CX to Gravel

25 February 2022

2015 Redline Conquest Elite

I bought my first new bicycle in December of 2020. I had been using my previous bike much more through 2020, so I figured I had proven I’d use an upgraded bike. Ben and I had been aggressively researching gravel bikes for a while, but any bike had been hard to find in stock.

We found a used cyclocross bike, the Redline Conquest Elite, that looked enough like a gravel bike. It luckily was a good size for me, a small. The drop handlebars were exciting and different for me.

Over the year I’ve had the bike, I’ve added lots of parts and swapped others. I made the carbon fiber bike heavier but it met my needs and made it look more like a gravel bike:

  • I replaced the stem to shorten it a bit.

  • I switched to a suspension seat post.

  • I added a top-tube bag, a tool bag behind the saddle, a phone mount, a bright headlight, and a clamp-on rack in the back.

  • It came with 35mm CX tires, so I purchased other gravel tires from Vittoria in the same size. The new tires were smoother, but clearance seemed a bit tighter. I’ve very recently swapped to a narrower 31mm rear tire to have better clearance for mud.

  • The original groupset on my bike was built for a stronger road rider: 36T/46T chain rings paired with an 11-28 cassette. I needed a little more help climbing, but I liked the speed of the faster gears. I first replaced the 36T ring with a 34T, and then I found an 11-34 cassette. This goes about as slow as I need to go up a hill, but retains those high, fast gears for me.

I know the bike’s not really a gravel bike, but I think I have myself convinced enough that it’ll work for me, and I don’t need to shop for the next bike. I’ve already ridden over 200 miles in the first 2 months of this year and 1100+ miles in 2021. I’m feeling pretty strong with this current configuration.

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February 2022