Mr Evil wrote:Wheelbase and chainstay length really don't make much difference to handling.
I'll take Greg Lemond's (and 531Colin's) opinion over yours. Even though Lemond is talking about road racing bikes here
, I think some of his points are also relevant to drop barred bikes used off-road:
“Stability is key,” LeMond says. “In recent years, we’ve moved to shorter and shorter wheelbases and there is no foundation for it. There is no reason to have such a short seat stay in the back, unless you’re a sprinter on the track, starting from a standstill. But a road racer needs longer stays because it descends better, it handles better and it’s more comfortable. I’ve descended on different wheelbases. I know. If your wheel is right underneath you when you are descending, you just don’t have the grip, tracking and stability in the corners.”
Mr Evil wrote:Seat tube angles vary, and aren't necessarily steeper - you can find whatever you want.
74 and 73.5 degree seat angles are pretty much the norm for gravel bikes. If it's the case that 'you can find whatever you want', please give me some examples (plural) of gravel bikes in a 'medium' size with a 72 degree seat angle.
Mr Evil wrote:But yes, touring bikes are designed for very long distances, while gravel bikes are not. Which is better depends on what you are going to use it for.
And there's the rub: someone who buys a gravel bike because (to begin with) they are just going out for short one or two hour blasts on tracks and bridleways is potentially going to be deterred from going further, if they find the bike unsuitable for longer periods in the saddle. Someone who buys a touring bike will have a bike suitable for short rides and
long rides, and for carrying as much or as little with them as they want.
On a wider note, a recurring feature on this forum is posts from people who have purchased a particular type of bike and find that it doesn't meet their needs, especially if they want to ride futher, in bad weather or on different terrain (e.g. more hilly or off-road), and they ask:
- how to lower their gears
- how to fit mudguards to a bike without eyelets
- how to carry luggage on a bike not designed for it
- how to improve comfort and fit, which sometimes depend upon fitting wider tyres (on bikes which sometimes just don't have enough clearance), getting the saddle further back than their steep seat tube will allow, or raising their bars higher than their current stem/spacer combination will allow.
This is usually because they have bought a mass market bike which is designed and marketed based on its light weight, lively handling and fashionable appeal, and gravel bikes are the current fashion. Many of them would have been better off starting with a touring bike, even if later they decided to switch to a race bike or a gravel bike (or more likely get one in addition to their tourer).