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Gravel Bike Thread

July 14, 2021, 10:21 a.m.
Posts: 4889
Joined: July 9, 2004

Posted by: craw

Totally. My mountain bike rides require a drive and then tend to be super intense due to the nature of the shore. An instant steep long climb with no warmup then white hot intensity the whole way straight down. I prefer my mountain bike when I want to 100% clear my brain, replace it with 100% focus. My gravel bike is for the opposite experience. Ride straight out the door. Look at stuff, cruise, drift in and out or maintain tempo, explore new places, at intersections opt for the way I haven't been before, etc. I find if I need to clear my head I ride the mountain. If I need to think and work through stuff the gravel bike is a better choice for turning stuff over. Reconnecting with spaces is a nice change to riding defined trails. There are so many spots around Vancouver you would never bother to ride on an enduro bike.

Whoa you just described me to a t. 

I use my MTB as a form of focus and mediation from stress. Don’t focus on the ride you crash. Gravel bike has proven to be a great way to solve work and life challenges and think things through

I love bicycles

July 14, 2021, 11:42 a.m.
Posts: 1090
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Posted by: craw

Totally. My mountain bike rides require a drive and then tend to be super intense due to the nature of the shore. An instant steep long climb with no warmup then white hot intensity the whole way straight down. I prefer my mountain bike when I want to 100% clear my brain, replace it with 100% focus. My gravel bike is for the opposite experience. Ride straight out the door. Look at stuff, cruise, drift in and out or maintain tempo, explore new places, at intersections opt for the way I haven't been before, etc. I find if I need to clear my head I ride the mountain. If I need to think and work through stuff the gravel bike is a better choice for turning stuff over. Reconnecting with spaces is a nice change to riding defined trails. There are so many spots around Vancouver you would never bother to ride on an enduro bike.

Good post - I totally get what you are saying. 

So what are some examples of locations & routes where you guys take your gravel bikes? I know it would do the trick just to ride around town but would you specifically drive out to like an FSR and just cruise around?

July 14, 2021, 12:32 p.m.
Posts: 14403
Joined: Feb. 19, 2003

Fishermans out to the Resevoir in the LSCR is a good one. Have bombed around the delta watershed and out to the boundary bay - couple of times. Second Narrows to Trans Canada trail to Burnaby mountain is also good.  A bunch of good stuff in Whistler.

Just popping around neighborhoods and finding little connector trails can be a blast as well.  

Speed and distance are what these bikes are best at. If it gets pokey and technical (even Bridle level) it’s doable, but you feel all the limitations


 Last edited by: Couch_Surfer on July 14, 2021, 12:37 p.m., edited 3 times in total.
July 14, 2021, 1:38 p.m.
Posts: 1668
Joined: Aug. 6, 2009

Something like a road ride out to Steveston, but coming back along the West Dyke and trails in Pacific Spirit and through UBC. You could probably do the gravel sections on a road bike with 25/23 tires, but it would be slow and sketchy.

There are some neat link ups on FSRs around Squamish, like Squamish Valley to Chance Creek over to High Falls Creek and back out to the S2S.

Check out the Landyachtz link posted above, lots of good suggestions there.


 Last edited by: PaulB on July 14, 2021, 2:03 p.m., edited 2 times in total.
July 14, 2021, 2:47 p.m.
Posts: 1090
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

So is a gravel bike much different than a commuter/hybrid style bike?

July 14, 2021, 3:28 p.m.
Posts: 1446
Joined: Feb. 17, 2009

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

So is a gravel bike much different than a commuter/hybrid style bike?

Not really. Most "gravel" bikes are shipped with drop bar vs flat bars on most commuters/hybrid bikes.  Fancier tubing as fancier brands are getting into the market. More brackets for longer rides, usually two inside the main triangle and then one at the front of the top tube for accessories or under the frame for mounting an extra bottle (that will get pelted with dirt from the front wheel). Nothing as extensive as Surly frames though that seem to have mounting brackets everywhere including the rear triangle and fork.

July 14, 2021, 4:32 p.m.
Posts: 143
Joined: May 1, 2018

It depends on how you set them up, and when you're on smallish tyres with no suspension, small changes to geo are noticeable. Some of the new school gravel bikes (like the Evil) are overkill in my experience. Yes, they're stable at warp speed, but they're also noticeably less agile, especially when you're bunny hopping stuff or changing direction quickly (like you do a lot of when you take your CX / Gravel bike on mtb trails).

This is my favourite personal bike of all time, it was sadly stolen (using a carjack to bend steel bars and doors no less). It was the proto Moots Di2 bike I designed with them way back. The sliding dropouts were less about SS and more because we all knew thru axle disc was coming. There's an image of the bike when it was first built too - hydro wasn't a thing at that point and as has been mentioned above, tyre choices were very limited.

I've just recently had a replacement (not a Moots) built, but it was lost for months in the Covid logistics fiasco. It's turned up, but is in the wrong country and will be a while before I can build.

For me front derailleurs are still irreplaceable on long gravel rides, relatively aggressive geo works best, and comfort is king. 

There's something so satisfying about riding inappropriate trails and places on a CX bike.

July 14, 2021, 4:45 p.m.
Posts: 146
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Very nice, Heinous. Extra points for the comfy seatpost.

July 14, 2021, 4:56 p.m.
Posts: 14403
Joined: Feb. 19, 2003

Damn that Moots is a stunner.

July 15, 2021, 12:55 a.m.
Posts: 1070
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: Heinous

It depends on how you set them up, and when you're on smallish tyres with no suspension, small changes to geo are noticeable. Some of the new school gravel bikes (like the Evil) are overkill in my experience. Yes, they're stable at warp speed, but they're also noticeably less agile, especially when you're bunny hopping stuff or changing direction quickly (like you do a lot of when you take your CX / Gravel bike on mtb trails).

This is my favourite personal bike of all time, it was sadly stolen (using a carjack to bend steel bars and doors no less). It was the proto Moots Di2 bike I designed with them way back. The sliding dropouts were less about SS and more because we all knew thru axle disc was coming. There's an image of the bike when it was first built too - hydro wasn't a thing at that point and as has been mentioned above, tyre choices were very limited.

I've just recently had a replacement (not a Moots) built, but it was lost for months in the Covid logistics fiasco. It's turned up, but is in the wrong country and will be a while before I can build.

For me front derailleurs are still irreplaceable on long gravel rides, relatively aggressive geo works best, and comfort is king. 

There's something so satisfying about riding inappropriate trails and places on a CX bike.

I think your bike is everyone's favourite of all time. I love the green CK bits. I am impressed with the drop to your bars - that is some serious back flexibility you have there. You going CK on your new bike? Colour choice? I always wanted the bourbon stuff but my wife says it will look like poo.

July 15, 2021, 12:58 a.m.
Posts: 1070
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: rnayel

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

So is a gravel bike much different than a commuter/hybrid style bike?

Not really. Most "gravel" bikes are shipped with drop bar vs flat bars on most commuters/hybrid bikes.  Fancier tubing as fancier brands are getting into the market. More brackets for longer rides, usually two inside the main triangle and then one at the front of the top tube for accessories or under the frame for mounting an extra bottle (that will get pelted with dirt from the front wheel). Nothing as extensive as Surly frames though that seem to have mounting brackets everywhere including the rear triangle and fork.

There are some similarities but I think you would find the ride quite different. In order to maintain traction on gravel I need a lot of weight on the front wheel. This is enabled by a low stack and a longer stem and a dropper bar. I think you would find a commuter sits most people too upright and would be a bit sketchy on gravel. If all you want to do is cruise around at slowish speeds - no different. If you want to go fast on gravel there is a world of difference.

July 15, 2021, 1:40 a.m.
Posts: 796
Joined: Nov. 21, 2002

Love riding gravel bikes. Started riding them because I didn't want to end up in hospital with COVID going on and just love it now. True adventure, one bike, go anywhere rides like when we were kids. Here's my current ride, 2021 Brodie Romax Carbon.

July 15, 2021, 2:43 a.m.
Posts: 143
Joined: May 1, 2018

@RAHrider I was so gutted when it was stolen. I was working for a Correndon Circus athlete and he’d been followed to my workshop / home by thieves with all his bikes and wheels on the roof. I always put athlete bikes in the house / hotel room so when they broke in they only got mine. :(

CK discontinued the green and the emerald green, so sadly I won’t be able to go green again. The frame will be green instead, with black CK, although hubs and BB are silver (already had the hubs, and covid meant use the Bb I could get). I designed this and my friend Steve Rex built it - he’s a master, and I love how he flies under the radar during a time when Instagram hype seems to be the main prerequisite for selling bikes.

It’ll clear a 44mm tyre, while maintaining nice tight geo and a front derailleur side should be a very fun bike.

I don’t think I’m especially flexible (12 fractures across 5 lumbar vertebrae took care of that) and it’s not extreme drop, but it is comfy for me. The new bike will take a dropper at 30.9Ø but I don’t plan on running one normally, they’re just so stiff they wreck my back.


 Last edited by: Heinous on July 15, 2021, 2:43 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
July 15, 2021, 6:14 a.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan. 17, 2018

Posted by: craw

Totally. My mountain bike rides require a drive and then tend to be super intense due to the nature of the shore. An instant steep long climb with no warmup then white hot intensity the whole way straight down. I prefer my mountain bike when I want to 100% clear my brain, replace it with 100% focus. My gravel bike is for the opposite experience. Ride straight out the door. Look at stuff, cruise, drift in and out or maintain tempo, explore new places, at intersections opt for the way I haven't been before, etc. I find if I need to clear my head I ride the mountain. If I need to think and work through stuff the gravel bike is a better choice for turning stuff over. Reconnecting with spaces is a nice change to riding defined trails. There are so many spots around Vancouver you would never bother to ride on an enduro bike.

Sums up my experience exactly, got into gravel riding as a side effect of lockdown, but it's a different experience to mountain bikes in exactly the way you describe. Can just roll out the gate and explore.

July 15, 2021, 7 a.m.
Posts: 800
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

Posted by: craw

Totally. My mountain bike rides require a drive and then tend to be super intense due to the nature of the shore. An instant steep long climb with no warmup then white hot intensity the whole way straight down. I prefer my mountain bike when I want to 100% clear my brain, replace it with 100% focus. My gravel bike is for the opposite experience. Ride straight out the door. Look at stuff, cruise, drift in and out or maintain tempo, explore new places, at intersections opt for the way I haven't been before, etc. I find if I need to clear my head I ride the mountain. If I need to think and work through stuff the gravel bike is a better choice for turning stuff over. Reconnecting with spaces is a nice change to riding defined trails. There are so many spots around Vancouver you would never bother to ride on an enduro bike.

Good post - I totally get what you are saying. 

So what are some examples of locations & routes where you guys take your gravel bikes? I know it would do the trick just to ride around town but would you specifically drive out to like an FSR and just cruise around?

I started with the part of the Trans Canada Trail that runs by New Brighton Park under the Second Narrows bridge and heads east. There's stuff to explore all over - just set Google Maps to 'Cycling' and suddenly there's gravel all over the place! Lower Seymour/Fishermans, Burnaby Mountain. Connect the trail above Riverside Drive across the bridge, across Braemar-Montroyal over the dam, across the Millstream trail to Cypress and beyond. The gravel bike really turned me on to secret spots all over the city. 

I've never put this bike on my car. What would be the point in that?

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