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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
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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.
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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.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    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.




    Many thanks.

  27. #27
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    "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."

    Yes, I am getting much better at planning ahead and shifting my weight to maintain traction but as you imply, there will always be a few situation where one looses headway and needs to dismount. I will think about/practice the back-of-the-saddle dismount.
    "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

  28. #28
    little mad riding hood
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    lfr's no-fail one hour dismount skills clinic

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    Yes, I am getting much better at planning ahead and shifting my weight to maintain traction but as you imply, there will always be a few situation where one looses headway and needs to dismount. I will think about/practice the back-of-the-saddle dismount.
    okay. Really I am not trying to be snarky but if you're planning to do gravel grinders, trail rides, racing of any sort, or just improve your riding skillset you do need to concentrate on learning this dismount skill. Seriously.

    Riding a 'cross bike is not like riding an MTB. And MTB or 'cross racing is NOT trials riding. You don't get any bonus points for riding stuff at the risk of bailing / crashing or just riding it slowly and awkwardly, especially if it's something you could have easily dismounted and run through. Fully 3/4ths of the time it's something you'll burn fewer matches / save energy by running, too.

    I know MTB riders have this stubborn "ride-it-at-all-costs" mentality, but trust me there are lots and lots of situations where it is far easier and faster to run something than ride it, and running something is 100% of the time faster and less painful than crashing. I mean hell, one of my first MTB Beginner races back in the days of toeclips and thumbshifters I passed forty guys in the first 100 yards of singletrack because half the field crashed in a creek crossing and I popped a quick CX dismount and ran past all of 'em. Never saw most of them for the rest of the race, either. These skills have saved my ass in quite a few urban riding situations too.

    So without further ado, I present to you the text based dismount clinic.

    1) Lube your pedals and cleats, and check both for wear. If you have SPDs, consider swapping to a better system (ok now I am being snarky, but only slightly). Seriously, anytime I have to line up other than on the front row in a 'cross race, I look for riders using SPDs and line up ANYWHERE but behind them, and that goes double for muddy days.

    2) Go find yourself a nice flat grass area in a park, soccer field, wherever. It needs to be big/long enough to practice several dismounts in a row.

    3) put your bike in the easiest gear, and from a just-faster-than walking pace, with your hands on the brake hoods, practice clipping out your RIGHT foot, and for now, just wave your leg around and get used to "disengaging" what your lower body is doing from your upper body. Keep your hands light and your elbows loose, and look where you're going, not at your feet or the front wheel. The first step is to get used to riding in a straight line, swinging your leg without hitting the bike or affecting your line of travel.

    4) When you're comfortable with that and can unclip / swing your leg around without hitting the bike or weaving all over the place (a bit of speed helps), now practice swinging your free leg up behind the saddle / over the rear wheel, and onto to the non-drive side. Lean the bike over to the left a couple degrees (countersteer) to steady it. PRO TIP: Steady the bike further by leaning your right hipbone into the saddle as you lean the frame slightly to the left. This makes a "tripod" and is far more stable than not using your body weight to hold the bike straight. Practice this a few times up and down and get comfortable with the motion - just swing your leg over, ride a few feet, then swing it back. Use enough speed that you don't have to worry about momentum.

    5) So now you're rolling along nice and relaxed in a half-dismount whilst standing fully on the non-driveside with your hands calmly gripping the hoods (no death grip, please), all your weight on the ball of your LEFT foot (still clipped in please), and your right foot ready to step down. DO NOT attempt to do the "grapevine" dismount (weaving your right foot thru past the crankarm). Most CX coaches no longer teach this technique anymore as it's too risky (see "Joey" cyclocross video on Youtube for why). I also do not encourage you to unclip your left foot prior to stepping off. There's a few reasons for this, the least of which it's encouraging bad habits, and besides, if you hit a bump you can easily re-engage the pedal without realizing it...

    7) Now, just step off whilst unclipping your left foot. Because you're twisting your hips / leg / body towards the back of the bike by stepping your right foot behind the left, this also helps encourage your left pedal to naturally disengage - but make sure the first few times you do this to exaggerate the twisting motion so that your pedal releases. Over time and practice, this will become a seamless, natural motion and you'll wonder why you ever worried your pedal wouldn't unclip.

    6) Now just lift up the bike by grabbing the top or downtube (dictated by situation / preference) and beat feet. Some CX coaches try to teach riders to reach down for the top/downtube AS they're dismounting, but tbh I have never seen pros / elite riders do this, and to me it seems too risky, especially if you're in dire conditions.

    ANOTHER PRO TIP: If you know you're going to be in dicey footing / mud / slick stuff, don't be afraid to run toe spikes. I use short toe spikes even in summer MTB races, because there's invariably some crappy horrendous thing I have to hike that requires the additional traction.

    Once you've got these basic drills down, just practice a lot. Like, learn how to do it on asphalt, on gravel, on mud, wherever. Practice dismounts every time you're getting on and off your bike during / after a ride, your daily commute, whatever.

    Re-mounting is just a hop / vault back on, but if you want to do it properly, practice from a very slow walk first to encourage proper technique. The easiest way to pick up a hop / stutter step (and/or jam your nuts) is to rush this process. Basically you just lift up your right leg and slide your thigh onto the saddle, and push off hard with the left foot. No leaping, no bouncing, no drama. Practice this a hundred times before you add any speed or try to jog. Keep the bike close to your body and don't "lean" over too much.

    The "panic bail" over the rear of the saddle is different - it's basically where you KNOW you've lost headway and you don't have enough time or momentum to swing one leg over. You just unclip both feet and slide backwards. Let go of the bars as you hit the ground and grab the saddle / top tube as you come around / over the rear wheel to keep the bike going straight, unless you're REALLY tall / with long arms.

    Have fun. These are skills every MTB rider / racer should practice and use.

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    "... Like, beat your ass raw stiff."

    Thanks, I'll cross Ridleys off my list. I am 55 and looking to continue using cycling to crosstrain for my main sport, rowing. I don't need a bone-rattling ride!
    "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

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    I went with aluminum for cost and perceived durability but I love my Felt CX bike. They have several different models to choose from
    Epic Flash Boris F65X + road bikes

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    Quote Originally Posted by donn12 View Post
    I went with aluminum for cost and perceived durability but I love my Felt CX bike. They have several different models to choose from
    My perception is that carbon frames are getting more durable, but they are still perfecting the frame-making process. While I would like something lighter than aluminum, a custom Ti frame is still an option for me. I can get one in the range of $700 to $1300.
    "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

  32. #32
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    My perception is that carbon frames are getting more durable, but they are still perfecting the frame-making process. While I would like something lighter than aluminum, a custom Ti frame is still an option for me. I can get one in the range of $700 to $1300.
    Carbon is both easier and cheaper to repair than Al, Ti or steel. Reports of its fragility are greatly overrated.

    I saw a carbon track frame with both top and down tubes sheared in 2 repaired by Brady Kappius (brokencarbon.com) for less than $300, although the owner did not bother to have the repairs repainted (which adds to the cost). The repair adds very little to the weight, and in any case the repaired section is actually stronger than prior to the break.

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    I just did a 200k gravel race on my Crux last weekend, and I was pretty damn happy with it. That said, I'm sure there are plenty of other good choices to do what you want.

    I think if I was choosing a bike specifically for gravel-type riding, I'd definitely give Ti a long hard thought.

    I'm definitely of the standover clearance is overrated school. I have very short legs and a long torso, and so I have basically no clearance on any of my bikes, including MTB. One thing to take into account, though, is that the bottom bracket heights of cross bikes vary by quite a bit. You'll likely want a lower bottom bracket, if you have standover concerns, 'cause that will put the seat closer to the ground and, all else being equal, probably mean increased clearance. Confusingly, bottom bracket heights are generally measured in drop, where a larger number means a lower BB height. Lower BB heights are generally around 65 or 70mm of drop. This is often called "new school" or (sometimes) "American" geometry.

  34. #34
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    i've had worse luck with aluminum bikes than i've had with steel, ti, or carbon. almost every aluminum framed bike i've owned long-term has either cracked or catastrophically failed.

    about the only way i'd consider an aluminum frame now would be for a 1-season bike.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

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    "I think if I was choosing a bike specifically for gravel-type riding, I'd definitely give Ti a long hard thought."

    Yes, Ti is still in the running. I am looking at several custom Ti frame builders in Russia and China. Both can build any geometry I want. If I go with Ti, I might use a geometry similar to the Salsa Warbird:

    2014 Warbird Ti | Bikes | Salsa Cycles

    or the Vaya as mentioned above.

    In your opinion, what are the advantages/disadvantages of carbon and Ti if using the same frame geometry? I have some of my own ideas, but I want to hear what you think.
    "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

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    what are the advantages/disadvantages of carbon and Ti if using the same frame geometry? I have some of my own ideas, but I want to hear what you think.
    that varies with how the frames are constructed. you can have two frames of the exact same geometry of the exact same material and they can ride differently due to seatstay shape, bottom bracket area construction/shape, and tube size/shape. likewise, you can have two frames of ti and carbon of the exact same geometry that will ride differently as well. so there's more to it than mere geometry and material.

    an advantage of ti would be the ride. it can be made to be stiff yet somewhat compliant. carbon frames are really catching up in this area though. with a gravel bike vertical compliance is a tad less of an issue due to the higher volume tyres and the surface being ridden.

    carbon, on the other hand, generally has a SUPER STIFF bottom bracket area. pedal and GO! they are catching up in vertical compliance due to seatstay and chainstay design, giving the best of both worlds.

    ti is much more impervious to scratches and impacts from sharp objects than is carbon fiber. however, the general impact area is somewhat limited to the downtube which can be protected on either frame by helicopter tape. if you crash a lot avoid carbon and go ti. carbon is very strong but does not have good impact strength/tolerance.

    if you're wanting a totally custom build, ti would be more cost efficient.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonefrontranger View Post
    1) If you have SPDs, consider swapping to a better system (ok now I am being snarky, but only slightly). Seriously, anytime I have to line up other than on the front row in a 'cross race, I look for riders using SPDs and line up ANYWHERE but behind them, and that goes double for muddy days.
    Good advice. Guys like Sven Nys who ride SPD's are obviously CX newbs who need your enlightenment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    In your opinion, what are the advantages/disadvantages of carbon and Ti if using the same frame geometry? I have some of my own ideas, but I want to hear what you think.
    Carbon and Ti/Steel couldn't be more dis-similar in my mind. If you have experience with a higher end steel frame, riding a Ti frame will feel and ride very similar. You may notice a weight difference, if there is one.

    Carbon is so very different in its feel. It's not springy or forgiving in a metal (Ti/Steel) sense. If we're talking road/cross its muted and more deadening. Additionally, carbon is the most interesting in that it can be manipulated so that certain characteristics become more evident. I can't do the technical description justice, but in the last 10 years the field has become downright amazing.

    Like many of us, I have owned Alum, Steel, Carbon, Ti. All have trade offs.

    Alum is typically light, but not particularly forgiving in its ride Usually those bike are more affordable.
    Steel has a little more springy feel, but in nearly all cases rides particularly nice.
    Ti rides a touch more comfortably than steel, and is a touch lighter.
    Carbon rides nothing like any of the above, and can ride well or sometimes kinda harsh.

    I've never owned a stainless frame, like 953 or XCR. I also have not owned anything that was a combo of any of the above, for example, alum with carbon stays, or carbon with Ti lugs.

    I really like the looks of a clean Ti or Steel build. That smaller tubing and clean tube joins have an ascetic appeal. That said, my high end road bike is Carbon, my MTN bike is Carbon, and my Beargrease is Carbon.

    Personally, I'm steering towards a higher end tubing steel gravel grinder, with matching steel fork, decked with Chris King/Thomson goodies and some Carbon hoopies. I love Campy, so it will probably get that drivetrain.
    Last edited by WA-CO; 02-15-2014 at 05:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris View Post
    Good advice. Guys like Sven Nys who ride SPD's are obviously CX newbs who need your enlightenment.
    yes, and did you see the footage from Hoogerheide of him kicking/banging his pedals to clear them on the road portion of every lap? Also is he riding a preference or a sponsor requirement?

    arguably a Cat 3 or 4 women's field or a Cat 4 or 5 men's field isn't going to be bringing anywhere near the skill of someone like Nys to be able to (or even know how to) clear their cleats or handle the bike while fighting to clip in. I assume most of us on these boards are not world elite level pros.

    I finished ahead of every single SPD user in our first muddy local race this season and most of them are quite a bit faster than I am on dry courses. I have based my start position on hard earned experience from getting punked on the start every single time I lined up behind an SPD user, because they were fumbling for their pedals (see also: Niels Albert's horrible start at Namur) I don't do this stuff for no reason.

    I've ridden SPDs, OnZas, Time, Eggbeaters and Frogs. I've spent 17 seasons on Time. SPDs are absolutely awful in mud. They work fine in the dry. Your mileage may vary.

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    I went from spd, to crank bros, back to spd. Didnt really notice a huge improvement with mud shedding. I find I can clip in faster with spd's. So, when I'm off the bike 5 times per lap, and usually do 7-8 laps, it adds up.

    To shun spd's altogether in cyclocross is just plain silly.

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    I went from SPD to Crank Bros to SPD to Look Quartz and back to SPD. I think why SPD is THE choice of the euro pro is due to the fact they are the easiest to get out of, but yet when you are in, you're in. I found the higher release angle of Crank Bros and Look to be annoying in cross, though I did really like the Look pedals on the mountain bike.

    Anyone happen to notice the pedals Stybar won the worlds on? Shimano 540! A pedal you can buy online for all of $50!

    Sorry for the thread hijack. On the topic at hand, who know, I'm still riding my 10 year old Kona Jake the Snake on the gravel. If I was buying a new cross bike I think the carbon Major Jake would be at the top of my list, but the new Focus bikes are super nice, just not sure I could justify the extra $. For a pure "all-road" bike, forgetting CX racing, and assuming I had lots of money to waste I'd go with a Kona Ti Rove or Ti Salsa Warbird, yummmmmmy.

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    "I went from SPD to Crank Bros to SPD to Look Quartz and back to SPD. I think why SPD is THE choice of the euro pro is due to the fact they are the easiest to get out of, but yet when you are in, you're in. I found the higher release angle of Crank Bros and Look to be annoying in cross, though I did really like the Look pedals on the mountain bike."

    For my purposes, it comes down to choosing a pedal that I like. Period. When I am riding 40-100km of gravel, I only need to dismount a few times anyway. Riding hundreds of kilometers of dry gravel in Kansas is unlike most muddy cyclocross courses.
    "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

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    I have narrowed the list to the following frames:

    (1) Pivot Vault carbon (or equivalent from Spec, Kona, Grava bikes, etc.): ~$2300

    (2) Chinese carbon (http://www.icanbikes.com/html/Cross_Country/134.html): ~$600

    (3) Custom Ti with Salsa Warbird geometry (2014 Warbird Ti | Bikes | Salsa Cycles) with Enve cross disc fork (http://www.enve.com/forks/disc-cyclocross.aspx): I am still working on the exact quote.

    The difference between option (2) and (3) is about 1 pound in weight. Does that make a difference?

    The company I am thinking of using to potentially hire for custom Ti is the Rapid Company near Moscow (About RAPID Company | RAPID*Company official site). Since 1994, they have produced over 12,000 frames only two have failed:

    Production of Titanic Bicycle Frames | English Russia

    I am tempted to go with option (3) is I can get the frame made done for <$1100. Again, my use is to ride thousands of miles of gravel over the next 20 years. I might do one or two gravel races and a few light tours on the bike, but mostly I want something fast, light, stable, comfortable, and reliable for gravel riding. What do folks think?
    "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

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I am tempted to go with option (3) is I can get the frame made done for <$1100. Again, my use is to ride thousands of miles of gravel over the next 20 years. I might do one or two gravel races and a few light tours on the bike, but mostly I want something fast, light, stable, comfortable, and reliable for gravel riding. What do folks think?
    I've followed the thread and I understand your desire to try carbon fiber, but if you're not racing a lot and want fast, light, stable, comfortable, and reliable, I'd say get a BlackMountainCycles monstercross frame (Black Mountain Cycles: Howdy). It will do everything you're asking for better than any bike you've listed, except the "light" part. It's light enough for steel, but certainly not weight weenie light. Crazy well-designed frameset.

    I say this as a guy who currently owns a Specialized CF Crux, and have built up gravel bikes out of a Niner Air9 and MCR9, owned a Fisticuff, an aluminum Crux, 3 CrossChecks, and the BMC monstercross. For what you've described, the BMC is hands down the choice I'd recommend.

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    At some point, I hope that someone WILL make what will essentially be a carbon version of the BMC bike: relaxed geo with clearance for Bruce Gordon rock n' road tires. For a number of reasons, an uberstiff CX frame made for balls-out 45 minute sprints just isn't the best candidate for a true all-day gravel grinder.

    Salsa almost nailed it with the warbird in terms of geometry, but needlessly limited tire clearance. Same with Ibis.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by D_Man View Post
    At some point, I hope that someone WILL make what will essentially be a carbon version of the BMC bike: relaxed geo with clearance for Bruce Gordon rock n' road tires. For a number of reasons, an uberstiff CX frame made for balls-out 45 minute sprints just isn't the best candidate for a true all-day gravel grinder.

    Salsa almost nailed it with the warbird in terms of geometry, but needlessly limited tire clearance. Same with Ibis.
    Simple. Unless you plan to use your GG bike as a part-time road bike, any HT CF 29er frame with 6" or more of bottom bracket drop will work just fine. Adjust your fit by shortening the stem to account for the longer top tube than a corresponding CX bike and you're good to go. GG bike that will take 2.3" tires if you need it to. It will work, I've built two. I can share all the tips I learned in the process. I'm going to build a Scott Scale 910 for that very purpose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    The difference between option (2) and (3) is about 1 pound in weight. Does that make a difference?
    No. Unless you are racing for Gravel World Championships (I just trademarked that term, $100,000 licensing fee!) it won't make a difference. Even in a race you'd be talking about a handful of seconds over hours IMO. Go for #3 it'll be a super cool bike and the Ti should resist downtube rock chips well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    I've followed the thread and I understand your desire to try carbon fiber, but if you're not racing a lot and want fast, light, stable, comfortable, and reliable, I'd say get a BlackMountainCycles monstercross frame (Black Mountain Cycles: Howdy). It will do everything you're asking for better than any bike you've listed, except the "light" part. It's light enough for steel, but certainly not weight weenie light. Crazy well-designed frameset.
    I have given the black mountain monstercross frame a hard look. In many ways, it does fit my requirements. Unfortunately, the frame is incompatible with the latest versions of Shimano Ultegra cranks:

    Black Mountain Cycles: Cross frame crank compatibility...

    In my build, I want to use either a Shimano triple (Ultegra 6703) or Shimano double (Utegra 6800) crankset. Also, I want to use a tapered carbon fork---not sure if that would be compatible with the headset in this frame. Finally, I can get a great price on a custom Ti frame.
    "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

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    I just got a quote from the Rapid Company (see link above). They can build me a custom Ti frame for $830 plus $85 shipping. I will also need to purchase a carbon fork (probably the ENVE fork listed above) for ~$550. Geometry will be based on the Salsa Warbird, but modified for my exact fit and special features like rack mounts. So I am going with option (3) as listed above.

    FYI, I already have nice 26er MTB and will someday purchase a nice 29er so these bikes can handle my rougher road requirements. This custom Warbird will be for riding gentler gravel at killer speeds and for taking blizkrieg tours on bike trails and/or pavement. I'll post updates on my frame and build as this project progresses.

    Thanks everyone for your help!
    "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

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    Personally, I'd just get some nice, light wheels for the Vaya.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAVELBIKE View Post
    Personally, I'd just get some nice, light wheels for the Vaya.
    Light wheels with UST tires (e.g. Stan's Iron Cross rims and Stan's Crows 700c x 35mm) are going to be part of my build. One issue with the Vaya is that it is spec'd with a steel fork with a 50mm rake. This would be inconsistent with the ENVE or Whistkey Creek tapered forks that I am considering using on my build. I like the feel of a carbon fork on gravel.

    I could get a custom Vaya frame from the same builder for the above mentioned price. They could also do a Ti fork with the appropriate rake. But I really want a bike tuned for fast gravel riding rather than touring. I could also buy a stock Vaya frame from Salsa for $750, but I would rather spend a few dollars more to get a custom Ti frame. Then I set it up exactly the way I want it.
    "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

  52. #52
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    A 35mm tire and carbon fork will ride harsher than a wider/bigger tire with a steel fork. The stock Vaya fork is nothing to sneeze at, comfort/control wise.

    Also, a wider rim than the Iron Cross will give you more tire options if you want more flotation/traction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAVELBIKE View Post
    Also, a wider rim than the Iron Cross will give you more tire options if you want more flotation/traction.
    Most of my riding is on pea-sized gravel and small-gravel bike trails. For these conditions a carbon fork and the Iron Cross rims/Stan's tires with 20-25 PSI pressure (or higher) will work very well.

    With my custom build, we will see what the maximize diameter tire will be with my frame. If I can actually run a much wider tire, then I can have a second set of wheels for rougher gravel. But I really want a 700c x 35mm setup for my typical rides and hopefully the option of running wider tires when required.
    "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

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    With my custom build, we will see what the maximize diameter tire will be with my frame. If I can actually run a much wider tire, then I can have a second set of wheels for rougher gravel. But I really want a 700c x 35mm setup for my typical rides and hopefully the option of running wider tires when required.
    Since this a custom build, shouldn't tire width capability be whatever you want it to be?
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Since this a custom build, shouldn't tire width capability be whatever you want it to be?
    Yes but constrained by the theoretical limits of frame construction. My builders can increase tubing thickness and curve the stays to accommodate wider tires, but I am constraining the build by (1) requesting a geometry similar to the Salsa Warbird (as opposed to a true monstercross or mountain bike geometry for intance), (2) by requesting clearance for road cranks, and (3) by requesting clearance for mountain hubs (135 mm).

    The On-One Pickenflick is an example of what happens when tire width controls the frame:

    Found: On-One Limited Edition Ti ?Cross Rig ? The Pickenflick

    FYI, I don't want to use mountain bike gearing.

    I will update this thread when I find out what my builder can do with my frame.
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  56. #56
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    Suggest Carver is a lot lower risk than ordering direct from Triton or similar: Custom Ti

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    Update from Frame Builder

    I just got an update from my Ti frame builder. He suggests welding a plate into chainstays to create more room for wider tires. See <a href="http://www.rapid-titan.ru/product/frames/mcmmonster/mcmmonster2.jpg">the end result here</a>

    He also thinks we may need to design a custom monster cross frame. Below is a first cut.

    Any thoughts on the longer-than-normal effective top tube length? Would that cause any issues?
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "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

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I just got an update from my Ti frame builder. He suggests welding a plate into chainstays to create more room for wider tires. See <a href="http://www.rapid-titan.ru/product/frames/mcmmonster/mcmmonster2.jpg">the end result here</a>

    He also thinks we may need to design a custom monster cross frame. Below is a first cut.

    Any thoughts on the longer-than-normal effective top tube length? Would that cause any issues?
    Plates can work fine. I know there it a stock Ti gravel frame with such, just can't recall. The geometry looks great, but this is a 56cm frame, simply not your size. Now it would fit me PERFECTLY

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    Quote Originally Posted by SVO View Post
    Plates can work fine. I know there it a stock Ti gravel frame with such, just can't recall. The geometry looks great, but this is a 56cm frame, simply not your size. Now it would fit me PERFECTLY
    Thanks, I'll have him downsize it a bit. I need like a 54.5cm frame. BTW, his design allows for 700c x 45mm tires!
    "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

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    Lynskey Procross and Kona Rove Ti(made by Lynskey) have chainstay plate on the driveside.

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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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    I had a Foundry Auger Disc. I hope the QC and carbon layup is better on the Harrow. My frame was so out of spec that the bike couldn't be built. Then I snapped the seat stays in half on my second ride on the replacement frame while remounting after clearing a barrier. Customer service was CRAP. They lost a customer for life because of that. Hope things are better with the Harrow and that they've revamped their CS.

    Very happy with my Hakaluggi disc!

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    Quote Originally Posted by foothillsbass View Post
    This new brand in our neck of the woods is getting a lot of buzz around here:

    Gravel Bikes - gravabike
    $1750 for a Chinese frame and fork, and a seat collar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevermiss View Post
    Very happy with my Hakaluggi disc!
    Likewise! I used my Hakkalugi for a 1,100 km self supported gravel ride about a month ago, and it was fantastic. I couldn't think of a better bike for gravel grinding.

    Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!-2014-02-05-17.13.22.jpg

  64. #64
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    Sweet! What tires are running? I have Kenda Happy Mediums on 23mm rims right now. I haven't tried to put my revelate tangle bag on mine yet--glad to see its a good fit.

    Quote Originally Posted by monolith View Post
    Likewise! I used my Hakkalugi for a 1,100 km self supported gravel ride about a month ago, and it was fantastic. I couldn't think of a better bike for gravel grinding.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt." - Surly Blog

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    Frame Design is Complete

    Attached is the final BikeCad drawing of my build. Note that the build will have (1) clearance for 700c x 45mm tires, (2) rack and disc brake mounts, (3) 2 water-bottle mounts, and (4) cable routing on the down tube. The build will also include a Ti rack and fender mounts for touring.

    Note the down tube is designed to add stiffness to the frame and the ETT length is necessary to avoid toe overlap. The design includes use of the ENVE cross disc fork.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Hard Rain; 04-05-2014 at 08:44 AM.
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    Looks pretty sweet.

    Toe overlap is a very tough thing to calculate in advance and dependent on many things: Geometry, tire size, shoe size, cleat positioning, model shoe, model pedal, etc. I think people worry too much about it. Personally, in your place, I'd get the geometry right for my torso and forget about toe overlap. Especially for the kind of riding this type of frame is meant for, i.e. not super technical moves climbing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SVO View Post
    Looks pretty sweet.

    Toe overlap is a very tough thing to calculate in advance and dependent on many things: Geometry, tire size, shoe size, cleat positioning, model shoe, model pedal, etc. I think people worry too much about it. Personally, in your place, I'd get the geometry right for my torso and forget about toe overlap. Especially for the kind of riding this type of frame is meant for, i.e. not super technical moves climbing.
    The final frame is quite similar to the Salsa Vaya, which has know toe overlap issues (in my size of ~55cm) with larger tires. My builder increased the ETT by 25 mm to account for my foot size, crank arm length, the diameter of 700 x 45 tires, and the frame (with fork) geometry. While this may not perfectly eliminate toe overlap, it will certainly help and the adjustment is small enough so fit will be fine with a slightly shorter stem.
    "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

  68. #68
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    Sorry, just don't agree with the approach. An inch is a big difference in ETT, especially for a bike intended for long hours in the saddle but little to no quick handling moves. But it's your bike, not mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    The final frame is quite similar to the Salsa Vaya, which has know toe overlap issues (in my size of ~55cm) with larger tires. My builder increased the ETT by 25 mm to account for my foot size, crank arm length, the diameter of 700 x 45 tires, and the frame (with fork) geometry. While this may not perfectly eliminate toe overlap, it will certainly help and the adjustment is small enough so fit will be fine with a slightly shorter stem.

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by SVO View Post
    Sorry, just don't agree with the approach. An inch is a big difference in ETT, especially for a bike intended for long hours in the saddle but little to no quick handling moves. But it's your bike, not mine.
    And not to mention the difference in handling when you switch between two (very) different tire sizes (ex: 35mm & 45mm).
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    Quote Originally Posted by SVO View Post
    Sorry, just don't agree with the approach. An inch is a big difference in ETT, especially for a bike intended for long hours in the saddle but little to no quick handling moves. But it's your bike, not mine.
    I agree that this frame is not traditional and perhaps closer to a drop bar 29er than a traditional cross bike. I will likely have to play with stem length and possibly stack height. Sure, the frame is an untested risk, but so is a ride on a wild mustang. I will be sure to followup with test-ride reports.
    "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

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I agree that this frame is not traditional and perhaps closer to a drop bar 29er than a traditional cross bike. I will likely have to play with stem length and possibly stack height. Sure, the frame is an untested risk, but so is a ride on a wild mustang. I will be sure to followup with test-ride reports.
    99.999999999% of the population can't ride a wild mustang. Your odds aren't looking that good!

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    Oh Dear, Oh Dear....

    Hard Rain, your frame will be fine. A long ETT is not a problem and will enhance the gravel experience. There will always be a compromise in the smaller frame sizes, just as there are in the larger ones. The longer ETT also gives you more front centre, which makes your bike more stable on long non technical gravel rides. My ETT is 600mm so I do not think 575mm is a big deal. You just set your ride position up the same way as on any frame, Seat set up then reach to the H/bar. No big deal. Yes there are perfect ideals, but in the gravel riding with long straights world, quick handling is not high on the list. Also, my bike is set up to use 26 x 2.1" and 700 x 35 wheels. 2 different tire widths. I ride them with Schwable Rocket Rons on front and Racing Ralphs on the rear.
    The perfect way to test theories. Frankly, I cannot tell the difference between the wheelsets on gravel, but only to say that 35mm is faster, 2.1" are a little softer in ride.
    Grip levels on pea gravel are the same and handling is not compromised.

    Hope you build up a good ride and enjoy your bike.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

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    Eric, I agree. With the ability to adjust the stem, stack, and seat heights, I believe that my frame will fit just fine. In fact, my builder has been working with my dimensions, and with the final build, he suggests an 80cm stem length.

    In addition to the longer front center, my frame will have a longer wheelbase than a standard CX bike. This also provides greater stability on gravel rides as touted for years by Gary Fisher.
    "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

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    Pictures of Frame

    Here are some pictures of the finished product! Now to finish the build.

    Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!-img_7155.jpgLooking for a carbon gravel grinder!-img_7164.jpgLooking for a carbon gravel grinder!-img_7171.jpg
    "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

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    The Final Build.

    A very sweet test ride!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "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

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    The Final Build.

    Sweet test ride.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!-20140801_131105.jpg  

    "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

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    Here is the build list.

    Bottom Bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace BB-9000
    Brakes: Avid BB7 Road SL (140mm rear, 160mm front)
    Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra 6800 (46-36 chainrings, 11-28 rear cluster)
    Fork: ENVE Cross Disc
    Handlebars: Salsa Cowbell 2
    Headset: Chris King Inset 7
    Hubs: Hope Pro 2
    Pedals: Shimano PD-M540
    Rims: Stan's ZTR Iron Cross
    Saddle: Selle Italia Turbomatic
    Seatpost: Thompson Elite
    Seatpost clamp: Salsa lip lock
    Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 6800 STI
    Stem: Brontrager Race Light
    Tires: Stan's Raven (700 x 35), Bruce Gordon Rock N Road (700 x 43)

    I have been riding on the Raven tires, but will test the Bruce Gordon tires in the near future. Will eventually ride them tubeless.
    "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

  78. #78
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    That's a fine looking bike.

    Looks nicely balanced, compliments to your builder. Gravel Grinders should be comfortable and your bike looks like it is. To me, you look like you have it right.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Malcolm View Post
    That's a fine looking bike.

    Looks nicely balanced, compliments to your builder. Gravel Grinders should be comfortable and your bike looks like it is. To me, you look like you have it right.

    Eric
    Yes, the ride is very comfortable. The frame and fork do a great job of absorbing bumps on gravel. Bump absorption will be even better once I start running my tires tubeless. The fit is also great. I had the bike fitted by my LBS to adjust the saddle, stack and stem. My longest ride so far is 55km on gravel will no ill effects to my back, arms, hands, and bum. The Cowbell bars give me lots of hand positions which is nice for longer gravel rides in windy Kansas.

    You called it right, Eric; the frame dimensions work quite well. In fact, the mechanic who assembled my bike said that he is currently designing a frame (in BikeCad) with very similar 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

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    I bought a foundry for my wife for Christmas last year and she loves it. She says its more comfortable than her custom Calfee road bike. Stock wheels are heavy - we swapped them out for American Classic Hurricanes. Bonus is she is now tubeless too.

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    Test Ride with Rock 'n Road Tires

    I just finished testing my new ride with Bruce Gordon's Rock 'n Road tires mounted tubeless. These are 700 x 43 c tires and I am running them at about 25 psi. The test ride was performed in the Flint Hills of Kansas on a rough gravel road complete with steep hills and several creek crossings. The bike handled very well on this stretch of road and was quite cushy despite the rough gravel. Mission accomplished!



    Looking for a carbon gravel grinder!-photo-1.jpgLooking for a carbon gravel grinder!-photo-3.jpg
    Last edited by Hard Rain; 09-17-2014 at 01:16 PM.
    "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

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    This is exactly the sort of bike I'm looking to build. I'm thinking of contacting the frame maker to say 'I want one of these too please'. Do you have any suggestions for if you were to do it again? I think I would prefer hydraulic brakes, which is what I'm used to. Did you consider their titanium stems? Do you ever use the racks? Are you happy with the iron cross rims? Any tips would be appreciated.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by dparsons27 View Post
    This is exactly the sort of bike I'm looking to build. I'm thinking of contacting the frame maker to say 'I want one of these too please'. Do you have any suggestions for if you were to do it again? I think I would prefer hydraulic brakes, which is what I'm used to. Did you consider their titanium stems? Do you ever use the racks? Are you happy with the iron cross rims? Any tips would be appreciated.
    I wouldn't change a thing. Everything works very well together. The only modifications I foresee are (1) to change the gearing (e.g. to 50-34 chainrings, 11-32 rear cassette) if I decide to do a long paved road tour in mountainous terrain, and (2) continue to experiment with tires for various riding conditions (there are a myriad of tire choices out there). The rack works well, but I only got it for potential tours in the future. The iron cross rims work well, but you could consider lighter/cheaper hubs; I got the Hope hubs for durability under the toughest conditions. My builder selected my stem size during my professional fitting so buying one of their Ti stems was not an option at time of frame purchase.

    I strongly recommend a professional fitting if you are going this route. My bike fits like a glove.

    If you do buy a frame from the Rapid Company, please post a picture of your final build!
    "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

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    I'm glad to hear that the bike is still going well. I have started talking with Rapid, so we'll see what happens. Are you happy with routing of cables below the down tube? I see that Rapid offer internal routing but not sure how they do this with titanium - I have asked. I was thinking of buying the full iron cross wheelset and a Chris King threaded bottom bracket - any comments? One of the big costs will be the Enve cross disk forks, but I don't see many other good options.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by dparsons27 View Post
    I'm glad to hear that the bike is still going well. I have started talking with Rapid, so we'll see what happens. Are you happy with routing of cables below the down tube? I see that Rapid offer internal routing but not sure how they do this with titanium - I have asked. I was thinking of buying the full iron cross wheelset and a Chris King threaded bottom bracket - any comments? One of the big costs will be the Enve cross disk forks, but I don't see many other good options.
    I am very happy with the cable routing on the down tubes. But the main reason I went this route is to keep the top tube free to hang frame bags. Note too that the full-length cable housing helps keep dirt out of the cables.

    I think that the Stan's Notubes Iron Cross wheelset is a good deal. Just make sure to get a hub that is compatible with an 11-speed Shimano cassette if you are going with the Ultegra 11-speed gearing.

    I haven't tried the Chris King bottom bracket...but I might when my Ultegra bottom bracket wears out. LOL

    The ENVE cross disc fork is outstanding. That said, another option is to have Rapid build you a Ti fork. But for a gravel bike, I really like the idea of a carbon fork.
    "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

  86. #86
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    Bookmarking. Need to read through this one

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    Specy Crux Evo.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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    The Iron Cross rims often have problems for bigger riders - it depends on your riding style and terrain. But they are cheap, so that is good. American Classic is now selling tubeless compatible rims for building your own wheels or replacing the Stans when they die. Unlike a lot of companies who slap stickers on something built by a contractor, American Classic takes extruded aluminum and creates their own hoops. They also build their own hubs, including bearings, and make their own spokes from Sanvik medical grade steel wire. The rim you want is called the Disk 101. Or you might just buy a set of the 2015 Disk 101 that are on sale right now for $399. Since its designed for mtb racing, the Disk 101 will be plenty strong for gravel and adventure riding.

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    ^^^The issue with using mtb-specific rims on a gravel bike is that often, the max psi the rim is designed for is less than you may want in this application i.e 60 psi or higher for road riding. Just need to check that. The Grails are suited for gavel/all-around use as they can handle road-psi.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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    You guys do know this thread is a year old right????
    2015 Niner Jet 9 Carbon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I am very happy with the cable routing on the down tubes. But the main reason I went this route is to keep the top tube free to hang frame bags. Note too that the full-length cable housing helps keep dirt out of the cables.

    I think that the Stan's Notubes Iron Cross wheelset is a good deal. Just make sure to get a hub that is compatible with an 11-speed Shimano cassette if you are going with the Ultegra 11-speed gearing.

    I haven't tried the Chris King bottom bracket...but I might when my Ultegra bottom bracket wears out. LOL

    The ENVE cross disc fork is outstanding. That said, another option is to have Rapid build you a Ti fork. But for a gravel bike, I really like the idea of a carbon fork.
    Hi, Rob! It's me, Denis from Rapid-Titan Company, we've build your frame! One of my customers gave me this link to your posts after tree years since we've builded your frame)) So, any news or updates from the bike life? I've posted your photos in my social network, people really love your bike)))
    Last edited by zinovey; 02-16-2016 at 08:13 AM.

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    ^^^The issue with using mtb-specific rims on a gravel bike is that often, the max psi the rim is designed for is less than you may want in this application i.e 60 psi or higher for road riding. Just need to check that. The Grails are suited for gavel/all-around use as they can handle road-psi.
    Yeah, this is not really an issue for me as I want the low pressures of tubeless tires for my gravel rides. If I want to ride pavement in the future, I will just buy another set of wheels for that application.
    "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

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinovey View Post
    Hi, Rob! It's me, Denis from Rapid-Titan Company, we've build your frame! One of my customers gave me this link to your posts after tree years since we've builded your frame)) So, any news or updates from the bike life? I've posted your photos in my social network, people really love your bike)))
    Hi Denis, I continue to love this bike. Since my initial build, I added some aerobars to reduce wind resistance on smoother sections of gravel. I will also experiment with narrower cyclocross tires to try and get more speed on smoother gravel. I have been running the Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road (700c x 43mm) tires that work very well on rough terrain (I run them at about 25 psi). It is a very versatile bike that is suited for more applications (e.g. gravel grinding, gravel racing, light XC riding, bike touring, long endurance rides on gravel or pavement) than I will ever be able to try, but I will die having tried many of them.
    "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

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by drmoreau View Post
    The Iron Cross rims often have problems for bigger riders - it depends on your riding style and terrain. But they are cheap, so that is good. American Classic is now selling tubeless compatible rims for building your own wheels or replacing the Stans when they die. Unlike a lot of companies who slap stickers on something built by a contractor, American Classic takes extruded aluminum and creates their own hoops. They also build their own hubs, including bearings, and make their own spokes from Sanvik medical grade steel wire. The rim you want is called the Disk 101. Or you might just buy a set of the 2015 Disk 101 that are on sale right now for $399. Since its designed for mtb racing, the Disk 101 will be plenty strong for gravel and adventure riding.
    Thanks for the information on the American Classic rims/wheels. The Iron Cross rims have held up very well for me (5 km of riding with no issues), but I only weight 160 lbs. Eventually I will have a couple wheels for this bike for various riding conditions (e.g. one for gravel or light XC riding, one for smooth gravel and pavement).
    "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

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    You guys do know this thread is a year old right????
    I will continue to respond to this thread as long as I am alive. A great bike never grows old as long as we just recycle parts.
    "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

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    I will continue to respond to this thread as long as I am alive. A great bike never grows old as long as we just recycle parts.
    Good...this is just the bike I may be looking for in the near future and especially if I return to live in Eastern Europe again and want a dope locally made TI frame that can take me on miles of adventurous but not often single track rides. Enjoy riding in the hills of Kansas, I have many fond memories of touring the backroads around Lawrence, but that was when I was into sport-touring motorcycles instead of the pedalling kind I now enjoy.

  97. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard Rain View Post
    Hi Denis, I continue to love this bike. Since my initial build, I added some aerobars to reduce wind resistance on smoother sections of gravel. I will also experiment with narrower cyclocross tires to try and get more speed on smoother gravel. I have been running the Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road (700c x 43mm) tires that work very well on rough terrain (I run them at about 25 psi). It is a very versatile bike that is suited for more applications (e.g. gravel grinding, gravel racing, light XC riding, bike touring, long endurance rides on gravel or pavement) than I will ever be able to try, but I will die having tried many of them.
    Great! I wish you good luck in this difficult process of seaching the perfection))) I'll be glad to hear from you and may be to get few new photos)))

  98. #98
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    I know you got a bike already but I figured i would just throw this in here:

    I just got a Ridley X-trail carbon bike for commuting and possible occasional CX use last month. It has through axles, flat mount disc, internal cable routing, clearance for 700x40C with fenders, integral fender mounts. I picked it up locally at Performance but they are available at other locations as well.

    I compared it to the GT grade and the tire clearance was what sold me on it over the comparably priced and speced grade. Additionally the use of flat mount discs vs. standard mounts and the the full use of through axles convinced me that it was more future proof than the Grade...

    I have about 500 miles on it so far and it is quite a nice bike, compliant yet stiff and quiet on the road and not to bad to look at either.

    check it out: https://www.ridley-bikes.com/us/en/b...llroad/x-trail
    Try this: HTFU

  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher View Post
    I know you got a bike already but I figured i would just throw this in here:

    I just got a Ridley X-trail carbon bike for commuting and possible occasional CX use last month. It has through axles, flat mount disc, internal cable routing, clearance for 700x40C with fenders, integral fender mounts. I picked it up locally at Performance but they are available at other locations as well.

    I compared it to the GT grade and the tire clearance was what sold me on it over the comparably priced and speced grade. Additionally the use of flat mount discs vs. standard mounts and the the full use of through axles convinced me that it was more future proof than the Grade...

    I have about 500 miles on it so far and it is quite a nice bike, compliant yet stiff and quiet on the road and not to bad to look at either.

    check it out: https://www.ridley-bikes.com/us/en/b...llroad/x-trail
    Real pictures in the wild or it's not true.

  100. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    Real pictures in the wild or it's not true.
    Trail on my commute home:





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