Hello! It's been awhile since I've delved into the "Gravel Gear" section on the site, but at any rate, here goes! This edition will be about "The Bike". One of our most popular posts here is the review done by Matt Gersib on the Salsa Cycles Vaya. That's a fantastic ride for gravel pursuits, but there is more, and I am going to touch on a few things here and introduce a rig that I am personally going to use for gravel riding in 2011.
2011 Vaya: Speaking of the Vaya, 2011 models will soon be hitting the shops and the vaya, while basically unchanged, will now be offered in two different colors, and as last year, in a complete.
A frame set in orange, or in a dark, charcoal color, (like Salsa's El Mariachi complete), will be offered and the orange frame will also be available in a SRAM Apex kit.
Salsa Cycles will release more details on the Vaya for 2011 at their upcoming Frostbike show, which I will be reporting from. Stay tuned for that coming in mid-February.
"Gravel-Cross": Up to this point, I have always used 29 inch wheel based mountain bikes for gravel grinding. Those bikes are still an excellent way to go, but not the only one, or the most popular. Cyclo-cross based rigs tend to be pressed into service more often than not, even though some of their inherent features are compromised for optimum gravel road pursuits.
For the 2011 season, I have found a rig that I will be using and basing some of my ideas for the "ultimate gravel grinder" off of. This rig, (also in orange. Must be a theme here!), is from a small California shop called Black Mountain Cycles. The rig is termed as a "monster-cross" type rig and done in steel. I'll be doing a separate post and will specifically detail out the reasons behind my choice of this frame and fork.
After that happens, I will go on to describe why I feel cyclo-cross rigs are not quite hitting the mark and what type of bike would. (Hint: It doesn't exist yet.)