New bike on order. why i didn't go with a gravel bike.

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Rock Creek Rider, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Rock Creek Rider

    Rock Creek Rider New Member

    Sep 30, 2017
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    I ended up ordering a Trek Procaliber 9.6. More than I originally intended to spend, but I think I'll be happy with it. Of course, now I have to buy new pedals too, and I bought new Specialized Expert MTB shoes to go with them.
    I'm not a hardcore off road rider, so the obvious question might be, why didn't I go with a gravel bike?
    When I'm out riding the trails, near by house, I hardly ever see true mountain bikes anymore. It's all gravel bikes or just plain road bikes, and they are fast. I can't keep up with them. Seems like, if I were sensible, I'd have gone with a gravel bike.
    I guess here's the rub, as I've grown older, I've learned that speed isn't everything. I feel more secure on my mountain bike. When I hit a patch of loose sand or gravel, I like having fat knobby tires. I like having the leverage flat bars give. I like sitting up a little and being able to look around without putting a kink in my neck. I like the option of taking that jump or going over that rocky section, even if I mostly avoid them. I think I'm going to like the newer 1x11 gear system. I don't think you see them on gravel bikes. Even after heart surgery, I think it's going to be important not to redline my heart. Having really low gears will help with that.
    And, frankly, I still don't get gravel bikes. Mountain bikes were invented so you didn't have to ride your road bike off road. To me, just putting fatter, tougher tires on what is basically a road bike, doesn't make them an off road bike. Mountain bikes were designed, developed, and refined for off road riding. Sure, a dirt road is a road, but I don't take my road bike down them either. I've lived on dirt roads. Riding my road bike down them to get to pavement wasn't fun, it was an annoyance.

  2. BrianNystrom

    BrianNystrom Active Member

    Aug 13, 2013
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    Road bikes are obviously great on pavement and work OK for packed dirt roads, particularly if you can fit larger tires with a bit of tread on them. I've even ridden them on short sections of relatively buff singletrack, when transitioning between paved roads.

    Mountain bikes are at their best off-road and particularly on more rugged/bony trails. You can put road tires on them, but between their extra weight, suspension (typically) and slack geometry, they're less than ideal. The single hand position offered by their bars is rather limiting on longer road rides. About the only time I would consider an MTB for road riding would be in snowy/slushy/icy conditions, where aggressive knobbies and studs would be helpful.

    Gravel bikes are more of a "Swiss Army Knife". Like other bike types, they excel a what they're designed for, but fitted with road tires, they're great road bikes for everything short of racing criteriums. Fitted with 40mm knobbies, they're a lot of fun to ride on singletrack as long as it's not too bony and technical. Those that accommodate 650b wheels with MTB knobbies are even more capable off-road. I much prefer riding a 19# gravel rig to a 30# MTB on logging roads and appropriate trails. Ironically, it was riding a gravel rig on singletrack that inspired me to buy a lightweight hardtail for trail riding.

    All this said, what really matters is that you're happy with the bike you bought and it does what you want it to do. You don't need to justify it to anyone.