikes.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,038
    However if the prof had mentioned they dissolve in the wet. I would have had to agree.
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,489
    edited December 2020
    Genesis Croix de Fer? The newer models can take 650B and relatively large tyres even on the 700C wheels they come with.

    My 2014 CdF is a great bike. Steel forks, but in my riding experience they are more comfortable than carbon forks.

    They now have a through-axle frameset (edit - on the Croix de Fer 40 model)
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,489
    edited December 2020

    Boardman ADV 9.0, limited availability of large and small frames, £1530 with BC discount.

    https://www.halfords.com/bikes/road-bikes/boardman-adv-9.0-mens-road-bike-2021---s-m-l-xl-frames-426982.html

    Is the size guide right? Starts at 170cm (5'7" approx).

    I had loads of trouble with the components on my ADV8.8, they do seem to economize on their builds. But it does look like they have all Shimano on this one.
  • spatt77spatt77 Posts: 311
    Personally I'd go steel or titanium, cant really see what the benefit of going carbon on a gravel bike ( and i have 2 carbon road bikes) Gravel riding isn't really about going flat out, for me its about keeping fit and taking in the scenery but each to their own.
  • I can relate to your post as i started again same way you seem to be. So if this helps:

    People will impart their knowledge and experience to you - sometimes even saying what bike to get. This is fine but there are so many variables for you against thier personal experiences. "Aluminum is this Carbon is that etc etc". My advice would be:

    1. Buy a "cheaper bike" @£1k with the majority of things you think you want - you will have fun and from that will be able to see what you like and don't like.
    2. From that experience buy a more expensive bike that really delivers on what you like. Sell the original it will not be a big loss.
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 7,243
    ^ This exactly.

    I got a Boardman ADV8.9 2021 model when stocks magically appeared in early September. £1k. Good spec for the money, Shimano GRX etc. Thought try it out see how I find both the rough stuff gravelling and the bike.

    Been fun. Money well spent. Not the poshest of brands but who cares? Will keep using it, build my experience. So as and when I want to 'move up' I'll know the whats and what nots to go for.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,654
    I wouldn't be buying a posh bike to thrash around gravel riding or CX.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • spatt77spatt77 Posts: 311

    I can relate to your post as i started again same way you seem to be. So if this helps:

    People will impart their knowledge and experience to you - sometimes even saying what bike to get. This is fine but there are so many variables for you against thier personal experiences. "Aluminum is this Carbon is that etc etc". My advice would be:

    1. Buy a "cheaper bike" @£1k with the majority of things you think you want - you will have fun and from that will be able to see what you like and don't like.
    2. From that experience buy a more expensive bike that really delivers on what you like. Sell the original it will not be a big loss.

    This is good info, I started off with a GT Grade which was good but then moved onto the Bombtrack which is spec`ed exactly as I want it!
  • webboo said:

    Utter rubbish you don’t need get a carbon bike inspected if falls over. Watch a cyclocross race and see how many times they crash and just start riding again.

    Professional racers don't intend to use the same bike for years or even decades. If a bike fails catastrophically, they'll just get a now one from the team.
    oxoman said:

    Have to agree with you W. Local carbon repair place sends back nearly half of the carbon bikes as no fault found, the rest are obvious damage bikes.

    That still means that people had crashes or noticed damage where they weren't sure of the severity, so they had to get the frames inspected - even though those frames turned out OK, that still meant hassle and time spent.
    webboo said:

    However if the prof had mentioned they dissolve in the wet. I would have had to agree.

    What do you mean, carbon frames dissolve in water? That's new to me...
    mrfpb said:

    Genesis Croix de Fer?

    Not on a tight budget, so not sure whether going for steel and the lower-spec components is sensible.
    spatt77 said:

    Personally I'd go steel or titanium, cant really see what the benefit of going carbon on a gravel bike ( and i have 2 carbon road bikes) Gravel riding isn't really about going flat out, for me its about keeping fit and taking in the scenery but each to their own.

    Exactly my thoughts. I'd still like efficient cruising on the inevitable stretches of tarmac to reach the next gravel route more quickly :)

    This is fine but there are so many variables for you against thier personal experiences.

    I noticed... The more you dig, the less sure you get :wink:

    1. Buy a "cheaper bike" @£1k with the majority of things you think you want - you will have fun and from that will be able to see what you like and don't like.

    My current Rabeneick trekking bike cost just that, and while it's great for commuting, I learned that riding on forest roads, hills and in nature reserves is great, and that I want in my new bike:
    • Less weight (current one is 14kg) and more efficient for longer rides
    • More comfort, as the stiff aluminum frame rattles my bones
    • More gears; 8 ones are way too limiting on climbs, in headwinds etc
    • More mounting options for bikepacking
    • Wider tires for rougher terrain
    • Higher-quality brakes for descends
    • Higher durability components; I have the slight suspicion that the current bike's components are not made for my riding style, as things are wearing out constantly
    • Drop bars for more comfortable hand positions and aero position
    • Cooler looks than the dull grey-black :smile:
    oxoman said:

    I wouldn't be buying a posh bike to thrash around gravel riding or CX.

    Then why do posh gravel bikes exist?

    After a lot of back-and-forth, I'm seriously considering the Bearclaw Thunderhawk, as it's said to be very comfortable, great for bikepacking, has a geometry that sits in the middle between upright and aggressive, has a lot of tire clearance, but is still "performance-oriented".

    Since there doesn't seem to be any consensus about how much to spend on a bike, and my budget isn't tightly limited, I began thinking about my "dream build" of the Thunderhawk and see where I'd end up. So, beginning with the Thunderhawk stock builds but using a GRX810 2x groupset I got:
    PartManufacturerNamePriceVariant/Modification/RemarkURL
    FrameBearclawThunderhawk$2,090Top tube mounts, front derailleur mountURL
    ForkBearclawTi Gravel Fork$690URL
    GroupsetShimanoGRX810 2x11€895TODO: Try out crank lengthURL
    Brake rotorShimanoSM-RT800€44160mmURL
    Bottom BracketChris KingThreadFit 24$178Navy blueURL
    BB Fit KitChris KingFit Kit #4$22URL
    WheelsetIndustry NineGRCX TRA$1,540WOR1LBacfuCKB1S - GRCX TRA - Center Lock 700c - Wheelset - Blue Hub - Color Pattern acfu - 12x100 - 12x142 - HG11URL
    TiresWTBByway$7040mm, SG2URL
    HeadsetChris KingTapered NoThreadSet$174Navy blue, TODO: Find head tube measurementURL
    SeatpostThomsonElite$115Silver, TODO: Find seat tube measurementURL
    StemThomsonElite X4$115URL
    HandlebarsWhiskyNo 7 12F$75TODO: Try out sizeURL
    Bar tapefizikTerra Bondcush 3mm Tacky€38BlueURL
    SaddleWTBVolt$130TODO: Just as an example, try various modelsURL
    PedalsShimanoPD-M9120€120URL
    Total cost is about 5500€. I think I'll ask Bearclaw if they can add top tube mounts (as seen on an this photo from them of that bike) and a braze-on for the front derailleur to avoid an ugly clamp. As the stock builds look a little bland, I wanted to go with blue spokes, headset, BB, and bar tape. I'd prefer green, but apparently nobody makes components in that colour...

    What do you think of that preliminary build? Totally ludicrous or reasonable? Did I make obvious mistakes? Is perhaps one of the components way too high-spec or low-spec for the rest of the bike?
  • joe_totale-2joe_totale-2 Posts: 1,123
    edited 13 January
    Looks a good build overall, I feel though that we'd differ in a couple of ways:

    Personally I wouldn't get those fancy wheels, they would be great but I'm unconvinced that you need anything more than a decent set of alloy wheels for off road/gravel. Would also mean that you'd save $1,000. This article backs me up:

    https://cyclingtips.com/2020/11/dt-swiss-gr-1600-spline-25-gravel-wheelset-long-term-review-the-sweet-spot/

    I looked up the wheels and they look lovely but wheels ridden on gravel definitely pick up superficial damage quicker than road wheels.

    Secondly I would get a carbon seatpost and not an alloy one, the difference may be small but it does help a little with some of the constant buzz you get from those long gravel roads.
  • Personally I wouldn't get those fancy wheels, they would be great but I'm unconvinced that you need anything more than a decent set of alloy wheels for off road/gravel.

    The i9 GRCX TRA are alloy :smile: They have more engagement points, offer the fancy customization options, are lighter but I agree that the price for that is high. The GR 1600 wheels have a much higher max. system weight (130kg system vs. 113kg rider+luggage), so that's attractive for bikepacking (I weigh 80kg, the bike will probably be around 10kg). The i9 GRCX appear to be similar to the DT swiss ones.

    Supposedly wheels have a great impact on ride quality, so I'm not sure they are the right component to be stingy on.

    There's also the thing of freehub noise: I think I want to use a (somewhat) loud hub. Since middle Europe is densely populated you constantly have to evade pedestrians/hikers on trails and forest ways. Relying on a bell alone is annoying for well-known reasons, and I hope that the continuous quickly approaching noise of a loud hub will get more attention.

    I forgot to mention: I'm thinking about getting a second wheelset, probably 27.5" (perhaps i9 Trail 270 24h) with some big chunky tires (perhaps WTB vigilante) to utilize the Thunderhawk's 2.35" clearance for trails or deep mud.

    Is there a way I can get away with 2 wheelsets for fast, general-purpose gravel, trail/mud, and also loaded bikepacking? The last two applications require sturdy wheels but different sizes, hmm.

    Secondly I would get a carbon seatpost and not an alloy one, the difference may be small but it does help a little with some of the constant buzz you get from those long gravel roads.

    I thought about that too, but on the Thunderhawk only a small portion of the seatpost is exposed (which allows for a more horizontal top tube for a nice classic look), so I'm not sure a flexy seatpost would have any effect.
  • Having had a quick look at your comparison sheet and the manufacturer's on there I see a few glaring omissions for you to consider.

    Standert Pfadfinder or more likely their Erdgeschoss (stainless) - the latter is what I plan to go for when they have stock back later this year. German (Berlin) brand also so depending on where you are based you could try before you buy.
    Mason Bokeh Ti.
    Laverack GRit - Ti
    Fairlight Secan - steel
    Enigma Escape/Endeavour - Ti/Steel
    Firefly - Ti
    Sturdy.....getting very pricey now....

    Some more looking/research for you anyway
  • Thanks for the hints. The Bokeh one looks interesting. I added the titanium bikes but left the steel ones out. If I added all gravel bikes out there, the list would get very long... So many bikes, how to decide - especially since you can obviously only test ride a tiny fraction of them.
  • lakesludditelakesluddite Posts: 1,324
    I have one of these, but the Carbon version - I kind of wish I'd spent a few hundred more on the Ti version, as the carbon version isn't that light to be honest:

    https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-cgr-ti/

    I have two set of wheels for it, one purely for road and the other for gravel/local forest trails.
    Not sure how you'd go with importing one, given the sunlit uplands of Brexit.
  • spatt77spatt77 Posts: 311
    profclonk said:

    Thanks for the hints. The Bokeh one looks interesting. I added the titanium bikes but left the steel ones out. If I added all gravel bikes out there, the list would get very long... So many bikes, how to decide - especially since you can obviously only test ride a tiny fraction of them.

    I`d include steel and discount carbon personally, as owner of a couple of carbon bikes don't think there's much benefit for a carbon gravel bike! I've got a Bombtrack Hook EXT which I rate highly!
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