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  1. #1
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    Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!

    I am looking for a carbon-frame CX for a custom gravel grinder bike. Most of my rides will be be 2-hour rides on pea-sized gravel, but I also may do some more serious gravel grinding and some light touring. I am interested in carbon because I want to create a light and fast bike for my daily rides. I am okay with using frame bags for my touring (see article below on an around-the-world setup).

    My requirements are a disc-compatible frame, 135mm rear spacing for MTB wheels, ability to run 38mm (or wider) tires, SO clearance for my 80 cm inseam, and an effective top tube somewhere between 54 and 55 cm. For reference, my height is 5' 8"and my weight is 160 lbs.

    The Salsa Valya 54-55 cm frames fit me perfectly, and I could get it made in Ti (Russian frame builder). But I want to explore my carbon-frame options.

    The On One Dirty Disco looks to be a good option:

    On One Dirty Disco Carbon Cyclocross Frameset

    It seems to be a tough frame and good geometry that can handle a wide variety of roads. It was used to set an around-the-world speed record:

    Riders set out from Greenwich on World Cycle Racing Grand Tour | road.cc

    Part of my issue here is to find a carbon CX bike that uses disc brakes and has a long enough top tube for me given the higher SO on most CX bikes. It is unlikely that I will race CX.

    For problems related to CX sizing see the previous threads:

    Will a 52 be too small?

    Cyclocross sizing
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  2. #2
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    I am willing to consider Chinese carbon if anyone has recommendations on these:

    Chinese carbon cyclocross frame model list - info and geometry
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  3. #3
    Bring back the Tour de GA
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    Specialized Crux should work. Room for 38-40mm in rear, more in front.
    There's only two things in life (but I forget what they are). - John Hiatt

  4. #4
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    A year ago I bought a Dirty Disco with the intent of building it out, but never did. The frame was super nice and clean looking. Huge head tube, bottom bracket and down tube. I mounted bars and a seat and the overall cockpit length was almost an inch shorter than my typical road bike. I am 5'10" and 160, and bought the 54 (M) and typically ride a 55cm (my Colnago is a 56 with a 55 TT). Mountain bikes are 18" with a 23.5" TT.

    You'll need to decide how stretched out you want on the frameset. The 54 frame felt a touch small to me but dimensions looked like they would match up.

    I've had a chance to chat with a few of the Planet X guys as they are in Portland and I lived in Seattle for a while. Really good team and super responsive. Can't say enough nice things about them.

    I'm still on the lookout for something similar to what you're wanting. I really like the Ibis Hakkalugi, but have also considered having somebody build me something outta steel.

  5. #5
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    I have a crux and it is pretty awesome. The frame is super stiff but also compliant for long rides. I have done a few 100 mile+ gravel and road event on it. Geometry is setup very nice for light trail riding too.
    2014 S-Works Epic WC
    2014 Yeti ARC
    2014 S-Works Crux Disc

  6. #6
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    I have a FR-602 from eBay and I absolutely love it. It fit up to 40mm tires. I run mine with 32mm + fenders

  7. #7
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    "You'll need to decide how stretched out you want on the frameset. The 54 frame felt a touch small to me but dimensions looked like they would match up."

    Yes, this is my concern about the Disco (and many other cyclocross frames). To get the SO clearance I need, I will likely feel cramped in the cockpit.
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  8. #8
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    This new brand in our neck of the woods is getting a lot of buzz around here:

    Gravel Bikes - gravabike

  9. #9
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    Love my Ibis Hakkalugi Disc but the rear clearance isn't huge. I don't think you could go more than 38 mm in back.

  10. #10
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    The Ridley X-Fire is available with disc brakes and uses 135mm spacing in the rear. I'm not completely sure if it'll take a 38c tire though. I have one, but it's not built up yet.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisgardner73 View Post
    The Ridley X-Fire is available with disc brakes and uses 135mm spacing in the rear. I'm not completely sure if it'll take a 38c tire though. I have one, but it's not built up yet.
    I think it likely that the X-Fire takes 700c x 38mm tires because "... the frame has increased mud clearances...". That said, I would need a 41 cm frame (45 cm seat tube, center to top) to get my 80 cm SO. That might work for someone who is only racing cyclocross but not for someone who wants to spend hours on his cyclocross/gravel bike.
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  12. #12
    meh... whatever
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    have you checked out the foundry harrow? 135 rear. through axle fork. disc. lots of room for big tyres. nicely spec'ed. reasonably priced. no hassle TEN YEAR warranty.

    Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!-foundry_harrow_b2_bk7049-02.jpg
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  13. #13
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    the Focus Mares Disc would be sweet. I'm not sure it's shipping yet, but the thru-axle design looks really nice.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    have you checked out the foundry harrow? 135 rear. through axle fork. disc. lots of room for big tyres. nicely spec'ed. reasonably priced. no hassle TEN YEAR warranty.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mono, do you have enough saddle time on one of these to comment on them? They look great, seem to be speced well but there are no Foundry dealers in AZ. so its hard to get any feed back. TIA.

  15. #15
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    I raced cross with a guy who had a foundry. He loved it. Really sweet bike in person.

  16. #16
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    Many of the above-mentioned bikes have SO clearance issues. This seems to be a common issue with cyclocross geometries. So how do folks feel about limited/no SO clearance? Is this something I should worry about?

    I just got off the phone with Salsa cycles asking them about the geometry of their Warbird. Basically, they advise people to fit the frame based on their requirement for the effective top tube length rather than the SO clearance. So it sounds like limited or no SO clearance is a common issue with gravel bikes.
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  17. #17
    little mad riding hood
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    I know Spesh is the antichrist but I have to pile on with the recommendations for the Crux. I have the Crux Pro Disc and it is by far the best bike I've ever ridden. I'm planning to sell my roadbike and race the Crux instead this summer.

    The Crux Evo Disc is specifically tailored / set up for exactly what you're aiming to do btw. In fact it was just favorably reviewed on MTBR as a gravel grinder / quiver killer / do it all bike. And it's not ungodly expensive.

    if we're talking pipe dreams / money's-no-option bikes, then I'd get a custom Alchemy carbon disc frame from our local Denver guys, spec'd with Record EPS. But that's assuming I won the lottery or something.

    good luck!

  18. #18
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I think it likely that the X-Fire takes 700c x 38mm tires because "... the frame has increased mud clearances...". That said, I would need a 41 cm frame (45 cm seat tube, center to top) to get my 80 cm SO. That might work for someone who is only racing cyclocross but not for someone who wants to spend hours on his cyclocross/gravel bike.
    half my team is on Ridleys. they are fantastic, fantastic CX racing bikes but from riders who've tested both (myself included) they are not anywhere near as comfortable or predictable in handling as the Crux or Harrow. The high BB and steep angles make it super sharp handling which is great for tight cross courses and ankle-deep slop / ruts but the frames themselves are unforgivingly stiff. Like, beat your ass raw stiff.

  19. #19
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    Many of the above-mentioned bikes have SO clearance issues. This seems to be a common issue with cyclocross geometries. So how do folks feel about limited/no SO clearance? Is this something I should worry about?

    I just got off the phone with Salsa cycles asking them about the geometry of their Warbird. Basically, they advise people to fit the frame based on their requirement for the effective top tube length rather than the SO clearance. So it sounds like limited or no SO clearance is a common issue with gravel bikes.



    ETT is how I spec my bikes. Stand over is my last consideration, if that. Keep in mind that if you don't get the ETT right you are probably going to hate the bike and never ride it.

  20. #20
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    Many of the above-mentioned bikes have SO clearance issues. This seems to be a common issue with cyclocross geometries. So how do folks feel about limited/no SO clearance? Is this something I should worry about?

    I just got off the phone with Salsa cycles asking them about the geometry of their Warbird. Basically, they advise people to fit the frame based on their requirement for the effective top tube length rather than the SO clearance. So it sounds like limited or no SO clearance is a common issue with gravel bikes.
    yea standover clearance is definitely not a major consideration for cross / road or gravel bikes. I've had zero to negative standover on every cross bike I've ever ridden (I am 5'4" and female with short legs). In a nutshell, bailing onto the TT is one of those things you really don't ever do in those sorts of riding situations (it's a MTB risk sure but not so much in cross). If you're in a situation where you think you may have to bail, learn how to do a proper dismount instead, since not only will you save your nuts, you're also building a worthwhile skill for all manner of dirt riding.

  21. #21
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fakie1999 View Post
    I raced cross with a guy who had a foundry. He loved it. Really sweet bike in person.



    Thanks.

  22. #22
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Mono, do you have enough saddle time on one of these to comment on them? They look great, seem to be speced well but there are no Foundry dealers in AZ. so its hard to get any feed back. TIA.
    no long-term test, but have a little. craftsmanship is incredible. geometry is great. stiff yet compliant. handles incredibly, especially during hard cornering/braking (15mm through-axle). fun to ride on gravel or singletrack. a great road bike with skinnies. a great "do-all" bike. best warranty on the market.

    i plan on getting one this fall.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonefrontranger View Post
    yea standover clearance is definitely not a major consideration for cross / road or gravel bikes. I've had zero to negative standover on every cross bike I've ever ridden (I am 5'4" and female with short legs). In a nutshell, bailing onto the TT is one of those things you really don't ever do in those sorts of riding situations (it's a MTB risk sure but not so much in cross). If you're in a situation where you think you may have to bail, learn how to do a proper dismount instead, since not only will you save your nuts, you're also building a worthwhile skill for all manner of dirt riding.
    Thanks lonefrontrang! I am watching some videos of the proper dismounts for CX. It seems worthwhile to develop this set of skills. But one situation that may be difficult is steep gravel hills. Sometimes on my 26er MTB, I get into a situation where I need to bail partway up a steep hill, mostly because my tires start to slip on loose gravel. I will be going up some of these same hills on my new bike. So how do you deal with this type of situation?
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    ETT is how I spec my bikes. Stand over is my last consideration, if that. Keep in mind that if you don't get the ETT right you are probably going to hate the bike and never ride it.
    Agreed! I like to be stretched out a bit so the appropriate ETT is very important.
    "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it." - Prefontaine

  25. #25
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    Thanks lonefrontrang! I am watching some videos of the proper dismounts for CX. It seems worthwhile to develop this set of skills. But one situation that may be difficult is steep gravel hills. Sometimes on my 26er MTB, I get into a situation where I need to bail partway up a steep hill, mostly because my tires start to slip on loose gravel. I will be going up some of these same hills on my new bike. So how do you deal with this type of situation?
    Plan ahead. I mean, yeah keep your weight back and try to keep the bike from losing traction (this is an MTB skill really; you do that crouched half-seated thing where you sort of hump the nose of the saddle and engage your hamstrings), but be prepared to step off the bike.

    Really. Learn how to step off the bike in any/all situations WITHOUT bailing onto the TT. Bailing "forward" over the top tube effectively puts you into a no-win situation because it's a clumsy dismount that you can't quickly or gracefully recover from.

    I can do a full speed cross dismount into unrideable chop / rocks / ditch crossings even with my dual suspension Niner, where I'm WAY up off the ground. If all else fails and I lose headway / traction / grind to a halt in something I'd planned to ride, I can slip both pedals and hop off the back of the saddle, over the rear tire, rather than bailing onto the TT. I was watching some CX racing footage last night and Lars van der Haar did just this in a nasty situation where he got his line blocked, and turned it from a slow, clumsy dismount into a pass because he just slid off the back of the saddle, grabbed the bike and ran with it.

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