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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am beginning to research a new gravel bike to replace my heavily "Frankensteined" Specialized CRUX. My Crux is a '14 and was great when it fit me, but now I have lost some mobility changed my preferred riding and have had a bike fit.  My other gravel bike (lives away from home) is a Salsa Vaya Tiagra (55) that fits me well now that I changed out my cranks to a set Cobb 155mm 50/34 cranks. I do not like an aggressive geometry (like my Crux was before the riser stem). 

I have not settled on budget yet, but am interested in recommended brands/materials considering I will definitely have the crankset in-hand already.  

I like the feel of steel (Vaya), I have never ridden Ti but am told it rides a smooth.  I am thinking 700x45 and 650bx2.0 compatibility would be nice.  I like and have a set of Salsa Cowbells for handlebars.  I am currently a 20-30 mile rider hoping to do a couple of metrics next Summer in NH and Vermont near where I live. I am looking towards riding longer and more unsupported rides if that makes a difference.  This will probably be the last road/gravel/dirt/whatever bike I buy (ha!! ok maybe not).

So far Lynskey, Independent Fabrication (shop near my house in NH), Seven and Salsa have bikes I'm interested in.  If I am missing links to great posts or articles on this subject then please let me know. I read The Gravel Cyclist and am now trying to just get smarter on my options.

Thanks for any and all input.....


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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #2 
I would add 44 Cycles Huntsman to your list of custom builders: http://www.44bikes.com/road/
Kris Henry - owner / builder built me a Huntsman last summer. I'm delighted with the bike. Like you I have some age related lower back issues that require a more relaxed riding position. Bike fit has always been difficult for me - I have a long inseam (34.5") and a short torso. And, my size 11.5 fee always cause heel and toe clearance problems. My steel Huntsman is the most comfortable I've ever owned. I'm equally comfortable bashing around on our rural NH dirt roads on my 40mm gravel tires; or doing high speed group rides on my 28mm road tires. Kris is delight to work with and does spectacular custom metal shaping and welding. Here is picture that Kris took of my Huntsman:
DSC_0501.jpg 

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #3 
From what I just read I think a ti bike or even a carbon bike would be a good fit for you. In the 20 lbs. and less range if you have the money. I don't know a lot about frame geometry but if I had the money Lynskey GR60 would be one and the new Noble bike line would be also. I have a Raleigh Tamland 1 which weighs 25 lbs and then just bought a Raleigh Roker Comp. I really like the Roker Comp which is all carbon weighs 20 lbs. but is 1x Sram and wish it was 2x Shimano. The new Noble bike line is the old engineers from Raleigh which designed these bikes. If I could get my Roker Comp in 2x it would be a perfect world for me and might be available in the Noble line.


Good luck
Zman

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thefuzzycow

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Reply with quote  #4 
I'd look into the Salsa Warbird v4 when it comes out this fall. A bike truly meant for bikepacking and endurance rides. Should be a little more in the affordable price range as well. Still a somewhat upright geometry and comfortable cockpit.

http://salsacycles.com/warbird-evolution

For what its worth, have you considered a Specialized Sequoia or Diverge? Not 100% on what is "too aggressive" geometry for you, but the Future Shock on the Diverge is pretty awesome. Stand up and hammer out of the saddle feels no different. But riding in the saddle and on gravel or cobbles and such, the progressive spring in the headset absorbs some of the impact which transfers less into your forearms and shoulders. It's not for everybody, but just something else that might peek interest. I know the Diverge will fit 700x42mm tires or 650b x 47mm tires; pretty versatile for most!

Just some food for thought! Best of luck!


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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
I don't know a lot about frame geometry but if I had the money Lynskey GR60 would be one and the new Noble bike line would be also.


Zman - thanks! So I specifically did not list what I've been looking at thus far, but I will say the GR260 is on my short list.  I have not looked at Noble. I'll check that out too.

Quote:
I'd look into the Salsa Warbird v4 when it comes out this fall. A bike truly meant for bikepacking and endurance rides. Should be a little more in the affordable price range as well. Still a somewhat upright geometry and comfortable cockpit.


Fuzzy - I love Salsa (now that I own a Vaya) and have a dealer near my house...I planned to test ride one to see how it feels.  I sort of thought the Warbird was targeted towards racing, but need to just get on one and compare the geometry.



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cloudy1

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Reply with quote  #6 
Look into Horse Brand Co cycles for steel and T Lab (from Canada, but formed Ti tubing) those are probably the best bang for your buck and have gravel /allroad frames
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pushstart

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Reply with quote  #7 
If your budget-minded, would like to throw out the option of Waltly Ti (http://www.waltlytitanium.com/).  I've had them build 3 frames for me and they've all been absolutely fantastic.  They also build ti frames for some smaller brands.  Price is usually around $1k for their custom frames.  I'm happy to share details & design docs etc. for my titanium gravel bike if this option is interesting.
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blpx99

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Reply with quote  #8 
How did you find them? Why did you choose this company vs a local builder?
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pushstart

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blpx99
How did you find them? Why did you choose this company vs a local builder?


Waltly is one of the "main 3" options for mainland China custom ti (along with xacd and Titan). I spent a lot of time reading about others' experiences, especially using Andrew's http://www.spanner.org.uk/ blog.

Waltly vs. a local builder? Well, I don't have any builders that I know of within a short drive from me, so any builder relationship was going to be remote. The difference in price was primary motivation. Spending $1k on a frame is something I could justify for my commuter. I couldn't really justify 3-4x that price.

I also knew what I wanted. I ride a lot and have been riding for awhile, and spend a lot of time thinking about bike geometry, etc. I had a geometry that I liked and features (thru axle, 44mm HT) I knew I wanted. So the idea of specifying the bike myself was exciting, not scary.
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Noonievut

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Reply with quote  #10 
I bought a new gravel/bikepacking bike last week, after doing a bunch of research and test riding about five bikes. I really like the idea of 650b wheels (stock in my new Bombtrack). They can run over 2.1” tires and and there is no tie overlap. All the other bikes were 700c and all had toe overlap. This wasn’t the deciding factor, just one of a few things. I like that they’re we’re stock, as now I don’t have to spend the money in new wheels.
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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #11 
Good input on other Ti builders and 650bx2" compatibility. That is on my list for sure.  I am exploring custom steel now as well. My bike fitter (for lack of a better term) prioritizes custom /tailored builds over stock builds since the tubing and and fit can be focused on you and your planned riding style.  

I am still hoping to use a local builder but budget remains a critical point in the discussion.

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CC

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Reply with quote  #12 
I have a Salsa Vaya (2014) and a custom Ti road bike, so have some relevant perspective.

My next gravel bike, I will experiment with a China-custom Ti like Habanero or Waltly. Ideally, Vaya geometry, but with all the modern fixings - tapered HT, flat-mount, internal cable routing, etc.

Vaya geometry is great, but the weight could be improved (a lot). Lighter frame (Ti) and modern carbon fork are the two obvious options.
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pushstart

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Reply with quote  #13 
Maybe I'll start a new thread on Chinese titanium; I'd love to see other gravel ideas people have implemented.
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CC

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Reply with quote  #14 
I think you bring up a great point pushstart - IF you know what you want to ride, then it makes it much easier to do a custom build via email.

In my case for instance, I know geometry will be similar to a Vaya with some tweaks I’ll have made based on my riding style/history.

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pushstart
If your budget-minded, would like to throw out the option of Waltly Ti (http://www.waltlytitanium.com/).  I've had them build 3 frames for me and they've all been absolutely fantastic.  They also build ti frames for some smaller brands.  Price is usually around $1k for their custom frames.  I'm happy to share details & design docs etc. for my titanium gravel bike if this option is interesting.


pushstart I just read about your bike build tonight. For sure if I could get a Walty ti bike with the specs of my Raleigh Roker Comp I would be all in. Any guess what the difference would be in weight of a carbon frame versus a ti frame?


Many thanks
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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pushstart

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman


pushstart I just read about your bike build tonight. For sure if I could get a Walty ti bike with the specs of my Raleigh Roker Comp I would be all in. Any guess what the difference would be in weight of a carbon frame versus a ti frame?


Many thanks
Zman


Well, it depends on geometry and features. But, as an example, my 59cm ti road frame (disc, 44mm HT, internal routing) was around 1800g whereas the carbon disc frame it replaced was around 1100g. My gravel frames is a similar weight, so I would suggest there is a 700-800 penalty for ti vs. carbon. You could bring that down a couple hundred grams by going with a builder that does butted tubing, though there are some downsides to the thinner walls (dents). So ti isn't a weight-weenie choice, but I don't miss my carbon bike at all --and definitely prefer the more "planted" feel of my titanium bikes on rough (or gravel) roads -- or any roads, honestly. But that is just personal preference; I am also sure I'll own another carbon bike in the future.
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pushstart

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC
I think you bring up a great point pushstart - IF you know what you want to ride, then it makes it much easier to do a custom build via email.

In my case for instance, I know geometry will be similar to a Vaya with some tweaks I’ll have made based on my riding style/history.



Yup, you sound like a great candidate to do a far-east build.

Only thing I'd mention is that I did break a couple Habanero frames. I love their customer service and they honored the warranty twice (!); I'll take their word for it that the frames probably were just oddly (and very exceptionally) deffective. But I also rode those frames hard off-road. But when I did my Waltly build I did specify a larger down tube (and larger HT as it was 44mm), as I didn't want to risk that again. My Waltly geometry is basically exactly the Habanero geometry, though; that was perfect for me and I think makes a great gravel bike.
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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC
I have a Salsa Vaya (2014) and a custom Ti road bike, so have some relevant perspective.

My next gravel bike, I will experiment with a China-custom Ti like Habanero or Waltly. Ideally, Vaya geometry, but with all the modern fixings - tapered HT, flat-mount, internal cable routing, etc.

Vaya geometry is great, but the weight could be improved (a lot). Lighter frame (Ti) and modern carbon fork are the two obvious options.


Amen...I am riding a 2018 Red Vaya Tiagra and love it with the exception of the weight. I have started working with Independent Fab near my house on custom Ti...unfortunately my budget will be prohibitive I think of going that route.


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widerisfaster

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pushstart
Maybe I'll start a new thread on Chinese titanium; I'd love to see other gravel ideas people have implemented.

Please do, I'll be interested to follow along.
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TimmyR

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Reply with quote  #20 
Update...I am still working with Indeoendent Fabrication in conjunction with the guy who did my bike fitting. I am working towards a Ti build, based on Vaya geo, but tailored to my needs due to limited hip mobility.

Right now I’m planning to use my Cobb crankset, Salsa Cowbell bars, maybe my CG-R seatppst off my Crux and my Brooks Cambium C-15 saddle. I’m leaning towards a Rodeo Spork for the fork. I think I’ll plan Shimano 105 for the groupo for now and hope to upgrade maybe in the future, but have not really decided yet. This is a long-term project since I really do not have the budget right now but might be able to swing the frame set and slowly pick up parts.

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