*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gravel Bikes (modern touring) Under $2K

I built up my own gravel mutt from parts I had around, but it's too much the touring bike for long gravel road rides or modern unpaved touring: camping gear is now lighter, so too should be the bike.

Selection rationals:
- Off-the-peg, because one's own build is too spendy.
- Canti brakes are derided, but they are still easier to maintain, allow you to run a more compliant fork and allow plenty of tire clearance.
- Disks are the fashion now, but there isn't the need if you set up your cantis right, and use wide-profile like the CR720.    I will not suggest hydraulic brakes for use far afield.
- Steel frame for best value by pricepoint.
- Shimano Tiagra quality grouppo, or better.
- Geometry more slack than road, but less than touring.
- Bar-end shifters or brifters?  There's an argument for both.  Certainly not on the down-tube.  Gevenalle Retro-Shifters might be best, but never come standard.

Here's my list of the bikes.

Cantilever Brakes

All City Space Horse is the closest to a one-bike to rule them all, but 2015 Tiagra chainrings are ugly!

Surly Cross Check is nearly the same thing, but has a bottom-bracket higher than ideal.

Disc Brakes

Raleigh Clubman Disc: not a real gravel-bike, but works in a pinch and a hell of a price-point.  Best all-around bike with discs?  That ugly chainring again!

Raleigh Tamland 1

Salsa Vaya 2


Kona Rove


  1. I'm curious about why you prefer wide profile cantis. The information I've read suggests that wide profiles are easier to set up, but tend to be less powerful than well adjusted low profiles. Some people like the 720s, I found them lacking power, though I'm not sure what was significantly different about my setup.

    1. I never read narrow-profile stop better; read quite the opposite. Curious. I do like the 720s better than what I had before. I've read that the switch to narrow from wide, which were previously common, was because people were getting caught up on them on mount/dismount: a cyclcross issue, and not one on the fork but on the seatstays. I also read that the lower the saddle-wire, the better the mechanical advantage, and have had success with that. You might also try dual-compound pads.

    2. 'Mini-Vs' may be the best option.

    3. heres a mathmatical analysis of cantilever brake geometry: http://www.circleacycles.com/cantilevers/canti-geometry.pdf

      Also, SRAM's website for Avid shorty ultimates notes: The Shorty Ultimate is available in a pre-set wide or narrow stance which allows for greater power (narrow) or increased mud clearance (wide).

      Yes, lower straddle cable=more power, but it only affects low profile brakes to any noticeable extent (see graphs in CircleACycles article).

      for my bike, mini v's wouldn't clear the fender.

    4. Hey, I'm an Arts grad, not an engineer, so not going to argue. I do know I can now lock up my front wheel easily, should I want to, but couldn't before.