slowster wrote: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,
My main point is that I'd rather be celebrating that people are riding than critical of what bike or it's label. The current fashions will change, but the choice of practical bikes in Halfords has improved with recent trends.
I've ridden with plenty of experienced cyclists
who've chosen to change bikes to these current trends, these are riders who know what they want, they don't consider themselves to have been duped by marketing. What matters is that they're happy with their choices rather than what anyone else thinks of them.
We've had all the arguments before, it's the same sort of derision that greeted Mountain Bikes, they're no good for touring, they're only good off road... Yet millions of people have done millions of good miles, so what's the point of saying they could have had a better bike?
An experienced cyclist is much less likely to base their choice on marketing, and be better able to discriminate between different bikes and choose what they want based on the bike's features (geometry, specification etc.). All bikes are a compromise to some degree - being more experienced and knowledgeable means that you have a better idea of what compromises you are happy with and would even expect your next bike to have, and what compromises would rule a bike out of consideration.
Gravel/adventure bikes could have the potential to encourage a lot of new people into cycling, in the way that MTBs have done. However, I think a lot of customers might be disappointed when the expectations that the marketing creates are not fulfilled. If they do not find the bike sufficiently comfortable, that the gears are too high, that they need mudguards and the bike is difficult to fit them to, that it's awkward carrying things with them on the bike etc., there is a danger that they will ride less and eventually that the bike ends up like so many - unused at the back of the garage. My concern is that a lot more of those people would be likely to continue riding if they had bought a more touring oriented bike.
As it happens I have a ti/carbon gravel bike. I bought it after a long lay off because I thought it would be ideal to get me back into riding, and to a large degree because I fell for the marketing spiel. To my mind it seemed like a tourer but better because it was lighter, and should also be better for riding off road on tracks and bridleways. And indeed it is wonderfully light, fast and lively. However, I soon found that the gears were too high, and eventually fitted a Spa Super Compact chainset. I also tried a number of different stem lengths and angles/heights because I never felt quite right on the bars. Despite the changes I was never keen to go out for long rides on it.
Then a few years ago I reassembled my old 1980s tourer. When I rode it I was shocked by how well it handled and felt, and how comfortable it was (and that was with some old 23mm tyres which were all I had to hand, unlike the 40mm tyres on the gravel bike). As a result I eventually decided both to buy a new tourer (like most 1980s tourers, mine was limited to 32mm tyres and I need wider for riding on tracks, and that limitation would remain even if I had had the rear stays cold set to allow modern 135mm OLN cassette hubs to be used instead of the original 126mm freewheel compatible hubs) and to persevere with trying to improve the set up of the gravel bike. As part of the latter process, I have slowly and somewhat reluctantly come to the conclusion that its 74 degree seat angle is simply far too steep (and is probably the primary reason why the bars have never felt quite right: too much weight on my hands), and I have recently purchased one of the Planet X Holdsworth Gran Sport seatposts with ~30mm setback to see if that will provide enough layback. I am hoping that when I have finished the gravel bike will be a much more comfortable and capable bike (it's just a pity that one thing I can't do is lengthen the chainstays by 20mm, which would improve the handling/stability, especially off road, and make it much better for longer rides on road and tracks).
Obviously my experience has inevitably influenced my views on gravel bikes both with regard to the actual features of that classification of bike and also with regard to how it is marketed. Plenty of other people's experiences will be very different, and I'm sure many/most will be very satisfied with their purchase. My concern is for those who will not be satisfied and are instead disappointed by their bike, and rather than be encouraged are deterred by it from going out for a ride.
In short, I agree with The utility cyclist that the bike industry and shops are good at getting people to buy bikes, but often poor at ensuring people buy a bike which best fits their needs (or even just fits
them full stop) and which will be a bike that encourages them to ride more often and/or further, rather than being a disappointment which languishes at the back of the garage.