New gravel bike - anyone any views on the Brother Kepler

Ben6899
Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
When we’ve moved house / generally got May finished, I’m going to dismantle my Dolan Prefissio winter bike and replace it with something I can still use as a worthy winter road bike, but maybe has a bit more clearance for larger tyres like 32s or even 650B wheels and more chunky tyres.

I don’t want to go to a full on “gravel” offering and from what I can see, Brother’s Kepler looks like it might fit the bill.

1x with a 46 chain ring, maybe?

Anyone got any views or experience of this particular frameset? I usually ride a 56cm and thought for this I could go 54cm and ride a longer stem for handling purposes?

Thoughts (and alternatives) welcome.

*has to be steel or aluminium
** don’t worry, I’ll be holding onto the Dolan frameset
Ben

Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
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Comments

  • singleton
    singleton Posts: 2,493
    edited April 2021
    I've got no particular experience with that frameset.

    That frame does have pretty big tyre clearance - 700x45c or 650x48c - but if you don't want a full on gravel bike, then maybe worth looking at some alu / steel CX framesets if you have not already?

    CX bikes are limited on tyre width due to racing regulations but usually have significant mud clearance above that limit meaning you should be able to get 38-40mm 700c tyres in many of them.

    Have you looked at: Condor Bivio? Kinesis CX? Cotic Escapade? Genesis Croix de fer?

    Or something like the palace weald which is more road oriented but only has clearance for 32mm tyres.

    As far as 1x, I use 1x SRAM 11 speed and find it's fine. In winter spec it has a 42 front and an 11-32 on 700c wheels with 28mm tyres and full guards which I find perfectly okay for winter road use. Then I remove the guards and switch to 650b wheels with 2.2" MTB tyres in the summer which has an 11-42 cassette on.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    edited April 2021
    Thank you, that's a really good steer. I like the look of the Kinesis and the Croix de Fer (but I know they're really quite heavy!)

    The Weald is a lovely looking frameset, is this what you ride?
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
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  • singleton
    singleton Posts: 2,493
    No I've got an On-one Free Ranger.

    N=2 for me, and in addition to a good summer bike, I wanted something that would do winter training and that I could put big tyres on in the summer for riding with my mates on their MTB's.

    If you look at "gravel" or "all road" bikes there is a huge spectrum of bikes from one end which are almost MTBs with drop bars - such as a bomb track hook - through to road bikes with a bit more tyre clearance.

    Question is where on that spectrum do you want to be.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    I think I have the answer to that question and that's as close to the "road bikes with a bit more tyre clearance" end of the spectrum as possible.

    I'll keep looking. If the Free Ranger was aluminium or steel, it sounds like it does for you what I'd want it to do for me.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • Boardman CXR 8.9 medium (530mm C-T seattube, 560mm stack, 389mm reach with 100mm stem) is showing stock available to order near me at Halfords. Suggested height range is 5'7"-5'11".
    Chainstays are longer than the ADV 8.9 2021 (435 vs 430), the latter of whch comes with 38mm tyres and a few reports suggest 42mm will fit, so the CXR should at least support something bigger at the rear if you wanted it.

    There's also a new orange ADV 8.9 on the website supposedly in stock, but I've not been able to select a frame size all weekend, the medium is more upright than the medium CXR.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    I like the look of the CXR, have you tested one?
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • Ben6899 said:

    I like the look of the CXR, have you tested one?

    No, I'm still wary of SRAM double-tap after testing a Boardman CX Team on a turbo in-store in 2017 for ~1 hour. I'd never tried it before and it just felt so alien after Shimano, I couldn't reliably multi-shift into easier gears.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    Not familiar with it but just had a gander, looks nice enough. My first thoughts are that it would be quite heavy, not always as much of a problem as people think of course depends on what you want from it. The frame is just 4130 steel and with a steel fork. Their Mehteh (ridiculous name) is 725 and has a carbon fork so is a little better I think. More expensive too.
    On the weight argument, before I bought my Kinesis I tried a Croix de Fer and the ride felt really good. Didn't feel that heavy to ride. But tyre clearance was less then than it is now. I plumped for the Pro6 because I really like the green. But it ticked all the boxes for me. I think the newer Kinesis CX bikes are more race focused and the gravel bikes are slacker, but I'm not really in the market so haven't looked that closely. If they still made the Pro6 I'd buy another one without hesitation. Id look at racier gravel bikes or more versatile CX bikes. Easily up to being a bad weather road bike. I've done 200km days on mine without any real problems, other than it being a 200km day that is.
  • singleton
    singleton Posts: 2,493
    edited April 2021
    I've had Shimano on all my bikes, until this one which has SRAM Force and I've found it fine to adjust. I still have Ultegra on my good road bike, and I get the occasional mistake when switching between bikes, but that's all.

    Vitus substance is similar to mine, but available in Alu or Steel.

    I would say that mine is not "as close to a road bike with wide tyres" but is more of a compromise - but one I'm prepared to accept. It's not as good offroad as a hard tail MTB and it's not as good on road as a road bike - but it's 90% of both and it works for me. **

    If I was doing nothing more aggressive than gravel tracks and towpaths, I'd probably think about getting a CX bike - they're built to race therefore they are stiff and fast for road use, but you can put 33-40mm tyres on them for offroad use - or maybe wider if the frame works with 650b wheels.

    The down side of most CX bikes is that as they are built to race, most won't have mudguard mounts if that's an issue for you.

    ** edit the "90% of both" may not be strictly true.
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    edited April 2021
    singleton said:


    The down side of most CX bikes is that as they are built to race, most won't have mudguard mounts if that's an issue for you.

    That's what I love about mine. Feels racy and quick enough on the road, has mudguard and rack mounts. Takes 32mm tyres with full mudguards or 40mm without. I'd say is more than 90% of a roadbike but less than 90% of a hardtail MTB, but that may be more to do with my skill level, or lack of. If I could only have one bike that would be it.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    Thanks for all the further input, chaps.

    V68 raises a good point about the steel used for the Kepler, there is a carbon fork available though. I looked at the Mehteh and was drawn by the Reynolds tubing, it has to be said!

    Pro 6 as in Crosslight Pro 6 by Kinesis?
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    Ben6899 said:

    Pro 6 as in Crosslight Pro 6 by Kinesis?

    Yes, I really like it. Started on 10 speed 105 and BB7 brakes. Then got an ex-demo TRP Parabox for cheap. That's virtually as good as full hydraulics. Then turned up 11 speed hydraulic shifters and brakes heavily discounted as they were wrong hand drive. Fitted them UK style with no problems. Probably over 15k miles on the frame by now and it looks shabby.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    Thanks @veronese68 . Intrigued by wrong-handed levers, are hydraulic ones designated front and rear!?

    I would probably fit hydraulic GRX, I like fancy stuff but if it's getting battered every other weekend and then ridden through winter... I don't want to be missing meals to buy new cassettes etc.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
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  • Just like rim brakes, hydraulic brakes are usually set up opposite to us on the continent, with right brifter operating rear caliper.

    The orange ADV 8.9s are now available to order in M and L properly on the Halfords site btw.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686

    Just like rim brakes, hydraulic brakes are usually set up opposite to us on the continent, with right brifter operating rear caliper.

    The orange ADV 8.9s are now available to order in M and L properly on the Halfords site btw.


    Yeh but you just swap them over.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    Ben6899 said:

    Just like rim brakes, hydraulic brakes are usually set up opposite to us on the continent, with right brifter operating rear caliper.

    The orange ADV 8.9s are now available to order in M and L properly on the Halfords site btw.


    Yeh but you just swap them over.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Yes, just swap them over. They were listed as being left front and right rear. I thought I'd just swap them over, replacing the olives and bleeding as necessary. But when they were delivered they weren't even connected. Just that the left lever was in a bag with the rear caliper. So I just connected then UK style and only paid half price for the added hassle of almost nothing.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686

    Ben6899 said:

    Just like rim brakes, hydraulic brakes are usually set up opposite to us on the continent, with right brifter operating rear caliper.

    The orange ADV 8.9s are now available to order in M and L properly on the Halfords site btw.


    Yeh but you just swap them over.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Yes, just swap them over. They were listed as being left front and right rear. I thought I'd just swap them over, replacing the olives and bleeding as necessary. But when they were delivered they weren't even connected. Just that the left lever was in a bag with the rear caliper. So I just connected then UK style and only paid half price for the added hassle of almost nothing.

    Absolute steal.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • nibnob21
    nibnob21 Posts: 207
    Agree with heading towards CX if you want something more road oriented. I've recently got a CX for wet weather/winter commuting and it's great. Came with mudguard mounts and had the hydraulic discs and 1x setup that I was after. I'm able to set the pedal, saddle and bar positions to match my road bike exactly so it suits me perfectly. Wide forks allow for plenty of tyre clearance if that's your thing. I went for the Ribble CX AL which they seem to be increasing the price of every time I look, but it's SRAM which you may not like (though personally I have no issue with swapping between SRAM and Shimano shifters).
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    Thanks for this nibnob! Well worth a look.

    Don't mind SRAM - got Red on the Condor.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
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  • nibnob21
    nibnob21 Posts: 207
    Ben6899 said:

    Thanks for this nibnob! Well worth a look.

    Don't mind SRAM - got Red on the Condor.

    Yep just seen that was someone else saying they're not as keen on SRAM.

    I swapped the cassette for a smaller range and stuck some more road oriented tyres on and it works great for me. My only tiny complaint is there is no mudguard mounting point on the crown of the fork (which is obviously never an issue when you have rim brakes), the only mounts are on the bottom of the forks. It's meant that to get decent length mudguards on I've had to fashion an ugly solution out of cable ties and cut up old inner tube to protect the paint at the crown. A small compromise on what is otherwise an ideal setup for me. With mudguards on, tyres switched etc it comes in around 10kgs in medium.