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

KenH, May 5, 2019 at 4:16 pm

The 35s would be more comfortable, if you ride fast enough so that aerodynamics are significant the 28s would be slightly faster. Sounds like you are happy with 35s, try looking for efficient tires in about that width. The top five tires on this site would be good choices for efficiency, but the Vittorias are no longer made.

https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/tour-reviews

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Brady Bisgard, May 6, 2019 at 10:13 am

I’ve ridden RAGBRAI twice and the only bike I had was a Trek 7.4 Hybrid. It was fun and a great ride.

I recently bought my first road bike – Cannondale Synapse. Which I will be using this year.

Both of your bikes will ride great for the week – but which do you prefer? Which is more comfortable for you? Neither is a bad option.

The only advice I have is wear SPD pedals – much more comfortable for walking around in.

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dalen45, May 6, 2019 at 12:02 pm

I would go with the 28’s
with no knobs.

#1303371

Brian Wallenburg, May 6, 2019 at 1:02 pm

I’d bring the road bike, along with your road shoes. That combo is by far the most popular. If your shoes are like mine, they are what you are used to riding in, likely have a solid platform to pedal on and the most comfortable. I really wouldn’t change up anything for RAGBRAI. Another bonus of the road bike, you’ll be in the saddle less time. Every year there are riders that sag for a day or two because of ass pain. No sense in promoting that by sitting in the saddle longer than necessary. Rarely is there a reason to travel slower in between towns. That being said, once you get to a town, throw you flip flops on and walk about and enjoy everything the great people of that town have to offer!

#1303372

Steve Nesnidal, May 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm

It will likely rain at least one day, so as long as you are ok with the chance that that Cervelo might take a bath, I’d bring that (and if you do, pack a tarp for overnight). I agree with those on this post that say comfort is key, so you might also consider swapping thin race tires for 23mm or if they fit even 25 mm wide tires. One other consideration is to swap out in favor of a more upright riser stem, for comfort and the ability to better watch the show!

#1303374

william Abel, May 6, 2019 at 5:40 pm

what ever bike you feel like riding

#1303381

Cole Epley, May 7, 2019 at 11:30 am

This year will be #4 for my wife and me, and the second full week we’ve done. Our first two rides we did 2 and 3 days with hybrids before we got Jamis Renegades last year, which are closer to your gravel bike. We had zero problems and, while I’m not about to knock going clipless without having tried them, we rode flats and had plenty of energy for all the fun stuff RAGBRAI has to offer.

Speaking of riding flats: I’d be really glad if anyone could share their experiences with flat sandals for the ride? I’d like to upgrade for this year’s ride (I’ve got a pair of 15-year-old Keens that should’ve been pitched a few years ago) and would be grateful for any tips you’ve got to share. Thanks!

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tjboland, May 7, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Road bike with Mtn pedals and shoes!

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jdeutmeyer, May 8, 2019 at 10:23 pm

My 18 year old daughter purchased the Trek Crossrip for RAGBRAI last year and completed it with flying colors with her friend. I have used my Cannondale road bike and Xcross . I prefer the cross bike as the slightly wider tire ( 32 mm ) helps avoid dropping into the rare , but occassional crack. I have been witness to a few wrecks from cracks. The speed loss of about 1 to 2 miles per hour on your cross/ gravel bike is not a biggie on this type of ride.

#1303474

KenH, May 9, 2019 at 7:26 am

Personally, I feel that you should run the widest tires that fit your bike on this ride. You’ve got over 400 miles of riding in traffic that will frequently be too dense to let you avoid cracks and holes and rumble strips and all the other road “features” that could send you to the pavement. The roads of Iowa are in good condition with some exceptions but even good roads have bad patches. Wider tires can be the difference between a tough but successful struggle to maintain control and a trip in an ambulance. I saw one person who had gone down due to a centerline crack last year and one that was thrown violently across the full width of the right lane by a pothole but stayed upright last year. I see pretty much the same every year which is why I say wider is better. If you choose to do the gravel wide tires increase both your control and your comfort level. When you are trying to win a race narrow tires are important. How many of us have seriously contested, much less won, a race lately?

I don’t do sandals but there are many, many sandal fans here. Most of them seem to have sandals that will accept SPD cleats but I see no reason they would not work well with flats. There are flats and there are flats, of course. I use pinned flats and shortly after I switched to them I got a pair of Five Ten cycling shoes designed for pinned flat use. They grip the pedals really well but truth be told the random pair of Nikes that I used for a while before them worked really well too. Some tread patterns will grip the pins better than others. I don’t suppose you would be allowed to take a pair of sandals out of a shoe store so that you could do a test ride around the parking lot on your bike. You could take a pedal to the store however and if you can find a carpeted spot you could drop the pedal on the floor and stand on it while trying to move your foot around with some weight on it to judge how well those sandals grip your pedals. Or now that I’ve blathered on about it some sandal users might pop up with useful experiences to share….

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Geoff Butland, May 13, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Third RAGBRAI, first time on an upright bike. The advice to choose comfort over speed is wise. I am riding 38s – hello gravel! I have no trouble keeping pace with my wife on her Trek Pilot with 23s. I’m just hoping I don’t regret leaving the recumbent with the big comfy seat home this year 😁

#1303596

Khaled AlShebel, May 13, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Road bike with Mountain pedals and shoes, also with Schwalbe tires, if possible.
A Good tires

This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by  Khaled AlShebel.

#1303606

Brady Bisgard, May 14, 2019 at 8:11 am

This year will be #4 for my wife and me, and the second full week we’ve done. Our first two rides we did 2 and 3 days with hybrids before we got Jamis Renegades last year, which are closer to your gravel bike. We had zero problems and, while I’m not about to knock going clipless without having tried them, we rode flats and had plenty of energy for all the fun stuff RAGBRAI has to offer.

Speaking of riding flats: I’d be really glad if anyone could share their experiences with flat sandals for the ride? I’d like to upgrade for this year’s ride (I’ve got a pair of 15-year-old Keens that should’ve been pitched a few years ago) and would be grateful for any tips you’ve got to share. Thanks!

Not a direct answer – I have just started riding this year in Shimano SPD sandals and I LOVE THEM. I have had no issues with rubbing. I plan to bring them and wear them most days of RAGBRAI with two safeguards. I’m going to 1) bring another pair of regular SPD shoes in my overnight bags to swap if needed and 2) bring a thin pair of black socks on the bike each day. If I’m 40 miles in and things start rubbing that may be needed but I don’t think itll happen.

#1303610

Mary Petrak de Avila, May 15, 2019 at 11:44 am

I think you’ll find the road frame less fatiguing in ADDITION to being faster. I did RAGBRAI for 13 years in my youth, and am coming back this year. I eventually worked my way up to high end road bikes and appreciated their efficiency. It can be a hard ride. My first year, 1975, age 14, there were 20 mph headwinds each and every day. I had a very inefficient frame, a Schwinn Ladies Letour mixte. Ugh. Following year a 21-inch diamond frame, LeTour II. Next year a Trek Tx900. Eventually a Rossin. Always used sew-up racing tires and Look pedals.

The rumble strips were no problem. Cobblestones and gravel, no problem. I kept my wits about me and kept my eyes open, anticipating center cracks and potholes even when boxed in. For those obstacles, I saw them far enough in advance to slow down gradually in the thicket of riders, making it possible to change course slightly to avoid potholes/center cracks OR parallel curb grates (in town), or to angle the front wheel over the center crack if I were forced to cross it.

The high-end frames really eased my fatigue due to the efficient transfer of energy. Also really helped with hills. The dropped HB position allows the back to stretch and relax. I once got on a hybrid just to try it out. The upright position was very hard on my back and my butt, and I felt all my weight to be sinking straight down into the pavement instead of helping me move forward.

This year I’m bringing a 1995 Colnago Masterlight plus a Catrike 700 road racing recumbent. Spd pedals and shoes. Racing grade narrow clincher tired.

Let us know what you decide. Would love to see your carbon road machine.

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T. Gap Woo, May 15, 2019 at 3:27 pm

I knew that Ragbrai Nation would come through with many great recommendations and suggestions: mountain vs road vs hybrid; recumbent vs non-recumbent; “fat” vs “skinny” tires; shoes vs sandals; clip-in vs regular pedals; type and brand of saddle; etc etc. Each suggestion was backed up by experience and personal knowledge. No BS, just the facts! Good job, Ragbrai Nation.

Please allow me to add one item that is missing from this thread (although it may appear on other threads). Regardless of the bike, pedals, shoes, tires etc etc you choose, the most important component is YOU! If you are out of shape, you’re in for a long slog across Iowa.

Hopefully, everyone is progressing in their training routine and is looking forward to a successful ride.

See you along the I-O-Way in 2020.

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