Is there such thing as a gravel fit?

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

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biwa
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by biwa

Thinking to give gravel a try and read a bunch of things about it. One thing that's stood out for me is the people seem to have different opinions on how gravel bikes should fit (relatively to a road bike).

The two most popular opinions are: 1. choose something smaller than road; 2. stick to the same road geometry. Considering the intended application of gravel bikes, I tend to agree with the former as a smaller frame gives a less stretched position and probably allows a longer stem - two things that yield more stability and comfort.

If so, how much smaller should a gravel be relative to a road bike, in terms of frame reach and stack?

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kytyree
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by kytyree

Remember that someone's opinion on this could have a lot to do with how they fit their road bike.

I don't run as much drop on my gravel bike so the stack is a bit taller and the reach is just slightly shorter and then running a cm longer stem.

by Weenie


jemima
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by jemima

A smaller frame generally sees you go lower at the front end, which isn't good in my view.

My thoughts are no more than 10mm shorter reach than the road bike.
About 15-20mm higher stack, which allows plenty of room to play around with front end fit.
Curve Grovel ti.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

I understood that gravel bikes have a similar reach but a higher stack compared to the road bikes.

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onemanpeloton
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by onemanpeloton

No need to size down, the manufacturers have already accounted for that
2017 Giant TCR Disc
2015 Giant TCX
2016 Cube Stereo 140

Marin
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by Marin

Same reach, more stack. You want to be able to comfortably ride/descend in the drops on rough surfaces.

whilgenberg
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by whilgenberg

Is there such a thing as a CX fit? Or an Endurance Road fit?

Personally I tend to be a little taller in stack than the road bike but still just as low since I'm not incredibly aggressive on the road.

Regarding frame size, it does depend on whta you consider "Gravel" riding. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, "Gravel" tends to mean fire road riding and singletrack that is all doable on a rigid MTB. Accordingly, I've built myself a few frames that are longer in reach but run a short stem to get the front wheel out in front of you and to reduce the over-the-bars feeling when descending steep/technical stuff.

If your "gravel" riding ends up being more Dirty Kanza style, then a road fit or any other fit where you are comfortable riding rough roads for extended periods of time would be good enough for what you would be looking for.

Bigger Gear
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by Bigger Gear

whilgenberg wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:24 pm
Is there such a thing as a CX fit? Or an Endurance Road fit?

Personally I tend to be a little taller in stack than the road bike but still just as low since I'm not incredibly aggressive on the road.

Regarding frame size, it does depend on whta you consider "Gravel" riding. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, "Gravel" tends to mean fire road riding and singletrack that is all doable on a rigid MTB. Accordingly, I've built myself a few frames that are longer in reach but run a short stem to get the front wheel out in front of you and to reduce the over-the-bars feeling when descending steep/technical stuff.

If your "gravel" riding ends up being more Dirty Kanza style, then a road fit or any other fit where you are comfortable riding rough roads for extended periods of time would be good enough for what you would be looking for.
^^This.

Between rider preferences and differing terrain there can't really be a true "gravel" fit. And of course there will be 1000 bike fitters out there who are more than willing to take one's money and give you a "gravel" fit.

My opinion: If you have a pretty average to non-aggressive road fit then start out with your gravel bike fit being pretty much the same and move from there to accomodate. If you're coming from CX bike, make you fit about the same and move from there. It's not an exact science. Even bike to bike variations in geometry and tire/wheel size will have a great effect on how the bike feels. For example, on my gravel bike with a 120mm stem and a very road-like fit for a lot of pavement or packed gravel and 700x32 tires I feel perfectly fine on it. But when I put on 700x42 tires and ride on loose gravel/dirt/mild singletrack I prefer the feel of a 110mm stem and another 5mm spacer to bring the bars up. I've kind of settle on just using the 110mm stem and then moving spacers around if I feel the need.

biwa
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by biwa

Thanks all. I understand the terrian will play a role here, let's say I tend to ride on mixed-surface routes with decent amount of climbing/descending, how would that affect the fit choices on a gravel bike? e.g. larger frame with a normal stem or smaller frame with a longer stem?

Bigger Gear
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by Bigger Gear

biwa wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 10:45 pm
Thanks all. I understand the terrian will play a role here, let's say I tend to ride on mixed-surface routes with decent amount of climbing/descending, how would that affect the fit choices on a gravel bike? e.g. larger frame with a normal stem or smaller frame with a longer stem?
I would go with a bike that has roughly the same reach and a bit more stack (10mm ish) than my road setup. Then once you have the bike you can play around with stem length and stem/spacer stack. The only caveat would be if your road setup already runs a stem on the short side like 90mm or less. Some of that is aesthetics, but unless the head tube angle is really really slack a very short stem will make the bike a bit twitchy IMO.

bm0p700f
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by bm0p700f

There is one fit which happens to be the right size. Your saddle to BB centre height is fixed for a given crank length. Your back should be stright so you bar move in an arc depending on the stack/headtube height, stem length

There is no such thing as gravel fit. If you not comfortable low down on a road bike then you wont be on a gravel bike. If you need to turn your head more easily you move the bars up and back on that arc and bingo.

There is no magic to bike fitting. Its so desperatley simple I do wonder why people get confused by it.

gorkypl
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by gorkypl

bm0p700f wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 12:09 am
There is one fit which happens to be the right size. Your saddle to BB centre height is fixed for a given crank length. Your back should be stright so you bar move in an arc depending on the stack/headtube height, stem length

There is no such thing as gravel fit. If you not comfortable low down on a road bike then you wont be on a gravel bike. If you need to turn your head more easily you move the bars up and back on that arc and bingo.

There is no magic to bike fitting. Its so desperatley simple I do wonder why people get confused by it.
Exactly this.
But I guess the real questionis is - is it good to have a more upright position on a gravel bike. And the answer is: it depends on the terrain.

biwa
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by biwa

gorkypl wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 10:25 am
Exactly this.
But I guess the real questionis is - is it good to have a more upright position on a gravel bike. And the answer is: it depends on the terrain.
So how does the position change depending on the terrain? I'm mostly interested in ones with lots of climb/descent.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

Are you guys using the same width for your handlebar on the gravel bike compared to your road bike? Or 1-2 cm wider?

gorkypl
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by gorkypl

Definitely wider.. It's 38cm in road and 42cm in gravel for me, and I'm thinking of buying a flared handlebars now, as even the 42cm do not have clearance big enough to comfortable carry handlebar bag.
On the other hand most of my gravel biking (when not touring) is in rather MTB-specific terrain, so I may be a bit biased.
biwa wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 6:07 pm
So how does the position change depending on the terrain? I'm mostly interested in ones with lots of climb/descent.
I went with slightly closer and higher - I'm low and stretched on road bike (I have almost 15cm of saddle-bars drop) and it seemed a bit uncofmortable while descending in more rough terrain.

by Weenie


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