In recent years, the popularity of gravel bikes has soared. Gravel bikes provide riders with a ton of versatility and the chance to venture off the usual path, so it’s understandable why they’re so popular.
What is a gravel bike then? We’ll go through the salient characteristics of a gravel bike in this manual.
What Is A Gravel Bike?
A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to let you experience many exclusive surfaces.
With the drop handlebar and sporty geometry capacity you can make desirable development on the street –but, with wider tyres, decrease gearing and secure handling, you can additionally head off-road with confidence.
Riding a bike designed for multi-terrain excursions capability you can hyperlink collectively gravel routes in new ways, taking in sections of gravel roads, wooded area tracks, trails, byways and bridlepaths. Or you can load up your gravel bike with tenting package for a multi-day bike packing adventure.
Like any bike category, a gravel bike from one producer can seem to be very one-of-a-kind from every other – and that’s, even more, the case here, with some gravel machines pitched extra closer to street velocity and mild off-road riding, and others bearing extra resemblance to mountain bikes.
Choosing the proper gravel bike for you relies upon the kind of driving you have planned. So let’s take a nearer seem to be at the plan points that outline the usual gravel bike.
Gravel Bicycle Purpose
Gravel bike is suitable for all kinds of road and cross-country riding. They are designed to drive fast on asphalt, but can also handle technical off-road descent and narrow one-way roads. The multi-functional gravel bike makes it an ideal choice for long-distance endurance cycling, changing terrain, and even bicycle packaging. On a gravel bike, you can connect different roads, footpaths and routes in one ride. The falling strip and frame geometry of the gravel bike make it fast on flat surfaces, including asphalt roads.
Every gravel bike is unique, and some brands prefer adventure to speed. Some manufacturers produce light, flexible gravel bikes for racing, while others are somewhere in between. When it comes to gravel bikes, there are few restrictions that you can complete. Let’s dig into the details and take a closer look at the design and performance of a gravel bike.
Basic Information Of Gravel Bike
Body Material Of Gravel Bike
Like most different bikes, gravel bikes are made from a range of body materials. The most frequent selections are aluminium and carbon.
Aluminium is affordable, long-lasting and enormously lightweight, making it a precise fabric for a finances gravel bike.
A carbon body is usually lighter than an aluminium chassis. Carbon can additionally be engineered to fine-tune stiffness and comfort and can provide extra possibilities for aerodynamic tube shapes (yes, aero gravel bikes are a thing).
Aluminium and carbon aside, you’ll additionally locate selections for metal and titanium gravel bikes.
Geometry Of Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes usually have a longer wheelbase and slacker angles than avenue bikes. Wayne Reid / Our Media
Although it appears comparable to a traditional street bike, gravel bike geometry is designed for greater steady managing off-road. That generally ability a longer wheelbase and slacker angles for the body and forks.
A gravel bike will normally provide you a greater upright using function than avenue bike geometry, with a longer head tube and shorter reach.
That have to end result in greater relief on lengthy rides and additionally lets you shift your weight round to address barriers and off-road descents.
The frame’s tubes will frequently be fashioned to cushion the trip too, especially in the rear triangle, the place curved and flattened sections in the chainstays and seat stay will assist with in-saddle comfort. Some seat posts, together with Canyon’s VCLS leaf-spring post, are additionally designed for more vibration absorption.
It’s well worth thinking about the kind of terrain that you’re possible to favour to use your gravel bike on and selecting a bike designed to deal with that.
If you’re predominantly looking to trip on roads, with the occasional off-road tune to combine matters up, you’ll in all likelihood choose a bike that rides greater like a persistent avenue bike.
Indeed, many of the pleasant persistence street bikes now come with the tyres and clearance (up to 35mm, in many cases) to take care of mild gravel riding.
If on the different hand, you anticipate experiencing your gravel bike often on technical off-road terrain, there are machines that come with clearly huge tyres on smaller 650b wheels and a format that appears greater comparable to mountain bike geometry.
Tyres Of Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes have chunky tyres for off-road capability. Wayne Reid / Our Media
A key function of gravel bikes is loads of tyre clearance and, in turn, the possibility to run extensively better tyres than an avenue bike.
We’ve considered a vogue in the direction of greater and greater tyre clearance on the modern gravel bikes – the Canyon Grill, for example, provides clearance for 50mm tyres with 700c wheels.
The extent of gravel bike tyres lets you run low pressures of 40psi or less, including alleviation and traction on uneven surfaces.
Tyre desire can make a large distinction to how your bike rides, and the conditions/terrain it’s excellent appropriate to.
There will probably be a tread sample however how a great deal tread you want relies upon on your intentions for the bike. Dry trails might also solely want a mild file or diamond tread, whilst tyres for muddy iciness tracks will have greater aggressive patterns with aspect lugs, for more grip and traction.
Choosing the pleasant gravel tyres for your bike eventually skill weighing up rolling resistance, grip and puncture protection.
Gravel bike wheels will commonly be designed to run tubeless tyres (without an internal tube). A tubeless setup lets you preserve tyre strain down with a decreased hazard of the threat of pinch apartments – the place the internal tube receives trapped between the tyre and the rim in a regular clincher setup.
The tubeless sealant in the tyre will seal small holes induced by using thorns, flints and different causes, forming a seal round small cuts in the rubber earlier than too plenty air escapes. It is nonetheless viable to restore a punctured tubeless tyre if the gap is too giant for sealant to plug.
A gravel bike’s body and fork blades will be designed with adequate room for massive tyres, leaving sufficient more house to deal with any mud that they inevitably collect, even though clearances do range from one bike to the next.
Wheels Of Gravel bike
When it comes to gravel bike wheels, 650b and 700c wheels are each popular, even though the greater wheel measurement (700c) is greater common. 650b wheels have a barely smaller diameter and can be shod with even wider tyres, for extra traction, whilst retaining the rolling diameter of the wheel plus tyre comparable to a road bike, for related gearing and trip feel.
However, most gravel bikes come geared up with 700c wheels and tyres as standard. There are additionally greater tyre preferences for 700c wheels.
Disc Brakes Of Gravel bike
Disc brakes are now not unusual on satisfactory avenue bikes and ubiquitous on gravel bikes. In fact, the arrival of hydraulic avenue disc brakes for drop-bar tools shifters helped pave the way for gravel bikes. Many more cost-effective gravel bikes will be specced with mechanical disc brakes.
Disc brakes provide consistent, fine stopping, anything the prerequisites – vital for gravel bikes – and go away masses of room for the broad tyres required for off-road riding.
Gearing Of Gravel Bike
Gearing is key when it comes to gravel bike setup. If you’re heading off-road, you’ll want to decrease gears to address steep climbs and trickier terrain. With grip decreased on unfastened surfaces, you can’t get out of the saddle so effortlessly when climbing, so want to spin up the gradient to keep away from wheel slip.
Most gravel bikes now have gravel-specific gearing, with Shimano (Shimano GRX), SRAM (SRAM XPLR) and Campagnolo (Campagnolo Ekar) all imparting drivetrain options.
A 2x gravel setup makes use of a double crankset at the front with super-compact chainrings. Wayne Reid / Our Media
The key choice is between a 1x setup (with a single chainring at the front) or a 2x setup (with two chainrings on a double crankset).
Super-compact chainsets are now frequent on 2x gravel cranksets. Dropping the chainring sizes to 48/31t or 46/30t, in the case of Shimano’s GRX gravel groupset, and pairing this with, at the least, an 11-32t or 11-34t cassette places difficult climbs inside reach.
If you diagram on driving your gravel bike off-road on steep or technical terrain, appropriate gearing is imperative and we’d propose erring on the facet of warning – it’s higher to have bail-out equipment and now not use it, then now not have low adequate equipment for climbing, in particular, if your bike is weighed down with bikepacking bags.
Single ring groupsets are any other famous preference for gravel riding.
Removing the front derailleur and the usage of simply one chainring makes for a less complicated system, with much less to go wrong. You get as a great deal vary (or more) as a double chainset, simply in barely large jumps between gears on the cassette (although the present-day 12-speed groupsets have made this much less of an issue).
The chainring will normally have an alternating huge and slender tooth which, alongside with a clutched rear derailleur, helps preserve the chain in vicinity and going for walks easily when it receives bumpy.
Accessory Mounts Of Gravel Bike
Going backpacking? Extra mounting factors for luggage and add-ons will come in handy. Fork mounts like this are used to raise extra luggage. Wayne Reid / Our Media
Another regular function of gravel bikes is plenty of mounts for add-ons and luggage.
Some gravel bikes, along with the Canyon Grizl and Grail, have mounts for mudguards (fenders). Pannier rack mounts are additionally common, making gravel bikes a superb preference for all-weather biking to work or as a wide-tyred wintry weather avenue bike.
A usual set of mounting factors will additionally consist of bolts for a 1/3 water bottle below the down tube, for lengthy rides the place it can also be challenging to top-up on water. You can additionally use these to maintain a device keg in a bottle cage, maintaining your pockets free.
Some gravel bikes additionally characteristic mounts for a bag on the pinnacle of the pinnacle tube, at the back of the stem. These can be used to connect a well-matched bag, beneficial for snacks and indispensable materials on lengthy rides or throughout gravel races.
You would possibly locate extra mounts on the fork blades, to bolt on more bottle cages or luggage, and some bikes have a mount for a dynamo mild on the fork crown.
What Makes A Gravel Bike?
Many gravel bikes have features not found on mountains, roads, or bike SUVs. While they share a lift bar with their road bike Cousins, some gravel bikes tilt the lift bar to the side. It’s the opposite of the Aero, but the bell-shaped drop helps improve handling and provides greater stability, especially on technical off-road terrain.
Bikepacking-themed gravel bikes often also come with built-in fender stands and front and rear racks, and may even have a third bottle-cage stand under the tube, or top tube pockets for additional accessories and storage.
While not yet common on gravel bikes, some include suspension systems that can be mounted on seat posts, seat poles, or even forks.
Cyclo Cross bikes have many of the same features as gravel bikes, but they are designed for short and intense races rather than long, 100-mile rides or multi-day adventures. As a result, Cyclo-Cross bikes have a much shorter wheelbase and are built for quick handling rather than comfort. In addition, they can only be fitted with 33mm tyres at most (many CX bikes can be fitted with 35mm or 38mm tyres according to UCI racing rules) and will not come with additional features or mounts like many gravel bikes.
Gravel bikes are best for long endurance rides and bike packing expeditions because they offer excellent performance on a variety of on and off-road surfaces without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
The average rider who wants to change up their riding on a bike that can handle the rough terrain without significantly hindering itself on the tarmac has a lot to gain from owning a gravel bike.