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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #1 
Not new to cycling but new to gravel grinding.  I'm hooked having completed my first  year on gravel and having successfully completed in the Barry Roubaix,  and many training rides on snarly gravel roads, B type roads, two tracks and trails.  Love it.  I'm working towards riding in the Dirty Kanza this year.  Currently I'm riding a Trek Dual Sport and it's not good at anything, but it is heavy!  I also rode in several multi surface events with my Specialized Stumpjumper and did OK, I like gravel roads better, usually no trees in the middle of the road to hit!  NOW, it's time for a true upgrade to the gravel bike.  Doing research and there are soooo many options!

My general understanding which may or may not be valid (please straighten me out if I'm off)..  Remember, I'm not going to win the DK 200, I want to finish and hopefully in the daylight.  I want to survive, have fun and I want a bike that will promote that effort.  I also want the bike to be somewhat able to be a good road bike too but that is second and I do have a road bike now that serves my purpose just fine (Specialized Sectur).  

Sooo..  Bike should be carbon graphite as carbon has the best ride dampening performance for gravel riding.  Bike should be able to accommodate 40c tires or bigger.  I like MSO 40's a lot (I'm 225 lbs and dropping).  I want hydraulic disc brakes as they seem better than mechanical disc.  I want the Ultegra component group throughout as it's better than the 105 group but not over the top.  I want the bike to weigh, if possible, under or around 20 lbs.  I want to run tubeless to reduce weight and reduce pinch flats.

I do not have the ability to test ride anything.  It's winter and the selection of bike stores which have anything on the below list is very limited.

What I'm considering:
MakeModelCostWeightFrame materialsComponent groupTire clearanceBrake typetubeless ready?
NinerRTL 9 RDO 4 star$5,000?CarbonUltegra40cHydro Discyes
         
RaleighRoker$4,30019.8CarbonUltegra40cHydro Discyes
         
LynskeyGR-250$4,20022.0 lbsTIUltegra45cHydro Discyes
         
SalsaWarbird Ultegra$4,00019.75 lbsCarbonUltegra44cHydro Discyes
         
CannondaleSlate Disc $3,40022.8 lbs6061 AluUltegra45cHydro Discyes
         
TrekDomain S 6$3,00020.8 lbsCarbonUltegra?Hydro Discyes
         
DiamondbackHaanjo trail Carbon$2,70018.8 lbsCarbonUltegra40cHydro Discyes
         
         
LynskeyGR 250$2,95022Ti10545cMech Discyes
         
SalsaWarbird 105$2,30021.56065 Alu10544cMech Discyes
         
GiantAnyRoad CoMax$1,85022.16 lbscomposite10535CMech Disc?
         
RaleighWillard 2$1,00022.86061 alu10540cMech Disc?

Yes the list is big and cost are all over the place!  Is money an object?  Well yes and no! I understand that you don't get something for nothing and you get what you pay for but I also understand that you can pay what they can get from you and that might not be worth what your getting!  


What pops out to me, unless someone can suggest some other choices, is the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Carbon.  It's not inexpensive but seem a very good value compared to the others.  Next would likely be the Salsa Warbird Carbon.  But I'm open.  What am I missing in my considerations?  

I've also thought about getting one of the less expensive bikes, then putting on a Leaf fork and maybe Specializes CR-G carbon seat post to get the same ride feel as the more costly higher end bikes but for a huge savings.  I really like specializes new Future Shock and hopefully that will be able go in any bike and I can add one of those in the future, if they decide to sell it as a component. Why Specialized doesn't put that on their Domain right now is beyond me.  

So...help please.  Is my thinking good for what I want to do?  OR?
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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #2 
Personally I would go with Titanium over carbon anyday.  I have had many carbon bikes (and currently have a Niner BSB), but none of them has been as smooth over gravel as my Lynskey Cooper.  All the marketing hype about carbon goes out the window as soon as you ride titanium.  Carbon is stiff and its great if you are trying to win races, but not so great for a long day in the saddle.  So you may have already guessed that my vote is for the Lynskey GR250.  Not only is it titanium, but it gives the versatility of large 700c tires, or 650b x 2.1 tires. Also the Specialized CGR is an ugly seatpost that does not work.  I had one and it sucked.  My suspicions were confirmed when I saw Bike Radars seatpost test (http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/best-soft-riding-rigid-seatposts-for-road-dirt-and-gravel-46208/) which showed it barely flexes at all.  I got rid of mine and got an Ergon CF3, the most amazing seatpost I have ever used.
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Laeljon

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Reply with quote  #3 
If U want to ride Dirty Kanza, be prepared to trash some components...
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laeljon
If U want to ride Dirty Kanza, be prepared to trash some components...
So I've heard.  I know of some who take extra rear derailleurs and mounts.  I'm considering that.  But first I need a bike!
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #5 
My good friend and someone I'm riding DK200 with has a Salsa Ti Warbird.  He loves it and I was all set to go that route but Salsa dropped it as an option.  IDK, the Lynskey is on sale now for the next few days so if I'm going that route I've got to act fast! But is the upgrade to Ultegra components over the 105 worth the money?  I can save a cool grand by going 105.  In other words, get the frame and don't sweat the components, 105 is fine and will do good!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljsmith
Personally I would go with Titanium over carbon anyday.  I have had many carbon bikes (and currently have a Niner BSB), but none of them has been as smooth over gravel as my Lynskey Cooper.  All the marketing hype about carbon goes out the window as soon as you ride titanium.  Carbon is stiff and its great if you are trying to win races, but not so great for a long day in the saddle.  So you may have already guessed that my vote is for the Lynskey GR250.  Not only is it titanium, but it gives the versatility of large 700c tires, or 650b x 2.1 tires. Also the Specialized CGR is an ugly seatpost that does not work.  I had one and it sucked.  My suspicions were confirmed when I saw Bike Radars seatpost test (http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/best-soft-riding-rigid-seatposts-for-road-dirt-and-gravel-46208/) which showed it barely flexes at all.  I got rid of mine and got an Ergon CF3, the most amazing seatpost I have ever used.
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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerekJ_MI
My good friend and someone I'm riding DK200 with has a Salsa Ti Warbird.  He loves it and I was all set to go that route but Salsa dropped it as an option.  IDK, the Lynskey is on sale now for the next few days so if I'm going that route I've got to act fast! But is the upgrade to Ultegra components over the 105 worth the money?  I can save a cool grand by going 105.  In other words, get the frame and don't sweat the components, 105 is fine and will do good!?



Looking at the prices, it does seem like the cost difference between 105 and Ultegra is pretty high.  Going from Ultegra to Dura Ace is a much smaller jump in price.  Anyways, it looks like the 105 is the best deal.   If it were me I would probably go with 105, and then if there was something I wasn't happy with just upgrade over time.  I would think you could buy an Ultegra group on sale for less than what Lynskey is charging.  Personally I only use SRAM, so I can't comment on how good 105 is.  The thing I have found with Lynskey is that the bikes are on sale for a good portion of the year.  So if you miss this sale, you will likely have another opportunity this year to get a good deal.  
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Smale Rider

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Reply with quote  #7 
Lynskey GR250
Lauf fork on the front
Ergon CF3 Seatpost
Teravail Cannonball Tires

You're definitely going to want likely some type of chain watching guard system. DK200 has murderous mud, so some type of set-up from the cyclocross word would be appropriate. I'm a fan of Wickwerks cyclocross chainrings myself, but I get it if you're running full Ultegra instead.
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rwm

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Reply with quote  #8 
For me the Warbird carbon Rival at $3k is the sweet spot.
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DrSpoke

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Reply with quote  #9 
If you can give up a couple of mms on the tire size you could consider adding the Ridley X-Trail to your list.  Performance Bikes has a quite fair price on it, $2,650, and you can get an additional 10% in Performance Points to apply to future purchases.  A friend of mine purchased one in December for $2,500 and during a 20% Points promo - which they have frequently.  I bought mine in Oct '15 when the price was $2,800 but did get the 20% promo.  Anyway, a very nice bike.  It has very road oriented geometry so good for any type of road ride but great for centuries and such.  I've also used it for 100% off-road rides and it's great on those too.  I'd say it's best use though is mixed pavement/trail type rides and/or events.
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #10 
Another titanium bike for you to consider is the Why Cycles R+, if you go with the Rival build its $4,199. I was seriously considering their bikes, I decided to pay a premium for a Moots (maybe that was a dumb decision), but the Why Cycles R+ seems pretty awesome. There are several good reviews and it doesn't break the bank. If you go with the Force build, you get sweet carbon hoops, but then you're up to $5,899. 

http://www.whycycles.com/our-bikes/rcycle/[/
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for the new option.  Why is nice, but pricey.  Rival components are equivalent to Shimano 105 components which makes the Why deal, well, not as attractive.  The Lynskey with 105 components maybe the better deal, then switch out the parts I want over time (Ultegra) to get what I want.  I'm also thinking of the ERGON CF-3 seat post and maybe eventually the LAUF fork for "the" best ride.  Buying the $2950 Lynskey deal then adding the other options seems to be the killer deal and most cost effective.  Plus, everyone seems to says that unless your paying north of $5-6k for a built up bike expect the wheels to be the Achilles heal of the bike.  In other words, ditch the wheels you get ASAP and look to drop another $1-1.5k or so on a set of much lighter, stronger, and especially smoother wheels and your ride will be much much better.  

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_slow
Another titanium bike for you to consider is the Why Cycles R+, if you go with the Rival build its $4,199. I was seriously considering their bikes, I decided to pay a premium for a Moots (maybe that was a dumb decision), but the Why Cycles R+ seems pretty awesome. There are several good reviews and it doesn't break the bank. If you go with the Force build, you get sweet carbon hoops, but then you're up to $5,899. 

http://www.whycycles.com/our-bikes/rcycle/[/
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oleritter

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Reply with quote  #12 
Planet X has some options, too.  Aluminium, carbon, and Titanium.
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Adam V

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Reply with quote  #13 
The Salsa Warbird Rival is one of the best deals out there.  Have a friend who got one not long ago and he really likes it, it was on my list for a new Rainbike/Gravel/winter-spring training bike, but I went with a Gunnar Hyper XX stock frame with a custom Rival build/with force crank and nice wheels, re-using some cockpit items, which still is over 1k more expensive than Warbird Rival.  
Also remember that between the 105 warbird and the Ultegra warbird you are also getting better wheels and some other parts as well, also 105 level hydro levers are pretty..ugly.  I don't think the ultegra model is worth the 1k difference compared to the Rival model, even with I think slightly nicer wheels and cockpit items, also complete bike weight between rival and ultegra models is very close.
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trippertim

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Reply with quote  #14 
I'm going to agree with the posts above that Ti is an awesome frame material choice for gravel. I've had, steel, Al, Carbon and Ti bikes and the feeling after 100+ miles rides on Ti is amazing. You have the Lynskey GR250 on your list, but I did not see the Litespeed T5G. I would highly recommend it. Between the wife and I we've got 6 Ti bikes in the house split evenly with 3 Lynskey's and 3 Litespeed's. Hands down my favorite is my T5G. I have not ridden a GR250 yet, but compared to the Cooper's, Urbanski's and Sportif's I have ridden I liked the ride and handling of the T5G more. I ran MSO 40's on it for quite a while before switch to Panaracer's yet when I have put on road 23's and 25's it handled almost as nice as my Lynskey road bike and the ride was much smoother.

That said, I've never ridden gravel in the upper midwest or Kansas, so other bikes might have better clearances etc for those roads, but for the Appalachian roads I ride (and Indiana and SW Utah) it has been hands down my favorite bike ever due to how it rides and its versatility.
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks for all the comments they are very helpful. After spending some time with my friend and his Ti Warbird, considering all the comments her and all the reviews on the web I think a Ti frame is now what I'm going to focus on.  Yeah, expensive but it will hold it's value better should I want to move on.  The Lynskey tops the list as their frame allows 650b tires and just about any 700 sized tire. 
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #16 
Well pulled the leaver and bought a Lynskey GR 250 with the Ultegra upgrades.  Adding Egg beater III peddles, a new saddle and post, cages, more bar tape, and maybe new handlebars.  Also going to get a set of wheels for the road as that is what I mostly have around my urban home.
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GHC

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Reply with quote  #17 
Congrats!

Once you get it up an running, would love to know what size you went with and what it weighs complete
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DerekJ_MI

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Reply with quote  #18 
GHC, I went with a medium large size.  I'm just under 6'0" so when I spoke to their rep he said that a ML would be perfect.  I'm just wondering how long it will take to get it.  I have a new seat post coming, new saddle, more bar tape, cages, peddles, and I'm thinking of switching out the handlebars for some Salsa cowchippers.  But before I go wild with he upgrades other than the cages and peddles, I'm going to put some miles on it to see how well it runs.  Maybe do a century ride on it and then I'll see know what to do.
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