The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

First timer trying to choose which bike to bring

I have a trek crossrip gravel bike with a rack and Mt bike shoes
Or a cevelo s5 carbon road bike
Looking for advice from veteran riders as to which bike to use
Thanks

30 Replies

kicks9, May 3, 2019 at 7:26 am

Road bike. I think you will be more comfortable on it in the long run. I would say 90% on this ride are road bikes. The others are all over the place, but fun to look at.

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mootsman, May 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

Have to agree with kicks9. Even if you do the gravel loop its not worth the added rolling resistance for all the road miles. I’ve done the gravel loop on a road bike, not difficult as long as you keep your speed up.

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Charlie S, May 3, 2019 at 9:11 am

You will be spending a week in the saddle, so Bring the bike that is most comfortable.

Like you, I have both road and gravel bikes (actually more of a combo gravel/endurance). I rode my Ridley Damocles on my first RAGBRAI because at the time, it was my only bike. Things went well, so well in fact that I added the Karass loop to my itinerary.

Last year, I rode my Lynskey. It’s technically an Urbanskey, which is virtually identical to the Cooper CX. Since I built the bike, I set it up as an all-rounder. The Lynskey is more comfortable over long distances than is the Ridley, partly due to its geometry, partly due to the Ti frame and partly because of the wider, lower pressure wheel/tire setup. I did both the Karass and gravel loops with the Lynskey.

My bias is obviously toward comfort – RAGBRAI is a ride, not a race. Bottom line though is that almost any bike can be a good ride for RAGBRAI, but you’re likely to have a better time if you and your bike are in harmony for the week.

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Chris, May 3, 2019 at 10:09 am

Road Bike.

Mootsman said it: even with the gravel loop, the road bike is the way to roll.
Humble opinion: if you normally run 23mm tires, bump up to a pair of 25’s. It makes the gravel a little easier and the extra air volume just makes everything a little smoother at no real expense to rolling resistance. Most of the roads are in excellent condition.

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mootsman, May 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

Good point on the 25s Chris. I’ve been running nothing but tubeless 25s for years including GL#1 in 2013. Tubeless also eliminates pinch flats which can help on gravel. But you really need tubeless compatible rims to run them. Some other rims can hold the air but not reliably especially on gravel.

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vickikayak, May 3, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Consider putting your mtn pedals on your roadie. You’ll do a surprising amount of walking each day because hundreds of your new friends will be walking through every pass-through town with you. Mtn. bike shoes are far easier for the walking part of your RAGBRAI fun.

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brewmeister.us, May 3, 2019 at 8:24 pm

Just to be a contrarian, bring the gravel bike.

Past 3 years I’ve ridden a aluminum road bike (Trek Domane 2.0), and a Salsa Marrakesh steel touring bike (2x).

I have a Canyon Endurace sitting in the garage. Not practical for the ride. Great for being a roadie with roadie and tri friends, but for a week, no way.

I’m planning on my Cannondale Topstone with WTB 700×40’s for this year.

Don’t be a roadie. I can still do avg 15-17 on the Cannondale. And wear MTB sandals.

There’s no reward for being done first. Plus, you might want to go “rogue” and shortcut on some crazy trail or gravel road.

Cheers! And happy RAGBRAI!

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KenH, May 3, 2019 at 10:03 pm

I don’t own a road bike and probably never will. You want a bike that is comfortable for you for long hours and many miles. Whichever one of your bikes fits that requirement best is the one you should bring. My new bike is a gravel touring bike with efficient two inch tires. Iowa’s roads tend to be in great condition but they are not perfect. Wider tires deal better with the imperfections even great roads have.

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George A, May 4, 2019 at 8:31 am

I agree with Ken, ride the bike that will be the most comfortable over the long haul. RAGBRAI is not a race. With that said I ride a road bike that happens to be a 21-year-old TI road race bike. It is the same bike I road on my first RAGBRAI in 1999. Many of my team and I ride fast but we spend a ton of time in towns along the way. Contrary to what many slower riders think not all fast riders get to the overnight town early, but I will leave that for a different discussion.

If I had a gravel bike, which I do not but I am seriously considering getting one, I would probably ride that and put on tires that lean towards road tread. For the most part, RAGBARAI is on paved roads and personally, I have no desire to be riding on the road with knobby tires. From my research gravel bikes tend to have geometry with specs similar to sport road bikes but are just built slightly beefier which adds weight. That type of geometry slightly sacrifices efficiency and speed for comfort and comfort is the key to having a fun RAGBRAI.

Whatever bike you go with the recommendation to use your MTB peddles is sound advice. I road some RAGBRAI’s with road shoes, and I carried flip flops to walk around in towns which worked really well, but I now use my MTB peddles and mountain shoes. So much easier overall.

In the end, it really does not matter what you ride. There are all kinds of bikes being used and if it works for you that is all that matters.

Have fun.

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Jboz, May 4, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Here’s a thought. Nobody here really knows your riding style or physical condition, so take all opinions with a grain of salt. Take each bike out and do 60 or 70 miles, preferably under similar conditions but spaced a few days apart to allow for recovery. Then get yourself ready for a 3rd ride a few days later without a specific bike in mind. Whichever bike you are drawn to…that’s your RAGBRAI ride. Don’t choose the bike, let the bike choose you.

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mootsman, May 5, 2019 at 1:08 am

Agree with Jbox on this one. Road bikes are very comfortable to many of us. Our muscles adopted to the more aero position over time. Don’t assume what is more comfortable (or uncomfortable) for you is the same for others. If road bikes were so uncomfortable they wouldn’t be by far the most popular bike on RAGBRAI and the road in general.

This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by  mootsman.

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Cory Rood, May 5, 2019 at 7:49 am

Whatever you are the most comfortable on. Speed is not a concern on RAGBRAI. If you are most comfortable on the roadie take it, if it’s the crossrip, take it. Unless the Cervelo is super aggressive in the geometry it would probably be my pick. The crossrip is an aluminum bike and aluminum has a harsher ride over carbon or steel, and adds up over the course of 7 days. but your mileage may vary.

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andytetmeyer, May 5, 2019 at 7:52 am

You have a road bike and a gravel bike. That alone puts you well ahead of a lot of ragbrai. Bring the trek, wear big tires, enjoy the comfort and get to the overnight town a little less beat up. If you’re thinking the road bike will help you contest for seven stage wins then ragbrai might not be the ride you think it is.

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Andrew Berman, May 5, 2019 at 8:36 am

I have only one bike, a 25-year-old 32 lb. hybrid, and I thought the ride was easy. I was slower going up hills than some folks with fancy bikes, but I never got a flat and had a great time!

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George (Tom) Skinner, May 5, 2019 at 10:41 am

I don’t have a choice of bikes. I have a Trek ALR 5 with factory 35’s, ever so slightly knobbied. That’s what I’m riding. My question is, I can drop to sz 28 road tires without having to get new rims, should I? I’ve been training, on paved roads, with the 35’s but was wondering if the 28’s would help in comfort and speed.

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