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New to Gravel...

Brew_TriBrew_Tri Member, Rooster Endurance Member
Alright, I'm signed up for the belgian waffle(wafer) ride here in San Diego(Whales vagina). I am enacting N+1 to get some new wheels. What do I need to know before buying a gravel bike? Can I wear road shoes? I was going to go with 2x11? Disc brakes? What kind of tires do I ride? Am I overthinking this?

This bike will probably come with me to michigan in June, so @Tad_M better have some insight!
M_WareJennifer PostCraig_DKenElPescadoPelado
Yay Sports! :#
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    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    edited January 14
    Carbon Sprecialized Diverge (has the future shock which obliterates all other bike features for gravel).
    There is zero debate if you ride any moderately rough gravel more than 1 hour.

    It has discs, so you get the right stuff. 2x11 or 1x is a toss up, both have pluses/minuses. Dont worry about tires, the stock will be fine, and you will find so many compelling, equally good options for different surfaces later that you will loose your job obsessing over minutiae.
    Brew_TriCraig_DKenElPescadoPelado
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    Also, I used road shoes for 10buears on gravel, and the first MI coast to coast race. Switched to a MTB shoe last year. I think I'm going back to road. I have had one occaision where mud is a problem on the roadie stuff, so if it will be a muddy day, I'll say MTB setup for sure. Otherwise, I like the long duration benefits of the roadie shoes and cleats.
    Thia is probably gravel heresy, but I was riding gravel for 10 years before it got a name, so they can stuff it. I also rode my Sears 10 speed on dirt trails in grade school...
    Brew_Tri
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
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    RashRash Member
    on the road shoes v mtn bike shoes - mud is something to consider, but for me it comes down to how much potential is there for having to hike a bike. some races like to include sections that are unrideable or the conditions on the day won't allow for it. I hate walking in road shoes - hate it even more when it's off road/off camber conditions.

    The other consideration is technical terrain. if you think you might be pulling your foot a lot due to sketchy sections or tight, crowded turns, that is usually easier in mtn bike shoes - not to mention they provide better traction when you actually touch down. Most gravel rides won't really present these conditions, but something to consider.
    AaronWebsteyBrew_Tri
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    Best consideration of all @Rash!

    I never have to cyclocross it, so that hadn't even registered.
    This is why the Roost is great. Other places, I would have been forced to change my forum name.
    AaronWebsteyJennifer PostBrew_TriKenElPescadoPelado
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    Jennifer PostJennifer Post Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter
    If interested in gravel videos, check out Ansel Dickey’s company. They do good work. https://www.vermontsocial.media/content
    Brew_Tri
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    Brew_TriBrew_Tri Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    I've ridden a couple of times now and I see why this is so fun. Thanks for the help so far. Got a few more questions!


    Any recommendations on gloves? I tend to shy away from full finger because I have long fingers...like alien long.


    Also tires? I'll be riding some pretty rocky stuff. 40mm were recommended by others. I had some instability but I think my 38s are just too hard.
    Yay Sports! :#
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    Are you running your 38s tubeless? You will fell negligible difference from 38 to 40, all else equal, so you may wish to try a softer casing. Probably you can run down near 35 psi in the 38s tubeless, but you have to experiment up and down and see what that tire likes . Largest benefit comes from ditching tubes and running a properly low pressure. Smaller gains with tire switches after that IMHO.
    I'll bet @gregk can add lots here.
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    Brew_Tri said:

    Alright, I'm signed up for the belgian waffle(wafer) ride here in San Diego(Whales vagina). I am enacting N+1 to get some new wheels. What do I need to know before buying a gravel bike? Can I wear road shoes? I was going to go with 2x11? Disc brakes? What kind of tires do I ride? Am I overthinking this?

    This bike will probably come with me to michigan in June, so @Tad_M better have some insight!

    Thanks for the nudge, @Tad_M .

    Lots to unpack, and these are some broad questions. In reality, there really shouldn't be so much paralysis by analysis here, but alas the bike industry has created SO many options that it's very easy to get overwhelmed. I like to rant about that.

    Anyway... I haven't ridden that course, but have heard that it can be done on anything from a road bike to a mountain bike. Most seem to pick something in the "All Road" or "gravel" realm, which are basically what we used to call cyclocross bikes (i.e. road bikes with fatter tires). Sometimes these bikes are also called Road Plus, when used with 650b wheels. If you want my very honest opinion about 650b, that's here.

    To address your specifics:

    What do I need to know before buying a gravel bike?
    -It's just a road bike with fat tires. These days it also includes disc brakes (but so do many road bikes). Suspension is optional, but can be great. If your bike doesn't come with suspension, the Redshift stem is a great option to take the edge off impacts.
    -For brakes, if you're going hydraulic disc, I think Shimano is 100% the way to go, due to their historic delivery of great reliability, and the fact that mineral oil is a lot easier to live with than DOT fluid.

    Can I wear road shoes?
    -Yes. I prefer MTB shoes/pedals due to their performance in bad conditions.

    I was going to go with 2x11? Disc brakes?
    -Discs are pretty much your only choice these days. I really like the ease and performance of V rim brakes, but they're antiques now.
    -2x11 - sure. Here are my thoughts on 1x vs 2x (I'm sure I've written about it many times elsewhere, too).

    What kind of tires do I ride?
    -Depends on the course. Others who have ridden BWR will be a better resource than me. Low pressure is your friend, within reason (i.e. you don't want to bottom out on your rims constantly and damage them).

    Am I overthinking this?
    -Yes.
    wchevronBrew_TriAaronWebstey
    The Dude at Minimal Multisport Podcast, Blog, and YouTube.
    MY PATREON!
  • Options
    mbrekk44mbrekk44 Member, POTM
    edited February 15
    The specialized pathfinder tires in a 38 are pretty bombproof and roll quick, slick in the middle with some grip on the edges. I ride a diverge. I like it, but I’ve had it two years and had I’m on my 3rd future shock. Luckily my shop is great and they warranty it. There are cool new bikes and gear coming out all the time, like every day. I wear MTB shoes, way better for hanging out in bars when you get off your bike, and much better for hike-a-bike, which happens quite a bit in gravel races. I would also get a salsa warbird or lauf true grit without any hesitation.
    M_WareTad_MBrew_Tri
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    ItsShugItsShug Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member, POTM
    I'm a huge fan of the maxxis ramblers 38's. Would rather run 40's but my frame won't allow. But we have some sharper lime stone base gravel here
    Demotivational Speaker
    Master of the Absurd - King of all Polls
    Kansas Native
    Tweets Me  Follow ItsShug
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    DallasDallas Member
    edited February 19
    Salsa 2016 Warbird here. No major maintenance issues to this point. Run 38's for tires, tubeless. I'm only about 145 pounds so i don't run into the issues Shug does with the flint/limestone here in Kansas. Disc breaks. 2x11. I prefer my feet to be locked into my pedals so i won't ever go without.
    Brew_TriTad_MMattAaronWebstey
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    M_WareM_Ware Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter
    Hey @Dallas, welcome to club crazy!
    AaronWebstey
    Keeper of the Cowbell
    Queen of All Donut Awards
    Groovy Auntie to Roosters everywhere
  • Options
    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Is this gravel trend still a thing?
    AaronWebstey
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    @Dallas !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    Martin said:

    Is this gravel trend still a thing?

    I hope not. I liked it the way it was.
    But yes.
    MartinAaronWebsteyTad_M
    Resident Genius.
  • Options
    Brew_Tri said:

    I've ridden a couple of times now and I see why this is so fun. Thanks for the help so far. Got a few more questions!


    Any recommendations on gloves? I tend to shy away from full finger because I have long fingers...like alien long.


    Also tires? I'll be riding some pretty rocky stuff. 40mm were recommended by others. I had some instability but I think my 38s are just too hard.

    Gloves - I only wear Handup now. They're full finger though. The Boy has cut the fingers on one of his pairs for summer with no detrimental effects. Believe they have a ton of sizes, may accomodate alien fingers.

    Tires - on more gnarly stuff, Vittoria Terreno is bomb-proof, still pretty light and rolls well. I like the Ramblers too, but slightly less bomb-proof. Gravel Kings can burn in hell IMHO. Have also run Michelin Powers and Challenge Gravel Grinders. Mezcals on bikes with the clearance for 2.1".
    Brew_TriAaronWebstey
    Resident Genius.
  • Options
    Brew_TriBrew_Tri Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Martin said:

    Is this gravel trend still a thing?

    I think if I consider myself a triathlete, nothing I do is trendy.
    MartinStruangAaronWebstey
    Yay Sports! :#
  • Options
    I'm doing wafer as well... Right now I'm going to use WTB Cross Boss which are 700x35. If for sure the weather is nice and the course dry.. then I might switch to Rene Herse Bon Jon which are also 700x35.

    Gloves - HandUp
    M_WareAaronWebsteyBrew_Tri
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    @gregk , thanks for the push to the redshift stem. First ride today. Really slick. I'll be going down one step in the elastomers for my next ride, but its already great!
    gregkM_Ware
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    Any thoughts on Donnelly X’PLOR MSO?

    My front Mavic YKSION Allroad XL (that came stock with the Allroad wheels got a nice little puncture yesterday.

    700x40 if that makes a difference
  • Options
    simonsen77simonsen77 Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    The 36 MSO's have probably been my favorite gravel tire ever (when they were Clemente). I haven't tried the 40s, but would probably give them a shot.
    MattTad_M
    First #BAAW Badge Recipient
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    edited May 11
    @A_drizzle , which Terreno? I would like to try those. You have more mileage than all of us, so I value the recommendation. Also, what problems did you have with the GravelKing, and was it the SK?



    This may be blasphemy, but the old cheapie Kenda Kwicker is still my favorite gravel tire. I ran a 700 x 32 in that with tubes. On my terrain, it felt fast and cornered like a beast, and was very good in the wet and mud. Of course, it was heavy with tubes. We ride hardpack gravel road, that gets sticky muddy in wet, and has lots of loose gravel in corners. Twice per year or so, the roads get conditioned and become deep loose gravel again.

    Since then, none have cornered with confidence, although I've enjoyed more comfort and some are as fast or faster.

    In chronological order of my experience since that tire:
    Kenda Happy Medium Pro 700 x 32 tubeless and tubed - not fast, not very good at anything....
    Kenda Flintridge Pro 700 x 35 tubeless and tubed - heavy, slow, terrible at everything....
    Panaracer GravelKing SK 700 x 43 tubeless and tubed - fast, great comfort, slow in sticky wet, bad cornering
    Challenge Gravel Grinder TLR 700 x 38 tubeless - super fast, light, comfy, ok cornering, ok in wet
    Teravail Rutland 650b x 47 tubeless - like riding on a cloud, reasonably fast, ok in wet, so-so cornering

    Because I had such bad experience with the Kenda Happy Medium Pro and Flintridge Pro, I hesitate to try the new Kenda Kwicker Pro. I did many controlled A to B tests using Paul Cottrell's rig as the baseline when we would change tires, and took many data points. So when I say those tires were crap, I'm using pretty good data in my opinion.

    My 27 cents ,
    @P_Cottrell you've tried some others. Tell the good Roosters about yours.

    Matt
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
  • Options
    A_drizzleA_drizzle Member
    @Tad_M Vittoria Terreno Dry. Which I've used in wet too with good results, because I'm not fancy enough to afford both wet and dry tires/too lazy to swap them. I think the 38c, which measured at least 40 on my rims.
    And yeah it was the Gravel King SK. It picks up tiny rocks and throws them back into my frame constantly. Also the only tire I've slid out in on a corner (could be coincidence) and the only tire I've punctured and had to put a tube in (could be coincidence.) Basically that tire and I have bad blood.
    Tad_M
    Resident Genius.
  • Options
    MartinMartin Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Matt said:

    Any thoughts on Donnelly X’PLOR MSO?

    My front Mavic YKSION Allroad XL (that came stock with the Allroad wheels got a nice little puncture yesterday.

    700x40 if that makes a difference

    I can't imagine Mavic just ceasing to exist because of their current financial woes, but if they did can you pop any other TL tire on those TL rims or only the Mavic ones?
  • Options
    Tad_MTad_M Member, Rooster Endurance Member, Level 2 Supporter, POTM
    A_drizzle said:

    @Tad_M Vittoria Terreno Dry. Which I've used in wet too with good results, because I'm not fancy enough to afford both wet and dry tires/too lazy to swap them. I think the 38c, which measured at least 40 on my rims.
    And yeah it was the Gravel King SK. It picks up tiny rocks and throws them back into my frame constantly. Also the only tire I've slid out in on a corner (could be coincidence) and the only tire I've punctured and had to put a tube in (could be coincidence.) Basically that tire and I have bad blood.

    Thanks @A_drizzle , yep cornering sucked. Never flatted it though.
    A_drizzle
    visit Michigan July 16th to 20th - The Sworry Trials and Ode to Laz
    https://www.facebook.com/sworrytrials/
    https://www.facebook.com/OdetoLaz/
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    Any TL tire will work, the wheels follow ETRTO standards. Just had a potential deal on the XPlor.
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    Found some Schwalbe GOnes in 40mm with a tan sidewall and got a great deal, too.

    A buddy has a set of spare Maxxis Ramblers in a 38 so those will be next to try out.
    M_Ware
  • Options
    JohnnyRX7JohnnyRX7 Member
    Matt said:

    Any thoughts on Donnelly X’PLOR MSO?

    My front Mavic YKSION Allroad XL (that came stock with the Allroad wheels got a nice little puncture yesterday.

    700x40 if that makes a difference


    .I really like Donnelly tires.. I have MSO and EmO. However the have some quality control issues with roundness, you can really get some tires that have a hop look to them. Nothing I've been able to feel riding but visually not so good when spinning.
    MattM_Ware
  • Options
    P_CottrellP_Cottrell Member, Rooster Endurance Member
    Matt said:

    Found some Schwalbe GOnes in 40mm with a tan sidewall and got a great deal, too.

    A buddy has a set of spare Maxxis Ramblers in a 38 so those will be next to try out.

    I ran maxxis ramblers 40c tubeless. They were ok in general but I found them to have zero grip in corners. I took them off to try specialized sawtooth that came on my diverge and I do like their corner grip better. Next to go on are Vittoria Terreno Mix. I like the pattern. We’ll see how well they roll and grip in the corners.
    M_Ware
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator, Rooster Endurance Member
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Still trying to get more off the tarmac and onto some actual dirt more often. Cornering isn't a huge priority as I'm a wuss and suck at handling. Like most triathletes, duh.
    M_Ware

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