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Due to a recent repair needed on my road bike I have been riding my backup road bike which is pretty much worn out. It is stuck in a mid gear and many other creaks and groans. It is only fit to commute to work and the shops. 

I think it would take more than a few hundred pounds in parts and labour to repair.  And after wrestling with the prospect of living with several zombie bikes in my living room I thought it is now time for a new backup just in case something happens to my No.1 again. I've though about an off-road bike, which would also be hard wearing for the winter commute.

What should I be looking for in a good Gravel Bike under £1000 (Bike to Work scheme.) What frame material/gearing do you recommend. I've also never had disc brakes and am not sure ho hard they are to maintain. BASICALLY, Why should I go for a Gravel Bike? And what would set it apart from a CX bike for example?

 

Also has anyone else done the Bike to Work scheme? What is the best option you found for the 'end of scheme' payment? It is almost like you are hiring the bike (I hope it lasts as long as it takes to pay for.)

cheers

21 comments

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CXR94Di2 [2729 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Join British cycling to get 10% discount from m Halfords
Buy this. https://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/adventure-bikes/boardman-adv-8-9-...$ja=tsid:94971|cid:1536900164|agid:68019195339|tid:pla-528817615811|crid:336627210401|nw:g|rnd:13981530253214289287|dvc:m|adp:1o1|mt:|loc:9046219&gclid=Cj0KCQjwn_LrBRD4ARIsAFEQFKspZyrTmYlkTddIcahHHVXMp13axtvmIyOufY6JjC1EZ8hKkIhtvAIaAtIdEALw_wcB

Disc brakes, the hydraulic ones are virtually maintenance free(apart from wear of pads/rotors). Keep the rotors clean of oils with brake cleaner and enjoy fantastic braking performance in all weathers.

Fit some mudguards to above bike and it will run great through winter. Maintenance is the key to having a good reliable bike.

Difference between gravel and CX is larger tyres and slightly more relaxed geometry.

The gearing on the Boardman will take you virtually anywhere

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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I ride to work.
I built my bike.
My stuff up was thinking I'd get 38 mm tyres through the rear end.
I managed 32mm and they suit me.

I haven't ridden 10,11speeds.
I've been using 7,8 and 9 speeds and I'd recommend them. Probably just as easy, plenty of ratios, probably cheaper to replace during service.
I've used 35 and 38 mm. I like both. Even 32 are cruisy. But having clearance to roll 40,45 would be really awesome on a daily ridden bike. I rarely clean any but it'd be easier.

Mudflaps, guards whatever they're labeled..

Normal people should love riding to work. I love it because it reduced my transport cost to a budget of $2 per week and my food budget thickens my wallet now that the body demands fruit veg nuts spices, crap making stuff like that.

In Australia I like the look of the Reid cyclocross bikes. The cheap one is probably better than what I ride most days but who cares.

The advantage I see of wide tyres on road is a more accurate traveling time prediction (no more flats although flats were rare) and grip during wet.
Heavy load capable too if tool carrying.
Pros and cons........... More..

Hence. Feel a bike you like riding.
Way cheaper.

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vonhelmet [1445 posts] 1 month ago
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For £1,000 you're probably looking at respectable alu and decent kit on it, or carbon with more corners cut. You might get hydro disc brakes fr £1,000 but maybe not on a carbon frame, for example.

As said, the main benefit of a gravel bike is tyre clearance, so get something with big clearance so you can put big tyres and mudguarde on it.

In terms of the end of year settlement on cycle to work, I've run the numbers and the cheapest option is the extended hire where you pay a lower amount to continue the arrangement for another three years.

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Sriracha [253 posts] 1 month ago
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You mention "under £1000" in the same breath as "Cycle to Work scheme". In case you are making a correspondence there, my understanding is that there is no such limit, although things don't appear crystal clear yet:

https://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/cycle-to-work-scheme-any-price#1

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vonhelmet [1445 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

The £1,000 limit applies at the employer end, not the scheme end. To lend above £1,000 to an employee for something like this the employer needs a consumer credit licence.

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Organon [342 posts] 1 month ago
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I think £1000 is the 'no quibble' level that is uncomplicated. It should be plenty for what I am planning.

I saw this one:

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/cube-cross-race-cx-bike-2020/rp-prod...

So I am not just crazy, there is virtually no difference between CX and 'gravel' bike?

It doesn't say what size tyres but they look chunky without being mountain bike level.

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kil0ran [1691 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

A "proper" CX bike will have a shorter wheelbase and more agressive/racy geo compared to a gravel bike. Might also not have as much tyre clearance as the UCI limit for competition tyres is 33mm

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

Join British cycling to get 10% discount from m Halfords
Buy this. https://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/adventure-bikes/boardman-adv-8-9-...$ja=tsid:94971|cid:1536900164|agid:68019195339|tid:pla-528817615811|crid:336627210401|nw:g|rnd:13981530253214289287|dvc:m|adp:1o1|mt:|loc:9046219&gclid=Cj0KCQjwn_LrBRD4ARIsAFEQFKspZyrTmYlkTddIcahHHVXMp13axtvmIyOufY6JjC1EZ8hKkIhtvAIaAtIdEALw_wcB

Disc brakes, the hydraulic ones are virtually maintenance free(apart from wear of pads/rotors). Keep the rotors clean of oils with brake cleaner and enjoy fantastic braking performance in all weathers.

Fit some mudguards to above bike and it will run great through winter. Maintenance is the key to having a good reliable bike.

Difference between gravel and CX is larger tyres and slightly more relaxed geometry.

The gearing on the Boardman will take you virtually anywhere

That looks gorgeous.
I always go alloy bro because of recycling at end of bicycles service life.

The grips are back on that. I'm not expert, maybe it's due to the styles I'm used to. But I use a 5 bicycle rotation and the 3 faster bikes all have the grips fore of the front axle. Yet I bet some of my friends would prefer their grips back. Maybe they glide with more confidence and the higher speeds before the arse skids suits them better. Probably hop a bit easier too (back) .
Nice looking bike (imagining a longer headstem).
Best of luck

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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Organon wrote:

I think £1000 is the 'no quibble' level that is uncomplicated. It should be plenty for what I am planning.

I saw this one:

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/cube-cross-race-cx-bike-2020/rp-prod...

So I am not just crazy, there is virtually no difference between CX and 'gravel' bike?

It doesn't say what size tyres but they look chunky without being mountain bike level.

That looks perfect bro. Grip fore.
I ain't buying but that's what my little knowledge looks at. Looks capable of being ridden fast.
Other beast is hydraulic. Wishing you well.

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gunswick [138 posts] 1 month ago
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There are some useful comparisons on YouTube, GCN especially have a video specifically on gravel vs CX bike (and vs road). Gravel is longer wheel base and lower bottom bracket and more mount points for mud guards and racks vs CX. This makes them more stable and less twitchy generally. CX are more agile, easier to carry on your shoulder, higher bottom bracket to avoid objects and pedals hitting the ground mid corner (designed for racing, repurposed for commuting). Personally, Gravel is better for commuting and as a winter road bike IMO.

Defo get hydraulic disc brakes, I have both mechanical (TRP semi-hydraulic Hy-rd) and full hydraulic are so much easier maintenance and better performance.

I have a GT Grade alum 105, very good example for a #2 bike I find (except the non full hydraulic disc brakes, only major thing to change on my 2016 version, newer ones may be full hydraulics by now). Good luck.

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pockstone [307 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

My last three rides:

West Yorks to Whitby with 3km stony/grassy bridleways above and along Ryedale, Gravel roads through Danby Forest and the cinder track from Scarboro' to Whitby.

Esk valley and 4 km over gravel bridleways to Danby Beacon.

Spin above Wharfedale and Nidderdale with 8 km of moorland tracks.

I wouldn't have contemplated any of them without my gravel bike. You WILL have more fun armed with a bike you can take off road and a few OS maps for inspiration.

To answer specific points: I've got cable discs. They're much better than rim brakes for off road, not as good as hydraulics (IMHO) and are a bit off a faff to keep adjusted. I do know that I can fix them with a spare cable and pads and aTorx key though. Worth thinking about if you plan long wild rides or multi day tours.

Get one with a big cassette and small chainrings. Too many  so called gravel bikes have (albeit easy) road gearing. The Boardman recommended above has F32/R32 easiest  gear, but even that might be too stiff for steep loose gradients, especially loaded up. Be prepared to swop out the chainset or cassette if you're hitting long or steep ascents.

Take a look at Evans' Arkose range, or GO outdoors' Calibre Dark Peak.(Might need a chainset swop to fit my criteria, but FSA Tempo 46/30 would be a cheap and easy fix.)

I very nearly hit the button on a Cycle to work scheme purchase recently but read the small print about pensions. If you're any where near retirement age check how salary sacrifice might affect your pension.

I've long had reservations about the 'end of scheme' payment with C-to-W. I've thought about it a few times and never felt I got satisfactory answers about how much I'd have to pay to actually own the bike.

Fat tyres and mudguards may not mix. If you're going to commute regularly, a spare set of wheels might be useful.

Have fun!

 

 

 

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CXR94Di2 [2729 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Boardman being 10sp. a 11-36 are available and should fit no problems

My wife's bike has 40mm G Ones with mudguards, no issues with fitment or clearance

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm off topic abit.
Gravel bikes, cyclocross bikes, also behave well if your in a city that allows footpath riding, hoping gutters, pebblestone streets.
Years ago I bought the cheapest new road bike I could find and that helped me save plenty but if gravel bikes or cx bikes were around then then I recon such as a much better option due to punctures. Flat rounds but dirty with thorns and tyre volumes which pinch flat heavy loads on thin wheels. 100kg me, 20kg back pack.

In Australia we don't have a cycle to work scheme but I guess someone similar might read.
Per that reason I like these bikes. I don't know the bikes, but the Reid looks as if it uses the same frame as the higher mod models Reid offer and the 99bikes bike looks similar.
The rims are a bit shit (IMHO) but using wide tyres rather than trying to clinch skinny tyres sort of makes the rims perfect. Nothing really wrong with the rims though, I used them 10 years with about 2 years daily with a 23mm front and 28 high volume rear and recently gave that bike to a friend whom lost his car license.
7 speed are nice. Very low maintenance(high durability), very low weight and very low cost.
Years ago I convinced another friend to ride, he bought a road bike similar to above. The shifters work perfect.
Discs I have no idea about. Brakes too. My bikes similar to these but older, heavier, 9speed and rim brakes. It literally took me about a year to make the brakes effective but my worry was the clearance on the true rims. Wider tyres are a lot more gentle on the rims.

To me I'm thinking the cycle to work scheme means you still have to pay the cost of the bike.
These wouldn't be as fluent as a 1000 quid bike but at 300quid would be a great starting bike to someone similar. (Not knowing route)

https://www.99bikes.com.au/pedal-raider-2017

https://www.reidcycles.com.au/granite-1-0.html

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joeytwobastards [6 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Another vote for an alu GT Grade with 9 speed on it, mudguards, panniers if you need them.  I've done 10k commuting miles on mine (roads, paths, canal banks) in all seasons.  Under a grand, cheap to replace the drive train.  You mght want to upgrade the brakes, I put TRP Spyres on mine as they're reasonable for cable discs and not that expensive.

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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+1
I'm up there amongst your fans bro.
I wanted a GT alloy 9 speed as my commuter.
My friends are probably coming to stay a year, maybe 2 with me. I don't know what bicycle they'll choose but that's 1 of the bikes I suggested.
+1 GT fan

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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I read cycle to work scheme includes accessories.
Maybe such suits you, maybe not.
Lynskey have titanium gravel bike frame on sale. You have zombie bikes. Would brakes, shifters, wheels suit?

I have a 35 year old 2.25 inch wide tyre bike that taught me windage breaks speed more so than tyre width. The bikes made from aircraft manufacturers alloy as best I know. Looks like new 35 years later. Light weight. Strong. Comparable to titanium.

Currently at 7 km work, a 23,28 is a couple of minutes faster. Yet about 30km would break even the time regarding skinny with 1 puncture vs wide tyres using similar road bike frames. Maybe 50km.. Tend to puncture during horrible moments.
Just a thought.

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quiff [177 posts] 1 month ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

The £1,000 limit applies at the employer end, not the scheme end. To lend above £1,000 to an employee for something like this the employer needs a consumer credit licence.

Off topic, but the government announced new guidance in June which basically suggested that employees would be able to get more expensive bikes without their employer getting a credit licence (the workaround was that the cycle to work scheme provider could hold the licence instead); but it seems none of the providers have yet implemented it due to some ambiguity in the guidance. It will also depend on your employer - I've been pestering mine employer to up the limit, but they're not obliged to.  

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cyclesteffer [421 posts] 1 month ago
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GT Grade or Boardman ADV 8.9 would be good. I've had Gravel bikes and Cyclocross bikes. The main difference is that a Cyclocross bike usually feels that you are more riding "on top" of the bike. The centre of gravity usually feels higher up. Whereas a gravel bike, especially ones with slightly flared bars, feels that you are sitting "in" the bike, like inside a cockpit.

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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I miss informed you.
I looked up Lynskey but to my best knowledge their clearance gravel bike frames are sold.
Wishing you well

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Boatsie [465 posts] 1 month ago
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Just an idea.
My summer road bike could be modified to what I believe is an almost perfect gravel commuter.
Maybe idea helps?
I don't know but long drop brakes have been read to envelope 32mm tyres.

Down here loads of near 30 year old bikes are typically advertised $free-??
I paid $100. Bearings, cassette, etc all good. Double butted Chromoly with a 14 speed downtube shifter makes way about 10kg rolling very old rusty spoke rims.  The stays easily clear 35mm but the stay brace where the brake bolt is doesn't allow higher volume tyres to clear.  I ain't modifying but similar bikes with 32mm tyres are out there as are skills such as cut and weld brace higher.

32mm might be on the narrow side of gravel but it does OK here.  I was happy commuting without puncture in 28 mm armoured tyres but when I scored many punctures in a few weeks I switched.  38,35,32 mm all cope well on gravel and wet tarmac and I haven't punctured in about 2 years.
Maybe a gravel bike is a road bike with wide tyres?  Where as not so well as per off-road duties compared with a cyclocross but I thought that you know your zombie bikes?  If one is an aggressive near vintage racer then a quick weld and long brakes might get clearance to roll all winter.  Although not as wide as others.
I'd much prefer 38 mm but I don't clear more than 32 on my gravel bike.
Old downtube shifters.  I love em.  Adjust to cassette.  Don't bother to readjust until next cassette.  A rigid base,  light weight and no fore cables catching wind.  Yet I use STI.  Nicer but needing continual adjustments.
A bloke I bought a track bike/fixie from uses a mountain bike to commute.  Wide tyres on slicks tend to have small resistance.  That's off-road capable.  I think wind would get at them bars too.  Cycle cross basically a mountain bike with dropbars.
(Got bored and wrote..  Commuting without punctures is way easier.  Obviously a Tad slower or the pros would tour with fatties)

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Pilot Pete [228 posts] 3 weeks ago
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quiff wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

The £1,000 limit applies at the employer end, not the scheme end. To lend above £1,000 to an employee for something like this the employer needs a consumer credit licence.

Off topic, but the government announced new guidance in June which basically suggested that employees would be able to get more expensive bikes without their employer getting a credit licence (the workaround was that the cycle to work scheme provider could hold the licence instead); but it seems none of the providers have yet implemented it due to some ambiguity in the guidance. It will also depend on your employer - I've been pestering mine employer to up the limit, but they're not obliged to.  

You are partly right in that there is new guidance from the government. In fact, they clarified that there never had been a £1000 limit, but the credit licence was required above £1000 so practically every employer limited their scheme to £1000, in my experience because the person tasked with setting it up wasn’t a cyclist and couldn’t imagine anyone spending a £1000 on a bike, let alone more!

However, there is a scheme provider that has the necessary licence now. They are called the Green Commute Initiative https://greencommuteinitiative.uk/

I think what happened is e-bikes are seen as a great way to get non-cylists riding to work and it was realised that very few e-bikes come in under the £1000 budget set by most employer’s cycle to work schemes, hence this group came about.

Ive been pushing my employer to move away from the bog standard Halfords scheme but it seems to be falling on dear ears...

PP