Touring or gravel frame?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
aflook
Posts: 70
Joined: 22 Nov 2011, 3:21pm
Location: Sheffield

Touring or gravel frame?

Postby aflook » 2 Jul 2020, 8:25pm

Well, I'm in a quandary.
I'vedecided to buy one last frame with the money I've saved over lockdown, but I'm undecided. I love my Condor Heritage, but I bought a size too big and rim brakes. Also, I've found myself on more and rougher tracks when in Italy and Spain. So I will definitely try wider tyres -35 or 37 -but what frame? the Condor is great fun to ride on tarmac but hard work on the tracks. Would the tyres make enough of a difference if I bought the right size (possibly custom)? Or, should I try something different such as the Spa Elan Ti, which might smooth out some of the bumps and make those bits more enjoyable and less tiring? But would it be up to 2 months' touring with 20kg of camping gear plus my own 77kg? Need to decide soon as there's a long lead-out time for the Condor if I go that route.
So, any opinion which would help me decide would be very welcome. Also suggestions for cheapish tyres to see if I like the change (Maybe Conti Race Kings?)I can go more expensive once I know it works.
Thanks, folks.

slowster
Posts: 1816
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby slowster » 3 Jul 2020, 10:46am

Wider tyres will make a much bigger difference to comfort than a titanium frame/carbon fork like the Elan. People using bikes like the Elan - such as the Sonder Camino or Kinesis Tripster ATR - for camping usually seem to have ultralight bikepacking style kit, i.e. frame bags and the lightest and most compact tent/bivi kit.

If you are going to be riding for 2 months with 20kg of camping gear etc., and you find youself increasingly riding rougher tracks, I would suggest getting a bike designed for that sort of loaded touring which can take tyres over 40mm wide. If you buy a bike with clearance for up to 37mm tyres, you run the risk that you will decide that you need/want even wider tyres but won't be able to fit them.

If I were you I would take a trip to Spa and test ride their Wayfarer and the Surly Disc Trucker. The Wayfarer can take 47mm tyres with mudguards, and so can the Disc Trucker (certainly Surly say the imminently available new version can). If you had time you could also test ride the Elan.

rotavator
Posts: 571
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby rotavator » 3 Jul 2020, 11:27am

If the tracks are really rough and you want to go at a reasonable pace, I would suggest looking at flat barred bikes e.g. Genesis Longitude and MTBs with front suspension and using tyres 2" or more wide.

reohn2
Posts: 40711
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby reohn2 » 3 Jul 2020, 11:29am

Genesis Vagabond(you'd need to swap the tyres for something like Marathon Supremes) or Salsa Vaya would fill that niche.
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aflook
Posts: 70
Joined: 22 Nov 2011, 3:21pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby aflook » 3 Jul 2020, 12:20pm

Thank you all for your suggestions.
To see what sort of difference the tyres alone make, what do you thing I should try that won't cost an arm and a leg (in case I go all white and shaky at going above 32 :) ?
I don't want to go to flat bars - I like the shallow drops I have and use all the hand positions.
As I head deeper into my 60s I can't see myself bivvying!
So the question remains, which frame? I would get the steel fork option if I went with the Elan, and I still envisage touring on at least 50% road. I'm just aiming at a little more comfort and fun on the off-road bits. Maybe I should spend my money on a little more wine??!! I end up carrying so much weight largely because I'm paranoid about running short of food, being type 1 diabetic, which also requires me to carry all sorts of gubbins such as pumps, sensors, cool bags..... which no doubt immediately cancels out any weight advantage of Ti. Deep joy.

simonhill
Posts: 3277
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby simonhill » 3 Jul 2020, 2:46pm

I would have thought a Surly LHT, disc or otherwise would be a definite option.

Tough bike; good for carrying heavy loads; OK handling off road; reasonable performance on road; fat tyres (or as they say, fatties fit fine); etc.

markjohnobrien
Posts: 368
Joined: 4 Oct 2007, 8:15pm

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby markjohnobrien » 3 Jul 2020, 2:58pm

simonhill wrote:I would have thought a Surly LHT, disc or otherwise would be a definite option.

Tough bike; good for carrying heavy loads; OK handling off road; reasonable performance on road; fat tyres (or as they say, fatties fit fine); etc.



Agree they are nice but have you seen the price increases in the last few years (even more for Salsa frames as owned by the same company).

Surly disc trucker frame rrp is £750 (for new model) and this brings it more in line with Salsa pricing.

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m11b0s143p3 ... Forks-2021

2019 model is £550.

slowster
Posts: 1816
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby slowster » 3 Jul 2020, 4:51pm

aflook wrote:To see what sort of difference the tyres alone make, what do you thing I should try that won't cost an arm and a leg (in case I go all white and shaky at going above 32 :) ?

When I wanted to try wider tyres, I was able to buy some very good supple wide tyres at a bargain price (35mm and 37mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers). Those tyres are now discontinued, but they are so good that when they wear out I will be prepared to pay the much higher price of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, which I think are the nearest equivalent. So in answer to your question, I would fit 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.

Incidentally, the Elan is now available in steel.

aflook
Posts: 70
Joined: 22 Nov 2011, 3:21pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby aflook » 3 Jul 2020, 5:10pm

slowster wrote:When I wanted to try wider tyres, I was able to buy some very good supple wide tyres at a bargain price (35mm and 37mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers). Those tyres are now discontinued, but they are so good that when they wear out I will be prepared to pay the much higher price of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, which I think are the nearest equivalent. So in answer to your question, I would fit 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.


Those are good tyres but I managed to shred a pair of 32s in Italy. Too many rocks for the sidewalls. Luckily I got home before they finally fell apart.

slowster wrote:If I were you I would take a trip to Spa and test ride their Wayfarer and the Surly Disc Trucker. The Wayfarer can take 47mm tyres with mudguards, and so can the Disc Trucker (certainly Surly say the imminently available new version can). If you had time you could also test ride the Elan.

Good plan. They do some Genesis bikes too.

reohn2
Posts: 40711
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby reohn2 » 3 Jul 2020, 5:15pm

slowster wrote:
aflook wrote:To see what sort of difference the tyres alone make, what do you thing I should try that won't cost an arm and a leg (in case I go all white and shaky at going above 32 :) ?

When I wanted to try wider tyres, I was able to buy some very good supple wide tyres at a bargain price (35mm and 37mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers). Those tyres are now discontinued, but they are so good that when they wear out I will be prepared to pay the much higher price of Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, which I think are the nearest equivalent. So in answer to your question, I would fit 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.

Incidentally, the Elan is now available in steel.

I'd go with 700 x 50's,a nice quick,supple and comfy touring tyre and still weigh only 620g :)
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aflook
Posts: 70
Joined: 22 Nov 2011, 3:21pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby aflook » 3 Jul 2020, 5:39pm

reohn2 wrote:'d go with 700 x 50's,a nice quick,supple and comfy touring tyre and still weigh only 620g

After what I'm used to, that would seem as wide as a small motorway!.... My current wheels will take 35s or possibly37s so I'll give that a whirl first.

aflook
Posts: 70
Joined: 22 Nov 2011, 3:21pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby aflook » 3 Jul 2020, 5:44pm

slowster wrote:I was able to buy some very good supple wide tyres at a bargain price (35mm and 37mm Vittoria Hyper Voyagers)

Are these similar?
https://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/TYVIVOWT/ ... wired-tyre

simonhill
Posts: 3277
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby simonhill » 3 Jul 2020, 5:58pm

markjohnobrien wrote:
simonhill wrote:I would have thought a Surly LHT, disc or otherwise would be a definite option.

Tough bike; good for carrying heavy loads; OK handling off road; reasonable performance on road; fat tyres (or as they say, fatties fit fine); etc.



Agree they are nice but have you seen the price increases in the last few years (even more for Salsa frames as owned by the same company).

Surly disc trucker frame rrp is £750 (for new model) and this brings it more in line with Salsa pricing.

https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m11b0s143p3 ... Forks-2021

2019 model is £550.


Cripes!

I bought an LHT frame in late 2016 for £360 (£400 less my 10% discount). As they are priced in US$s, I decided to buy ASAP from existing stock just after the Brexit vote when the pound tumbled. The new stock went up 20% to reflect the £/$. Looking at Spa, I see that have risen quite a bit more but with their discount not too bad (MSSP £550.00 OUR PRICE £475.00).

Bonefishblues
Posts: 8720
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby Bonefishblues » 3 Jul 2020, 6:09pm

I'll leave this here:

https://alpkit.com/collections/sonder-r ... 22-touring

Pretty close to the best of both worlds, I'd suggest

slowster
Posts: 1816
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Touring or gravel frame?

Postby slowster » 3 Jul 2020, 6:23pm

aflook wrote:Those are good tyres but I managed to shred a pair of 32s in Italy. Too many rocks for the sidewalls. Luckily I got home before they finally fell apart.

And that illustrates why your request for suggestions of tyres to try that will fit the 37mm limit of your Condor is probably a flawed approach. The 50mm version of the Supreme would probably be far less prone to side cuts than the 32mm or 35mm, because it will be able to 'float' over stones and gravel into which the narrower tyres would tend to sink, resulting in more contact with the sidewalls. Moreover, the lower pressure of the 50mm tyre for a given rider/luggage weight will also reduce the risk of side cuts*, whereas with 20kg of camping kit you are presumably running relatively high pressures.

* Imagine a balloon fully inflated: it's very easy to cut the surface just by brushing it with a blade. In contrast a partially inflated balloon will offer less resistance to a blade brushed against it, and so be less likely to tear. It's the same with the threads in the tyre side wall: the more they are under tension/stretched as a result of the tyre being pumped up hard, the more vulnerable they are to being abraded and cut.