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What Is A Gravel Bike? Everything You Need To Know Explained!

What Is A Gravel Bike? Everything You Need To Know Explained!

The popularity of gravel bikes is heightening over the years because of the versatility the bikes provide. Think of it this way; if you love engaging in multiple cycling pursuits, this would mean having a bike for specific riding. However, with a gravel bike, you can ride on any surface and cover any distance any day.

Gravel bikes are great to meet your riding needs, especially if you love road riding, off-road riding, and commuting. This guide will give you a deeper understanding of a gravel bike, its features, benefits, and how it differs from the rest of the bikes.

What Is A Gravel Bike

What Is A Gravel Bike?

A gravel bike is also known as an adventure bike. Essentially, it is a road bike that is made to handle any surface while giving you maximum riding. The bikes allow you to carry more gear, and they are best suited for all-day riding.

Gravel bikes feature a robust and durable construction than standard road bikes, and you will get more gear range and wider tires. At a glance, the bikes look like Cyclocross bikes, but they have their differences too.

The bikes are versatile, which makes them suitable for various riding. Gravel bikes are optimized to give you comfort and stability on all your rides. They have longer wheelbases to offer stability when riding on loose surfaces and covering longer distances.

Riders get an upright riding position to boost comfort, and this makes the bikes better for commuting. Moreover, the slacker headtube angle gives the bikes give an impressive performance when riding at slow speeds.

The frame of a gravel bike is heavier than that of a road bike to give more durability. It can also hold more load when going for light touring.

How Does A Gravel Bike Differ From A Road bike And An Adventure Bike?

Like gravel bikes, road bikes are also versatile, and they feature a narrow focus compared to gravel bikes. Road bikes have almost the same endurance as gravel bikes, but their geometry is more relaxed. Road bikes are also not suitable for off-road surfaces like gravel bikes.

I had mentioned that a gravel bike is also known as an adventure bike. However, many people still believe there is a difference between them. Gravel bikes are lightweight than adventure bikes.

Their geometry is also different where adventure bikes have a longer wheelbase, headtube, and chainstays to provide enhanced stability for longer rides. When it comes to their spectrum, gravel bikes resemble Cyclocross bikes while adventure bikes resemble touring bikes.

Advantage And Disadvantage Of Gravel Bike

There is no bike that doesn’t have the good and the bad points. Before buying a gravel bike, it is essential to understand the pros and cons of the bike. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of a gravel bike.

Advantages

Riding Versatility:

A gravel bike is an amazing bike that provides versatile rides. This bike can take you anywhere you want, regardless of the terrain. They handle rough terrains better than road bikes, and their stiffness matches that of a road bike.

Simple Design:

Unlike other bikes, gravel bikes have a simple design because they don’t have many components. Therefore, you can get on the bike anytime and enjoy your rides.

Nice Riding Pace:

Gravel bikes do not have dual suspension or dropper post, which helps you ride at a serene pace while enjoying your environment.

No Traffic:

Riding a gravel bike helps you avoid traffic since most gravel tracks do not allow motor vehicles. This gives riders a great opportunity to enjoy nature fully without traffic. You will feel the trees swaying and birds chirping, making your whole experience memorable.

Group Riding:

Another benefit of gravel rising is group riding. While you can be riding on sketchy or narrow forest paths, this doesn’t mean you can’t ride as a group. This can be a great way to spend your Sundays socially off-road without traffic. It also gives you a great time to socialize when riding on wider trails.

Disadvantages

Slower:

Gravel bikes are slower than road bikes because they have wider tires which create resistance when riding. As a result, they end up being slower than road bikes.

Weight:

The weight of gravel bikes is more than that of a road bike. Therefore, if you are in a situation where you need to carry the bike upstairs, it can be tough.

Expensive:

Acquiring a gravel bike is expensive than a road or mountain bike.

What Are The Common Features Of A Gravel Bike?

Gravel bikes have several features that distinguish them from other types of bikes. We will cover these features in detail to help you understand the basic design of a gravel bike. The common features of a gravel bike are:

Bike Geometry:

Like I mentioned before, gravel bikes look like Cyclocross bikes, but they have various features that make the two bikes different. Gravel bikes are comfortable and easier to ride, and great if you intend to ride for long distances.

They give riders an upright riding position which keeps you relaxed throughout your rides. There are so many benefits that you will get from an upright riding posture since it reduces fatigue on your shoulders and back. Additionally, it gives you better visibility and a stable riding platform when commuting.

Gravel bikes also have lower headtube angles and longer wheelbases to provide better steering and stable and controlled rides. This is great if you are riding on even terrain.

Gears

Many gravel bikes have 2nd chainring to offer more gear range and flexible rides. Therefore, they can cover hills and steeper trails while still giving you faster-paddling downhills. If you intend to ride the bike on steeper terrains, you need the right gearing, and it is great to choose a bike with a super compact chainset.

Mounts:

This is another common feature with gravel bikes that allows you to mount different accessories or luggage types. In some gravel bikes, you will find racks and fenders which suit commuters. Other mountings you can find are water bottle holders to keep you hydrated through long rides.

Wheels And Tires:

Gravel bikes differ in the size of tires, with the standard size being 38mm. But you can still find other tire sizes from 32mm-48mm. Smaller tire sizes are faster when riding, and larger tires work well on the trail but compromise the speed.

If you are not certain of the terrain, you will ride your gravel bike, get a 38mm, which will be great for beginners. If you would love to change the wheelset in the future, you can get different sized ones that are easier to change but expensive.

When it comes to the wheels, you can either choose 650b or 700c on gravel bikes. 650b wheels are smaller in diameter, and 700c is the standard size for gravel bikes.

Comfort:

Gravel bikes have frames optimized to give riders comfortable rides. The tires and the overall geometry of the bike contribute to comfortable rides. On top of that, they are designed with shock-absorbing seat pots that let you ride faster and comfortably.

Brakes

Most of the gravel bikes you will find have disc brakes which gives reliable and better-stopping power. Disc brakes are also great because they can handle different conditions since their performance depends not on mud or rain, unlike the rim brakes.

Depending on your budget, you can either choose hydraulic or mechanical-disc brakes. Many users prefer hydraulic disc brakes because they give superior performance. However, whichever you choose, you will still enjoy the benefits of disc brakes.

Handlebars

Gravel bikes have drop bars which are also on Cyclocross and road bikes. Other grave bikes have flat bars, limiting the movement in aerodynamic position hence unsuitable for road riding. Drop bars give your hands a better position, and you will experience less fatigue even on longer rides.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Q: What is a gravel bike good for?
A: A gravel bike is great for adventure riding without minding the terrain. The bike allows you to ride on all roads, from tarmacked roads, gravel roads, and single-track forest trails. You can enjoy great adventures with a gravel bike regardless of the riding condition.

Q: Why are gravel bikes so popular?
A: The main thing that contributes to the popularity of gravel bikes is their comfortable rides. They have bigger tires and larger frames than road bikes, and this gives riders all-around comfort.

Q: Can a gravel bike be used as a road bike?
A: Of course, you can use a gravel bike as a road bike. You will enjoy many gears like you would when road riding. However, the gears will not be high enough when you ride too fast. You will end up spinning out since you cannot pedal faster than 26-30 mph.

Q: Is a gravel bike slower than a road bike?
A: The right answer to this question depends on the gravel bike. For instance, certain things can affect a gravel bike's speed, like the bike’s aerodynamics. Marginally, gravel bikes are around 5% slower than road bikes because of the riding position and the tires.

Q: How much should I spend on a gravel bike?
A: If you want to get the best riding from a quality gravel bike, you should be ready to spend $2,000-$3,000. You will get high-quality components like the wheels, frame, and other parts that improve handling, weight, and quality rides at that price.

Q: Why do gravel bikes have drop bars?
A: Gravel bikes have drop bars to provide a stable and wider riding condition. Some gravel bikes can have slight and other extreme drop bars for better descending on unpaved surfaces.

Q: Is a gravel bike good for touring?
A: Gravel bikes are ideal companions for touring because they provide a comfortable geometry than other bikes. Additionally, they allow you to mount panniers and racks to suit your adventure. These bikes also offer great performance when touring roads and off-road.

Q: What makes a gravel bike different?
A: If you compare gravel bikes to road bikes, you will notice road bikes have shorter wheelbases and steeper angles. On the other hand, gravel bikes feature longer wheelbases and slacker head angles to give you added stability and better performance when handling obstacles along your way.

Conclusion

Gravel riding is an amazing way to get access to any place. You have every reason to buy a gravel bike, especially if you enjoy multi-surface riding. These bikes are comfortable and versatile enough to take you to any place. They are suitable for touring and commuting because the frame geometry allows you to mount accessories. If you had any questions about gravel bikes, I believe our extensive guide has given you everything you need to know about gravel bikes.

  • Updated June 7, 2021
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