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Gravel bike converted to road bike?
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I picked up a used Specialized gravel bike for $750.00 last week. The bike is less than two years old and has disc brakes. It is definitely a higher end bike than my road bike, which is a 2015 Giant Defy. I bought the Giant as an entry level carbon bike and have enjoyed it. The gravel bike has 31" tires on it currently. My questions is, can I convert that bike to a road bike and sell my Giant road bike? Can a gravel bike work well as a road bike with fast thin tires?
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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Yes. You can.

You don't even want to go too "narrow" w/ road tires. Period.

I used Conti 4k2S's on my gravel bike when riding it as a 'road' bike up in Maine last summer.
I ran 28's, and they rolled really well and fast, plus the extra grip and cush of having more volume.

The 'only' things that made it slow compared to other bikes were:
position (more upright than road, much moreso than TT), and completely non-aero tubes and wheels.


float , hammer , and jog

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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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Without question.

Some will mention geometry differences and point out handling changes.
However, in practice, it makes very little difference and any changes in handling will probably become "the new normal" as soon as you switch.

The one question is around the internal width of the rim. If the width is relatively wide, to accept a wider gravel tire, it may not play nicely with a "narrow" road tire.

Which model of bike do you have?
The Sequoia have wider rims than the Diverge.
Sequoia rim (~25mm internal rim width) probably need relatively wide road tires (new 32mm GP5000 may work well).

The Diverge has a narrow rim width and probably works with tires down to 28mm, maybe even narrower.

The above poster is a physiologist employed by PEARL iZUMi. However, statements are not made on behalf of nor reflective of PEARL iZUMI in any manner... unless they're good, then they count.
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Last edited by: xtrpickels: May 14, 19 10:36
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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It can work fine.

I have ridden my gravel bike on road centuries. The only downside with mine is the gearing with a 1x crankset. For CX/gravel I have a 40 tooth ring. On the road with an 11-42 cassette I run out of gears when descending. That can he fixed by swapping out for a larger chainring, and/or swapping out the freehub for an XD driver and going with a MTB cassette with a 10 tooth cog.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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Yep, you can also look at gravel tires with a smooth center. It would be the middle between the two worlds but would work fine. I use Donnelly Ush, and pump them up to 80-90psi and its a good road tire, I drop the PSI to 60 and its a good gravel tire. Notice I say good and not great, because it's not great on either surface but most of my rides are a mix.
Last edited by: AndysStrongAle: May 14, 19 10:56
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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Worst case scenario is you have 2 sets of wheels - wider wheels and tires for gravel and narrower rims and tires for road. Other than that it would make zero difference really. I just use a road bike with 28s for everything. Where I live thats been completely fine for the dirt/limestone/gravel trails I've ridden.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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31" tires?
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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It's the newest "standard"
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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Yes. This is exactly what I have done and my toad bike is for sale in the classifieds.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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I picked up a used Felt VR5 about six months ago. It's an endurance road bike but can easily fit 35mm tires. I was running 28mm slicks at first but just threw on some 33mm challenger tires at 50psi. I've handled single track, gravel, and road all in one ride just fine. Gravel/Endurance bikes are great all around rides.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [flyinryan] [ In reply to ]
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Can you keep up with other people on road bikes with 33 mm tires?
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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I didn't expect much out of them on the road but I jumped on the wheel of what seemed like a pretty strong rider. I held 20-22mph with him for about 30 minutes no problem. The tires are slick in the middle with knobby outside like someone mentioned up thread.

edit: I should mention I'm not a terribly strong cyclist. MOP. I've only started training seriously since November. I usually average about 17-18mph rides over 2-3 hours.
Last edited by: flyinryan: May 14, 19 12:02
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [flyinryan] [ In reply to ]
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I use my Cannondale Superx on the street with Conti gp5000 32c and keep up just fine, then in the fall I convert back to a cross bike in 10 minutes

I run a 1x 50t up front and 11x32 in the back for road

and a 1x 40t up front and 11x36 in back for cx

no need for 2 bikes

Hard work is faster then aero
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [flyinryan] [ In reply to ]
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That's helpful information, thanks. Sounds like we are similar in cycling ability, although if you can hold 20-22 mph for a half hour on a road bike, that sounds like better than MOP. Like you I average 17-18 mph for most rides, but would struggle to hold that kind of speed for a half hour.

Sounds like I should pick up a second set of wheels and tires, and just switch them out depending on where I am riding. I really like how the disc brakes feel, and the ride just seems better on the gravel bike. It could be the saddle also.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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runner66 wrote:
Can you keep up with other people on road bikes with 33 mm tires?

My gravel bike has 53s, and I sometimes take it on the same spirited road rides that I use my Emonda on. Is it as fast? Not quite, but the difference between those bikes is smaller than typical variation in rider ability in a group... so I still mostly ride with the same people.

Differences in tire construction can be considerably more significant than differences in tire size.
One of my friends rides 35mm Marathon Plus Tours on his gravel bike. He's stronger than me when we're both on our road bikes, but on our gravel bikes I tend to beat him on the road despite my tires being FAR wider.
Last edited by: HTupolev: May 14, 19 12:31
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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runner66 wrote:
Can you keep up with other people on road bikes with 33 mm tires?

Well, I cannot, because I suck on the bike. But a decent cyclist can. I've got 35mm tires on a gravel bike that performs as well as my road bike. They're Schwalbe G-One's, not slick in the middle, but the texture is fairly light and tight, not like MTB tread, and I don't notice any reduced speed. In fact, I'm considering the sin of getting rid of the road bike because I don't see myself riding it much anymore. I don't race it, and my local roads tend to be pretty rough, so I'm not crazy about riding 23mm and 110 psi.


<The Dew Abides>
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [dewman] [ In reply to ]
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The roads around here (northern CT) are rough also. I would like to be on a more stable, wider tire but not sacrifice too much speed.

I am doing a 200 mile ride in August and wonder if it would be better to use the gravel bike for a more comfortable ride.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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I surprised myself with that speed honestly. I had never paced anyone before and tend to do all my outdoor riding in z2 so I don't really know what my race potential is yet. I think I'll eventually pick up a second wheel set. I'm surrounded by miles and miles of dirt/gravel roads and expected it to be a rough ride, but it's been great.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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runner66 wrote:
Can you keep up with other people on road bikes with 33 mm tires?

I do the majority of my riding on a cross bike with 31mm tires. I love where the are lots of gravel roads so much easier to link a ride using that bike.

Keeping up with other riders at road speeds is also difficult because it is not aero in the slightest. I did use it for a c race oly distance and was about 240 np for 21 mph. That was with 28mm sworks turbos at 80 psi on a slightly rolling course but did have a stiff wind for parts of thr course. Training was usually 210 watt np for about 18 mph. 31s are about 1 mph slower but i also ride them at 35 psi for comfort on the gravel parts. That pressure is ideal for all the bumps and ruts, any higher and the bike is bouncing all over the place.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [runner66] [ In reply to ]
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For the length of ride you are talking about you will definitely want to play around with gearing a bit. Being over or under geared will really start to hurt after that length of time in the saddle.

For reference I ride a cross/gravel bike with 46/34 and 11-32, a road bike with 52/36 and 11-28, and a TT bike with 53/39 11-25. They all feel similar and the gearing differences just account for the changes in tires and riding position.
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Re: Gravel bike converted to road bike? [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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I meant to say 31mm.
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