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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #1 
I had the LBS mount Schwalbe G-One 35s on my Crossrip thinking I'd use it for gravel riding. I took it out yesterday for the first time and came across a road that had been newly (less than a week, I'd say) re-gravelled with some fairly beefy gravel. Stones the size of golf balls to baseballs. I knew it wouldn't be easy going, but I was still surprised how hard it was. It was like riding on really nasty cobblestones and very difficult to keep the bike upright. I ended up turning around after a couple hundred yards and going back the way I came. Later on the same ride I hit a gravel bike trail I've ridden dozens of times, including with my Domane SL7 with pure street tires. That bike got squirrely once or twice where the very fine gravel was a bit deeper, but it was still controllable. On my Crossrip yesterday I hit an area where recent heavy rains had washed the fine gravel (like coarse sand) into deeper (~4") piles that covered the trail. The bike immediately bogged down and washed out. I was just able to get my foot out of the pedal clip to prevent a fall. I got past that area and later hit another with the same problem. Complicating things was the fact that I couldn't really tell where the gravel was deep because it all looks the same, deep or not. It's like suddenly stepping in quicksand. The second area caught me by surprise and I wasn't able to free my foot, so I went down. Needless to say, I was not a happy biker.

Were my expectations of the ability of the Schwalbes or the viability of the Crossrip as a gravel bike too high? Or maybe my own gravel-riding abilities are not what they should be? How coarse is too coarse when it comes to gravel? And how deep does sand/fine gravel have to be before it becomes too deep to navigate? I really want to explore more roads around my area, but maybe the Crossrip is the wrong style of bike.
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clarksonxc

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Reply with quote  #2 
Without knowing your weight, it sounds like the 35's (what do they measure on your rims?) were just too narrow for the conditions.  I think the Crossrip would be fine with a larger tire.
Last year there was a local gravel race where they had "resurfaced" part of the course that went through a county forest.  They used extremely large rocks, I'd say baseball sized or bigger.  It looked like they had a muddy section that they just covered with stones that were leftover from some creek/waterway repair!  Luckily it only lasted for a couple hundred meters and you could skirt off onto the side to avoid them.  I had 37mm Riddlers on, and they were waaaayyyyy under-matched for those size stones.
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Durt

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Reply with quote  #3 
That's part of the beauty and challenge of it - you never know what conditions you're going to run into and you've got to figure out how to get through. Or around. Sand or loose deep rock/dirt is inevitable when riding gravel and you have to work on your technique. Try to power through with a light touch on the bars. Kinda let the bike go where it wants without trying to correct every time the front turns a bit. Takes practice. That said, you're not letting the front flop all over the place either. Also sometimes pressing down or adding weight to the front helps it stick better and not wallow out. Really kind of depends on conditions at the moment. Don't give up, keep trying and getting better and look into some larger tires. That said, consider tires for your overall riding experience not just the small part that's the worst. Perhaps the 35's will be great on everything but those two sections you mention. Then it becomes a matter of practice, technique and just getting through it. I ride 40's and they work well on just about everything. Big baseball sized rocks are going to be hard on any bike or tire. 

On second thought, what I said above is for sand where you're going relatively slow and powering through it. In your scenarios above, it seems that you're coming into these areas at speed and then bogging down. That's a little harder to deal with as you don't really know until you're on top of it. You've got to try to read the surface ahead and prepare for what's coming. For me, anything downhill, or going fast on flat, coming into an area where the surface looks less than optimal, I'm off the seat, pedals level, weight back slightly, hands in the drops. Again with deep sand, sometimes instead of trying to steer the bike, just let it wander a bit and go with it with minimal steering input. 

For big rocks, big gravel, you've just got to slow down and pick your way through while trying to stay light on the bike. Low gear, try to keep spinning, keep some momentum going. Once the momentum is lost, you're walking because it's hard to get started again. 
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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for the replies. I'm 6'-3" and 215lbs. The bike is a 60cm model. It can take up to a 38 tire, but the LBS said the 35 tires would fit better on the stock rims, so I went with that. I was pretty impressed with how smooth they made the ride on normal roads, but I was a bit disappointed on their performance in the nasty stuff. I'm thinking now that my expectations were way out of line. They did perform well on dirt roads and the parts of the trail where there wasn't deep sand due to the heavy rain we've had. I'm also thinking I should go back to flat pedals until I gain more experience on this bike in gravelly conditions. I'd prefer to avoid another spill. That was no fun.
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owly

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Reply with quote  #5 
Apart from the huge rocks ride you did, I got the impression that your other riding surfaces were too soft/deep. 

Got any riding areas with harder ground?
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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #6 
The bike trail (converted railbed) is usually solid. I've been able to ride my pure street bikes there many times. It was just a case of recent heavy rains washing the loosest top cover to the low areas. I hit that and paid the price. There are some farm roads nearby that are dirt or once were chip and oil that have deteriorated to mostly dirt. I may try those and be far more cautious than I was zipping down the bike trail in sketchy conditions. My off-pavement skills need some work, methinks.

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six
The bike trail (converted railbed) is usually solid. I've been able to ride my pure street bikes there many times. It was just a case of recent heavy rains washing the loosest top cover to the low areas. I hit that and paid the price. There are some farm roads nearby that are dirt or once were chip and oil that have deteriorated to mostly dirt. I may try those and be far more cautious than I was zipping down the bike trail in sketchy conditions. My off-pavement skills need some work, methinks.


m_six i am only a year into the gravel riding and though not a newbie anymore i still don't have the skills that some of these riders that post on here especially in techy/or downhill stuff. i am 200 lbs and around 6 ft. if i was you before i would go back to straight pedals i would put the 38 size tires on it. your lbs hopefully wasn't just trying to sell you the schwalbe g-ones because they are at a higher price. at my end they might roll a little bit slower but i happen to like the kenda flintridge pro or the only other tire i have experience with is the clement(now donnley) mso xplor tires. you also didn't say what pedals you are using. i like the shimano mt bike pedals at my end as i can unclip easy and have had a couple of sets since 2006 and even older than that so they are very reliable. the weather has finally turned nice out so yeah i probably am in the same boat you are in i just need to go out and get some practice in. i am also trying to get use to a new bike and 1x shifting at my end. good luck and have fun.

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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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #8 
Well, I paid for the tires already, so I'm sort of stuck with them now. Thing is, these are the same tires that come on the new Checkpoint bikes. Those bikes don't have suspension either (apart from IsoSpeed), so in theory they shouldn't ride a whole lot different in the nasty stuff than my Crossrip with the Schwalbes. I was thinking about going with MTB clipless pedals, but that would mean different shoes for each bike. Plus I wanted power data, so I went with another set of Garmin Vector 3S pedals, like I have on my Domane SL7. Between the pedals and the Schwalbes, I've sunk a bunch of upgrade money into the Crossrip. I'm feeling the need to put that investment to use. I'm even considering a Shockstop type seat post even though that represents even further investment. This same rabbit hole is what led me to own way too much camera gear. [frown]

So far I've had just one ride on the Crossrip with the new tires. It didn't go so well, as I said, but it was only one ride. I'll get a few more in before making any major changes. I have a much clearer idea now of what the new setup can handle and what it can't.
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clarksonxc

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six
Well, I paid for the tires already, so I'm sort of stuck with them now. Thing is, these are the same tires that come on the new Checkpoint bikes. Those bikes don't have suspension either (apart from IsoSpeed), so in theory they shouldn't ride a whole lot different in the nasty stuff than my Crossrip with the Schwalbes. I was thinking about going with MTB clipless pedals, but that would mean different shoes for each bike. Plus I wanted power data, so I went with another set of Garmin Vector 3S pedals, like I have on my Domane SL7. Between the pedals and the Schwalbes, I've sunk a bunch of upgrade money into the Crossrip. I'm feeling the need to put that investment to use. I'm even considering a Shockstop type seat post even though that represents even further investment. This same rabbit hole is what led me to own way too much camera gear. [frown]

So far I've had just one ride on the Crossrip with the new tires. It didn't go so well, as I said, but it was only one ride. I'll get a few more in before making any major changes. I have a much clearer idea now of what the new setup can handle and what it can't.


Yeah I think you're on the right track.  If you're at the limit of physical constraint regarding your frame's tire clearance, the only change that can be made is your skill level.  If/when you decide to upgrade, there are lots of great choices for dealing with rough and deep stuff!  But until then enjoy it and don't be too hard on yourself.  My girlfriend got into cycling several years after me and she routinely KILLS me on the technical riding.
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hbs

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Reply with quote  #10 
Maybe what you're trying to tackle is just too much for a gravel bike would be better navigated with a mountain bike or even a fatbike.
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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbs
Maybe what you're trying to tackle is just too much for a gravel bike would be better navigated with a mountain bike or even a fatbike.


Indeed. As I said above, my expectations for this setup were too high. Plus I didn't expect the road I was intending to travel to have been covered with such large gravel. I wouldn't even have tried it in my car for fear of damaging the bodywork. I'm more disappointed that it doesn't work better in the soft stuff, but as you say, that may be better suited to a fat bike. 
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Skldmark

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Reply with quote  #12 
Watch some cyclocross racing (Belgium, Koksijde) to see what is and isn’t possible where sand riding is involved.
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Slim

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Reply with quote  #13 
Even on a MTB launching into deep sand at full speed is hard. Let alone on skinny 35mm tires.

Do you have them tubeless? And at the lowest pressure you can get away with?

Make sure your hands are in the drops, not on the hoods or the tops. If this is hard, raise your handlebars. The drops are the most comfortable grip over rough terrain, and the most secure in technical situations.

Mot bikes have more clearance in the fork than in the rear. If that is the case, pull the Schwalbe off the front and save it as a spare for the rear. Then put something bigger on the front. Diving into sand, the front matters more than the rear.

Is your handlebar nice and wide? If you have wide shoulders, you might be able to comfortably go up in handlebar width, especially if it’s one of the flared models that are wider at the drops. This will give additional control in rocky or sandy conditions.
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Slim

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skldmark
Watch some cyclocross racing (Belgium, Koksijde) to see what is and isn’t possible where sand riding is involved.


Very true but do realize:

-Those are professionals, with matching skills. Ever watch a modern XC mtb race? I wouldn’t ride that on my full suspension trail bike with a dropper and they blast off that stuff with seats high on their hard tails....

-They are riding tubular at super low pressures, since they don’t need to worry about performance on pavement to much.

-They are a lot smaller and lighter than M-six. let’s say that the average pro is riding a 33mm tire and weighs 150 lbs. M-six is 40% heavier, so in order to ride the same low pressure, he would need a 40% bigger tire: 33mm x 140% is 46mm!

Want to bet that M-six would have an easier time with a 46mm tire run super low than with a 35mm tire run at road-able pressures?




Roadies don’t think about tire size vs rider weight as much, since you can just pump up the same tire to a higher pressure and get a similar ride.

Offroad(whether mtb or gravel) in soft conditions, you typically want to use a certain pressure, depending on conditions, so heavier riders should scale up their tires accordingly.
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Slim

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Six
How coarse is too coarse when it comes to gravel? And how deep does sand/fine gravel have to be before it becomes too deep to navigate? I really want to explore more roads around my area, but maybe the Crossrip is the wrong style of bike.


I would say, that the CrossRip (with perhaps a slightly wider front tire) would be a fine choice for the normal gravel roads.

The sections you describe really sound like terrain for a 2.4” tire and matching (stable) geometry.

So the question is, are those two sections the exception? If so keep calm and CrossRip on.

However, if you have lot’sof that stuff, or you want to focus on other routes (logging roads, atv trails, snowmobile trails, singletrack), then maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and go for something in the Dropbar MTB category, like a Salsa Cutthroat or Journeyman 650b.
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sindarion

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Reply with quote  #16 
I mounted 38mm G-One Bite tires on my 2017 Crossrip and they work fine.
Set up tubeless they stretched out to nearly 39mm.
These tires amaze me time and time again, compared to MTB tires. So much narrower but I'm not going down slower (waterbound) graveled forestry roads then on my ridgid 26" MTB.

It would be another big investment, but 38mm G-Ones fit on the 17mm internal width Bontrager road rims. And although slower rolling, the G-One Bite is much better in harsher conditions, esspecially if it is the biggest tire you can fit, and it still corners adequately on pavement.
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M_Six

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Reply with quote  #17 
Thanks again for all the replies. Yes, those conditions I mentioned were exceptions rather that the rule around here. The heavy gravel was a new dump that I'm sure will get pressed into the underlying dirt over time. The soft stuff was the kitty litter type gravel that is usually just a thin topcoat on the trail. Recent heavy rains washed a lot of it down to gather in the low parts of the trail. So that will be corrected by the trail maintenance crew. In fact, they're planning on paving the entire trail length this summer.

I'll run these tires for a while and keep the 38's in mind for next time. I think this setup will work for most of what I would normally ride. I'll just keep in mind the hard-learned lessons from my initial ride plus all the good advice from here.
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GHC

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Reply with quote  #18 
Tubeless and lower pressure helps A LOT.

G Ones stink on soft stuff....try clement MSO’s tubeless with lower pressure. On my 20 mil rims they widen about 2 mil....and like someone else said, nothing says you can’t go wider on the front if you have more clearance there.

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jwilger

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Reply with quote  #19 
I've done tons of gravel on a Crossrip 3, lots of different conditions. It fits Clement (now Donnelly) 700x40c X'PLOR MSOs just fine (especially if you hacksaw off a chunk of the ridiculous, over-long fender mount between the chainstays.) The bike is absolutely capable.
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Durt

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Reply with quote  #20 
Read this:
http://www.gravelcyclist.com/3-gravel-riding-techniques/
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