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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #1 

Hello all.  I am brand new to the forum here [wave] so thanks in advance for sharing your expertise.   

I am also fairly new to the gravel biking world, and I'm in the midst of shopping for a new bike.  My god, who knew that bike shopping would be harder and more stressful than shopping for a new car?!  I would love your thoughts on my options here and any other relevant advice you might have.  

About me:
6'3", 210lbs. A thoroughly amateur biker.  A wannabe weekend warrior.  I love to get out onto the bike paths and trails when I can.  It's a therapeutic reprieve from the pressures of a family, house and a sedentary desk job. My current ride is a full suspension GT hybrid with MTB gearing.  It's heavier than hell and rides like your grandpa's Cadillac. Big, squishy and comfortable but slow.  I usually ride 25-28 miles when I go out.   Mostly, I'm on the street and paved bike trails.  Flat gravel once in a while, but I'm too old to be screaming through the trees on two wheels anymore! (44, with a history of back and knee issues.)  My goal is to be faster while staying relatively comfortable and having fun.

For my new bike, I have a max budget of $2,000.  (I am learning that mid-summer is not the best time to get a bike!  But I don't want to wait for new models and sales in the Fall.)  In terms of specs, I'm aiming squarely at the sweet spot of Shimano 105.  Not really into the SRAM double click thing.  Carbon fork (if not full carbon/composite) would be great.  I really like the internal wiring that most of these bikes have.  Other than that, I just want the lightest and best machine I can get for my 2 Gs.

Right now, I am waiting on my favorite local shop to give me a proposal for upgrading one of the lower end Kona Rove models with 105 components and maybe better wheels/tires. Other than that, here are the bikes on my radar:

  • Kona Rove NRB DL 
  • Specialized Diverge Comp E5
  • Specialized Sequoia Elite 105
  • Scott Speedster 10
  • Cannondale CaadX 105 SE
  • Giant AnyRoad Advance 1
  • Raleigh Tamland 2 (Why does Raleigh name all their models after weathermen?!  Who brilliant marketing idea was that?!  Though props for the 'Anchorman' reference.)


One challenge I am having is that it seems very few shops stock 60cm+ frames which makes it hard to ride a bunch of bikes before I decide.  Also, I really like my local shop.  It's not a chain and the people are great.  But they don't sell any of the manufacturers above except Kona and Raleigh.  I could always buy online and pay them to assemble and service it for me... I feel torn!


Many thanks for your advice on these rides.  Any others I should really consider?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Zack

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DrSpoke

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Reply with quote  #2 
Just saw these in an email from Merlin today.  The Ridley X-Trails run very large though not sure whether or not at 6'3" a Med would be large enough or not.  I'm 5'8" and riding an XS.  It's a great bike at a great price.

https://www.merlincycles.com/ridley-x-trail-c-ultegra-carbon-gravel-bike-ex-demo-114646.html
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #3 
If you had a Raleigh dealer nearby and could get some fitting I wouldn't pass on the discontinued Raleigh Roker Sport which is 2x. I think it's sora or something like that but when it wears out you could upgrade. From what I know the bike is listed at 22 lbs. and guessing that is for a 56 cm bike. I had the tamland 1 but it weighs 25 lbs and then bought the Roker Comp which weighs 20 lbs. Not really sold on the 1x Sram either and might replace it. I don't know much about the Willard but that is another option. You can set up a Corporate account with Raleigh and save some  major buck
s. You might be also able to buy a used Roker Sport off Amazon or Craigs List.

Good luck
Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks guys.  I will check out those options.

What do you think of the idea to buy a decent bike with Claris or Sora parts, then pay the shop to remove and install something higher up the chain?  Is that just a dumb idea?
Zack


Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman
If you had a Raleigh dealer nearby and could get some fitting I wouldn't pass on the discontinued Raleigh Roker Sport which is 2x. I think it's sora or something like that but when it wears out you could upgrade. From what I know the bike is listed at 22 lbs. and guessing that is for a 56 cm bike. I had the tamland 1 but it weighs 25 lbs and then bought the Roker Comp which weighs 20 lbs. Not really sold on the 1x Sram either and might replace it. I don't know much about the Willard but that is another option. You can set up a Corporate account with Raleigh and save some  major buck
s. You might be also able to buy a used Roker Sport off Amazon or Craigs List.

Good luck
Zman
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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #5 
That is a sweet bike.  Any concerns with it being an ex-demo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrSpoke
Just saw these in an email from Merlin today.  The Ridley X-Trails run very large though not sure whether or not at 6'3" a Med would be large enough or not.  I'm 5'8" and riding an XS.  It's a great bike at a great price.

https://www.merlincycles.com/ridley-x-trail-c-ultegra-carbon-gravel-bike-ex-demo-114646.html
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58
Thanks guys.  I will check out those options.

What do you think of the idea to buy a decent bike with Claris or Sora parts, then pay the shop to remove and install something higher up the chain?  Is that just a dumb idea?
Zack




Not a dumb idea at all. Had I had to do it all over again I probably would have bought the Roker Sport to get the 2x. The shop should give you some decent money for the parts on the bike since they are still new. 

Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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pauley

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Reply with quote  #7 
The Rove NRB DL looks like it would be a great ride. And it would be ready to go out of the box. Unfortunately I see 58cm is the largest size. I wonder if they make a 60 and it just doesn't say so on their web site. Might be worth checking with your local bike shop. Whatever you do, I suggest utilizing your local shop as much as possible as they will be a good resource. 
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DrSpoke

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58
That is a sweet bike.  Any concerns with it being an ex-demo?



The ad says <100 miles.  My Ridley is built very stout so I wouldn't worry much about scratches and such.  And doubt they would sell something w/anything w/structural damage.  But it probably wouldn't hurt to ask for more info and/or photos of the actual frame.

I would check the fit as the selection is limited.  At your height, I think you may be a Large or possible between a Medium and Large.  Personally, when I'm in between sizes, I go the size smaller.  But many like to go the other way.

So, if it fits you, I doubt you'll find a better bike in that price range.
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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrSpoke


The ad says <100 miles.  My Ridley is built very stout so I wouldn't worry much about scratches and such.  And doubt they would sell something w/anything w/structural damage.  But it probably wouldn't hurt to ask for more info and/or photos of the actual frame.

I would check the fit as the selection is limited.  At your height, I think you may be a Large or possible between a Medium and Large.  Personally, when I'm in between sizes, I go the size smaller.  But many like to go the other way.

So, if it fits you, I doubt you'll find a better bike in that price range.


Great, thanks again! I really like that bike!  It looks pretty badass too!

I am trying to compare the geometry of the Medium Ridley to the geometry of XL bikes from other manufacturers to see how different it might be. [confused]   A head-to-head comparison doesn't really work as there are too many different variables and dimensions. (Special thanks to Captain Obvious for that insight.)  

Are there particular dimensions or measurements that are generally considered to be the most critical to get right? 

Anyway, I think the next step is to find a local shop that sells this bike and try to ride it.  



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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #10 
I am still very interested in anyone's experience with the Specialized Diverge and the Cannondale CaadX.  The Cannondale especially seems like a great bike for the price point.  I looked closely at the Synapse but I read some reviews suggesting it was overly "creaky."  Being over 200 lbs, that was a red flag.  


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DrSpoke

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58


Great, thanks again! I really like that bike!  It looks pretty badass too!

I am trying to compare the geometry of the Medium Ridley to the geometry of XL bikes from other manufacturers to see how different it might be. [confused]   A head-to-head comparison doesn't really work as there are too many different variables and dimensions. (Special thanks to Captain Obvious for that insight.)  

Are there particular dimensions or measurements that are generally considered to be the most critical to get right? 

Anyway, I think the next step is to find a local shop that sells this bike and try to ride it.  





I would say stack and reach are the most important for fit and also most comparable from model to model.  After that, I use top tube length - that is horizontal (effective) top tube length.  Other measurement may be important based on personal preferences - wheelbase, bottom bracket drop, trail, etc.
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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrSpoke


I would say stack and reach are the most important for fit and also most comparable from model to model.  After that, I use top tube length - that is horizontal (effective) top tube length.  Other measurement may be important based on personal preferences - wheelbase, bottom bracket drop, trail, etc.


I emailed the nice folks at Merlin about this bike.  They were basically like "yeah, you'd be bit cramped."  Plus, I think I'd have had a long wait for shipping from England.  So moving on...still thanks!
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drwelby

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58

What do you think of the idea to buy a decent bike with Claris or Sora parts, then pay the shop to remove and install something higher up the chain? 



You'll never beat the OEMs for parts and labor so unless your shop is really generous with parts credit you're better off riding the old parts and upgrading when they wear out.
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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thanks for the tip!  I started a new thread to keep things focused. [thumb]


http://ridinggravel.forumchitchat.com/post/customization-options-from-my-shop-carbon-vs-steel-fork-9793044?pid=1304803518#post1304803518
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Volsung

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Reply with quote  #15 

Diverges are great gravel racing or road bikes.  If you're riding for comfort or distance and not trying to win, get a Sequoia because aluminum Diverges have rear tire clearance issues.

 

I haven't heard anything remarkable about the Giant gravel bikes.  I read a few reviews where they were called "harsh."


As far as upgrading parts, ordering them from the EU will be way cheaper than the shop will do it.  Either upgrade to the next level bike or use the current stuff till they bother you.  I'm in the camp where I think anything Tiagra and above is fine.  Wheels and tires matter more.

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Jeb

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58

Hello all.  I am brand new to the forum here [wave] so thanks in advance for sharing your expertise.   

I am also fairly new to the gravel biking world, and I'm in the midst of shopping for a new bike.  My god, who knew that bike shopping would be harder and more stressful than shopping for a new car?!  I would love your thoughts on my options here and any other relevant advice you might have.  

About me:
6'3", 210lbs. A thoroughly amateur biker.  A wannabe weekend warrior.  I love to get out onto the bike paths and trails when I can.  It's a therapeutic reprieve from the pressures of a family, house and a sedentary desk job. My current ride is a full suspension GT hybrid with MTB gearing.  It's heavier than hell and rides like your grandpa's Cadillac. Big, squishy and comfortable but slow.  I usually ride 25-28 miles when I go out.   Mostly, I'm on the street and paved bike trails.  Flat gravel once in a while, but I'm too old to be screaming through the trees on two wheels anymore! (44, with a history of back and knee issues.)  My goal is to be faster while staying relatively comfortable and having fun.

For my new bike, I have a max budget of $2,000.  (I am learning that mid-summer is not the best time to get a bike!  But I don't want to wait for new models and sales in the Fall.)  In terms of specs, I'm aiming squarely at the sweet spot of Shimano 105.  Not really into the SRAM double click thing.  Carbon fork (if not full carbon/composite) would be great.  I really like the internal wiring that most of these bikes have.  Other than that, I just want the lightest and best machine I can get for my 2 Gs.

Right now, I am waiting on my favorite local shop to give me a proposal for upgrading one of the lower end Kona Rove models with 105 components and maybe better wheels/tires. Other than that, here are the bikes on my radar:

  • Kona Rove NRB DL 
  • Specialized Diverge Comp E5
  • Specialized Sequoia Elite 105
  • Scott Speedster 10
  • Cannondale CaadX 105 SE
  • Giant AnyRoad Advance 1
  • Raleigh Tamland 2 (Why does Raleigh name all their models after weathermen?!  Who brilliant marketing idea was that?!  Though props for the 'Anchorman' reference.)


One challenge I am having is that it seems very few shops stock 60cm+ frames which makes it hard to ride a bunch of bikes before I decide.  Also, I really like my local shop.  It's not a chain and the people are great.  But they don't sell any of the manufacturers above except Kona and Raleigh.  I could always buy online and pay them to assemble and service it for me... I feel torn!


Many thanks for your advice on these rides.  Any others I should really consider?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Zack

Have you thought about the Fuji Jari. They have 2 models, the 1.7 at $1300 and the 1.3 at $1700, that come with a double crank. And they are available in  58 and 61 cm sizes. The specs seem pretty good.

 http://www.fujibikes.com/usa/bikes/road/adventure-and-touring/jari 

 

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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #17 
Great thread...have you looked at Salsa at all? I recently purchase a Vaya Tiagra as a second bike (due extended periods of time working away from home in FL) and that bike changed how I view riding. I simply love the ride. I almost bought a Surly Straggler...that's another brand that you may consider.

Just my 2 cents...in the end test ride anything you can and work with your LBS. Good luck!

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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #18 
Good stuff, thank you all!  

@TimmyR I have seen the Surly's but haven't really considered them.  The Straggler is a SRAM build which I'm not really into.  Same with Salsa Vaya (other than the Tiagra bike you mentioned).  When you say it changed how you view riding, what do you mean? 


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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #19 
Before I go insane with more things to consider, I've narrowed it down to two options.  Let me know what you guys think!

Really very similar on paper.  The Kona build is a few hundred bucks cheaper--and I could resell the Sora parts they take off.  I guess the only question is if there is risk in deviating from the OEM build.  Shop is good I think.

I thought about taking the savings and upgrading the wheels and tires, but I don't know much about wheels/tires at this point. 

What do you all think? 


Option 1: Customized Kona Build (based on Kona Rove DL)

FrameKona 6061 Alum
ForkAluminum
CranksetSora
CassetteShimano 105
DrivetrainShimano 105
Bottom BracketShimano
BrakesTRP Spyre C Mech Disc
TiresSchwalbe Delta 35c
Wheels            WTB SX19



Total price including labor: $1680

Option 2: Specialized Diverge Comp E5 (no customizations)
FrameSpecialized E5 Prem Alum
ForkCarbon
CranksetPraxis Alba 2D
CassetteShimano 105
DrivetrainShimano 105
Bottom BracketShimano 105
BrakesTRP Spyre C Mech Disc
TiresEspoir Sport, 30mm
Wheels          Axis Elite Disc


Total Price: $2000





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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zack58
Good stuff, thank you all!  

@TimmyR I have seen the Surly's but haven't really considered them.  The Straggler is a SRAM build which I'm not really into.  Same with Salsa Vaya (other than the Tiagra bike you mentioned).  When you say it changed how you view riding, what do you mean? 



I'd been riding a '14 Specialized Crux. That's a 'cross bike (carbon) and has a race geometry. I bough the Salsa to ride road/dirt/gravel when I am in FL working. The first ride was eye opening for me. The huge change in geometry and difference in ride from my stiff carbon bike to this steel bike made me realize I want to ride a more comfortable bike now. The Vaya Tiaga made me go get a bike fitting and make some major changed to my Crux. I am now researching a replacement for my Crux. I am not sure what I'll ultimately buy but I am likely leaning towards something more like my Vaya and less like my Crux. The Vaya is just a really comfortable ride. I did not know what a difference geometry and material would make. Now I do. I want to go ride a Ti bike soon to see how that feels.

I learned a lot just buying and riding the Vaya. I also am a fan of the Shimano groupo so far. It seems to shift better and more consistently than my SRAM 10-speed but it's also newer.  Hopefully that answers your question.

Good luck. There are so many great options out there, I am sure you'll be happy with whatever you decide on.

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drwelby

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Reply with quote  #21 
Given that you want a fast feeling bike, don't plan much offroad, and have a bad back, the Diverge probably fits the bill better. They tend to have a centimeter more stack which will get the bars higher while having more of a race-influenced design. 

Though you have your mind more or less made up, a bike I thought you might enjoy is the Masi Speciale Randonneur.
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jeremyanbart

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Reply with quote  #22 
Just my 2 cents to add to the great responses already added.
Recently bought the Tamland 1 (2017 model) and the only change made was the tires as they standard setup is "tubeless ready". Replaced by the shop with Panaracer Gravelking 38mm which feel amazing and wide enough for everything. Also swapped pedals but it was nice that they came with some platforms which most come without now.

Steel frame is totally the way to go in my humble opinion but test em out back to back. I'm sure carbon would be great too but for 2k you may be better off with steel or Aluminum and a second set of wheels. I love the way the tires and frame soak up the bumps and I wasn't worried about the lightest bike possible as I'm going to be using a racks and/or fenders when commuting, touring etc. I'll leave everything off for trail riding, maybe but so far, the only time I won't ride is for road rides and lots if hills where I'm not touring i.e. century rides, fast group rides, hill training etc.

I think the 2 x may be better for me long term with more range of gearing and cheaper cassette changes! I find I go through drivetrains quickly.
105 on this Tamland 1 is amazing!

Let me know if you have any questions.
Good luck and you can't go wrong.
Jeremy

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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #23 
Great input Jeremy...I can attest to how much I enjoy my steel Vaya with 40c WTB Nanos as well, relaxed feel and soaks up a lot.
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Tim

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Zack58

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Reply with quote  #24 
Thanks guys.  I am going to go back and take a look at what steel-framed bikes might make sense for me.

Edit: Tamland 1 is aluminum, no?

https://www.raleighusa.com/tamland-108447
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drwelby

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Reply with quote  #25 
Jamis Renegade Exploit is just over $2k with 105/hydros. Renegade Expat is $1200 with Tiagra.
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