that "perfect" gravel bike

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bigevil
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:21 pm

by bigevil

I know the "perfect" bike doesn't exist since with all areas of cycling there's always a tradeoff between weight, aero, and in gravel what I'd call confidence/comfort.

Figured I could use the help of the wonderful forums for some ideas/options I might be missing from my list.
I've been riding my Trek Chekpoint SL7 the past couple years, and while I love it the bike feels a little heavy and a little clunky at times

Right now its built up with a mullet ultegra/xtr setup w Quarq power meter and it comes in at 20.17lbs with pedals and cages installed.

The goal for my next gravel rig is the lightest bike possible but still remaining confidence inspiring.

I am not racing nor do I plan on it but at 126lbs the difference between a 20lb bike to a 16lb bike is absolutely massive for me on climbs.

I stay away from insanely technical stuff and right now my biggest need is a bike that'll help me feel comfortable and safe descending the loose stuff while being comfortable to be on those 5hr+ days and not be a total slog on the tarmac.

It doesn't help that I have a 14.5lb Aethos for road so when switching back to the checkpoint it couldn't feel more extreme.

In the past when looking for lightweight frames I always end up on the obvious ones like the S Works Crux, Open UPPER not to mention Lauf Ultimate, Scott Addict yada yada but recently I've stumbled onto Alchemy Bikes which made me realize there are tons of lesser known brands we likely all skip over.

I'd never even heard of Alchemy, and the specs on their Lycos look pretty awesome but I'm sure there are way way more things.

Nevertheless my goals would be (open to ideas btw!):

-17lbs or less
-ability to run 2x
-42mm min clearance
-confidence inspiring on descents

Maybe this doesn't exist!

I'll be using the wheels from my current build (Roval Terra CLX) so that'l help with weight but wondering what everyones thoughts are on the options out there!

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eucalyptus
Posts: 321
Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:51 am
Location: Sweden

by eucalyptus

Skipping lots of brands because there is nothing is this world that comes close to the S-works Crux. It is unique in terms of carbon layup design and that is what you are paying for and some more.

by Weenie


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jeremyschieler
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:24 pm

by jeremyschieler

Why not get a custom carbon or Ti frame? Given your size I don’t think you’d have an issue with building the bike up to around 17lbs.


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CampagYOLO
Posts: 356
Joined: Thu May 06, 2021 3:58 pm

by CampagYOLO

BMC Kaius?

It'd meet your criteria although no idea how it handles on descents as I don't have one myself. Happy to ride a heavier steel bike off road personally.

Only issue is that framesets don't seem to be a thing with the Kaius so you're either going all in with the very expensive SRAM Red build or getting the Rival one and stripping it.

DrimeOser
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:35 pm

by DrimeOser

I honestly don't think the BMC Kaius is confidence inspiring on descents being limited to those 36cm handlebars.

robeambro
Posts: 1608
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:21 pm

by robeambro

bigevil wrote:
Sun Oct 30, 2022 10:58 pm
I know the "perfect" bike doesn't exist since with all areas of cycling there's always a tradeoff between weight, aero, and in gravel what I'd call confidence/comfort.

Figured I could use the help of the wonderful forums for some ideas/options I might be missing from my list.
I've been riding my Trek Chekpoint SL7 the past couple years, and while I love it the bike feels a little heavy and a little clunky at times

Right now its built up with a mullet ultegra/xtr setup w Quarq power meter and it comes in at 20.17lbs with pedals and cages installed.

The goal for my next gravel rig is the lightest bike possible but still remaining confidence inspiring.

I am not racing nor do I plan on it but at 126lbs the difference between a 20lb bike to a 16lb bike is absolutely massive for me on climbs.

I stay away from insanely technical stuff and right now my biggest need is a bike that'll help me feel comfortable and safe descending the loose stuff while being comfortable to be on those 5hr+ days and not be a total slog on the tarmac.

It doesn't help that I have a 14.5lb Aethos for road so when switching back to the checkpoint it couldn't feel more extreme.

In the past when looking for lightweight frames I always end up on the obvious ones like the S Works Crux, Open UPPER not to mention Lauf Ultimate, Scott Addict yada yada but recently I've stumbled onto Alchemy Bikes which made me realize there are tons of lesser known brands we likely all skip over.

I'd never even heard of Alchemy, and the specs on their Lycos look pretty awesome but I'm sure there are way way more things.

Nevertheless my goals would be (open to ideas btw!):

-17lbs or less
-ability to run 2x
-42mm min clearance
-confidence inspiring on descents

Maybe this doesn't exist!

I'll be using the wheels from my current build (Roval Terra CLX) so that'l help with weight but wondering what everyones thoughts are on the options out there!
I'm in a similar position and honestly I'm unsure. The newer crop of gravel race bike all seem to have a (for me) dealbreaker, e.g. pressfit BB which in my opinion is not ideal on a gravel bike (Aspero, Addict, Palta, Kaius, etc), 1x only (Kanzo, Lauf, Allied Echo..). The Crux is what comes the closest but I am not too happy about the total disregard for aero, as I'd like to use it on road as well.

cycleboyco
Posts: 125
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:19 am

by cycleboyco

It sounds like you are looking for the non-obvious choices, but the Crux seems to check a lot of the boxes, especially since weight seems to be a high priority for you. Though the geometry doesn't suggest it's going to be confidence-inspiring, I don't feel like it's held me back in my descending. I'm running mine with 2X and am sub-17 lbs in a 56cm with nothing fancy for parts. The drawback for you may be feeling you have a bike that may be too similar visually to your Aethos. Good luck.

kgcx
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2022 4:16 pm

by kgcx

Crux seems to be the bike, it may not be the most aero gravel bike but your Aethos isn't an aero road bike either. I would even look at the base Crux frameset and build it up with lighter components with the delta from the S-Works frame. You also don't have to worry about the frames being more fragile on the S-Works edition, multiple seat stay breaks for the Steve Tilford Foundation last year on the S-Works frame. I built up the base frameset with Alpinist Cockpit, Terra Seatpost, Farsports wheelset, and Ultegra Di2 2x. Bike is right around 16 lbs with pedals, cages, and garmin.

bigevil
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 7:21 pm

by bigevil

yea, can't really argue that. I suppose I need to borrow a Crux and ride it. My biggest fear with the crux is just that I'll feel massively underbiked given my skillset but perhaps that can be solved with some real big tires and even when needed a suspension seatpost.

spartacus
Posts: 835
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm

by spartacus

Hakka MX

edit: IDK why everyone always ignores these. They're light, stiff, and use normal parts, and people win on them

https://www.velonews.com/gear/gravel-ge ... -hakka-mx/
Last edited by spartacus on Mon Oct 31, 2022 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stevesbike
Posts: 304
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:33 pm

by stevesbike

A lot of newer bikes limit drivetrains. The Crux is only 2x compatible in electronic, for example, and an increasing amount are only 1x at all. Some of the most versatile and still light are the Pivot Vault and the Otso Waheela C though they tend to get overlooked for bigger brands. The Osto might be the most versatile around in terms of adjustable geometry and huge tire flexibilty, but if you don't want more than 40, the Factor LS is light and has drivetrain flexibility.

You can definitely build up a light gravel bike - my Felt Fx FRD weighs 7.2 kg.

VonPG
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2022 6:07 pm

by VonPG

Some standards can be a "perfect" Gravel frame
1 BSA/BB386/T47/BB86/PF30 BB(Use Token ninja lite or Ridea Carbon BB). Easy to mantain.
2 External Seat Clamp(No hidden!). Hidden seat clamp may cause concentration of stresses.
3 Standard diameter round seatpost(27.2/30.9/31.6...). Easy to replace.
4 Standard size fork(No OD1 OD2)with standard size headset(41/41.8/42/47/52...). Easy to replace.
5 Full/Semi External cable routing(No Fully hidden!) Easy to mantain.
6 Rack Mounts if possible
7 Flat mount brake and thru axle.
8 Full Monocoque + Free coating for Frame and Rim if possible.

So, Flybike FM686 with a gravel rack mount Fork, Fuji Jari Carbon 1.3, Willier Jena(Not standard size fork, thanks for correction), ibis HAKKA MX are relatively "perfect" Frame
Lightbicycle AR35, Cadex AR are relatively "perfect" Wheel
Last edited by VonPG on Mon Nov 21, 2022 4:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Vik61
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:55 am
Location: Russia

by Vik61

Wilier Jena use non standard fork - 410 mm A-t-C. You can't replace it by another chinese fork without geometry issues.
Carbonda 505 Gravel
Wilier Jena
Trek Supercaliber

User avatar
Nohands83
Posts: 188
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:41 am
Location: Leeds, UK

by Nohands83

A longer front center (and higher trail number) will probably give you more confidence on loose descents, of the bikes you've mentioned the Lauf and Addict probably have longer front center. I would be looking at those first.
The Open UP has very road-orientated geo, the Open WIDE has more off-road (confidence-inspiring) geo. The Crux probably sits somewhere between them.
FWIW I've got a gravel addict and find it very stable on descents but still nimble enough. Mine weighs just under 8kg with Force mechanical x1.

kode54
Posts: 3333
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:39 pm

by kode54

The checkpoint is nice on gravel/dirt but a heavyweight on road. I enjoy tame gravel myself. I had an Allied Able and that was a pig. Then moved to a Parlee Chebacco which was marginally better. I played with using different tires and that helped in a lot of ways but still wasn’t the bike for me. I ended up with a Factor LS which was a nice compromise all around. I have also played with different tires for different conditions all of which helped with loose or packed gravel but still maintained it’s composure Iin Ride quality. I have been slowly swapping parts along the way to strike a nice balance of pavement to gravel since most of the time, I have to ride several miles just to touch gravel.
- Factor Ostro VAM Disc
- Factor LS Disc
- Specialized Aethos Disc
- Sturdy Ti Allroad Disc
- Guru Praemio R Disc

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