I’ve just pressed the button a new bike. Woops, sorry about that!
If I really wanted to be pedantic its unnecessary. Honestly I could get by with what I have but here’s why I think I need one. You decide.
18 months ago I bought a Ribble CGR AL. It has been good little workhorse. There have been a couple of niggles (paint and a creaky mech hanger) but it has performed well as both an offroad machine and a solid commuter. But there is the problem. It can’t be both at the same time. Let me explain.
For me, to go offroad and use it as a ‘gravel’ bike I want no guards and a fatter, knobblier tyre or at least something with some tread for grip. As a commuting machine I want narrower (28-32mm), slick tyres and guards.
1x setups are usually preferred for gravel bikes but I actually want a 2x for gravel and 1x for commuting as I use very few gears riding to/from work compared to offroad riding or touring. Less faff.
Up to now I’ve been spending time with it setup solely as one or the other but the switch, fitting/removing guards and changing tyres occasionally is a pain. I had considered just getting another set of posh Hunt wheels for offroad but I’d still have the guard issue. On or off.
The fix then is two bikes. One for gravel, one for commuting. My recent road commutes on 38mm cross tyres helped me decide. They’re comfortable but quite hard work on the road but I couldn’t be arsed changing the tyres and then I’ll need my guards on soon and then I’ll want to ride the canal at some point…and it goes on.
Now, the ironic thing is to get the spec of road bike I want for commuting I need to buy a gravel bike lol. Something that will have a 1x setup, hydraulic disc brakes and the ability to take 28-30mm+ tyres and guards.
So I’ve been looking hard for a few days. There still isn’t much about but I narrowed it down to three bikes before pressing GO.
The first was just another Ribble CGR AL but in the blue rather than the orange I have. The advantage of this one is obvious as I already own one but it was a bit pricey (£1599) with a Shimano 1x GRX groupset fitted and I would need to change the bars too as I did with my current one as the reach to the hoods is too deep for me on the Level 1 bars Ribble use. I also looked at the steel version they do but thats half a kilo heavier and more expensive. No thanks
The next bike I looked at was so, so close. The Merlin Malt G2X was such a great price (£1199) for the spec but the geometry I needed was stuck in between the small and medium. I need a 140mm or 150mm headtube but my size had 160mm and the next size down had a 130mm and I would have needed a 120mm stem with the smaller frame. Not a fan and it would have just bugged me trying to shoehorn myself onto something thats not quite right for me so I reluctantly binned that one off too.
I then thought about some other bike builders and decided to have a look at Dolan Bikes and stumbled upon the Dolan GXA. It has everything I need with a bonus! The price was still really good (£1275) for the 1x GRX spec I wanted. I was able to customise the bike (crank length & cassette ratio) and get the same Deda Zero 1 bars as my Ribble for an additional £30 and, get this, a set of Hunt 4 Season Gravel wheels with a pair of Panaracer GravelKings fitted for just another £190. The wheels alone retail for £330 from Hunt. Bloody perfect! All I need to do is swap the Hunts onto my Ribble and I’m sorted.
Also, if I want to go Touring I now have options. I can use either bike depending on the gears I’ll need or the terrain I ride. It was meant to be!
Geometry-wise its almost perfect. The head tube is 140mm so all I need is a 10mm spacer to achieve my correct bar height, and the effective top tube is just 5mm shorter which won’t be an issue if not slightly more comfortable. Head and seat angles are identical.
So there it is, I’ve ordered a Dolan GXA which is my new bike for commuting to and from work and I now have a year round gravel bike setup for when I fancy a change.
N+1 people, N+1