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I am about to embark on buying my first bike in over 10 years. much has changed. I would like to purchase a new gravel/adventure/cx bike for both communting and weekend.

I really like the idea of a decent steel frame bike and maybe over time upgrade components. I have recently ridden a Genesis Votare and loved it but out of my budget unfortunately. I know steel is heavier but I wondered if it is going to make much a difference compared to the bike in my shortlist. my buget is around 650. I also like the comfort of a steel bike and would like to know if any of the alloy bikes below can be just as forgiving in the rougher terrain.

My research suggest that you can get bikes such as btwin and mango with 105 components but wondered if i will be sacrificng the build quality comapred to a genesis/gt/marin. my thinking is that it would be better to start with the best frame/bike possible and upgrade  as needed, as i am planning to keep it for a long time.

anyway my shirtlist:

Genesis Croix de Fer 10 2016 (steel)acera / sora
Marin Nicasio 2017 (steel) Claris
Marin Gestalt 1 (alloy) sora
btwin 540 (alloy) 105
GT Grade AL (105 - 2016)
Claud Butler Torino Sr5d (alloy) Tiagra
Giant Defy 2 Disc Road Bike 2016 (alloy) tiagra
Specialized Diverge A1 (alloy) claris
Mango Point R (alloy) 105

Please comment on experience with any of these bikes and let me know which is a good budget choice that will last and is upgradable.

6 comments

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gunswick [131 posts] 1 year ago
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I own a GT Grade 105, its brilliant! Rrp is £1k, so end of season could be less, or there are the Tiagra and Sora versions which are equally good.

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jterrier [198 posts] 1 year ago
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Anything with side pull brakes i.e the btwin 540 etc might not really fall into the category of adventure/gravel etc. In fact it definitely wont be able to be called a cx bike. So its a case of deciding on that bit maybe first.

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jterrier [198 posts] 1 year ago
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... i would prb also stay away from claris and sora. The difference is massive compared to 105 and you make thousands of gearchanges a year so its a very important contact point.

.... And.... Whilst i think about it find out if any of them have a threaded bottom bracket. Thats really important. Threaded is good. Square taper or pressfit is not so good if you plan all year round use.

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Ad Hynkel [175 posts] 1 year ago
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jterrier wrote:

... Square taper or pressfit is not so good if you plan all year round use.

Come again? Square taper not so good for all year use? Are you sure? I have a 14year old Shimano UN-fiftysomething bottom bracket in my tourer/commuter which has outlasted several sets of tyres, a set of wheels, multiple chains, 2 cassettes and a chainset. The bugger will not die and still spins better than my Ultegra BB in the newer bike. The chainline with the new chainset is slightly out of whack and has been for 3 years now, but I am loathed to remove the bottom bracket for this very reason.

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ktache [825 posts] 1 year ago
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For me, if you are thinking for the long term and the future then it's the frame as an investment,  components wear out and then you can upgrade.  Can't tell you much about the bikes you are thinking about, but have you thought about 2nd hand.  Little more pot luck, and you have to have a little more knowledge (or just get lucky).  Admittedly it will not be as shiny and you won't get the grace period of everything being perfect for a while, but you could get the steel frame that you might fall in love with and last you many years.

I must also say that I like my square taper BB, have also used octalink and hollowtech (MTB), the hollowtech seems to creak more (XTR as well), but I've never had a complaint of my UN72s,  picked up my last one NOS on ebay.  Middleburn RS7 (we shall really miss you) and when the BB dies I am going the whole hog and opting for Phil Wood.

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Johnnyvee [151 posts] 1 year ago
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I got a Janis Renegade Expert earlier in the year and love it though it's a little out of your price range and carbon.  If you're near an Evans cycles it would be worth checking them out as they do the no obligation test ride thing.  Have you looked at Jamis,  Norco, Pinacle and Fuji from there - all cover most price points.  I was also dead happy with a Norco cx bike until some toe rag nicked it that was alloy but a super comfy ride.  Tyre size helps there. 

Disc brakes are a god send as they work well in any conditions.

I tried alloy, carbon and steel when I got mine as they were all around the same price at the time and it was the hydro discs that clinched it at the time as I couldn't decide so applied some logic but that was my decision.  There were little differences in ride quality but not,  to my contact points at least,  a huge difference.  

I'm using mine all year round and last week did  a 50 mile on it -  The only thing I had changed was put some cheap road tyres on it..

Try as many as you can first.