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  1. #1
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    "Gravel" bike commuter?

    I'm looking for a commuter bike to cover a distance of 11miles each way on a mixed paved and unpaved surfaces. Mud is rarely an issue. Options include a gravel bike, "dual-soprt"/hybrid or converted 29inch MTB. I leaning towards a gravel bike.
    Price: no more than $1500, better stay aroung a grand.
    Any recommendation?
    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    I have been riding a Kona Rove for my commute for a couple of months. I love it. I also tested a Salsa Vaya which felt sluggish. The Rove feels very snappy and fun to ride - which makes my commute much more enjoyable.

    Retail on the Rove is $1699.

    But you could get a Sutra, which is the same bike with a lower component spec and tricked out for Touring (rack, fenders, bar-end shifters, etc) for $1499.

    Or there is an aluminum version withe an even lower spec for $899.

    I am very happy with my Rove.

    Good Luck.

  3. #3
    MTB, Road, Commuting
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    I'd go with the gravel bike or just a cross bike. I can't buy into the difference. There are a lot more used cross bikes than gravel bikes out there. I got a used Felt F4X a few years ago and it is my favorite out of the 8 bikes I ride. I did 40 miles on pavement yesterday, if those 40 miles had been on gravel that would have worked too.

    This looks decent.
    Felt F1X Cyclocross Bike | eBay

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    I'd go with the gravel bike or just a cross bike. I can't buy into the difference. There are a lot more used cross bikes than gravel bikes out there. I got a used Felt F4X a few years ago and it is my favorite out of the 8 bikes I ride. I did 40 miles on pavement yesterday, if those 40 miles had been on gravel that would have worked too.

    This looks decent.
    Felt F1X Cyclocross Bike | eBay
    I agree - sorta... Canti brakes suck and I wanted eyelets for racks and fenders. Some cross bikes have those and some do not. BB height considerations as well.

    I always thought that cross bikes made good commuters except for some compromises. And marketing crap aside, "gravel" bikes seem to have removed several of those compromises.

  5. #5
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    I have an All City Macho Man disc that is marketed as a "do all" cx, gravel, commuter...

    I love it, but like Bigdweeb said...you have to get creative if you want to run racks. This replaced a salsa vaya that was a great bike but really wasn't good for commuting. It wanted to be loaded down with racks and take off across the country, imo.

  6. #6
    I Ride for Donuts
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    That sounds a lot like my commute, and a lot like my bikes. I have a 'hipster' gravel bike (hipster because I built it before gravel bikes were cool) and a rigid 29er with drop bars (Surly Ogre).

    My 'gravel' bike is a Nashbar frame 'cross bike with disc brakes and 135mm rear spacing (so I can use a beefier (and cheaper) 29er wheelset. I built it up for way less than $1500 and it's awesome. Nashbar made (still makes?) a carbon fork with disc mounts that I'm using. I'm running 1.5" slick tires on it (kenda), and it's fast and furious. Eats up the gravel and flies on the pavement (using a road double crankset for the big 50 tooth pavement gear). From what I've seen, Nashbar stopped making the frame with 135 spacing in the rear, which is a shame. This bike would be ideal for the commute you describe.

    That said, I've only been Strava-ing my commutes faithfully since 2013 or so, but according to Strava, I've got 560 miles on the Nashbike, and 5088 miles on the Ogre. The Ogre is definitely the go-to commuter. In the winter, the wheels come off of the Nashbike and the studs get put on them for swapping onto the Ogre. When its' sloppy, I want the added tire volume and fat fenders that I can fit on the Ogre. When it's 0-dark-30 and I'm about to pound down the dirt road, I want the extra squish of the 2" tires on the Ogre. It's just altogether a more pleasant ride. It's not quite as fast, but we're talking about a couple of minutes difference after an 11 mile commute.

    The "gravel" bike is fun and fast, but I gotta vote converted rigid drop bar 29er.

    "Gravel":
    "Gravel" bike commuter?-nashbike.jpg

    29er:
    "Gravel" bike commuter?-screen-shot-2015-04-14-9.00.24-am.jpg
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    (no excuse for that either)

  7. #7
    jrm
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    Doe you plan on riding in street clothes and/or cycling clothing? Will you use it ONLY for commuting? Do you have any goals or objectives associated with the purchase? $1500 is roughly $400 short of 105 equipped warbird or RLT which would be my choices. I still think you could build one up yourself for less if you took the time procuring the parts..

  8. #8
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    Might check out REI's offering: The Mazama

  9. #9
    High Plains Luddite
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    The Mazama really caught my eye the last time I was in my local REI store. I'd check it out if I were in the market.

    Another bike that looks cool to me but is at the upper end of the OP's budget is the All-City Space Horse.

  10. #10
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    That Mazama looks cool, but the vaya had bar end shifters and that got old really quick for me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I put bar end shifters on the Ogre on purpose bombproof shifting forever, and selectable between indexed and friction... so when it's time for a tune-up, switch to friction and put it off for another few months

    You have to be careful with set-up so they don't wind up in a place where you'll knock 'em with your knees when climbing in a trail situation out of the saddle... with most "dirt drop" bars I'd want to cut a few inches off of the end of the bar to avoid this. I use a 'normal' road bar, and set it up with a flat top for super comfortable use on the hoods, and this puts the bar-end shifters way out of the way of my knees. Works for me...
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    (no excuse for that either)

  12. #12
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    Figure out if you want flat bars or drop bars. How wide of a tire do you want to run, 35 -45 mm or larger? Need racks and fenders? Answer those and the bike will find you.

  13. #13
    MTB, Road, Commuting
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I put bar end shifters on the Ogre on purpose bombproof shifting forever, and selectable between indexed and friction... so when it's time for a tune-up, switch to friction and put it off for another few months

    You have to be careful with set-up so they don't wind up in a place where you'll knock 'em with your knees when climbing in a trail situation out of the saddle... with most "dirt drop" bars I'd want to cut a few inches off of the end of the bar to avoid this. I use a 'normal' road bar, and set it up with a flat top for super comfortable use on the hoods, and this puts the bar-end shifters way out of the way of my knees. Works for me...
    I just replaced the bar end shifters on the cross check because they wore out (loose balls). I upgraded to 105 STI. I also use to shift that bike with my knees occasionally. Nothing like changing gears while applying max torque.

    Point taken on the cross bikes. Most don't have any mounts.

  14. #14
    Squeaky Wheel
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    What exactly are the tradeoffs between CX bikes and gravel bikes? I guess I always thought of CX bikes as being good gravel grinders. Is it just marketing hype or is there a real difference?

  15. #15
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    ^^ all I can gather is a slightly higher stack height and a slightly shallower drop bar, putting the drops in a little higher position, for Epic™ Enduro™ Gravel Grinding™ adventures. Some seem to have shorter top tubes, but it's negligible. Nothing you can't accomplish with careful fitting of a 'cross bike I don't think.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  16. #16
    Squeaky Wheel
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    Ah, OK. In other words: marketing

  17. #17
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    ^^ I could be wrong................ nah.


    Bedwards, that's impressive wearing out a bar end shifter. I figured these things would live longer than me. All bets are off when things are getting kneed in the balls though. That definitely shortens the lifespan
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  18. #18
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    I also don't see any big distinction between gravel and cross bikes, but, whatever you are looking at I'd look for fender and rack mounting options.

    I have a Jamis Bosanova set up for my Snow- Free commutes, and switched over to a 29er for the long season of bad/ white roads around here. The Bosanova was intended for light touring and commuting and has all the mounting points you can imagine. Kona's Rove AL is a similar option I studied when I got the Bosanova, well worth a look if you are buying new.

    The 29er gives you a world of tire options that won't fit on a standard cx bike, that argument alone might keep a 29er in play, or a big tire hybrid like the Giant Seek.

  19. #19
    weirdo
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    My right bar end shifter got flaky a few years back, stopped holding when in "index" mode. I don`t remember ever bumpping them with my knees, but frequently do it while parked.
    Recalculating....

  20. #20
    Squeaky Wheel
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    My CX bike has fender and rack mounts, disc brake tabs and could easily take a 700x40 tire. Sounds like a gravel grinder...or is it a CX bike?

  21. #21
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    Surly Straggler.
    Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.

  22. #22
    weirdo
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    Useage designation labeling is wrong to impose on a bike. It`s like gender designation for people. My bike was born a "mountain bike", but it knew in its heart that it wanted to wear drop bars and racks. Who am I to tell it that`s wrong? Woodway, if your bike wants to be a gravel grinder, do the right thing- be strong and ignore the artificial socially imposed labels.
    Recalculating....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Useage designation labeling is wrong to impose on a bike. It`s like gender designation for people. My bike was born a "mountain bike", but it knew in its heart that it wanted to wear drop bars and racks. Who am I to tell it that`s wrong? Woodway, if your bike wants to be a gravel grinder, do the right thing- be strong and ignore the artificial socially imposed labels.
    Boom.

  24. #24
    Squeaky Wheel
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Woodway, if your bike wants to be a gravel grinder, do the right thing- be strong and ignore the artificial socially imposed labels.
    But, but, but, no, it HAS to be one or the other, otherwise I could not justify TWO bikes...

  25. #25
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    I see gravel bikes and cross bikes as having a lot of overlap. Though generally, gravel bikes often fit slightly bigger tires, and I see a little bit better downhill stability (slacker head angle, longer wheelbase) with some of them. But some gravel bikes absolutely are almost indistinguishable from some cross bikes.

    IIRC, the Cannondale CaadX works well as a commuter, and actually does have rack mounts.

    Personally, I love my Vaya as a commuter. I don't need to feel fast or anything like that on the bike. It's a workhorse of a bike, for sure. But I also built mine from the frameset. I have Retroshift/Gevenalle shifters on a dirt drop bar (On-One Midge) and love the setup. I do have in mind, I think, that I'd like to change up the drivetrain and brakes a bit. I'd love to go with some hydro brakes (and stay with the Gevenalle setup, which is available). I'm 1x10 now, with just a standard 11-36 cassette, but with the new XT coming online, wonder about a 1x11 with a wider range, which would give me more low end gearing so I could do some gravel touring in the southern part of the state where it's hilly.

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