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Gravel bike advice

Afternoon all,

I am just about to pull the trigger on my first gravel bike and was looking for a bit of a nudge in the right direction before I do so...bit of background

I am a keen road cyclist currently owning a Giant TCR and Defy and an Orba Avant winter ride, but want something I can chuck down the gravel paths and knock about with my kids without fear of sliding all other the place or damaging anything.

I have a very tight budget of £600 and "not a penny more", and am looking for a new bike (I know I can get more value second hand but new is what I'm after)

The market at the moment is not exactly flush with bikes in that price range, but I have managed to find the following (all of which I know are a lot lower specced than my usual rides, but that's fine)

Merling Malt 2 -

Claud Butler Primal -

Schwinn Scree -

Triban RC 120 Gravel -

My gut is leading me to the Merlin, but I would love to know what other people the pros and cons are? 3 out of the 4 have a double right on the front, I didnt think that was great for gravel?

Any advice appreciate...thanks  1

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Npowel | 1 year ago

I am a biker since my childhood and Schwinn is the best value. I have a Schwinn for the past 10 years and it is still working fine. This new are just as great as the others I bought in the past. If you have a tidbit of mechanical skills, assembling is very quick and uncomplicated.


kil0ran | 1 year ago

How old is the Defy? I can get 30mm tyres in on my 2015 Advanced (measured with calipers, they're actually GP4000s badged as 28mm)

With a Defy and TCR in the stable I think you'll hate riding anything you've listed. My Defy is ridiculously comfortable on broken surfaces (New Forest roads)

Would you be up for getting a frame and building it from used components? The Spa Elan has similar geo to the Defy (might need to go down a size) and the steel frame is within budget. Huge clearance for tyres and mudguards.

If not that then I'd be looking on eBay. Something like a Genesis Equilibrium Disc would be in budget. There are a few nearly new CDAs listed at the moment which make a great budget fast gravel option. Used bike market is pretty flat at the moment, bargains to be had.

Tom_77 | 1 year ago

Is there a reason you want a gravel bike rather than a mountain bike? Given that you have 2 road bikes already, you presumably don't need one bike to do it all?

I have a gravel bike that I mostly use for long distance commuting on poor roads.

kil0ran replied to Tom_77 | 1 year ago

I agree, if it's for messing about with the kids then a hardtail MTB is a good option. Anything from Calibre in the past few years will be good, as would some of the mid-range Carerra & Voodoo bikes from Halfords. Much more robust than a road bike and as long as you spec it right tyre-wise more capable than a gravel bike for short distance/stop start rides with kids. In my experience all most kids want to do is ride fast in short bursts and do jumps and skids on gravel. MTB all the way for that sort of thing. I've got a Calibre TwoCubed for that purpose and a Pipedream Sirius for more gnarly stuff.

mark1a | 1 year ago
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In my opinion, the least worst option would be the Triban, it's the most "gravel oriented" and Decathlon are known for their bang for buck with own brand bikes. Reviewed on road,cc here

The others seem too compromised on spec, the Schwinn looks like a hardtail MTB with drop bars, the Merlin and Claud Butler both look like road bikes with fat tyres and inadequate gearing. 

I know you've indicated otherwise, but I think at this price point, a clean low mileage used one may be better than going for new, otherwise there's too much compromise.

I wonder whether we're due a load of low mileage bikes into the market that were bought on bike to work schemes during covid, and people finding themselves permanently WFH and have a bike to sell. 

kil0ran replied to mark1a | 1 year ago

We are. Used bike market is incredibly flat at the moment. Loads of nearly new Domane AL, Synapse, and Defys about

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