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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #1 

So this subject has probably been done to death a thousand times but...I'm wrestling with it and wanted some advice from people who might've been through the same.  I live in London (UK) and I commute to work by bike (think shitty roads) and in June I got hooked on cycling for the first time in my life (43).  I started to get fit and have done a 100 mile solo road ride, a lot of 80-90k mixed surface rides and have recently joined a triathlon club (I doubt I'll ever race because I have a metal reinforced femur that stops me running but the group rides are a lot of fun).  Anyway - i'm relatively new to cycling but i've learned a lot about bikes over the summer.  I ride a 2016 Cannondale CAADX 105 and I have just bought a second set of wheels for it (I replaced the stock wheels with Hunt 4 Season Gravels with 38mm Schwalbe G-One Allrounds a couple of months ago - really great allrounders...obvs) and for road use (Mason X Hunt 4 Season with Schwalbe Pro One - crikey they are A LOT faster on road).  My bike is pretty good - the 105 groupset works just fine and the mech disc brakes are OK.  However, I am starting to think about upgrading my bike for more stiffness (I rode a Reilly Gradient and it made my bike feel like it was made of rubber by comparison), better ride and more speed.  The problem is that although the majority of my riding is road, I love being able to blast around on gravel and single track, hence having two sets of wheels and tyres now.

I live in an apartment in London and whilst I could store two bikes and buy a dedicated road/endurance bike to add to my CAADX, I figured that a really good gravel bike with my road wheels on might be fast enough and fun enough to allow me to keep up with my club rides on road but give me the capability of doing gravel events (I'd love to do the DK200 one day) too.  I bought a set of Apidura bike packing bags and although I haven't had time to do much I'm hoping to do more trips in future.

I want a durable bike but one that's light and will last me a long time.  My search led me to titanium and my shortlist is currently:
Litespeed Ultimate Gravel
Reilly Gradient
But...i've also thought of a Specialized Diverge, 3T Exploro (too much money for a carbon frame that i might damage so not really a serious contender), ie something carbon but not to spendy.

I've got decent bars, seat, seat post, good enough wheels and the 105 groupset is fine but one day i've like to go Di2, so the plan would be to buy a frameset and transfer all my parts across.  

I'd like clearance for ~45mm tyres, internal cable routing, Di2 compatible, flexible geometry that will be comfortable for long road and gravel rides but ideally lets me get into a semi-decent aero position for faster road rides, flat mount brakes, bottle cage mounts beneath downtime (u can get them added to the Ultimate), as light as possible.  If the Litespeed was a bit less money i think it would be a no brainer for me - the 'suspension' chain stays, somewhat aero frame (I'm a bit dubious about the real world advantage but it looks beautiful), internal cable routing, great tyre clearance, lightish weight (~1300g frame) - they all fit the bill.

A mate of mine who does Ironman events and has 11 bikes (9 his 2 his girl's) says I should stick with my CAADX and maybe think about getting a dedicated road bike next spring/summer but I can't quite let go of the one bike quiver idea - hence the post.  If i bought a roadie then I'd want to pimp it with Di2 and ... jeez, I dunno, it's all complex! 

What's the ultimate road/gravel bike that's durable, light and not too horrifically expensive??


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owly

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Reply with quote  #2 

That Litespeed is a pretty good weight but its crazy expensive for a frameset [eek] 

Even so, with what you described I'd go a ti frame. Personally I'd stick with a UK builder/seller which should drop that frame price by at least a grand (or two!). There are a few out there.

Perhaps custom could also be an option through someone like Burls who do a fairly nice priced ti frameset.


I do a lot of sealed road riding on my own bike, though its mostly to get to the gravel/singletrack/etc. and back.  
Built it up fairly light (16.5lbs with 48mm: I could get to 16 with a bit of tweaking). The carbon roadie is in a dark closet! 

My preference would be one each of a 650b and 700c wheelset. 

Edit: I forgot to mention, the Litespeed spec for that frame says it only fits a 40mm.

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Konass

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Reply with quote  #3 
Haven't seen talk of this bike on this board. It looks versatile. https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-cgr-sl/
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by owly

That Litespeed is a pretty good weight but its crazy expensive for a frameset [eek] 

Even so, with what you described I'd go a ti frame. Personally I'd stick with a UK builder/seller which should drop that frame price by at least a grand (or two!). There are a few out there.

Perhaps custom could also be an option through someone like Burls who do a fairly nice priced ti frameset.


I do a lot of sealed road riding on my own bike, though its mostly to get to the gravel/singletrack/etc. and back.  
Built it up fairly light (16.5lbs with 48mm: I could get to 16 with a bit of tweaking). The carbon roadie is in a dark closet! 

My preference would be one each of a 650b and 700c wheelset. 

Edit: I forgot to mention, the Litespeed spec for that frame says it only fits a 40mm.


Thanks so much for the reply!  What are you riding and what components enabled you to get to that crazy light weight?!?!  Great idea to contact Burls - i have just emailed him.  Also found a company in China called Waltly and popped them a quote request based on the Ultimate Gravel.  I'd love the Litespeed but it's so expensive for a frameset and the USD/GBP exchange rate means that US made bikes just aren't cheap like they used to be.

The Litespeed website is incorrect and i've been meaning to email them about it - it can definitely fit 700x45 and 650x2.1"

I'm tempted to get 650b wheels but researching it suggests that almost no-one rides them for endurance gravel events such as the DK200, which is my long term dream event i'd like to get tough enough to complete.  Any idea why that might be?


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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Konass
Haven't seen talk of this bike on this board. It looks versatile. https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-cgr-sl/

Now that looks interesting....i'm gonna read up on it. Thank u.
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Konass

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ribble also has a titanium CGL if that is the direction you are heading. 
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imwjl

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop
What's the ultimate road/gravel bike that's durable, light and not too horrifically expensive??



Light enough for me might not work for a lot of people. As a baby boomer I recall my 1972 Raleigh getting below 30 pounds as light. The modern steel gravel and all road bikes are much lighter than those with all of their failings fixed via better parts, fork rake, and fit such as shorter stems.

Crappy urban roads have me valuing the bikes that are also better for dirt and single track.

I'm not sure what's sold in your country but I've totally enjoyed the reasonably priced Kona and Salsa bikes. My son has a steel Raleigh that's a really nice bike at a modest price. The latter is no way the British Raleighs I grew up with.

If you plan to spend a little more and be a little racy, the lower build plastic Trek Checkpoint I tried was sweet whether you're measuring performance or looks. We have to plastic Treks and others in the family. They've stood up to really hard off road use and Trek's post-sale support has been really good to my experiences with other well known companies.

It might be a bit toward heavy duty but last night a friend with same Kona Sutra Ltd. I have commented on what I observed. Pretty much everyone trying it loves it.

Ultimately you have to ride a lot of stuff so you know what you vs someone else likes. Delay gratification and go ride a lot of stuff. Don't spend much on a bike until you know how a steep vs slack or stiff vs comfy bike feel. Don't commit until you can try closer to 50 and closer to 30 mm tires.

😉

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kafkathedog

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Reply with quote  #8 

personal opinion but i'd go with the Gradient, ok it may not be as quick as a pure roadie but it looks great, no silly standards, threaded bb, titanium, lifetime warranty....whats not to like?

Reilly also do a model called spectre which is more road orientated but can take 35mm tyres i believe if you want a bit more of a roady.

The gradient is on my list as soon as i have the funds and I don't expect to be using my other bikes much when i get it.

If you want slightly lighter and carbon I would look at a giant tcx advanced, got all the bits (internal cabling, flat mount brakes, thru axles etc) but a push fit bb and a proprietary seatpost, however having one of the alloy ones a few years ago its a great do it all bike. I haven't ridden the carbon ones but I would expect it to be fairly light and 95% as quick as a pure road bike with the right wheels and skinny tyres on. The only thing i don't like is the paint jobs, wish they would do the blue one from a few years back....

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owly

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Reply with quote  #9 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop

Thanks so much for the reply!  What are you riding and what components enabled you to get to that crazy light weight?!?!  Great idea to contact Burls - i have just emailed him.  Also found a company in China called Waltly and popped them a quote request based on the Ultimate Gravel.  I'd love the Litespeed but it's so expensive for a frameset and the USD/GBP exchange rate means that US made bikes just aren't cheap like they used to be.

The Litespeed website is incorrect and i've been meaning to email them about it - it can definitely fit 700x45 and 650x2.1"

I'm tempted to get 650b wheels but researching it suggests that almost no-one rides them for endurance gravel events such as the DK200, which is my long term dream event i'd like to get tough enough to complete.  Any idea why that might be?


 

Mine is a bit of an old-school bike as I built it up as a 10 speed to save some money.

1x. Red/XO/Juin Tech/fairly lightweight carbon bits and wheels. 


Waltly is also a good idea. 

I'd agree that 700c is best for events, as the 650b do roll slower. Though I do like the size of a knobby 650b x 2.1/2.2 when casually riding rockier trails. 

For a carbon frame that CGRsl looks pretty fine!


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chunkylover53

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Reply with quote  #10 
It will tough to get a ti bike with all your requirements without going custom - I’ve been looking for something similar.. I know Turner is coming out with a ti version of the cyclosis. Why cycles ti frame also checks some of your boxes. Also Curve cycles out of Oz.. I wouldn’t give up on carbon. The Giant recommendation was good. There’s also the Ibis Hakka mx; and the Kona Libre sounds like it has everything you’re looking for.
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chunkylover53
It will tough to get a ti bike with all your requirements without going custom - I’ve been looking for something similar.. I know Turner is coming out with a ti version of the cyclosis. Why cycles ti frame also checks some of your boxes. Also Curve cycles out of Oz.. I wouldn’t give up on carbon. The Giant recommendation was good. There’s also the Ibis Hakka mx; and the Kona Libre sounds like it has everything you’re looking for.

Agreed. If money was not a factor I think the litespeed ultimate gravel would be spot on and I'd assumed custom would be much more expensive. However, an initial dialogue with Burls (Justin seems like a very nice guy and expert) suggests price would be similar to a Gradient. However, there's a question of whether a tried and tested design such as the Gradient might be better than a custom made Ultimate Gravel replica, which may or may not work as well as the real thing because no doubt a lot of testing and refinement goes into a production bike's development, and a custom frame with some complexities such as trying to replicate the curved 'suspension' seat stays and beautiful downtube profile might not end up riding as well as the real or something in the same class like the Gradient.

Carbon - it would definitely tick the lightness box. No-one has mentioned the Norco Search XR - last year's model sold out quickly and apparently it's a fast and comfortable machine. Any views on it? I worry about durability and harshness of ride compared to Ti but I know both have probably improved over time. I had a Carbon Synapse road bike that someone tried to steal when it was locked - they must've pulled quite hard because the d-lock cracked the frame. I never got it repaired for various reasons but it put me off carbon...along with that being the bike that skittered off in the wrong direction when I hit a little kerb between road and cycle path, putting me in hospital for 8 days and leaving me with a metal rod the length of my left femur for life, so I know I had a subconscious fear of that bike and probably carbon bikes in general despite the cause being 23mm rock hard tyres and a lack of experience not knowing they couldn't mount a 10-15mm high kerb. But you're right - i shouldn't write carbon off as I could miss the right bike for me. Apparently ribble will start selling the CGR SL as a frameset in November and it looks like it might tick all my boxes and be pretty good value too, so I'll see what price it comes in at. Haven't found any reviews of it yet.

Ti - i've looked at Curve and Why and the Cyclosis and ruled them all out for various reasons, one silly but important one for me is aesthetics - i don't like the look of skinny round Ti tubes - they look too 80s to my eyes so I'd like a different profile downtube to look a bit more modern. I know - i'm difficult!
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chunkylover53

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Reply with quote  #12 
I have ti (mtb), steel (mtb), and carbon (gravel - cutthroat) bikes.  I like them all, for various reasons, and would ideally like a ti gravel bike.  For the kind of riding I prefer, I think ti would be most comfortable.   But as I said in my earlier post, don't be too quick to rule out carbon.  I honestly don't really worry about breaking carbon anymore - if it's a good quality bike, it'll hold up just fine.  The Norco looks great - though I think the rear triangle gets a little ugly...  I agree with you on tubes - I do think oversized tubing does look better.   You might want to have a look at DeSalvo bikes - some nice gravel stuff, fair prices, and he builds with OS tubing.   He was on my short list for a Ti build - still is - but I just don't think it's in the cards for me this year.   When you add it all up (and consider the exchange rate with the CDN dollar), just a bit too tight this year.    Another cheaper option would be Carver bikes - I've heard good things about the experience.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop

Thanks so much for the reply!  What are you riding and what components enabled you to get to that crazy light weight?!?! 

...

I'm tempted to get 650b wheels but researching it suggests that almost no-one rides them for endurance gravel events such as the DK200, which is my long term dream event i'd like to get tough enough to complete.  Any idea why that might be?




I have a Canyon that is 7.9kg (or a 7.4kg with lighter wheels and tires).  

650b is fun if you want wider width and cush - but wider tires seem a lot slower.  I'm experimenting with a 50x700c front and 40x700c rear to help me get over the rooty sand we have on the second half of  our cross state ride.  Still keeping tire weight under 400gr.
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thefuzzycow

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Reply with quote  #14 
Just do it! I didn’t want to go with an Exploro for the same reasons. But that’s what they make helicopter tape/frame skins for. Put on some heli tape and protect the frame. I couldn’t be happier with my Exploro! Best of both worlds. Fit my road 700x26 wheelset, 700x33-42 gravel and then up to 650x2.1” mtb tires. That’s why I love this bike. Most others can only for up to 45/47mm at 650. That’s still agood chunk, but that little extra really makes a difference if you want to ride it on the trail. I like riding mine at some of the more tame XC races because I can pick up time on the two track fire roads, no jumps but can still maneuver on the singletrack. Theres plenty of awesome bikes out there. Just a little $0.02 on why I went Exploro. Like I said, I was in the same position you were before I decided. And for what it’s worth, the previous year model, white and red frame, shops are trying to get rid of. So you could possibly find one for a killer deal! Best of luck! Cheers!

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panhndl

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Reply with quote  #15 
I would look at Lynskey. They have several models that could do what you want and for a TI bike, they are very competitively priced. I have the GR260 and love it. Everything is on sale and Lynskey will ship anywhere.

https://lynskeyperformance.com/
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thefuzzycow
Just do it! I didn’t want to go with an Exploro for the same reasons. But that’s what they make helicopter tape/frame skins for. Put on some heli tape and protect the frame. I couldn’t be happier with my Exploro! Best of both worlds. Fit my road 700x26 wheelset, 700x33-42 gravel and then up to 650x2.1” mtb tires. That’s why I love this bike. Most others can only for up to 45/47mm at 650. That’s still agood chunk, but that little extra really makes a difference if you want to ride it on the trail. I like riding mine at some of the more tame XC races because I can pick up time on the two track fire roads, no jumps but can still maneuver on the singletrack. Theres plenty of awesome bikes out there. Just a little $0.02 on why I went Exploro. Like I said, I was in the same position you were before I decided. And for what it’s worth, the previous year model, white and red frame, shops are trying to get rid of. So you could possibly find one for a killer deal! Best of luck! Cheers!

Oh man - the Exploro - that's a rad bike.  If i could get a deal on a 2018 model then i'd be *stoked*.  I'm gonna get my google on :-)
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by panhndl
I would look at Lynskey. They have several models that could do what you want and for a TI bike, they are very competitively priced. I have the GR260 and love it. Everything is on sale and Lynskey will ship anywhere.

https://lynskeyperformance.com/

They are very good looking machines.  Is it nice and compliant?  Any idea what the frame weighs?  If it had internal cable routing and an extra cage mount under the down tube it would be perfect.  I'm gonna fire them a mail so see if they could customise.
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #18 
So I think that the 3T Exploro is perhaps a great solution. Fast on and off road. Light. But...expensive. I'm going to compare the geometry to the Ribble CGR SL that someone kindly highlighted. It could be that it would give me quite a lot of the Exploro's performance but for a lot less money. I pinged Ribble and they are releasing it as a frameset in around November and reviews should be coming out around then too. If it doesn't get rave reviews then i'll try to test ride an Exploro and start saving my pennies.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop
So I think that the 3T Exploro is perhaps a great solution. Fast on and off road. Light. But...expensive. I'm going to compare the geometry to the Ribble CGR SL that someone kindly highlighted. It could be that it would give me quite a lot of the Exploro's performance but for a lot less money. I pinged Ribble and they are releasing it as a frameset in around November and reviews should be coming out around then too. If it doesn't get rave reviews then i'll try to test ride an Exploro and start saving my pennies.


I like that one (and the UP too), but for a "budget" high end bike I got a Canyon.  It is so smooth riding that I don't need  2" tire in the rear, but I do use one up front when I'm in the mood.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop

They are very good looking machines.  Is it nice and compliant?  Any idea what the frame weighs?  If it had internal cable routing and an extra cage mount under the down tube it would be perfect.  I'm gonna fire them a mail so see if they could customise.


I would love to test ride one, but hate to spend that coin on a bike i haven't ridden.*  Still, I see them on sale at Nashbar and other places, and its tempting.  

(*says the guy who bought a Canyon, LOL).
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panhndl

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbop

They are very good looking machines.  Is it nice and compliant?  Any idea what the frame weighs?  If it had internal cable routing and an extra cage mount under the down tube it would be perfect.  I'm gonna fire them a mail so see if they could customise.

Mine is more compliant than my 2018 Specialized Diverge but the Lynskey has 40c tires vs the 38c tires on the Diverge. No idea on frame weight, but my bike was about 20 lbs without pedals but with the rear rack on a GR 260 with Di2. Mine has two cage mounts and I think different models have different cable routing. Mine is internal but Di2.

The bike will be a little heavier than a comparable carbon bike. Maybe about a pound. What you gain is a bike that it virtually indestructible. I’ve had a Ti mountain bike for 10 years. Probably won’t go back to any other material.
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panhndl

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chas


I would love to test ride one, but hate to spend that coin on a bike i haven't ridden.*  Still, I see them on sale at Nashbar and other places, and its tempting.  

(*says the guy who bought a Canyon, LOL).

You can return any bike for 30 days. I really liked mine and really felt comfortable after speaking with the rep a few times. They made their estimated delivery date, but most people say it’s about 50/50 that they will.
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chas


I like that one (and the UP too), but for a "budget" high end bike I got a Canyon.  It is so smooth riding that I don't need  2" tire in the rear, but I do use one up front when I'm in the mood.

Which Canyon did you get?  I thought the only 'official' gravel they offer is the Grail?
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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by panhndl

Mine is more compliant than my 2018 Specialized Diverge but the Lynskey has 40c tires vs the 38c tires on the Diverge. No idea on frame weight, but my bike was about 20 lbs without pedals but with the rear rack on a GR 260 with Di2. Mine has two cage mounts and I think different models have different cable routing. Mine is internal but Di2.

The bike will be a little heavier than a comparable carbon bike. Maybe about a pound. What you gain is a bike that it virtually indestructible. I’ve had a Ti mountain bike for 10 years. Probably won’t go back to any other material.

Durability is a huge appeal of Ti over carbon - when I'm out riding off-road there is the occasional spill and when bikepacking or putting my bike on a train even if i'm careful someone else might not be, so the downside of carbon is that i'd worry about it more.  Looking at the Pro Gr frame in detail it struck me that if they inverted the downtube then it might have similar aerodynamics to the 3T Exploro - as it is it looks a bit aero inefficient having a wide flat downtube in the airstream - ok not a big deal on gravel but for fast road rides that could have an impact.  A few q's re Lynskey:
1) I popped them a mail via their contact page on the website but i seem to recall doing that previously and never hearing back.  Does anyone have an email address or should I just call them?
2) They have a 20% off sale right now.  Do they do bigger sale discounts or is this the max? I've heard of people getting crazy good deals on them so want to understand what they usually are.

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Jimbop

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by panhndl

You can return any bike for 30 days. I really liked mine and really felt comfortable after speaking with the rep a few times. They made their estimated delivery date, but most people say it’s about 50/50 that they will.

The problem is that i would be buying a frameset so it would be quite lot of effort to build the bike up and then unbuild it if i didn't like it.  That's me being lazy and i could overcome that :-)  The other problem is that i don't know if they would do the 30 day return on a frameset if i bought it through a UK shop.  Not being able to test ride is also a factor that i'd not thought enough about.  What i find odd is that i can only find one review of the Pro GR online - JOM from Gravelcyclist.  Anyone know of any others?
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