Gravel bike opinions sought



Paul Marangoni

New Member
Apr 18, 2020
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Los Angeles
I'm planning on buying a gravel bike sometime between October and December. I think I've narrowed it down to these two, but feel free to suggest comparable alternatives.
  • Trek Checkpoint SL 5
  • Specialized Diverge Sport Carbon
The bike is to be used for weekend rides, both flat and occasional hill climbs. Probably not off road, but I want the bigger tires for the lousy roads. Potholes and cracked asphalt are epidemic in Los Angeles .

I prefer a carbon frame, and the Shimano GRX 810 parts (2 chainrings).
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
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If you haven't already done so you need to ride both, and when I ride I don't mean making small circles in the parking lot, I mean take each out for a 5-mile ride. Make sure you don't get toe overlap, I've heard that is a bit of an issue with the Trek. I like Specialized products but I think that bike has something called Future Shock front fork, I think something as odd as that fork could later down the road become a repair nightmare, something I would stay away from.

So if that Specialize has the Future Shock fork, and the Trek front wheel contacts your foot when turning, you'll be looking at another brand or model of bike.
 

Paul Marangoni

New Member
Apr 18, 2020
16
4
3
Los Angeles
If you haven't already done so you need to ride both, and when I ride I don't mean making small circles in the parking lot, I mean take each out for a 5-mile ride. Make sure you don't get toe overlap, I've heard that is a bit of an issue with the Trek.

I don't know of any retailer that will let you adjust a bike to your body, attach your pedals, and go for a 5 mile ride, in order to compare bikes. As for the "toe overlap", I think that would only be an issue with very long cranks, or very large feet, or someone who likes to ride in figure eights a lot. Your front wheel normally doesn't move more then 5 to 10 degrees when turning, unless you're moving at a very slow speed.

Right now it looks like I'm going with the Trek, but probably the Checkpoint SL 6.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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That's odd because I didn't know any shop that wouldn't adjust the bike for a test ride. I mean they're not pro-fits obviously, but just to dial in close enough so you would comfortable enough on a short ride. Do you think that a bike shop would let you test a bike and be uncomfortable and then lose the sale over such a thing?

Toe overlap can also be caused by the cleat position, top tube length, tire diameter, head and seat angles, and fork offset; in the case of the Trek it was the frame and fork offset that was causing the toe overlap because owners could not adjust it out. Of course, this situation didn't occur with every rider, just some, but enough to where a person considering buying one should check it.
 

Paul Marangoni

New Member
Apr 18, 2020
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3
Los Angeles
I went to a bike shop yesterday, and stood outside in the sun waiting behind two other people. I stood there for 15 minutes, and no one from the store even acknowledged anyone. I gave up and left. Even if I did get in, and they had the bikes in stock (they don't - anywhere), I'm not sure that riding the bike in the streets of LA would be anything but frustrating. I have no intention of riding the bike in city traffic. The roads are war torn.

The Checkpoint head tube angle is not as steep as their other bikes. The wheelbase is longer too. I'm not sure how that would lead to more bumping into the wheel while pedaling/turning.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,711
750
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NE Indiana
I went to a bike shop yesterday, and stood outside in the sun waiting behind two other people. I stood there for 15 minutes, and no one from the store even acknowledged anyone. I gave up and left. Even if I did get in, and they had the bikes in stock (they don't - anywhere), I'm not sure that riding the bike in the streets of LA would be anything but frustrating. I have no intention of riding the bike in city traffic. The roads are war torn.

The Checkpoint head tube angle is not as steep as their other bikes. The wheelbase is longer too. I'm not sure how that would lead to more bumping into the wheel while pedaling/turning.

Really? I lived in LA for 8 years back in the day before there were bike lanes and paths, so I, or I should say WE, did was ride the streets, only ever had one accident in that area and that was in Glendale while commuting home from LA. The streets were not in good shape back in those days either.
 

Paul Marangoni

New Member
Apr 18, 2020
16
4
3
Los Angeles
What can I tell you? Some streets are better than others, but for the most part, they're beat up pretty badly. You have to be completely focused on the road right in front of your wheel, or you're going to hit some nasty cracks and get a pinch flat. Gravel tires are much more forgiving, and I have no fear of our horrible paving jobs anymore.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,711
750
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NE Indiana
What can I tell you? Some streets are better than others, but for the most part, they're beat up pretty badly. You have to be completely focused on the road right in front of your wheel, or you're going to hit some nasty cracks and get a pinch flat. Gravel tires are much more forgiving, and I have no fear of our horrible paving jobs anymore.

When I was riding in LA back in those days I was on a road bike riding on 23c tires, I never had a pinch flat and I banged around on those same roads as you are. Obviously the wider the tire the more forgiving they will be on rough roads, but I never had a need for wider tires when I lived there

That's bad advice to be focused on the road right in front of your front wheel, why you scream bloody murder? because then you can't see what the traffic is doing ahead of you, and the more you focus on one area the more your eyesight goes into tunnel vision and you see a lot less of what's going on around you. I never look at the road straight in front of my front tire, I'm always scanning ahead and to my right and left at least a block ahead, I let my peripheral vision take care of road issues, and since I'm scanning all the time I'm not suffering from tunnel vision and I can see what's going on right in front of my front wheel. This is also how you need to be driving your car.

https://www.streetdirectory.com/tra...ve_driving_techniques___the_eyes_have_it.html

https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/teen...oving-visual-scanning-skills-for-teen-drivers
 

albertmort

New Member
Sep 17, 2021
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You are not the only one with this type of need. Even if you don't intend to use it only for mountain or hill rides, it's important to have certain adaptations. Every time I want or think about buying a new bike, I usually check https://bikemountain.me/can-you-use-a-gravel-bike-as-a-road-bike/. This platform has many useful pieces of information and even examples that you can get inspired by. Also, here is written a whole article about the use of a gravel bike as a road bike and there are mentioned all the subjects you should pay attention to.
 

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