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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #1 
I sold two bikes to be able to afford my Roker Comp and love the bike.  Opinion needed on the following:  I have a beater 29er (Breezer) with a small dent in the down tube.  Use it during rainy days and errands. 

Considering a 650b wheelset with 2.1 tires to go in the roker and then a new chainring and possibly a new cassette.  This gives me one bike that could almost do it all...... At least I think?  I like trails better than road.

Since I don't go over jumps, drops, and downhill even if I had a good Mt bike, I was wondering if this 650b wheelset with big tires gives me enough to do some fairly rough stuff...  I think the suspension is really for the jumps and drops more than going over rocks etc....

Your opinions greatly appreciated on how much a gravel bike can do off road with large tires and strong wheels.

Thanks 
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NoCoGreg

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Reply with quote  #2 
IMHO suspension is as much about about keeping the tires in contact with the ground as it is for comfort.  I've got several drop bar Frankenbike conversions of fully rigid 26'ers.  I'm typically on 26x2.25 tires - and on true singletrack I quickly finding myself missing suspension.  Several friends who are far better mountain bikers than me enjoy "playing" on fully rigid 29'ers (most are singlespeed).  I've also seen riders on CX bikes with much skinnier tires than the 2.1" you're planning.  So yes it definitely "can" be done.  If you enjoy rigid mtn bikes then a 2.1" 650b will be plenty of tire but it'll be very different than having suspension.
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GravelDoc

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Reply with quote  #3 
I have a full suspension 26er  (2.1 in. tires), a hard tail 27.5+ (3 in. tires), and a rigid 26 inch fat bike (4.5 in. tires).   The full suspension, which is fairly short travel, has the feeling of most suspension followed by the fat bike.  I'm still working out what pressures to run on the plus bike, but my 60 y/o body feels more bumps whilst riding it.  I really enjoy riding that fat bike on single track with the traction plus suspension effect.  It's just not a fast bike.  The full suspension is great fun in tight turns and is a good little climber.  I suppose that says something about it's ability to stay in contact with the trail.  Hmmm...maybe a full suspension 27.5+ is called for.
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Boo Bear

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Reply with quote  #4 
Similar to Doc, I have a 26 full-sus, 27.5+ HT, and a rigid fattie.  I ended up adding a Thudbuster to my 27.5+ HT because my 45 y/o back would be sore after about an hour of riding trail.  I would not consider riding technical trail on a rigid. Especially where I am in New England. If I had a ton of flowy trail without roots and rocks, maybe. 
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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #5 
I have run 650b x 2.35/2.25 tires front/rear on my GR250. I could just about ride anything except crazy rock gardens with it. But I was A LOT slower than on my FS mountain bike, but that's to be expected. It also depends a lot on your bike handling skills. Riding a modern 29er FS bike can cause you to get lazy with line choice, but on a rigid drop bar bike you have to pick good lines.
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squak

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Reply with quote  #6 
I also sold 2 bikes in order to buy a Roker Comp.  In my case, I got rid of a road bike and a cx bike with the idea that the Roker would be my one bike for gravel and road riding.  I still have 2 mountain bikes (160mm full suspension and a hardtail single speed that I alternate between running with a rigid fork and a 100mm fork).  I'm fortunate to live near some really amazing mountain bike trails and the Roker isn't really suitable (no matter the wheel/tire size) for anything more challenging than "green" (per the trailforks rating system).  That said, I regularly ride my Roker on green mountain bike trails and really enjoy it.  Most rides on the Roker end up being equal parts road, gravel and green single track.  Riding the Roker on single track is fun in an "underbiking" kind of way, but if I'm going to ride 100% trails I opt for a proper mountain bike.
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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hello Squak,

Well.... The reason I asked the question is the fact that I'm not doing a lot of super technical stuff and am pretty conservative when riding.  A good hardtail would be a lot more expensive then just getting the extra 650b wheels with the bigger tires.  Basically gathered that green trails mean more than just dirt as I looked up the definition.  They don't label trails where I live.  Even with a Mountain bike I don't think I would enjoy riding super difficult trails.  So from what you are saying the roker comp with the extra wheel set up would probably be more economical and a good decision when riding trails?

Let me know. 
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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljsmith
I have run 650b x 2.35/2.25 tires front/rear on my GR250. I could just about ride anything except crazy rock gardens with it. But I was A LOT slower than on my FS mountain bike, but that's to be expected. It also depends a lot on your bike handling skills. Riding a modern 29er FS bike can cause you to get lazy with line choice, but on a rigid drop bar bike you have to pick good lines.


Hello,

Curious what a GR 250 is?  Well..... I have decent skills and am a very conservative rider at 55. From what you are saying it may be better to just get the 650b wheels with bigger tires as I won't be riding extraordinary rough stuff.  Will save money over getting a Hardtail or other bike.
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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCoGreg
IMHO suspension is as much about about keeping the tires in contact with the ground as it is for comfort.  I've got several drop bar Frankenbike conversions of fully rigid 26'ers.  I'm typically on 26x2.25 tires - and on true singletrack I quickly finding myself missing suspension.  Several friends who are far better mountain bikers than me enjoy "playing" on fully rigid 29'ers (most are singlespeed).  I've also seen riders on CX bikes with much skinnier tires than the 2.1" you're planning.  So yes it definitely "can" be done.  If you enjoy rigid mtn bikes then a 2.1" 650b will be plenty of tire but it'll be very different than having suspension.


Thanks for the response..... Yep I agree and live in Nor cal as well.  The only trails I will not ride are rock gardens and extreme ruts and roots.  I don't go off jumps anyway so seems like the 650b tires would be more economical instead of buying a new mountain bike.
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NoCoGreg

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgef2000


Hello,

Curious what a GR 250 is?  Well..... I have decent skills and am a very conservative rider at 55. From what you are saying it may be better to just get the 650b wheels with bigger tires as I won't be riding extraordinary rough stuff.  Will save money over getting a Hardtail or other bike.

Here's a link to a "final" review of the GR 250.  The review has a link to the intro...
http://ridinggravel.com/reviews-2/lynskey-gr250-finish/
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GSPChilliwack

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Reply with quote  #11 
I'd think it would be possible to assemble a great hardtail for not too much money, really. I've done it. I'll probably take my "gravel" bike on some single track at some point because I enjoy a challenge, but I'd never want to restrict myself to doing all my single track riding on it.

A decent hardtail is a blast, and plenty capable on all but the rowdiest of trails. I've had a Kona Honzo, and I'm selling a Chromag Rootdown frame to build up a Canfield EPO carbon hardtail.

Pinkbike is your friend--that's where I source most of my "new" used stuff.
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RoverAl

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Reply with quote  #12 
I have a Willard same geo as Roker. I can do a lot with The Willard and I found myself keeping up with 29ers on some trails but when things got rough I wanted my mtb bike back. On mild terrain with roots, washboards, twistys, switchbacks rollers and the like, You know the fun stuff. What I have found is I simply avoid it with the Willard, why? The low bottom bracket, the longish chain stays and wheelbase all come into play. I high sided once at slow speed almost endoed, didn’t see it coming on a mild trail I rode many times on my 29er. Pedal strikes, and trying to whip that frame around are much harder to do. Plus it’s really not made for the abuse mtb trails imo.
I suppose it comes down to your skill level and knowing your limits.
What would the 650 wheels do to the B.B. height?


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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgef2000


Hello,

Curious what a GR 250 is?  Well..... I have decent skills and am a very conservative rider at 55. From what you are saying it may be better to just get the 650b wheels with bigger tires as I won't be riding extraordinary rough stuff.  Will save money over getting a Hardtail or other bike.


It is a Lynskey GR250 gravel bike, it has a lot of room for big tires.  Based on everything you are saying, I think you would do well with a gravel bike with 650b tires for offroad. It doesn't sound like you are riding anything too technical/rocky.
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squak

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgef2000
Hello Squak,

Well.... The reason I asked the question is the fact that I'm not doing a lot of super technical stuff and am pretty conservative when riding.  A good hardtail would be a lot more expensive then just getting the extra 650b wheels with the bigger tires.  Basically gathered that green trails mean more than just dirt as I looked up the definition.  They don't label trails where I live.  Even with a Mountain bike I don't think I would enjoy riding super difficult trails.  So from what you are saying the roker comp with the extra wheel set up would probably be more economical and a good decision when riding trails?

Let me know. 


If you're a conservative rider who only rides easy trails I think the benefits of slightly wider tires on a 650b wheelset will be nominal and not worth the expense/hassle.  Save your money and just run the widest 700c tires you can fit on the Roker.  Something like the WTB Riddler 45c would be great on mellow singletrack.  If you really want to use the Roker as a gravel/mountain bike you'd probably get more benefit from adding a dropper seatpost.
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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #15 

Well.... I am not riding switchbacks with roots etc....  I'm not even into that type of trail riding with a mountain bike.  I have a feeling the 650b tires will be just fine on the roker for trails and not lower the bottom bracket that much in the 2.1 range

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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #16 
I think 650b wheels will be a bit stronger than 700 and I won't have to change tires everytime and I'm thinking the feel of the ride will be different with larger tires and 650b wheels.  That way you have one dedicated set of wheels for road and gravel and one for trails.  But, know what you mean by saving money.


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jmcgukin

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Reply with quote  #17 
My thoughts.  I run both 650 and 700 on my current bike.  I have found, interestingly enough, that 650 is better for hardpack gravel and road, and 700 better for single-track.  Reasons why...

- My 700c tires are wide (45mm).  They actually roll over larger hits like rocks and roots with less impact.  

- The biggest reason is BB hight.  With 650b wheels/tires on single track, pedal strikes were a constant issue for me due to the lowered BB.  


So my current setup is 
- WTB Byway (650b) for general gravel/road commuting 
- Bruce Gordon R&R for single-track and nasty weather gravel.  

Works better for me and I find the comfort in each situation is better.
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Cheshire Cat

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Reply with quote  #18 
jmcgukin makes a valid point regarding 650b wheels, pedal strike...biggest bugbear with my Slate.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #19 
My $.02 -- First, I'm a roadie and ride mostly on town maintained dirt and gravel roads in southern NH. So I'm speaking from the point of view of a mtb novice. None the less, I live in an area where mountain biking is king, and have discussed this topic ad-nauseum with the experts in my trail association. The general opinion is the best bike where tires meet single track, is a fully suspended 29r. After considering many fat and semi-fat alternatives, I've decided to buy a fully suspended 29r when I return to NH from my SC winter residence. "Horses for courses". 
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcgukin
My thoughts.  I run both 650 and 700 on my current bike.  I have found, interestingly enough, that 650 is better for hardpack gravel and road, and 700 better for single-track.  Reasons why...

- My 700c tires are wide (45mm).  They actually roll over larger hits like rocks and roots with less impact.  

- The biggest reason is BB hight.  With 650b wheels/tires on single track, pedal strikes were a constant issue for me due to the lowered BB.  


So my current setup is 
- WTB Byway (650b) for general gravel/road commuting 
- Bruce Gordon R&R for single-track and nasty weather gravel.  

Works better for me and I find the comfort in each situation is better.


I have a very similar set up, but my 700c tires are the Specialized Sawtooth's and they're not great on loose/gravel, I'll have to look into getting a set of the Bruce Gordon's, they look nice. 

I can confirm tons of pedal strikes, I have the 650b Byway's and it seemed to be almost every rock garden caused a strike...

One question for you, what was the reason for moving to the 650's for commuting? I commute 4-5 days a week, and have stopped using my 23mm commuter for this, as my Moots rides so much smoother. But, I've been using 700c x 40-44mm tires for this, and I'm wondering if you noticed faster rolling with the 650's? Most of my commute is on pavement (85-95%), so I don't need a crazy aggressive tread for this duty.

Thanks,
Greg
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mr_slow

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobknh
My $.02 -- First, I'm a roadie and ride mostly on town maintained dirt and gravel roads in southern NH. So I'm speaking from the point of view of a mtb novice. None the less, I live in an area where mountain biking is king, and have discussed this topic ad-nauseum with the experts in my trail association. The general opinion is the best bike where tires meet single track, is a fully suspended 29r. After considering many fat and semi-fat alternatives, I've decided to buy a fully suspended 29r when I return to NH from my SC winter residence. "Horses for courses". 


Agreed on this, but sometimes its nice to ride your bike to the trail, versus having to drive to ride. I also have a 29er XC bike, but it is a bit of a pain to drive ~30-75 minutes to go ride the thing. Typically, I'll plan a weekend in Fruita or Moab to ride this bike, and every-once in a while, I'll drive it to the front range to ride, but riding that bike on the pavement will destroy the tires much too quickly to ride to the trail.

I recently had a situation, where I wanted to only bring one bike for a trip, and I choose my "gravel" bike, as I could do some road riding, as well as hit up some local single track.

Cheers,
Greg
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mgef2000

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Reply with quote  #22 
I know that WTB's website lists bikes that can take the 700 and 650b wheels and tires but they probably are not considering pedal strike. The roker is on that site My feeling is as long as you are not going over huge rocks it will not be a problem with pedal strike.  Yes, super rough trails sounds like it could be an issue I think there needs to be a better definition of just what single-track and rough is.  For most wider trails that don't have drops and jumps even if they have rocks it seems as if a wider 650 b tire on strong wheels would be fine.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_slow


Agreed on this, but sometimes its nice to ride your bike to the trail, versus having to drive to ride. I also have a 29er XC bike, but it is a bit of a pain to drive ~30-75 minutes to go ride the thing. Typically, I'll plan a weekend in Fruita or Moab to ride this bike, and every-once in a while, I'll drive it to the front range to ride, but riding that bike on the pavement will destroy the tires much too quickly to ride to the trail.

I recently had a situation, where I wanted to only bring one bike for a trip, and I choose my "gravel" bike, as I could do some road riding, as well as hit up some local single track.

Cheers,
Greg

I agree with you - nice to have one bike to do it all. Fortunately, I live on a dead end dirt road. The end of the road connects to a single and double track trail system with many miles of great mountain biking. I've toyed with the idea of an inexpensive monster cross that can take a 29r size tire, but for me, given both my age and lack of skill, I'm better of with a fully suspended 29r. I may still go with 27.5+ hard tail with 3" tires though. I like a lighter weight bike and less complexity. The Salsa Timberjack may be a perfect choice -- it can run either 27.5+, or 29r and is reasonably priced.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgef2000
Considering a 650b wheelset with 2.1 tires to go in the roker and then a new chainring and possibly a new cassette.  This gives me one bike that could almost do it all...... At least I think?  I like trails better than road.

Your opinions greatly appreciated on how much a gravel bike can do off road with large tires and strong wheels.

Thanks 


Well that is basically a drop bar mountain bike.  Biggest draw back is probably the width of the handle bars compared to a mountain bike.  I tend to need to be in the drops on my cross bike to get good handling, but its still not as easy to ride single track as a real mountain bike (although I can go a little faster as it is lighter and has larger rolling diameter.

Does the bike take fat 650b tires?  One thing I sometimes do is just swap out the front tire, as the size of that makes a bigger difference in handling than the rear tire.  Ya need to keep the rolling diameter pretty close if you do this though.
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chas

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_slow


One question for you, what was the reason for moving to the 650's for commuting? I commute 4-5 days a week, and have stopped using my 23mm commuter for this, as my Moots rides so much smoother. But, I've been using 700c x 40-44mm tires for this, and I'm wondering if you noticed faster rolling with the 650's? Most of my commute is on pavement (85-95%), so I don't need a crazy aggressive tread for this duty.

Thanks,
Greg


I commute on 28mm, 32mm, 40mm, and sometimes 60mm, lol.

I gave up on 23mm long ago although roadies used to look at me funny and ask how large my 28mm tires were.  Well, there was a time when that was pretty oversized!

For me, 700x32 works best in the summer when I am strong and fast.  In the winter, 700x40 works better (when I am a little slower and the roads are wetter and full of gunk).

I have use 650bx60mm tires - these happen to be some of the fastest rolling tires on the market (as fast or faster than my 23mm race tires).  However they feel infinitely faster than the OEM 650b tires that came on that bike.  650b can be fast  with the proper construction and design - if you are not doing hill climbs and jack rabbit starts from the light.

All and all, the bigger tires are a little slower due to the rotating mass, but that doesn't make much difference in a commute.


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