Rashad F
I went back to the shop to try the final few bikes I had on my list today. After months of soul searching and test rides, I went in now knowing that I prefer lighter more agile bikes and that I am probably never going to be thrilled about a 20+ pound rig even if it has comfort features and massive amounts of tire clearance. I openly acknowledge that there are plenty of great gravel bikes that fall into that category, but I now realize that if I go down that road again, I will always feel like the bike is missing a key ingredient.

Based on that realization, I completely expected the Specialized S-Works Crux to carry the day. It provides all of the strengths the Ibis Hakka MX that I loved does, but in proven package that comes with a lifetime warranty. The only thing it sacrifices is 650b compatibility, which definitely interests me, but isn’t near the top of the wish list. I also planned to re-test the Diverge (I will explain why later) and try the Trek Checkpoint everyone keeps raving about.

First things first, all of the gravel bikes I have tested are outstanding; different, but all worth considering (the list includes: 2019 Salsa Warbird, 2018 Spec Diverge Carbon, 2019 Giant Revolt Advanced, 2019 Ibis Hakka MX, and Trek Checkpoint). One bike I was able to rule out right off the top was the new Warbird. While it was nice, there wasn’t anything “special” about it comparatively and it’s fairly pricey for what you get imo. The bikes I loved are the Diverge, Ibis Hakka MX, and Revolt Advanced.

I was concerned about weight with the Fact 9 Carbon Diverge, comfort with the stiff cx/race oriented Crux and Hakka, and the lack of Di2 compatibility and weight with the Revolt Advanced. Today’s test rides confirmed that I don’t need to make the compromises that come with the Giant. Both of those issues are fairly big deals to me, so the Revolt is out.

I also realized after taking the Checkpoint and Diverge on everything from snow, ice, a grass field, jumping off curbs, and rough roads, that at 44 years old, comfort is more important to me than I sometimes want to admit. I don’t necessarily want to sacrifice weight or speed to get it, but it matters to me quite a bit and I am happier riding a more comfortable bike so long as it still feels snappy and fast. Accordingly, the Diverge and Checkpoint went into the final analysis as leaders.

Out on the ride, both felt silky smooth, but the Diverge definitely felt a little smoother and “quicker” when I laid power down. My gut said all of that future shock business was going to come with a weight penalty I couldn’t live with though. This led us (me and the awesome salesman I worked with) to the scales. I was sure the 105 equipped Checkpoint was significantly lighter than the Diverge with the same groupset.

I was wrong. The Checkpoint came in at around 21lbs stock in my size (52cm). The Fact 9 Diverge with the same groupset came in a pound lighter at right about 20lbs. I was shocked and really feeling the Diverge at that point, but still not impressed with the weight. I am guessing I could get it down to about 18.5-19lbs with a wheel change and a move to Ultegra, etc. I probably would be pretty satisfied with that. Not excited on the weight front, but satisfied given how much I enjoyed riding the bike.

Once we started doing the math though, it dawned on me to take a closer look at the S-Works Diverge I had been eyeballing on the sly the whole time I was there. It turns out that the S-Works Diverge frameset comes in at an advertised 880g, that’s 20g lighter than the Crux and 100g lighter than the Hakka. Now, we were talking. We put it on the scale, and sure enough it came in at a little over 18lbs in a 56 with a dropper post, Di2, and a swat box. Can you say winner?!?!

So, at the end of the day, I am going to trade in my Domane frameset and my old Ridley through Pro’s Closet and get an S-Works Diverge frameset. I am then going to throw my components and wheels from my Domane on the Diverge with wider tires for the time being and then upgrade to lighter stuff over time. That’s where I ended up after looking at most of the popular options and I couldn’t be happier about it. Hopefully, this info benefits someone else. Fire away if you have questions.
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Rashad F
The S-Works Diverge frameset comes in this color and stealth black.  Not sure which way I want to go yet.  

https://scontent-ams3-1.cdninstagram.com/vp/266de1f2d805afaaf463496167472a97/5C1DDDFF/t51.2885-15/e35/39911466_1102897516533370_979774141496295424_n.jpg
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owly
Good luck with the build. 

My vote goes for the grey camo frameset. Seen a couple of similar designs on euro gravel frames.
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Rashad F
Thanks! I have really enjoyed my Domane, but I am looking forward to the change. There is a ton of good mixed terrain and gravel riding out near where I live, so having the ability to add wider tires while still getting lighter to help with the horrendous climbing that is also common out here is exciting. Looking forward to it. I think I am leaning towards the grey camo as well. It’s different and kind of fun.
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Rashad F
Here's some additional information on the weight on the two versions of the Diverge for those that are considering it as a potential option:

Here's a nice Red Etap 1x build someone built up to 17lbs. That's as light as many road bikes out there, including some that are being raced regularly, but with 38mm tires and futureshock level compliance. Extremely nice....

https://weightweenies.starbike.com/f...c.php?t=148020


You can also definitely get the Fact 9r carbon models down to at least 18.5 pounds without a ton of effort. 

https://www.cyclingabout.com/2018-sp...touring-bikes/

So, at the end of the day, you are talking about roughly a 1.5 pound difference between the Fact 11r S-Works and Fact 9r carbon models. I think it will be tough (or at least fairly expensive) to get the S-Works bike much lighter than 17lbs and the same to get the Fact 9r model much lighter than 18.5.
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klockhause
I have been looking at many of those same bike for a while now, so this write up is much appreciated since you and I seem to be looking for a lot of the same attributes in bikes at the moment. With that said, I am curious why it was so easy to rule out the 2019 Warbird? With the Di2 setup it would be in the same weight class that you're looking at with the other rigs and obviosuly has the 650b compatibility. I have only tested a "lower end" model of it by pedaling around the block of a shop a couple times, so I am curious as to why you ruled it out so quickly since it sounds like you were able to ride one for more length than I was able to.

 Thanks,

Kyle
913-205-2212
KyleLockhause@gmail.com

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Rashad F
klockhause wrote:
I have been looking at many of those same bike for a while now, so this write up is much appreciated since you and I seem to be looking for a lot of the same attributes in bikes at the moment. With that said, I am curious why it was so easy to rule out the 2019 Warbird? With the Di2 setup it would be in the same weight class that you're looking at with the other rigs and obviosuly has the 650b compatibility. I have only tested a "lower end" model of it by pedaling around the block of a shop a couple times, so I am curious as to why you ruled it out so quickly since it sounds like you were able to ride one for more length than I was able to.

 Thanks,

Kyle


Hi Kyle. No problem. For me, the Warbird just felt ordinary/vanilla compared to the other bikes. It felt like it was in a second tier on both the comfort and stiffness fronts when ridden biack to back with the Diverge and Revolt, etc. It wasn’t a bad bike at all, there was just a 0% chance I was going to take it over one of the other bikes I liked more, so it was an easy elimination.

If you like the idea of the new Warbird, I encourage you to try the Ibis Hakka MX. It’s the same idea, but felt so much more lively and lighter to me. Hope that helps.

As a side note, I was at the Specialized Experience Store in Colorado yesterday and I encourage folks to take a look at the new Crux as well. It’s primarily a cx bike, but easily fits 40mm tires and can be built up as light as 16.5 lbs or so. It was so fast and light that it could easily be both your primary road bike, gravel bike, and cx bike. That’s how one of the guys that works there uses his Expert. Really nice bikes and all are S-Works level Carbon this year.
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ljsmith
klockhause wrote:
I have been looking at many of those same bike for a while now, so this write up is much appreciated since you and I seem to be looking for a lot of the same attributes in bikes at the moment. With that said, I am curious why it was so easy to rule out the 2019 Warbird? With the Di2 setup it would be in the same weight class that you're looking at with the other rigs and obviosuly has the 650b compatibility. I have only tested a "lower end" model of it by pedaling around the block of a shop a couple times, so I am curious as to why you ruled it out so quickly since it sounds like you were able to ride one for more length than I was able to.

 Thanks,

Kyle


I just bought a new Warbird and it is an amazing bike.  The one thing I want to put out there is that it is light.  Based on the OPs posts, you would think it is the heaviest of every bike out there.  The frame AND fork weigh 1360g, I am not sure who is going to say that is heavy.  For comparison the Ibis Hakka MX frameset (which the OP states feels lighter) is 1640g according to Competitive Cyclist. I bought the Apex 1, stripped all the parts off and built it from the frame up with Force 1.  The build cost, including the price of the bike, was about $5000 (close to the price of a S-works diverge frameset).  But once I sell off all the parts I took off, that figure will come down a bit.  The weight of my build without pedals (as all stock bikes are weighed) is 16.8 lbs and that is with a heavy redshift stem and cane creek suspension post.  So as far as weight is concerned the Warbird is competitive, and probably better than most out there. 

Salsa 2.jpg
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Rashad F
To each his/her own. I have no doubt in my mind that there will be someone out there that loves each of these bikes. They are all good. Given that, try them back to back I say and get the one you like best/can afford.
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chas

@Rashhad - I appreciate you sharing that.

I test road many of the bikes you did, but the gravel bikes didn’t have much snap to them.  I don’t know if it was the weight, lower BB, or what.  Agreed, I wanted to like the Warbird, but it wasn’t special and its pricey (and certainly the Roker was very similar but was a fraction of the price earlier this year).

Crux ended up on the top of my list – fast, light, and capable of being one bike to do it all.  I found a gorgeous used one that had a MSRP of $5000 (!) and a reasonable price, but…  I ended up with more of a CX bike – Canyon Inflite – because it is super snappy – accelerates climbs amazingly, and corners hard (maybe a little too hard for a gravel only bike).  That and it is super cush in the rear.  It’s the only bike I have taken on gravel without a thudbuster or similar seatpost (unlike the warbird above, lol)

I wouldn’t think weigh makes much of a difference, but at just under 17.5 lbs (or under 16.5  with slicks and light wheels), it does accelerate and climb well. 

@Klockhouse – I liked the warbird, but it just didn’t make me smile.  And, its going to be expensive to get it light. I think it would be great for a moderate paced long adventure or all day (or week) tour.  But I don’t get to spend 8 hours on a bike that often.

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Rashad F
No problem at all. The Canyon Inflite definitely looks like it could be a winner as well given your assessment and my recent experience with the Crux. Thanks for sharing. I would love to some pics of one with gravel tires on it.
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Rashad F
Found it and 40mm tires definitely fit.

https://www.bikehub.co.za/features/_/gear/insight/bike-check-gravel-bikes-of-tour-de-braai-r6986
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Jono_SK
Rashad, thanks for your write up of your experience! Looking at similar bikes. However, Norco Search XR Ultegra is on the list for me and the Norco Threshold Ultegra (similar geometry to the Crux). Because of a sale at my LBS I'm down to those two. But torn between lighter build, but more aggresive geometry of the Threshold (I currently ride a 2013 Giant Defy and worried the Threshold may be too aggressive for me) and the more upright but heavier build of the Search XR. 
Curious what your thoughts are on the difference between the Crux and the Diverge. Did you prefer the slacker handling and more upright geometry of the Diverge to the quicker, agile handling of the Crux? Was the Crux too twitchy for more gravel oriented rides?
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