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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Really interested in buying a Gravel grinder bike. Think it would be a ton of fun where I live. I'm kinda a Giant Junkie and was noticing that the bike they tout as there gravel bike the Giant TCX Advanced "SX" is a 1x11. From all I've read, videos I've watched etc on Gravel style bikes they say to make sure you get a gravel bike with 2x11 because you want more options for gears since your not racing it like a cyclocross bike and your sometimes on the pavement etc getting to the dirt roads etc.



So I'm wondering what some of you may recommend for a decent gravel bike in the $2k and under range and must be available in a 61cm or larger.


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I originally built my Norco Search with a 42t Wolf Tooth Narrow Wide front.

Eventually I went back to a standard 50/34 front chain set.

I found I was riding the bike enough on the road, in transit to/from, or in between the gravel bits, that I wanted the extra gears. Also, occassionally I ran into something technical and/or steep enough that I needed something smaller than 42/32, or the 42/36 (with a Wolftooth Goatlink) I tried.

This winter I'm going to upgrade the bike to Di2 with a XT-8050 rear derailleur, XT 11-40 rear cassette, and an Ultegra Di2 6870 front derailleur.

That oughta do it. :)

Edit: to answer your question, I guess it depends on your terrain, and your need for bigger/smaller gears than that range will give you.

If you are strictly riding it on gravel, and it's relatively flat, your 1x11 setup should be fine. I found myself riding on some relatively steep sections of gravel trails, and I have a gimpy knee (slight miniscus tear) that warranted the better climbing geares.

I could live without the 50/11 to be honest, but not the 34/32 or whatever.

Edit: and for bike recommendation, the Norco Search is the only dedicated gravel grinder I've ridden. It's awesome. I run mine with tubeless Clement MSO's (37mm) and they are also awesome. FWIW, I ride a 61cm road bike (BMC), and my Norco Search is the 60.5. The Search is definitely not a 'premium' name in the road/gravel department. The highest end carbon build by default is Mechanical Ultegra ($3200). I'm not sure what the 105 build is, but I suspect around $2200 or so.
The Search carbon frame has a lot of really nice features for the cost. Their special "armoring" on the downtube is nice. It's a feature found on their mountain bikes. Less worry about dinging the downtube. The internal cable routing is well done as well.

I think you can get the Search Aluminium with 105 and Hyrdaulic discs for around $1700.

Edit2: Obligatory picture

 

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I definitely need a wider range of gears for gravel riding than road. It's a lot harder going up soft dirt than asphalt, and most gravel rides involve asphalt hills too so still need the big gears. If I was to use something other than a compact double it would be a triple not a single.
If it's not flat where you live I'd advise against a single. Big gaps suck too.
 

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I did my first gravel grinder on Saturday. It was 51 miles with a total of 3000 feet of climbing with the steepest being around 10% but short. My gravel bike is a Gunnar Crosshairs with an ancient Dura Ace 7400 drivetrain with 38/44 rings and a 12-26. I stayed in the big ring for all but the last climb but 44-38 wasn't much of a drop. For the few asphalt sections, I didn't feel limited in a 44-12 and really only ended up in it a few times, mostly downhill.

Now that I've got the bug, I want a 1X11 with a 44 and 11-32, but that combo might not be sufficient if I had to do more climbing. You can choose a drivetrain based on where you expect to ride, but remember that wide range gearing means big jumps between gears. I was happy with my drivetrain on Saturday with a slightly tighter ratio.
 

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1x11 is generally quite do-able for gravel as you can get pretty wide range cassettes. With the 11-42 cassette that comes on the TCX SX, you'll have a lot of climbing gear with something like a 44t or 46t chainring and plenty of speed for 95% of riding; comes with a 40t. You could probably even go with a larger chainring since the 42t in the back is massive. I liked 42x32 as a max climbing gear when I was still 1x but most of the gravel races by me don't have much more than 3,000 ft of climbing over a 60 mile course and it's very spread out so nothing sustained for too long.

You will have a lot of gap between gears when riding on the road and you will eventually spin out if you're going down steeper grades or have a stiff tailwind. The bike would lack top end during a hot road group ride during sprints but that's about it. The gap between gears would be the biggest downside IMO and that's moved me back to 2x, using it on the pavement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm thinking I'll look for something like the Specialized Diverge or something along those lines. They are 2x11 and come in a 64cm. Seems to be about the largest bike available.


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I'm thinking I'll look for something like the Specialized Diverge or something along those lines. They are 2x11 and come in a 64cm. Seems to be about the largest bike available.


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Diverge is essentially a heavy disc road bike. It badly lacks tire clearance. For $2k, check out a Trek Crossrip 3. 2x11 with a ton of clearance and mounts for anything you'd want to run. There are lots of other choices, too.
 

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I started out that way- with a Spacialized Crux Rival 1x11. However, since it is also my winter bike for the road, I found the 1x gearing too difficult for long climbs. For example, I have a climb that goes up about 1,500-2,000 feet in maybe 7-8 miles. The entire out and back in over 3,000 feet in 25 miles. It was just too much for me on a 1x. So I switched in to 2x (46/36). I kinda wish I can just gone to 50/34 but this I can handle. I can see 1x being great for cyclocross but that's not what I do.
 

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yeah, I wouldn't do a 1x11 for the areas I ride gravel - around here we are normally 100 feet / mile of climbing with some grades approaching 20%. Mine's set up compact front and 11/32 rear which works pretty well.
 

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I am a big fan of my 1x10 gravel (cx/touring) bike. 44t ring with 11-36 cassette. The only downside is some missing in-between gears -- so once you stop missing them there are no more downsides :). With the wide range cassettes, there is no shortage of low gear. I have done a lot of climbing and have yet to be in a situation where I can't find a comfortable gear due to larger gaps, but that time may come. The 44:11 can spin out on road race pace (downhill, anyway). When I decided to do 1x on my road bike, I went with a 50t paired with an 11-40 cassette.
 

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I wouldn't suggest a 1x for gravel, if I am racing cross with gears I want a 1x, but I like the extra range along with a cassette that does'nt have huge gaps. I also don't see many downsides to ridding a double on a gravel bike, I've run 46/38 with a 12-27 9speed cassette, some of the bigger hills I have to stand, or just ride faster. I have a new Gunnar hyper X on the way and it will be running 46/36 and a 11-28 11speed rival hydro group, the smaller front small ring and extra rear tooth on the Cassette should be low enough for anything I need, I don't like 50/34 compact because I find I'm often cross chained usually big big, trying to not shift down to the much smaller 34. Also a 46 11 or 12 is a big enough gear for almost all ridding, especially if you know how to spin.
I tried some gravel rides on my cross race bike when it was setup single 42 with a 12-27 9speed, and it was too much standing up, and would lead to early muscle fatigue on a long hilly gravel ride, though 42 /12 will get you going fast enough most of the time, if you can still pedal @ 30 MPH it's probably a big enough gear.
 

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Even here in the flat Midwest, I use a 2x 50/34 and 11-32 for riding gravel. I use both chainrings and most of the block. You can probably get a similar gear range with a 1x but you'd have some jumps in the gearing. IMO, I see little upside to a 1x in any application but cyclocross and maybe DH. FDs are pretty good these days and I see elimination of an FD is a marketing-driven trend from SRAM.
 

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I have a 1x setup that gives me the equivalent of my 50/34 and 11 speed 32/11 cassette. I'm use to my 2x setup so can't really comment too much about jumps in gear selection. I never change up my gearing by fine tuning from small ring to big ring back to small ring as I go up or down in gear inches.

The 1x consists of 44t for road and 40t for cx and a 42/10 cassette. As someone says, it's great when I'm racing cx. I never have dropped a chain as I have with a 2x setup. On the road, I slightly notice the jumps in my gearing, and my terrain here in southern CT has me using the whole block. On my 2x setup, my terrain here also has me in every gear combo. Perhaps on more level terrain, the jumps in gearing would be more noticeable where the range in gearing is more narrow.

I can't comment on gravel.
 

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I Bought a FuJi Altimera CX 1.3 last spring for mainly doing gravel rides. It came with 1X with 42 on front and 11-28 in rear. We have quite a few hills so I switched the cassette to a 11-36 which work well with my mid length Sram Force derailleur. The Bike is CF frame and fork with sram force Hydraulic discs. I run Schwalbe G ones 700X38's on it.

We generally have about 70-90 feet per mile of hills around mid missouri. I have found the 1X with the 42 and 11-36 combo to work absolutely great in the gravel. Plenty low for the steep loose stuff and I can still take the bike on pavement and do 35 MPH without a ridiculous high cadence. The bike is great for gravel and fast. Entered two races and I was green as a gord in doing gravel. First 50 miler I placed 7th out of 84 (3500 feet of climbing). Second 50 miler I took first out of 51. This was a little flatter with just 2000 feet.
The 1X really keeps it simple with no front derailleur to cause chain drops. I found the bike to perform wonderfully in both races and would say that 1X is the way to go for this gravel rider. By the way I am an old guy at 56, and the place in the gravel races was against all age groups. I beat a lot of 20-40 year old guys. The gravel is really fun when you have the right equipment and are in proper riding shape. Bicycle tire Tire Wheel Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel rim
 

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