Registration for Great Iowa Fall Ride Open!

What bike should I bring

I have a bike question people who already rode please help
I have a Cannondale synapse carbon fiber disk breaks Ultegra d2 electric shifter and I also have a gravel bike Cannondale slate 105 with a back rack
What would be better suited for the trip?
I concerned about damage to the higher end bike I am not going with a charter company. I afraid the gravel bike is going to slow me down and more fatigue from the bike compared to carbon fiber. But I heard they are gravel roads and since there is a crowd there will be a lot of slowing down and waiting anyway
What do you guys think?

12 Replies

hnschipper, June 10, 2019 at 11:27 am

I would bring the bike you are more comfortable riding. I don’t ride a high end bike; however, I have never had damage to my bike in all the RAGBRAI’s I have done. What kind of damage are you worried about? Unless you choose to do the optional gravel loop, there will be minimal (if any) unsaved surfaces.


David, June 10, 2019 at 12:11 pm

I would take the bike you would most like to do 500 miles on. The gravel loop is optional, other than that no gravel usually (even then it is really short sections, a road crossing or something). Depending on how early you start in the morning there will be some walking through towns. Other than that you generally can move at the speed you want.

Generally, the roads are nice for a road bike. I have never damaged my high-end road bike, even doing the gravel loops. If you are concerned I would get some “helicopter tape” to put on the areas of the downtube and chainstays to minimize risk from random rocks.


SFC JKL 2, June 10, 2019 at 11:11 pm

I vote for the gravel bike. Leave the high end stuff at home if you have any worries about it. My guess is that if you own both a high end bike and a gravel bike, riding will not be an issue for you. It’s a ride, not a race. There is no prize for getting to the finish line first.


Heather, June 11, 2019 at 8:02 am

I bring my high end bike. I am more comfortable on it. The gravel bike isn’t needed for this trip.


mootsman, June 11, 2019 at 8:23 am

Damage would depend on how you plan on transporting the bike. I haven’t had issues with damage when its been on top of a team bus or in PBV’s semi truck. Although taping some foam around the carbon areas and rear derailleur would be a good thing. But why push the heavier gravel bike with tires that have more rolling resistance on pavement for 427 miles, its a waste of energy.


Brian Wallenburg, June 11, 2019 at 7:23 pm

Go for comfort, whichever that one is.


mootsman, June 12, 2019 at 8:38 am

A few people mention bringing your most comfortable bike. All of my bikes are because I employ “ergonomic measurements” when setting them up. Measuring saddle height to the center of the saddle from the center of the crank arm bolt. Measuring set-back on the saddle from the nose of the saddle to a line straight up from the crank arm bolt. Measuring what stem length to use from a straight line from the saddle to a straight line up from the center of the handle bar. Measuring bar height relative to saddle height. I use to have to “get use to” a new bike with some aches and pains. But not since I started using ergonomic measurements.

We use our upper body muscles in a certain position depending on that set up and whatever we ride the most our muscles are accustomed to. So if the “touch points” are perfectly the same between bikes, they all feel good. Of course flat bar bikes (mountain) can’t have matching touch points other then to other flat bar bikes.


Paul H, June 12, 2019 at 6:38 pm


I’ve thought about your question and recommend that you leave the Synapse at home.
– Di2 could be difficult to repair.
– RAGBRAI is a slow ride anyway. Don’t need to be the fastest.
– Gravel bikes can be just as fast as high end road bikes.
– You will be less worried about the damage that will happen to your high end bike.
– You will become closer to your gravel bike and it will will reward you at Dirty Kanza next year with zero punctures


Geoff Butland, June 13, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Comfort is king.
Gravel bike probably has wider tires – better shock absorption.
Handlebars? Drop bars offer more hand positions to let you use different muscles throughout the day.
Speed is really not the point here. I mean there is nothing wrong with speed, just that you won’t need it.
Roads are generally in good condition. You’ll cross RR tracks, rumble strips, a few potholes, but in my previous 2 RAGBRAIs the only gravel I rode was optional. My favorite photo from both rides was on the gravel loop…probably because it felt so odd to have a wide angle view that didn’t have 500 other bikes in the frame.
FWIW I bought a new bike this year, and had RAGBRAI in mind when I picked it out. Drop bars and 38mm tires. Ready for anything!
Whatever steed you bring, have a great ride!


lm m, June 13, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I agree comfort is key, that is why i’ll be riding my gravel bike for the second straight year.


Gail Mercuri, June 14, 2019 at 6:11 am

Thanks for all the responses. I so excited about this trip!


Robert Straub, June 14, 2019 at 10:27 am

Why not get wide, fast road tires for your gravel bike? I go with Schwalbe G-One speed, great on the road and handled the gravel section beautifully. (I do not have a true road bike).


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