Wow! I am getting a lot of responses to the idea for a gravel grinder specific bicycle both here on the blog and through e-mails. Seems that many of you have some ideas and suggestions to add in, and I appreciate them all. Actually, I am rather flattered that you all took the time to respond. Thanks!
Yesterday I took the opportunity to say why a couple of rigs I was considering didn't quite "do it" for me, and I think it is what sparked a lot of the commentary I received. It may be a misunderstood concept for many of the readers out there as to what I am trying to achieve, so let me just state my purposes again.
#1: I have a few bikes that are already "almost" what I want. I do not want to add, and don't need to add another bike with "compromises".
#2: I am zeroed in on a certain set of parameters, and while some of these bikes being suggested come within millimeters of what I want, they don't tick all the boxes.
So, if this idea for a concept is to be realized, it will be very specific and will be what I aim for, or I will not do it. I was hoping for another opportunity for a bike like this to materialize, but it went in another direction, and even though it would be "close", I am not interested anymore. So, if I seem a bit "grumpy" in my responses to comments, I do not mean to be that way. It's just that I have an idea that I am drawing a bead on, and hopefully I will not be distracted from it.
So, with that said, here is the next subject: Frame material. I am going to go with steel, mostly due to costs and ease of construction. I like fillet brazed construction and I have two bikes that utilize that joinery technique. It allows for odd frame tubing junction angles which lugs can not accomplish without being handmade at an extraordinary price. TIG welding would be okay, but I don't know if I will go that way. Could, but probably not.
Maybe in a more cash flush scenario I would opt for titanium, but that is far beyond my humble means to accomplish, so it is definitely not on the radar. Wish it was though. So, good ol steel it is!
Some of you will maybe point out that fillet brazing isn't the lightest way to go, and I would nod in agreement. However, I could be all wrong about this, but it seems to me to be a way to deaden vibrations to some degree over a TIG welded frame. Why is that important? Well, the less vibrations a rider has to absorb, the fresher, and more efficient, the rider will be. The Badger above is exemplary in this regard. It also is a good example of a higher trail figure bike and how that handles better on gravel than some of my other gravel grinder rigs.
Here is my other fillet brazed rig, the Pofahl. It is a great example of a slack seat angle bike and how that works in long, drawn out rides. I rode this 106miles in the 2009 Good Life Gravel Adventure around Lincoln, Nebraska, and it was set up with 180mm cranks, which put me low, and "down in" the bike. I liked that about this set up and these things are part of what I want incorporated into the "gravel rig".
These two bikes are "pretty close", but are too mountain bike-ish and have other things I don't care for in regards to this project. For one thing, I think both of these bikes are a bit over-built for the purposes of a gravel only rig. That's where I am coming from with my "lighter tube set" comments.
There are other finer details that I would want changed as well from these bikes. Obviously the biggest ones are getting away from huge tire clearances and such big tires and having top tubes more level since mountain biking won't be part of the repertoire. I will want less braze on madness than a Fargo, since I would want frame bags instead if it comes to that. Three water bottle bosses, minimum, and "maybe" rack mounts on the back. Possibly fender mounts, (if Ben Witt talks me into it), and a pump peg and chain hangar.
Well, there is more, but we'll cover that later.