Trying to get into Gravel/Cross

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

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monkeytusmc
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:12 pm

by monkeytusmc

Im trying to get into some Gravel/Cross biking. The bike I am looking at is the Ritchey Outback Breakaway. Looking for some suggestions or help as I build the frame up. Please excuse my ignorance. :oops:

I want to do a 1x setup with 48T upfront and a wide spread of gears in the back. Im not sure what is ideal for gravel but where i currently live it is hilly. My initial thoughts are the SRAM Etap 1x. Additionally I would like to have the option to run road tires if needed be, is there a happy medium?

I like to build my own wheels but Im not sure what size rims i should use here? What is the ideal tire for a Gravel setup? Is there a rim that i can run 25mm and easily swap over to a Gravel tire? my initial thoughts are to use a 23mm rim.

This will be my first bike with disc brakes, not really sure on the correct size or what to look for when picking a good disc. I was just planning on using whatever was supplied with the ETAP Setup.

Handlebars, i see that handlebars are similar to road bars excepts the drops are farther spread apart. Do you feel this is necessary? Could i get away with some Carbon Fiber road handlebars?

Pedals, currently im using speedways, are these okay for Gravel or should i have something like MTB pedals on?

Anything else you think i might want to know.. thanks!

Point
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Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:35 pm

by Point

Gearing - You have multiple choices here. Sram, makeshift Shimano 1x using mtb kit, (coming soon) Shimano 1x GRX groupset (gravel specific)

Tyres/Wheels - Whatever you choose, go tubeless. If you can afford it and need it, then run two wheelsets. One for road with "slicks' the other for gravel (I recommend that Panaracer Gravel King SK's although I hear their slightly slicker non SK's are good and may be more suitable for a one wheelset build for you.

Disc - 160mm, you won't need anything more. Hydraulic is preferrable but there are some good cable pull discs.

Bars - I've been riding road bars on my gravel bike for a while now but they're dead straight, no flare. This doesn't feel right so I'll be trying out some flared bars soon, something like the Salsa Cowchippers. Flare allows you to angle the shifter/brake hoods which can give you a little more purchase/control/comfort offroad, as well as giving more cargo space between the drops.

Pedals/footwear is very personal preference and depends on the riding. If you're just riding casual gravel, exploring and not racing then I'd recommend the mtb pedal route. The accompanying shoes will be a little more supple for walking, they're just generally all around more suitable for gravel in my opinion. Road style could work if you're planning to race.

by Weenie


Marin
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by Marin

Sram 1x with a 42t chainring and *10*-42 cassette is a decent allround setup. Needs and XD freehub.

Get SPD pedals and race-oriented MTB shoes - you want shoes you can actually walk in.

Get bars with a bit of flare, but not too much.

Fat (30-45mm) slicks work well on gravel *and* on the road. Tread is only needed for mud and fine loose stuff.

Swapping tires is annoying, get a road wheelset.

jfranci3
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by jfranci3

48T is a huge gear. What do you run on your road bike? For gravel 1x, you usually figure out how slow you want to go and work from there. For example, I'm a 105rpm spinner and can get 50kph on 42t x 11 . That'd be 57kph, which would be moving pretty fast on dirt.

I wouldn't worry about the exact frame too much, as long as it has the features you want and looks nice. They're all pretty close once you put fat tires on. If you're doing a breakaway, I'd look at brake cable quick disconnects (there are hydraulic and cable solutions).

As for tires, this is very dependent on where you're riding. There is no single answer. If you're looking for a primary, travel tire, look for something 38c or so that rolls well with a bit of tread. The fatter tires can get bouncy. Maybe the G-One all around or Gravel King SK. For travel road tires (where you may have to take a suprise off road path), maybe something like the the 30c G-One Speed, GP5k 32c, or similar would be a good idea. Those will fit on a fatter 22mm-24mm int rim.
If you're going to travelling by air a bunch, you might want run tubes (tube-full) as the goo will be mess when you deflate the tires and you won't need a big pump to inflate the tires. If you can figure out a way to do tubeless when travelling, that's actually a lot better as you're less likely to get stranded.

As for wheels and since you're travelling, I'd look for CenterLock hubs so you can pull the discs (they get bent and hurt packing) easiliy. You can run a 25c road tire on pretty much everything.The best affordable fat wheels will be the DT Swiss C lineup, Fulcrum's Rapid red, or Lightbicycle carbon wheels. You can go more expensive on the wheels, but it's not worth it for the most part.

You can run CF road bars no prob. I'd even recommend aero bars for the fat hand area. I think the spreadbars are for more off-off road work, for unpaved roads you probably won't care. I would raise your bars to a position where you can stay in the drop all day long though, giving you an upright and road seated position.

Pedals, if you're using speedplay, try speedplay frogs. They need a bit of maintenance to keep greased up, but are easy to use and have good float. They have the Syzr now, but these look to have odd releases. For shoes, get an XC MTB shoe that has some flex in the toe for walking (if such a thing exists anymore). WHen you're trying them on, imagine you're walking up a steep hill - the heel shouldn't move around as you try to walk.
Last edited by jfranci3 on Tue Jun 04, 2019 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Miller
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Location: Reading, UK

by Miller

monkeytusmc wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:21 am
Im trying to get into some Gravel/Cross biking.
Have you ridden on gravel at all yet? I mean, you should know that gravel is for you before you spend bigly on a specific bike.

jfranci3
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Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:21 pm

by jfranci3

It's a breakaway soft roader - pretty much the ideal travel bike if you're travelling to a lot of diffrent destinations. I'd proabably go TI with couplers over etap, but whatever.

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FIJIGabe
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by FIJIGabe

I'd say that before you spend the money on a purpose-built gravel bike, get something used and ride that. See if you like it, first. As for gearing, it's been said above, and I will reiterate it: 48T is WAY too big for gravel. 40T or 42T is better suited for gravel.

If you do decide to build a bike, and since you're talking about going with electronic, you can look at Di2. I'm using a cobbled-together group set, with an M8000 rear derailleur, ST-785 shifters, and a 6800 crank, using a Wolftooth chainring. I can fit pretty much anything from an 11-28 all the way to an 11-42. You can save some weight by going with R8070 shifters and the Ultegra RX rear derailleur. That should save you over 100g from my setup.
Madone 9 - https://bit.ly/2Nqedbn
Emonda SLR - https://bit.ly/2UK5FP8
Crockett - https://bit.ly/2Xem4sk

Madone 5, Cobia. I own a lot of Treks.

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Miller
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by Miller

FIJIGabe wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:00 pm
48T is WAY too big for gravel.
It's reported that Ashton Lambie had a single-ring bike with a 56T (!!!!) chainring for the DK 100-mile version at the weekend. Then again, he is hardly a mere mortal. Haven't read how that went for him though, course record I expect.

Single 48T too big for mortals on gravel, absolutely true.
Last edited by Miller on Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Miller
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by Miller

[is it possible to delete your own post?]

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kytyree
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Location: US

by kytyree

Echo what others have said on gearing. 1x I'd start with a 42 in the front and then if you need options go from there later.

Tires: there are some nice wide slicks or nearly slicks that are very useful for just about anything. I've got a version of the Panracer Gravelking like this that I use for general riding around/training and flat to rolling gravel riding that work just fine on pavement when needed. I wouldn't want to race road on them but they're good for getting in a ride on most every surface that comes up.

Then I'd get another set with some knobs on the side but a smooth rolling center, Panracer Gravelking SK, IRC Boken, WTB resolute.

S/F

fourfa
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:04 am

by fourfa

The advice about hydro brakes mostly ignored the fact that this is a breakaway bike. Someone demoed a hydraulic splitter at Sea Otter, but it's not for sale or scheduled for release, and as a mechanical engineer it looked like a hack job to me. The rear brake can be cable, who cares. The front, personally I've had bad luck with cable actuated discs but I seem to be considerably larger and often carry more load than many here - if you're closer to 160 than my 200+ (often 250+ with touring kit) you might be fine with quality cable discs in front. Are there any lever sets that have the same size hoods for hydro and mechanical options, if he wanted to mix front hydro and rear mechanical? All the ones I've seen are much bulkier for the hydros. That kind of mismatch would drive me crazy.

Etap makes a certain sense for a breakaway bike (no cable, and just one battery for a 1x setup). AFAIK there is not a breakaway option for Shimano Di2 without custom cutting and splicing - no thank you. Cable splitter for an externally-routed rear derailleur is no big deal though, never had trouble with my Salsa Vaya Travel with S&S couplers.

Get SPDs and mountain bike shoes. I also love Speedplay on the road, but the cleats are godawful off pavement and there are not many appropriate 3- or 4-bolt shoes. Dust and grit and mud just moves through the open SPDs with very little maintenance required. When brand new, they will have friction in the float rotation, which will be annoying if you're used to Speedplay. But there's no spring-recentering force (unlike many other designs, which I find intolerable), and after some break-in the float gets more free. Then they'll be loose and comfy for a long time, until they won't hold no matter how tight you make the pedal tension screw. Then you have to replace the cleat and start over again. Standard SPD cleats are steel; there are some brass ones which are more slick but softer and quicker wearing. Regardless, do yourself a favor and use anti-seize on the cleat screws (not loctite - don't use screws that come pre-loctited), and lots of torque. After lots of use, the screws get mashed and dirt jammed in the socket - with loctite they'll be impossible to remove. It's far from a perfect system but all things considered, it's the least bad for most people and most situations.

Rather than specific advice about what chainring to get, I'd look for a crank system that's easy to change the chainring, the tools are available and easy to use, and have a selection of rings to choose from. SRAM 10-42 & XD driver makes a lot of sense to me for 1x (even though personally I loathe the SRAM hydro levers; for me they're about as ergonomic as a 2x4. Their etap and cable levers are OK).

And I didn't yet see anyone say dropper post? The SRAM left shifter for 2x is easy to modify for use as a dropper post actuator - this is a really hot setup for descending and more technical riding. Though hm, dropper and breakaway frame would take some thought.

TheRich
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

fourfa wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:45 pm

Etap makes a certain sense for a breakaway bike (no cable, and just one battery for a 1x setup). AFAIK there is not a breakaway option for Shimano Di2 without custom cutting and splicing - no thank you. Cable splitter for an externally-routed rear derailleur is no big deal though, never had trouble with my Salsa Vaya Travel with S&S couplers.
What's so difficult about having the Di2 B-junction in the down tube and unplugging one wire at both ends (A and B-Junctions)? With a travel bike, it would be advantageous to have a longer battery life and the ability to simply unplug the battery (at the B-Junction) to remove all power from the system during transit.

But, I guess you can bring your charger and remove and reinstall the shifter batteries with etap instead.

fourfa
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:04 am

by fourfa

Sounds reasonable, I never owned Di2 (and hopefully never will - just my personal bias). Still sounds more complex than having no wires at all, or with mechanical, no chargers or batteries whatsoever.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

Just be careful with the etap front derailleur as it often reduce the tire clearance because of the battery placement and dimension 👋

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kytyree
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by kytyree

not if he's going 1x

by Weenie


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