Author Topic: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?  (Read 4296 times)

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Offline walks.in2.trees

Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« on: November 15, 2016, 11:10:49 am »
I'm currently riding a Windsor Wellington 2.0 but I ride long distance and 4-season, and during my commute I ride enough trails, and would like to use rail access road as shortcuts, that I'd like wider tires and this frame barely accommodates a 32c on the rear.
The front won't accept more than a 28c. Long distance, you don't know what you might encounter, certainly not all smooth brand new pavement, especially if your just winging it, being explorative. I don't race, and I'm not a gram-counter, though weight is a consideration after my other criteria are met

I figure a gravel grinder should cover my needs, a road-style frame, but accepts wider tires, but I'm wondering if there's cons to this train of thought that I'm missing.

Looking on Nashbar I'm considering:
Mongoose Selous Sporthttp://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10053_10052_595059_-1___204687

It looks like it has rack mounts in the photo, though the specs do not specify. Cons to this build? Would I have difficulty getting tires on a tour? Would I want to swap out the tires for something less aggressive?

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Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 02:42:34 pm »
I have no particular experience with this bike, but I did take a glance at the specs. What kind of touring do you intend to do? If "fully loaded", this looks like a bad candidate. It is possible that you could make a rear rack work (though I don't see any lower eyelets near the axle), but that bladed fork would mean a complete PITA if you wanted to add a front rack. And the gearing is definitely more roadish/"higher". Throwing the specs into a gear calculator, the lowest gear is about 30 inches. Most touring bikes have their low south of 20. That can be fixed, though.

These things may not be an issue if you are going to try credit card touring or maybe using some bikepacking gear. But it would not be ideal for a four pannier setup.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 05:29:35 pm »
Gravel grinder?  Why not just call it a cyclocross bike.  The bike you linked does have rear rack mounts.  And a metal fork so it should be able to accommodate a clamp on low rider front rack.  If you want to use four panniers.  It can accept 40mm tires.  Most touring bikes can accommodate 35mm tires just fine.  Your current bike takes 28 and 32mm tires.  These should be more than good enough for gravel road riding.  Based on your comments you seem to believe all the paved roads are terrible and need those 5" wide fat bike tires.  I've ridden in parts of the USA and most of western Europe and never found the roads you describe.  Skinny road bike tires are just fine.  And touring bike tires twice as fine.

Now if you just want a new bike, go for it.  I have bought bikes from Nashbar and they are good to deal with.

Offline RonK

Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 09:04:30 pm »
If you want to be able to explore backroads and trails as well as pavement a gravel grinder is a good choice.

This particular bike with its high gearing is probably not the the most suitable specification but there are plenty of others.

For this type of touring most would opt to travel light using bikepacking bags instead of racks and panniers.

I suggest you start your research with a visit to bikepacking.com. Then for further discussion visit the forum at bikepacking.net, where you will find the members refreshingly like-minded.

My personal choice for this kind of touring is the Salsa Fargo.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 06:02:00 pm by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

indyfabz

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Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2016, 01:04:21 pm »
I routinely ride unpaved roads on my Surly LHT. Some of them are rough, mountainous roads. As the decal on the chainstay reads "Fatties Fit Fine." I use 37c Conti Top Touring II tires, but you can go wider.

Hard to tell, but the washboards on this road in MT were very bad:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349603@N05/27981608346/in/album-72157667672266654/

Several other unpaved stretches can be seen in the album. About 40 of the 545 miles of that tour were unpaved. I also did almost the entire Mickelson Trail, which ain't exactly smooth. I have even done Gibbons Pass on that setup. I can post some photos of that later.

Offline pmac

Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2016, 04:30:17 pm »
I just purchased the expert model of the Mongoose Selous for the basically the same reason, although I've yet to do any touring on it. I like unpaved riding and touring.  I used a 29er on a section of the great divide and on the main route of idaho hot springs mountain bike route (a really great ride).  I think the Selous with 40 cm tires and disc brakes would do fine on those routes, particularly if you go tubeless.  I doubt it would be suitable for the hardcore single track on the IHSMBR.  You probably would need to get the gearing a bit lower for some of those big climbs.  It does have eyelets for rear rack, but I use a farfarer one-wheel trailer on tours, so I wasn't to concerned about the rack eyelets. 

Can't say I've been happy with Nashbar's customer service.  The rear derailleur was shipped with the B screw tab snapped off.  Getting a replacement derailleur from Nashbar has been a PITA.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2017, 01:20:28 pm »
Just an update to let those who left useful comments know that I appreciate the input

I've been riding it for a few weeks now, snow and ice, on road and off. It definitely is an improvement for the off-road portions of my daily grind.

I haven't tried and long distance road adventures with it yet. I do notice the rolling resistance on pavement of the tires it came with, but I expected that.

I like the disc brakes better than I thought I would, though adjusting them is a little more picky than with rim brakes

Still have to get fenders that fit (recommendations?) I'll probably hit up Nashbar again for that

To get the racks to clear the brakes, I ended up buying longer 5mm mounting bolts from Lowes and using nuts as spacers. For the front top rack I used the giant zip-ties from the electrical department at Home Depot

I have a feeling that I'll end up making a cubenfiber frame bag

Here is the Dawn Treader³:


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Offline bikemig

Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2017, 10:13:00 am »
Like a lot of nashbar bikes, that's a lot of bike for the money esp. if you get it on a sale. From the pics on Nasbhar's site, there doesn't appear to be a lot of clearance for fenders though. Still all in all, it looks like it could be a fine touring bike (esp. for bikepacking as someone else suggested) other than the crank. A 50/34 compact crank with an 11-30 9 speed cassette on the back would not be my ideal choice for a touring bike. A lot depends on age and condition as well so this might work for you.

If not, I'd look around for a 46/30 crank like this offering from FSA, the FSA tempo adventure. Plus you could go larger in the back but the Sora RD may not be able to handle a much larger cassette (check the capacity). Plus if you change out too much stuff, this can get expensive fast.

By the way, I like the name of your bike (the Dawn Treader since I'm a CS Lewis fan as well).

For fenders, nashbar sells planet bike and SKS. Both are very good but the SKS is a bit better quality and a little fiddlier to set up.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 10:15:48 am by bikemig »

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Touring/commuting with a gravel grinder...Ye? Or Ne?
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2017, 06:13:07 pm »
Like a lot of nashbar bikes, that's a lot of bike for the money esp. if you get it on a sale. From the pics on Nasbhar's site, there doesn't appear to be a lot of clearance for fenders though. Still all in all, it looks like it could be a fine touring bike (esp. for bikepacking as someone else suggested) other than the crank. A 50/34 compact crank with an 11-30 9 speed cassette on the back would not be my ideal choice for a touring bike. A lot depends on age and condition as well so this might work for you.

If not, I'd look around for a 46/30 crank like this offering from FSA, the FSA tempo adventure. Plus you could go larger in the back but the Sora RD may not be able to handle a much larger cassette (check the capacity). Plus if you change out too much stuff, this can get expensive fast.

By the way, I like the name of your bike (the Dawn Treader since I'm a CS Lewis fan as well).

For fenders, nashbar sells planet bike and SKS. Both are very good but the SKS is a bit better quality and a little fiddlier to set up.
Having ridden it for a bit now, I agree I could use a slightly lower low-end. I've already encountered situations where I'd like it lower, the same is true on the high end as well though, I'd like to give it more and I can't, though to be honest I felt that way at times on my old roadbike that was stolen several years back that had a 53 on it.

I'll probably also trade out the tires for something less aggressive, though for the winter, these are fine.

I'm definitely digging the disc brakes, though setting them up was a little more finicky than rim brakes are, but only because you can't see what's going on as easily.

Yep correct on the name source :) but it also comes from my usage... I love night riding, but also my job usually starts early morning or late evening which means I'm usually riding in the dark either way, and enroute or arriving in time for sunset or sunrise

I have the SKS(32) on my Windsor Wellington, worked well, but doesn't fit the larger tires, and it also would pack up with snow and leaves on the trails, considering maybe trying an MTB style fender, the racks actually stop a good amount of the spray without a fender though I still get a rooster tail spray pattern up the back of my jacket, I don't get any at all in my face, which is far worse.

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« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 06:23:36 pm by walks.in2.trees »