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Thread: Gravel Grinder

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    Question Gravel Grinder

    I see this term thrown out a lot and I'm not sure what it means. I'd love to join some rides like Parvilla Cycles Fall Gravel Grinder, but I have no clue if my bike is capable.

    I have a 2015 Trek Domane 4.5 Disc. I think I could probably get 28mm tires on there, maybe max 32. Would my bike be appropriate for that kind of ride with tires in that range? If so, any advice on what type of tires to get?

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    Oh, that looks like a great ride, so I'm glad you asked!

    Anyway, so a "gravel grinder" is just a ride that's primarily on gravel roads or where you go out of your way to ride gravel roads. Gravel bikes are bikes designed to ride longer distances on gravel...I think it's more of a marketing term than anything, but "gravel bikes" tend to have geometry that's closer to a touring bike and room for fairly wide tires, like 32-45 range. Based on my exposure to them, gravel bikes, unlike touring bikes, tend to be setup more like road bikes in the sense that they are lighter and not generally outfitted with racks and all that kind of stuff (with exceptions, of course).

    I haven't been able to thoroughly examine the Parvilla route, but I think the suitability of your bike would be highly dependent on the conditions. Relatively slick 28s or 32s can do fine on dry, hard-packed gravel so long as it's not too coarse. IIRC, the roads around Waterford, for example, are not particularly gravel-y and generally would be okay on a regular road bike if it's not wet. That's not to say that you can't ride gravel on 25s or whatever, it just gets trickier and potentially frustrating rather than fun.

    Regarding tires, I think you can get the Clement X'Plors in a 32. Also, I think the Panaracer Gravel Kings come in 28s. You could use CX tires as well, which are easy enough to find in 28s, although they may have more aggressive tread (slower on pavement) than you need for gravel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoWheelsDC View Post
    Oh, that looks like a great ride, so I'm glad you asked!

    Anyway, so a "gravel grinder" is just a ride that's primarily on gravel roads or where you go out of your way to ride gravel roads. Gravel bikes are bikes designed to ride longer distances on gravel...I think it's more of a marketing term than anything, but "gravel bikes" tend to have geometry that's closer to a touring bike and room for fairly wide tires, like 32-45 range. Based on my exposure to them, gravel bikes, unlike touring bikes, tend to be setup more like road bikes in the sense that they are lighter and not generally outfitted with racks and all that kind of stuff (with exceptions, of course).

    I haven't been able to thoroughly examine the Parvilla route, but I think the suitability of your bike would be highly dependent on the conditions. Relatively slick 28s or 32s can do fine on dry, hard-packed gravel so long as it's not too coarse. IIRC, the roads around Waterford, for example, are not particularly gravel-y and generally would be okay on a regular road bike if it's not wet. That's not to say that you can't ride gravel on 25s or whatever, it just gets trickier and potentially frustrating rather than fun.

    Regarding tires, I think you can get the Clement X'Plors in a 32. Also, I think the Panaracer Gravel Kings come in 28s. You could use CX tires as well, which are easy enough to find in 28s, although they may have more aggressive tread (slower on pavement) than you need for gravel.
    This is super helpful - thank you! I've reached out to Parvilla and hope to hear more about the conditions and what to expect.

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    If you can get a copy of the route, I can give you specifics about gravel conditions on the roads you will be traversing. Over the past 8 months, I have done "a few" rides out there...

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    I have ridden Pete's Round Hill gravel route on 28mm slicks and it was just fine. This summer I rode a fair bit of gravel of varying degree of chunkiness on 30mm G-One Speed tires which were fantastic (and maybe what I'd recommend). I wouldn't hesitate to use a Domane Disc with 28-32mm tires for anything labeled "gravel" around here, though I would also pack 2+ tubes for any gravel event. Then you won't need them! (While I wouldn't hesitate to ride on narrower tires, I might also choose wider tires on rough gravel for comfort or just increased confidence/negligence on corners.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunyata View Post
    If you can get a copy of the route, I can give you specifics about gravel conditions on the roads you will be traversing. Over the past 8 months, I have done "a few" rides out there...
    Thank you so much!
    40 Mile
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1745590622

    65 Mile
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1745558423

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    I have ridden Pete's Round Hill gravel route on 28mm slicks and it was just fine. This summer I rode a fair bit of gravel of varying degree of chunkiness on 30mm G-One Speed tires which were fantastic (and maybe what I'd recommend). I wouldn't hesitate to use a Domane Disc with 28-32mm tires for anything labeled "gravel" around here, though I would also pack 2+ tubes for any gravel event. Then you won't need them! (While I wouldn't hesitate to ride on narrower tires, I might also choose wider tires on rough gravel for comfort or just increased confidence/negligence on corners.)
    I don't recall the last time I left my house without a minimum of 2 extra tubes

    I always run my tires at max PSI (whatever the tire says on the sidewall). Would this be the right approach to a gravel ride? I think it's relevant, but I'm 6'6 250lb

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    For gravel (especially) you get better traction from lowering your pressure. But you risk pinch flatting I'd you aren't running tubeless. So there's some happy medium somewhere. I run my 30mm tires at around 50-60psi, but I weigh ~180lbs, so obviously this is quite individual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lossomes View Post
    It looks like these routes are staying on fairly groomed gravel. From a "can you do it and not die" standpoint, I think 28's would be fine. But from a "is it comfortable" standpoint, I would want wider tires that I could run lower pressure. This is mostly because there is a lot of washboard and holes out there now due to the rains we have had over the past few weeks. So, if you can fit 32's, I would go that route. But if not, 28's would not be unreasonable, especially if you can get a little bit of tread on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunyata View Post
    It looks like these routes are staying on fairly groomed gravel. From a "can you do it and not die" standpoint, I think 28's would be fine. But from a "is it comfortable" standpoint, I would want wider tires that I could run lower pressure. This is mostly because there is a lot of washboard and holes out there now due to the rains we have had over the past few weeks. So, if you can fit 32's, I would go that route. But if not, 28's would not be unreasonable, especially if you can get a little bit of tread on them.
    Awesome. Will swing by my LBS this weekend to figure out what fits. Thanks!


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