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Gravel Bikes – What They Are and Why You Might Need One
Do you enjoy riding your bike in a wide myriad of terrains? You’d like a unique two-wheeled friend that can take you to work during the Monday morning traffic jam, but also off the beaten path on Saturday afternoon? You should definitely consider gravel bikes. These mean machines can be ridden almost anywhere, thanks to their adventure-ready features. These include disc brakes, additional clearance for their wider tires as well as comfortable geometry – and together they let gravel bikes adapt to almost every surface, from rugged terrain to winter biking. If you’re not quite sure where you’ll end up once you leave your building with a bike, this is the one for you – whatever path you ultimately decide to take, this one will get you there.
Gravel Bikes vs. Cyclocross Bikes
Many wonder what the differences between these two are. Some say it’s just in the price – but that’s not entirely true. Cyclocross is a bike racing discipline, and it involves riding a bike on a short off-road course with mud, sandpits, barriers and steps or slopes that are too steep to ride on.
This means that while the cyclocross frame has to be light, with its aluminium pared-down, gravel frames are heavier, as they need to be stiff enough to carry loads. Because it’s not important to be kept dry while racing, cyclocross bikes won’t have mudguards, nor racks for any luggage. These, however, are found on a gravel bike and will keep your clothes safe from water splashes. Gravel bikes also have more water bottle cage mounts for riding for a long time and carrying enough water.
The geometry of the frame in these two types of bikes exhibits significant differences. A cyclocross usually has a head tube of around 72-73°, which is great for quick turns in racing. On the other hand, gravel bikes are a bit shallower and taller, which enables steadier handling and predictable steering. The riding position is also different: long head angles and shorter top tubes on gravel bikes give the rider a more upright position, which, together with wider tires, enable a ride that’s quite comfortable.
Brakes and Tyres
Gravel bikes generally use disk brakes. Disks have a great advantage when riding on bad surfaces, as they’re not affected by damage to the rim. Sure, they weigh a bit more than cantilever brakes, but this safety is well worth it.
When it comes to tyres, range from 35c to 50c, or 1.4 inch to 2.0. They are wider than the ones in cyclocross bikes, which enables a more comfortable ride and more traction on loose terrain.
Gravel bikes have wider range gearing than cyclocross bikes, that combine a 46/36 chainset and a medium-wide cassette. They’ve generally got a lower bottom bracket – this means they have a more road-like feel, but on the other hand, it’s making them less suitable to rougher surfaces.
Where Can You Go with a Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes are ideal for multi-terrain adventures. They tend to combine the speed for road riding with off-road capability, resulting in overlapping design features with both road and cyclocross bikes. Riding them, you can tackle roads, paths, farm tracks and of course, gravel. If needed, they will also be able to take you off the road, and if you’re an experienced rider, even mountain bike trails are conquerable!
Bikepacking – Factsheet
Adventure lovers don’t only use their bikes for short-term outings, but bikepacking as well. Similar to backpacking, this is travelling long distance combined with mountain biking, and roads as well. So, these bikes need to be not only comfortable to ride over long distances, but also able to carry your bags, as well as a significant amount of water and/or gear. Gravel bikes allow you to mount small frame packs to the handlebars, frame, fork and/or seatpost. This way you let the bike carry most of the load and not yourself, saving you from fatigue and muscle/back soreness.
Gravel bikes are able to handle difficult terrains in such a way that it’s totally fine and comfortable to ride all day! So, if you’d like to expand your riding and include dirt roads and trails, but to get there, you need to ride on the road, consider a gravel bike. Here at Bicycles Online, we offer plenty of choice for a number of criteria that matters to you.