Time for a new Gravel Bike - Help me decide

A decade ago I bought a 2011 Specialized TriCross Sport to start riding. I was hooked for a few years but then kids and other responsibilities came along and it sat in the garage for 7 years. I dusted it off this past summer and really got hooked again, putting a ton of miles on it while realizing it may be time, or at least I could argue it is, for a new bike.

I live in a rather rural area with lots of awesome dirt roads. There are also a fair amount of hills (I typically average 100’/mile) and some of the gravel is loose. Most of the time I’m not on dirt on on the un-striped oil and stoned type roads…not the best but I’d consider it smooth.

Mainly looking to get something more comfortable, upgraded components(wireless, disc brakes), and something with a bit more generous gearing. With how much I ride I can justify spending towards the upper range for a nice Carbon bike with decent components. I have it down to these 3 but am also up for other suggestions…am a bit of a Specialized fan due to how solid my Tricross has been for me.

Allied Able - Probably shoot for the Rival AXS configuration to keep the cost down a bit. It’s clearly a pure gravel bike. I also like that it’s 'Murican made and can be customized at will as far as color combinations go. I feel like you’re paying for the made in the USA but still feel as if it’s worth the money. Downside is buying it from them would require me to get it setup/fitted by myself or pay to have an LBS do it as there are no local dealers around here.

Diverge - A comp carbon is probably enough for what I need, especially in the '22 specs however I can’t seem to find one. If I went that route I may justify some upgrades. Going up to the Expert gets me some of those extras and still in my price range. I like the future shock and it seems to be pretty much the standard for gravel bikes out there.

Crux - LBS has a Crux Pro in that awesome rainbow color scheme, I stop in to drool over it whenever I’m in the area. Clearly towards the top of my price range and the most expensive one here but you can’t argue with the weight at least. Other features are nice and the geometry may be a bit aggressive for the rougher gravel roads out there it’ll be beneficial on the smoother “paved” roads around here.

Thoughts?

Compare the BB drop on the bikes…the Diverge has a much higher BB drop than the other models listed. That makes a big difference in how the bikes feel and ride. Lower BB will add stability and better confidence. IIRC, the Diverge has a 80mm BB drop while both the Able and the Crux have a 70mm drop. Pretty big difference.

I am personally a big fan of a lower BB for gravel and that was the driving reason why I bought a Cervelo Aspero last summer (76mm drop).

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Along with the BBs, the Able geo is a pretty aggressive setup. If that’s your jam, go for it, but you mentioned wanting comfort. I’d be sure you look at the geo of what you’re riding today, think about what you like and don’t like, and then compare all 4 bikes geo.

I’ve never ridden a Diverge, so I have no opinion on it specifically, but you mentioned the future shock being the “standard”. It and the Lauf are the only bikes I can think of that come equipped with front suspension, so I wouldn’t say there is any standard. If you like it, awesome, but the vast majority of gravel bikes don’t come with suspension.

They’re all really really nice bikes, but they’re also all very different. I’d start with thinking about the geometry and availability. Take a look at this for a quick start. Compare: 2020 Allied ABLE SRAM Force AXS vs 2021 Specialized Diverge Pro Carbon vs Trek Checkpoint SL 7 – 99 Spokes

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Good point, looks like the Crux is at 72 for my size but the Able is 70 and 80 on the Diverge.

Meant it as every time you mention a gravel bike the Diverge is mentioned as it seems to be the standard suggestion. Perhaps it’s just me/my few cycle friends/LBS. Agreed, that the future shock is no longer the only game out there for front suspension.

Geometry and how it impacts the ride is a bit new to me, any solid resources for it before I go down the Google road?

Good comparison site here…

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Interesting. I would definitely not say that. I’d say the “standard that everyone mentions first” is probably the Salsa Warbird.

This is a great starter on geo and what each measurement means to the feel of the ride. Once you understand why wheelbase, tube angles, stack, etc. matter, then you can use the site @Henri_Desgrange linked to compare bikes. Gravel bike geometry 101: How trail, stack and reach affect fit and handling - YouTube

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Here’s the article that goes with the video if you prefer to read. Gravel bike geometry 101: How trail, stack, and reach affect fit and handling - CyclingTips

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Good resources/tips guys. Comparing numbers I’m almost more confused and think I have to just get on these and ride them…tough to do when it’s currently 8*F out.

I get the BB Drop difference (even though my tricross is 69) but it almost seems like the Diverge is even less aggressive than my current bike and I was hoping for something a bit more aggressive (in my newly learned terms longer reach and lower stack). At the same time I’m not exactly racking up the race miles and ride more for fun so perhaps I’m wrong with that thought and should go for comfort.

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So if I was going to lay those three bikes out on a spectrum with road bikes on the left side and MTB bikes on the right, I would do it as follows:

Allied Able: Center left - most like a road bike of the three options.

Specialized Crux: Just slightly to the left of center. Can be used to race CX, gravel or even as a capable roadie.

Diverge: Center right - more relaxed geometry, wider tire clearance, lower BB and suspension will provide the most stable ride, albeit a bit more sluggish than the other two.

Does that help?

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I picked up a Lynskey GR300 with Lauf fork and love it. The sales folks helped me to confirm sizing and we’re very helpful throughout the process.
I live in Vancouver BC and use this bike on a wide variety of surfaces.
It is fast on the road (even with 2.1” 650bs, I run these and 700c ), handles rough gravel like a dream and even ‘shreds’ light duty trails. The Lauf is a game changer, kind of like when Rock Shox released the RS-1 back in the day.
Lynskey had good stock, at the time of GRX 2X groups, which I heartily suggest. The turnaround time from order to arrival was I think less than 4 weeks, faster than predicted. They even threw in a Ti post and frame etch finish.
I’ve ridden a fair share of bikes over the years and this always puts a smile on my face.
My two cents.

I’m jealous that you live somewhere that has those three bikes in stock in your size. Where I live I have a choice between a way-too-small Checkpoint or a Sora-equipped Marin.

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I recently downsized my stable and consolidated my Lauf True Grit and Canyon Endurace into a 2022 Crux. Bought the S-Works frame and built it up mostly from the Ultegra Di2 parts from the Endurace (SO hard to find full groupsets at the moment).

I have two wheel sets (one road with GP5000s and an 11-30 cassette, and one gravel with Rene Herse tyres and SRAM 11-36 cassette).

I loved both my Lauf and my Endurace, but (obvs, imho) the Crux is better on the road, and the gravel, than either. I’d say it’s a bit lighter, a bit more comfortable (the Lauf, despite the front suspension, is really harsh at the rear) and I feel faster. Might be a placebo effect, but the Strava supports the perception. Not that speed is everything, but the combo of factors, plus the flexibility of the framset (same max tyre clearance as Diverge) is definitely bringing me more smiles per mile. Also it looks fricking cool, and that rainbow colourway you’re looking at is :fire::fire::fire:

So, if it wasn’t clear by now, my vote/suggestion is to with the Crux :slightly_smiling_face:

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I think that’s one of the few benefits of living in a winter wasteland. I’m assuming they’ve had these bikes on order forever now and they’re coming in at a time where bike’s aren’t moving super fast. When I was looking in the fall they were going much quicker than they are now. Part of the reason I’m looking now instead of waiting till I can actually ride outside…hoping to beat the rush.

Hah, I was leaving towards the Diverge after thinking over/feedback from here but now you have me second guessing the Crux. Seems like the Endurance/Diverge are both more suited for comfort…what is the Crux like compared to that? Still more comfortable?

My thought process (at least was) to go with more comfort. I mainly ride for fun so it makes sense to go for comfort over speed. At the same time, who doesn’t like speed, and I tell myself I might get in some races…and telling myself more it’s for fun even though I know my competitive attitude will get the best of me. Would hate to be able to blame a bad showing on a bike and get the urge for a new one right after.

You’ve really got to make a choice here. Yes, you can get bikes that are mostly comfortable and mostly fast, but in the end, you’re going to get down to 2 bikes and have to choose between the one you feel meets your preference. More comfortable or faster.

I’m in my 50s now, and I go for the one that’s going to get me 100k with less pain, but that’s just my personal preference. I’d far rather come in 10th place and feel great than come in 7th and be knackered. We’re all going to lean one way or the other.

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Do you see yourself doing any bikepacking, really long rides, or enjoy the convenience of being able to carry snacks and such small gear without using bags or packs?

Are you going to be a hard core racer?

If you answer yes and then no I would go with the Diverge.

It has Swat (as long as you get a mid to high end carbon which you are going to get from the sounds of it) which is awesome and allows you to carry most of your tools and such in the frame. It has mounts for you to attach top tube bags, etc for ease of snacks, phones, etc.

The Crux is basically an all out gravel race bike. I wouldn’t consider it unless all I was trying to do was go fast on gravel. It is an Aethos with more clearance. A road bike. If you want a road bike as well then go for the crux and swap tires. But you loose capability to the Diverge.

As far as the Allied, I find it ugly and expensive so it is a non-starter for me, but beauty is in your eye.

Someone mentioned it as well, but if I was going to go between two big brands’ bikes it would be the Diverge Carbon Comp then throw some nice wheels on it like Roval Terra C or Farsport Gravel wheels. Sweet capable bike for $5k or I would get a Trek Checkpoint SL 6 eTap. Throw same wheels on.

I couldn’t get either of those so I went with a Fezzari Shafer. It will be cheaper, lighter, and far more capable than a Crux Expert and closer to weight of a Crux Pro.

My .02

Have you considered a 90’s MTB?

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Really unfashionable but a traditional randonneur bike is very sweet on dirt. Surly Midnight Special is a good starting point. Of course it takes bags and stuff, and very wide tyres in 650B and wide in 700C. And even better it takes a front rack and bag and panniers. Low trail numbers mean it steers better with a bit of weight up front.

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Look at Otso - sister company of Wolftooth. They have the Waheela C carbpn gravel bike (which I just bought). They also have Fenrir in steel, Warakin in steel and Ti if you want to bikepack.

Waheela is meant for 100-mile gravel rides. It won’t be as nimble as a Cervelo Aspero or Specialized Crux, but it is no slouch either. Too cold here for me to give more detailed description of the ride.
All I can say is the Waheela’s seat tube angle being a bit slack, and stock handlebar having a bit longer reach can make bike fit challenging for some riders.

Not sure how fit or skilled OP is, but the Diverge was good enough to win 1st (Boswell) /2nd place (LTD) at Unbound Gravel 200. The Diverge would be my choice if the terrain was rockier or steeper. On flat, would be a toss up - but probably still Diverge as a more pure gravel bike.

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That is - and I mean this affectionately - one of the better trolls I’ve seen lately. Chapeau.