Gravel Noob - Advice on parts!

Especially for light weight issues concerning cyclocross / touring bikes & parts.

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unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

Hey everyone...

As mentioned above, I am a noob to the Gravel/CX/Touring scene. I recently moved to Chicago and have seen the need to have a do-it-all kind of bike. So I went ahead and purchased a Specialized Sequoia Elite. Long story short...great bike. Pretty good on tarmac, stable in gravel, agile in mud, but most importantly...fun as hell!!

BTW - I enjoy the gravel/single track as well as the tarmac. I feel the bike is a bit heavy for CX...maybe I'm wrong...

However, I have noticed a couple of potential upgrades or changes to hopefully make the bike better. And here is where I need your advice. It really revolves around 3 topics. Crank, Wheels, Tires.

Crank - I am looking into going X1, to eliminate the front-shifting and simplify the build. Also the FSA crank I have now is meh...Question is, should I go with X1? Or just upgrade the crank? My worries is topping out on X1.

Wheels - The specialized wheels are great...bombproof. But I would like something a little quicker and aero for the tarmac days. Nothing fancy...Zipp 30 course is more or less what I'm looking at.

Tires - The sawtooth are great, but on tarmac at 45PSI, they are a bit fluffy. I have looked at Schwalbe g-ne and Maxxis Re-Fuse. I want something a little quicker on tarmac, but still stable on gravel. CX tires I will buy separate as they are quite different. Any suggestions?

I really appreciate your help guys! Kinda new to this stuff and money is tight...don't have much room to shit the bed on a purchase...

Thanks a million! :mrgreen:

by Weenie


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Calnago
Posts: 6366
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:14 pm

by Calnago

Sounds like the "Do-it-all" kind of bike is ultimately not really going to do it all for you. "Fluffy" tires suck on the road as you note. As do 1X drivetrains imo. And throwing aero wheels on your gravel grinder doesn't seem to make a whole lotta sense. And money is tight. Why not just enjoy the ride you have and accept the compromises that come with "do-it-all" anythings. There's nothing like a nice road bike on the road, but you won't be doing any single track with it. Why not just save up for an n+1 situation and get a proper road bike when funds allow and in the meantime use your current bike for well... everything. And be happy.
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
Unlinked Builds (searchable): Colnago C59 - 5 Years Later; Trek Emonda SL Campagnolo SR; Special Colnago EPQ

motorthings
Posts: 339
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:56 pm

by motorthings

x1 is fine if it works for all you need it for.
here in the rockies it won't work for me at all, since my knees require me to spin, and i hate huge jumps in cadence).

i don't see much "complexity" in a double crank, so the balance in my case is in favor of 2x. your situation may be very different, so you just have to consider what you want and what you are willing to give up (which is actually the answer to many of your questions).

zipp 30 course are supposed to be great wheels for gravel and road.

tires are tough...you'll have to try a few and see what works best for your needs. i have offroad wheels for my gravel bike with 40c Nano TCS tires, and road wheels with Hutchinson Fusion 5 25c tires. They both work great at their intended use. If I had to choose one set of tires for everything, i'd probably get 30-32c cyclocross tires.

unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

Calnago wrote:Sounds like the "Do-it-all" kind of bike is ultimately not really going to do it all for you. "Fluffy" tires suck on the road as you note. As do 1X drivetrains imo. And throwing aero wheels on your gravel grinder doesn't seem to make a whole lotta sense. And money is tight. Why not just enjoy the ride you have and accept the compromises that come with "do-it-all" anythings. There's nothing like a nice road bike on the road, but you won't be doing any single track with it. Why not just save up for an n+1 situation and get a proper road bike when funds allow and in the meantime use your current bike for well... everything. And be happy.


Hey Calnago, thanks for the feedback. I actually do have a full-bred road bike, Trek Madone. That's what I use on my fast days. I guess what I want to do is upgrade my Sequoia, and I wasn't sure what would be the best route to take. Since it is such a versatile bike, I wanted some advice on where I can make the most impact on terms of upgrades.

I totally get what you mean though...Enjoying the ride is really the most important factor. Just looking to make a great bike even better.

Cheers!
'14 Trek Madone 5.2
'16 Vitus Dee 29
'17 Specialized Sequoia Elite
http://www.unruly.cc

unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

motorthings wrote:x1 is fine if it works for all you need it for.
here in the rockies it won't work for me at all, since my knees require me to spin, and i hate huge jumps in cadence).

i don't see much "complexity" in a double crank, so the balance in my case is in favor of 2x. your situation may be very different, so you just have to consider what you want and what you are willing to give up (which is actually the answer to many of your questions).

zipp 30 course are supposed to be great wheels for gravel and road.

tires are tough...you'll have to try a few and see what works best for your needs. i have offroad wheels for my gravel bike with 40c Nano TCS tires, and road wheels with Hutchinson Fusion 5 25c tires. They both work great at their intended use. If I had to choose one set of tires for everything, i'd probably get 30-32c cyclocross tires.


Hey! Makes total sense...I just see so many people switching to X1, thought it was just generally a better set-up. Thanks for sharing your set-up...I'm concerned about putting Zipp or similar wheels on my Sequoia given the steel frame and weight. I'm not considering carbon at all, but contemplating allow. Any thoughts...?

Also, my current tires are 42c, is that wheel something I could fit 28c - 32c on...?
'14 Trek Madone 5.2
'16 Vitus Dee 29
'17 Specialized Sequoia Elite
http://www.unruly.cc

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Calnago
Posts: 6366
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:14 pm

by Calnago

Gotcha... well since you've already got a decent road bike, then yes, go ahead and upgrade your Sequoia as you see fit for for what you want, as that's also a very fun exercise. Sounds like you're on the right path then.
And welcome!
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
Unlinked Builds (searchable): Colnago C59 - 5 Years Later; Trek Emonda SL Campagnolo SR; Special Colnago EPQ

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Tomstr
Posts: 572
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:04 pm

by Tomstr

I'd go for some nice gravel tyres with sealant or latex tubes. Out in the open there is no better bang for your buck. I'm running Hutchinson black mamba's. Continental Cyclocross speed is also nice.

As for the wheels, stock usually means heavy. I've looked into the Zipp's too as they are wide and have some bling factor but their hubs are not the most reliable. For that money you could get Asian carbon in the width and height you like on Novatec hubs.
Ride it like you stole it

grover
Posts: 1127
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 1:06 pm

by grover

I don't think 1x is a good choice for you. You would either compromise on gearing range. Or have to replace too much stuff. Or both.

Options
Just buy a 1x crank with a narrow-wide ring. Poor chain retention with road rear derailleur. Small gear range.
Buy 1x crank, mountain bike derailleur with clutch (needs J-tek shiftmate to work with shifters), wide range cassette (11-42 or 11-46). Expensive.

So I'd keep 2x. Get a bling crankset to drop some serious weight. To my knowledge you've got a threaded bottom bracket shell with an FSA MegaEvo bottom bracket installed. That allows the use of 30mm spindle cranks that have a long spindle. So look at Raceface or Easton, even SRAM Force22 with 34/46 rings.

Wheels, the Zipps are cool. Good width rim. Solid construction. Respectable weight. Tubeless compatible. Also consider the HED Ardennes Plus Disc range. You can often find good deals on 29er mountain bike wheels. Anything that uses a DT Swiss star ratchet freehub can easily have an 11 speed road freehub body installed. Specialized Roval Control, DT Swiss X1501, even some of the Giant and Bontrager branded wheels.

ihs0yz
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:33 am

by ihs0yz

Check out Hunt wheels! They've got a somewhat aero wheelset but with only 17mm internal width but they do have a gravel set with 21mm internal width. They have a selection of tyres you can buy mounted on their wheels for a bit cheaper than RRP, their pricing can't be beat. I'm pretty much set on buying a pair from them.

unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

Tomstr wrote:I'd go for some nice gravel tyres with sealant or latex tubes. Out in the open there is no better bang for your buck. I'm running Hutchinson black mamba's. Continental Cyclocross speed is also nice.

As for the wheels, stock usually means heavy. I've looked into the Zipp's too as they are wide and have some bling factor but their hubs are not the most reliable. For that money you could get Asian carbon in the width and height you like on Novatec hubs.


Ok awesome! Took note of the tires...They are cool.

Thanks :thumbup:
'14 Trek Madone 5.2
'16 Vitus Dee 29
'17 Specialized Sequoia Elite
http://www.unruly.cc

unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

grover wrote:I don't think 1x is a good choice for you. You would either compromise on gearing range. Or have to replace too much stuff. Or both.

Options
Just buy a 1x crank with a narrow-wide ring. Poor chain retention with road rear derailleur. Small gear range.
Buy 1x crank, mountain bike derailleur with clutch (needs J-tek shiftmate to work with shifters), wide range cassette (11-42 or 11-46). Expensive.

So I'd keep 2x. Get a bling crankset to drop some serious weight. To my knowledge you've got a threaded bottom bracket shell with an FSA MegaEvo bottom bracket installed. That allows the use of 30mm spindle cranks that have a long spindle. So look at Raceface or Easton, even SRAM Force22 with 34/46 rings.

Wheels, the Zipps are cool. Good width rim. Solid construction. Respectable weight. Tubeless compatible. Also consider the HED Ardennes Plus Disc range. You can often find good deals on 29er mountain bike wheels. Anything that uses a DT Swiss star ratchet freehub can easily have an 11 speed road freehub body installed. Specialized Roval Control, DT Swiss X1501, even some of the Giant and Bontrager branded wheels.


I see...Yea seems like it's a quite a hassle to switch to X1. I honestly though that I could just buy a X1 crank, swap, and enjoy. Didn't think chain retention would be an issue. I think just upgrading to a better crank is the better way to go.

Yes, Zipp and HED are my top contenders right now. My only concern is riding those wheels on a steel bike. Though steel is relatively light these days, I wonder if I will destroy the wheels or compromise them due to the weight of the bike...

Thanks a man! Great tips! :thumbup:
'14 Trek Madone 5.2
'16 Vitus Dee 29
'17 Specialized Sequoia Elite
http://www.unruly.cc

unrulyerick
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:05 pm

by unrulyerick

ihs0yz wrote:Check out Hunt wheels! They've got a somewhat aero wheelset but with only 17mm internal width but they do have a gravel set with 21mm internal width. They have a selection of tyres you can buy mounted on their wheels for a bit cheaper than RRP, their pricing can't be beat. I'm pretty much set on buying a pair from them.


Yea they seem pretty good. I have also read some reviews on the Mason bikes and they highlight the wheels very much.

Thanks!
'14 Trek Madone 5.2
'16 Vitus Dee 29
'17 Specialized Sequoia Elite
http://www.unruly.cc

Cheetahmk7
Posts: 69
Joined: Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:09 am

by Cheetahmk7

Do you just need more appropriately sized chain rings?

Regarding tyres I'm now running Gatorskins. They are fine on gravel and dirt roads but I need to pay extra attention when it is sandy but that's good for my handling skills anyway. If it's wet or I need to ride very steep and loose tracks then I'd put some saw tooth or knobblies on.

User avatar
Tomstr
Posts: 572
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:04 pm

by Tomstr

Also, budget/stock FSA cranks are HEAVY but I would never switch over to 1x as I don't like the gaps between the gears. I can imagine it's nice for CX racing but even when it's flat here you run into wind and that's leaving out the added weight when you go bikepacking.
Ride it like you stole it

Marin
Posts: 2882
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

I ride 1x on my do-it-all, but you need an XX1 cassette with the 10t cog IMO for it to make sense. Then you have a 1:1 gear, and on the other end, 42/10 is faster than 50/12 which is plenty fast. My advice would be to stay with 2x in your case.

Wheels: Zipp 303 cost as much as a new bike. If you want to spend that much, go for them.

Tires: I ride gravel & mixed surface on 28s now since I found don't need more and they don't slow me down on tarmac. Corsa G+ or Compass if you want it super supple.

Knobs do nothing on gravel BTW and are dangerous on the road, especially the funny tires with slick tread in the middle and knobs on the side - lean the bike into a tarmac turn and ride on soft knobs? If you ride in the mud, get knobbies though.

by Weenie


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