PH wrote:In the case of 531Colin, you can also go by what he does as well as what he says - the chainstays on the Spa Elan are shorter than on the Spa Tourers.
Indeed, and he obviously has to design Spa's frames with a firm commercial eye on what customers are likely to want and expect. The Elan is competing with a number of similar gravel/adventure bikes, and I suspect that tweaking the Elan's design to make it handle a lot more like a tourer than other such bikes would not make commercial sense: Spa already offer a titanium tourer and a titanium roughstuff bike to cater to that market.
As it is the Elan has a shallower seat angle (72.5 in 54cm) and I think 531Colin has also commented that he opted for a taller head tube to allow the bars to be higher, so it seems to me that he has sought to strike a careful balance between offering a bike that will appeal to anyone looking at a titanium/carbon gravel/adventure bike as well as having particular appeal to customers who want a shallower seat angle/more saddle set back or higher bars than might be possible on a competitor's bike.
PH wrote:You'd be hard pressed to find any bike from a mainstream retailer with a 72 degree seat angle. What's the STA on a medium Surly LHT, isn't that 73? There'll be a choice of Gravel bikes with that. Even from some of the specialists 72 is outside the norm, plenty of Spa bikes are 72.5 and the difference between that and 73 will be less than the difference between a Brooks and just about every other saddle.
You're right. I have not bothered to look before, but it looks like Dawes, Genesis and Ridgeback are all offering 73 degrees as standard in a medium size. I think the 72.5 Spa frames are generally the audax/sportive models, whereas the standard tourers are typically 72.
I've recently struggled to find a seat post with sufficient set back to enable me to get the right saddle position on a 73 degree seat tube, and even then I've pushed the saddle 5mm further back than the limit marked on the rails by the manufacturer. As you say the difference between 72.5 and 73 is less than the difference between a Brooks and most other saddles, but conversely the effect of a 73 or 74 degree STA is likely to be far more problematic if the saddle you want to use is a Brooks - a lot of riders would struggle to get a Brooks back far enough on a 73 or 74 degree seat tube.
PH wrote:Plenty of people are riding Audax of all distances and the new breed of self supported multi day races on these sorts of bikes, what makes you think you know better than them?
I think my response to that is 'it depends on the rider'. I guess some will arrive at what works best for them by experimentation and trial and error, to the extent that they can afford to do if that means buying and trying multiple different bikes, but I presume that the choice of many will simply be determined by what manufacturers sell (unless they get a custom made frame), and riders doing those events are probably more likely to be the sort that will put up with discomfort and even pain (as someone once said to me when I was suffering during an audax, "it's just mind over matter: if you don't mind, it doesn't matter").
We can all make 'appeals to authority' to justify our opinion by citing our own preferred authority, but I do have a lot of respect for someone like Greg Lemond who took a very analytical approach to his bike set up. One thing I find interesting about Lemond, 531Colin and Jeff Jones is that all of them to varying degree have gone - or are still going - against the tide of what is the fashion or what everyone else is offering. If all the mainstream brands are offering 73 or 74 (or even steeper for MTBs) seat angles and short chainstays it takes a lot of courage and confidence in your knowledge and experience to offer something different (even if you know you are right - it's not that unusual in the field of design for a superior product to fail to be commercially successful).
PH wrote:slowster wrote: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...
Outside of those buying expensive bikes from a handful of specialist suppliers, those questions get asked about many more bikes than get sold as Gravel bikes, including plenty of tourers.
Indeed, which was why I began my remark by saying 'On a wider note' and did not confine my comment to just gravel bikes.
The key point I was trying to make was that I think that many new cyclists would do better to start with a touring bike which can be ridden all day in comfort and which is a jack of all trades, and work from that benchmark to identify their preferences (experiment with position, narrower/better tyres, fit a rack, remove the rack, take some/no/less luggage, fit higher/lower gears, fit a closer/wider ratio cassette, try lighter wheels etc.) and use that insight to make their next bike purchase, rather than get an off the shelf race bike, endurance bike or gravel bike, only to find that it's likely to be more difficult, more expensive or even impossible to make the alterations that they might want (e.g. they can't get the position they want, it won't accept the tyre width they want, it won't take a rack or mudguards, fitting lower gears entails a lot of expense and trouble etc.).