Gravel biking is a relatively new and rapidly growing sport that combines elements of road cycling, mountain biking, and touring. Often referred to as “adventure cycling,” gravel biking allows riders to explore new and exciting terrain, from paved roads to dirt trails, in a way that is both challenging and rewarding. If you’re looking for a new cycling adventure, a gravel bike may be the perfect choice for you. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the world of gravel biking and explain why it has become so popular among riders of all levels and interests.
Depending on the bikes, these are designed to be comfortable and capable no matter where you ride. They are the best of both world between a road bike and a mountain bike. Often, they will have a more upright riding position than road bikes, which can be more comfortable for long rides, and they also have wider tires, which requires more clearance for the frame, making them suitable for use in a variety of weather conditions.
In addition to their versatility, gravel bikes are also known for their durability. They are often built with tougher frames and stronger components, which can withstand the demands of off-road riding.
What makes a bike a gravel bike?
Essentially, a gravel bike is a bike that can do it all. It won’t be the fastest nor the best on any terrain, but it will be the best at combining multiple different types of riding in the same ride. Depending on the setup of the bike, you will be able to ride fast on tarmac but also to hit the single tracks without worrying about your bike.
These days, gravel bikes are pretty much all looking the same. Drop bars and bigger tires is what usually categorize it as a gravel bike.
The crankset is also different than a road bike since you often have only one gear in the front. This can limit your top speed, but it will not get stuck in the mud as you would on a road bike with a derailer at the front.
Disc brakes are also a feature that a lot of gravel bike have these days. This will help in getting great braking no matter the conditions. (mud, rain, snow…)
Different styles of gravel bike
Depending on what type of riding you mainly do with your bike, your bike should look the part. If you ride 80% of the time on tarmac, you tires should probably be less aggressive than someone who rides single trails a lot. For this type of rider, some will choose wider mountain bike tires since they have more grip in muddy conditions and are more resistant to punctures.
Usually, gravel bike frames use flexible materials than road bikes because when hitting a bump, which usually happens a lot, you want the bike to absorb some of the shock. Metal frames will absorb the small bumps of the road by flexing the tubes. Manufacturers use different level of carbon that will translate into stiffness of the bike. Using these “softer” materials will translate in a small loss of energy that could have been used to turn the crankset faster, but this is again a compromise that you can choose following your type of riding you do the most.
When doing a lot of rough roads, cyclist will use small suspension or even mountain bike suspension to make their ride smoother. Some events require to be on the bike for more than 8 hours, so you better be comfortable to finish.
Using higher tires will also help in absorbing small bumps in the roads or the trails.
So why are gravel bikes so popular?
It’s simple: they offer a unique combination of comfort, versatility, and durability that makes them ideal for riders of all levels and interests. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist looking for a new challenge, or a beginner looking to get into the sport, a gravel bike is a great investment that will provide endless hours of fun and adventure on the roads or the trails.
Where to start?
I know, I know, Gravel bikes are trendy! They look good and you want to look good too! But please, before buying the first gravel bike you see, please talk to your local bike shop, and ask them what type of gravel bike you should buy. Depending on the type of riding you do, they will be able to advise you to get the right bike. Some shops even allow you to test some bikes before buying. You can also ask them if they have a demo day coming.
If you want to see the difference between a gravel bike and other types of bike see these great videos :
A gravel bike is a jack of all trades. You can do mountain bike single tracks as well as long rides on tarmac at speed.
Depending on the tire you use, a gravel bike can be as fast as a road bike. Some gravel bikes have “1 by” crank set which is only 1 speed at the front. This will limit the speed you can because of gearing.
With a gravel bike, you can go faster than a mountain bike on a lot of road & trails, but for heavy mountain bike trails with jumps or big rocks, a mountain bike will do a better job.
Any good bike shops these days will have gravel bike in their showroom. Talk with the staff to see what is the best one for you in regards of the type of riding you usually do.