pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/14/23 12:08 p.m.

I live in a Wichita KS.  I had leg surgery a week ago and am trying to put together some different plans for the year and one of them is to finally step up and spend the money on a bicycle.  I would like to start shopping in a few weeks so this is groundwork.  Check my thought processes below;

I'm tall, about 6'4", and I want to make sure I get a bike that is well suited to my size & layout.  I think I'm smart shopping locally and getting something here where I can verify fit before I take it home. 

I'm not looking to compete on the thing.  We don't have serious trails here but I might stray off pavement once in a while.  A gravel bike seems like the best compromise, at least from a "what genre are you looking for?" as I want something that rides faster than a full-on mountain bike but I don't want to deal with hard riding narrow tires.  A bit of tire width and sidewall could help me tune the ride a bit as well.  So this is a commuting bike for the most part.  If I decide to go looking for trails or distance rides I may go shopping for a second bike at that point.

While steel frames are supposed to offer a nicer ride as a general rule, I'm looking for an aluminum frame for weight reasons.  I do not have a fork material preference.  I want some ability to attach a couple bottle cages and a rear rack with panniers or some kind of boxes that are easy to remove so I could get some groceries or similar stuff.  Maybe a rear fender to control spray. 

Thinking a 2x something drivetrain for versatility.  Drop bars with some splay for controllability.  Mechanical disc brakes. 

Budget:  Before farkles, I'd like to walk out the door at $1500 or less.  I have lights and a lock already but that's about it.

What am I looking for as far as make/models?  If I get some good makes to look at I can then look around locally and see who sells what and shop from there.

golfduke
golfduke Dork
2/14/23 12:12 p.m.

I tell everyone that gets into gravel for the first time the same thing-

 

The aluminum Specialized Diverge is by far the best bang for performance buck on the market.  At your height, 60-62 would be around where you need to be.

 

Spend good money on a professional fitting, or you'll be miserable on your first few rides. 

 

Good luck!  Welcome to the club.  It's dangerously addicting.   

 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/16/23 9:52 a.m.

Almost 2 days old and this thread did not get a lot of replies. 

That said, the Specialized Diverge does look really nice for the money, and is basically exactly what I'm looking for.  Specialized' website seems to say they're out of stock on these in the size that is probably appropriate for me.  I'll have to see what the local dealer can do when I'm ready to start shopping.  Probably be a few weeks before I can throw a leg over due to a surgery I had last week.

A friend recommended a Canvas Grizl 6 but I'm worried about mail ordering my first serious bike and coming up with something that is not sized right for me. 

Anyone else have recommendations?

TheTallOne17
TheTallOne17 Reader
2/16/23 10:26 a.m.

I just hopping on this part of the forum to ask about road/gravel choices.

I'm between and Canyon Grizl, Grail, or Endurance for my next bike, and have started to lean towards the endurance as I already have a mountain bike and it will let me do the most different things from my current bike

If I were only picking between the Grizl and Grail, with no other I'd pick the Grizl, possibly even the one with the 30mm front shock if you plan to avoid more roads

I wouldn't worry too much about fit ordering online, as most companies have a chart that makes it easy, and if you're between sizes, larger=faster (weight not withstanding), smaller=nimbler.

If it doesn't fit out of the box, your local bike shop can probably do some fitting, changing your stem and adjusting your seat post or stack height can be done to nearly any bike. They might even offer a service before you buy any bike where you ride a fully adjustable stationary bike to find where you make the most power for the most comfort. Last time I checked the shop near me was $200 for that service

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/16/23 11:16 a.m.

I'd take a look at the Canyon Grizl 6 as a good option, it's a bit more than the Specialized but the upgrade to all of the components more than justifies the price increase. 8 to 10 speed, mechanical discs brakes to hydraulic, DT swiss wheels, these are all big jumps over the Diverge (the $2000 Diverge Elite is a similar spec so you're saving $500 with the Canyon). If you wanted to upgrade just one of these systems on the Diverge you would spend more than the cost difference between the two bikes. The Canyon also has better rack/fender mounts so if this turns into more of a commuter it should do a better job at that. They also have stock.

Normally at 6'4" I'd say just buy the biggest size but the Canyon has both XL and 2XL options. For myself at 6'3" with really long legs and a short torso the XL would be the way I'd go as I'd be too stretched out on the 2XL. The XL Canyon is actually slightly larger than the largest 61 cm Diverge so I think XL would be the way to go, it's nice to see the 2XL available for the really tall people out there that are limited on what fits so kudos to Canyon.

This style of bike is a lot of fun, I've had a Cyclocross bike in the quiver for a long time filling this roll ("gravel" didn't exist back then). They're quick enough on the road that they aren't a slog but come to life on crushed stone paths, multiuse trails and tame single track. It's a very versatile bike, just make sure you throw a bell on it when you're on shared trails.

golfduke
golfduke Dork
2/16/23 11:54 a.m.

I'm going to be the contrarian of the group and strongly recommend at the very least parking lot riding a couple options before committing to buying a bike online based on a size chart.  I spent my high school/college/ski bum years working at lots of bike shops, and I've had countless 'I bought this bike off ebay(online) because it was cheap and the book said I was good, why am I in so much pain riding it?' customers, it's not even funny.  Go to a shop, ask to ride  a couple different sized bikes, even if they're not the exact component spec or price range you're interested in.  Get a feel for a few different manufacturers' interpretations of sizes and styles.  No two 61cm bikes will be the same fit exactly, so you won't know what you need until you get at least a tiny bit of data points.  You'd hate to spend $1500 on a bike that doesnt fit you well, is uncomfortable, or needs hundreds of dollars more on components to jury-rig the initial problem, right?  Just take an afternoon and see what your preferences are, THEN if you want to look at geometry charts and compare what your rode and liked with various Direct to Consumer options, go for it!  I 100% endorse online retailers, just do your homework first. 

 

Prime example-  I'm 5'10", and EVERY manufacturer and shop tries to put me into a 54cm.  Every single one.  But I have inordinately long limbs and a super short torso, so I size up to a 56 and ride them comfortably without going with stupid long stems and seatposts. I wouldn't have known that without riding a bunch of 54s first and realizing that I wasn't comfortable, trying a 56, and the light bulb coming on... 

 

 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/16/23 2:51 p.m.

Yeah, I'm not doing direct-to with this purchase, I'm going through a shop where I can get a chance to ride a couple different sizes of whatever I'm looking at, and then work with them on a fitting.  I don't need the hassle of returning and my current bike is a prime example of someone getting into a bike with a too-small frame and a few bodges to try and make it work.  Only I bought it used that way, the first guy did the band-aids of stem spacers and a longer seat to try and make it more comfortable.

Anyway, thanks for the input all.

TheGloriousW
TheGloriousW Reader
2/17/23 12:00 p.m.

Giant Bicycles are usually high value for price point and sold through local shops.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/17/23 12:18 p.m.

In reply to TheGloriousW :

That's because Giant makes pretty much everyone else's bikes for them :)

golfduke
golfduke Dork
2/17/23 12:32 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to TheGloriousW :

That's because Giant makes pretty much everyone else's bikes for them :)

Yup.  If it's from Taiwan, chances are it's a Giant-made bike, haha. 

 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/17/23 1:36 p.m.

The Giant Revolt actually looks like it's worth considering. 

How much should I care about mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes?  I have zero experience with either.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/17/23 3:19 p.m.

Hydraulic is better, but less common on drop bar brake levers - I had a hard time finding some that would work when I converted a mountain bike to drop bars. I think mechanical is good enough for gravel/road use. My wife's gravel bike (a Salsa something, we picked it up at the used gear exchange so I was evaluating the specific bike and not the model) has mechanical disc calipers and they're ok.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/17/23 4:27 p.m.

My dad has hydraulic disks on his mountain bike and apparently they need to be bled all the time if you store your bike vertically. Not sure if that's an older tech thing or still common though.

Mechanical or hydraulic disks are both way better than rim brakes, so you'll be pleasantly surprised if that's what you're used to. 

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/17/23 4:35 p.m.

Since you live in Wichita Kansas, any mechanical disc brake will be sufficient for a gravel bike. It's like me in Texas. When you ride a 40 mile ride and only get 600 feet of elevation gain you're not taxing your brakes too much.

TheGloriousW
TheGloriousW Reader
2/17/23 4:54 p.m.
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Since you live in Wichita Kansas, any mechanical disc brake will be sufficient for a gravel bike. It's like me in Texas. When you ride a 40 mile ride and only get 600 feet of elevation gain you're not taxing your brakes too much.

It's the modulation that make hydraulic better.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/17/23 4:58 p.m.
TheGloriousW said:
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Since you live in Wichita Kansas, any mechanical disc brake will be sufficient for a gravel bike. It's like me in Texas. When you ride a 40 mile ride and only get 600 feet of elevation gain you're not taxing your brakes too much.

It's the modulation that make hydraulic better.

It's the cost and simplicity that make mechanical disc better.

We could go back and forth on this. I am a flatlander like the OP and I have mechanical discs on my Surly and my Specialized, both set up for gravel. Couldn't be happier.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/17/23 5:02 p.m.

I wouldn't want mechanical discs on my mountain bike, but for street/gravel they do the job. I have not found that the hydraulics need constant maintenance, and one of my bikes is stored vertically.

But they are definitely way better than rim brakes of any flavor :)

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/17/23 11:14 p.m.

Mechanical discs can vary quite a bit, I run TRP Spyre's on my CX and Gravel bike and they are great but they are on the higher end of things. Hydraulics are definitely better with more power and better modulation. Some hydraulic systems can need more attention when it comes to bleeding etc and others will work for years being completely ignored. If you are wanting hydraulics buy a bike that has them standard, the cost to upgrade to them after the fact is pretty expensive on a bike like this with integrated shifters. Being 6'4" you likely have decent sized hands/grip strength, for people with smaller hands the lower power mechanicals can be a real problem.

If you end up with mechanical discs there are a few things you can do to improve things. If they are using standard cable housings (probably are as these are entry level bikes) a compressionless housing makes a big difference. Pad shapes tend to be pretty standard (typically an older gen Shimano Deore shape) so other pad compounds are an option. Lastly, moving to larger discs with adapters for the calipers can add a lot of power.

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
2/18/23 12:57 a.m.

I've had no issues with mechanical brakes. They work okay for me on road, gravel, trails, singletracks.

moxnix
moxnix Dork
2/18/23 9:07 a.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

The Giant Revolt actually looks like it's worth considering. 

How much should I care about mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes?  I have zero experience with either.

I have the 2022 revolt advanced 3.  This is the carbon frame Grx 10 speed version.  It is a nice bike.  I am sure the alloy version is nice also and does not have the frame cracking issues that the carbon one does.  
 

between cable and hydraulic I would say if you can get hydraulic then do so.  I have hydraulic on my mountain bike and my gravel bike.  My road and touring bikes have cable discs and I keep looking for a good excuse to upgrade them but have trouble justifying the extra cost of that upgrade. 
basically the cable ones are ok but the hydraulic ones are better.  

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/18/23 9:32 a.m.

In reply to moxnix :

my cheapo fat bike came with mechanical discs. They worked, but compared to the really cheapo(50$ or so) shimano hydraulic setup, its night and day, the cheap hydros are AMAZING compared to the cheap mechanical discs. Very easy swap too. Bleeding was/has been no issue. 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/18/23 2:51 p.m.

In reply to TJL (Forum Supporter) :

Swapping is more difficult on a drop bar bike as they usually don't have discrete brake and shift levers like a flat bar. 

Erich
Erich UberDork
2/18/23 3:48 p.m.

My friends that have bought complete gravel bikes have generally preferred steel frames. These are the more readil-available frames my riding group has:

  • All City Space Horse
  • All City Gorilla Monsoon
  • Elephant NFE
  • Soma Wolverine
  • Jamis Renegade

The Jamis seems like a good bike at the pricepoint you're looking at. Honestly I don't think you can go wrong with most of the bikes out there at this price range. The advice to shop in-person is a good one, especially considering your size.

I personally ride a Black Mountain Cycles Road+ - it's a compliant steel frame with some really thoughtfully laid out features, like direct fender mounting, all the rack mounting points you could want, and great tire clearances. The newest version is called the Mod. Zero, and should be coming out soon. 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
2/18/23 4:01 p.m.

Steel sounds nice from a hard-to-describe "compliance" standpoint but weight is always a question.  I know there are steel frames that are very close to the same weight as a generally comparable AL bike.  I'll check the mentioned bikes.

I'm subtly shifting towards working with a local shop and having them help me get a Canyon Grizl 6 that fits.  I've got some guidance from a friend on a shop to work with on that.  I can still buy accessories and such from them as well as pay for the fitting.  If they're not keen I'll circle back.

The Grizl 6 comes with juice brakes and has a ton of mount locations.  Seems like it's a popular option at this point in time and there are racks and such out there that are known to fit it well.  But, again, I will look at the bikes mentioned above.  The Grizl 6 is at the top of my price range which is okay but I'd like to think that there are other options out there.

Thanks for everyone's input!

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