JOURNAL: Why your next bike should be a Gravel bike

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Why your next bike should be a Gravel bike

‘Because we said so’ doesn’t really cut it as a marketing technique but that doesn’t stop many brands from trying their luck. It’s not surprising when a new genre, product or worse ‘Standard’ appears in the cycling press for the withering public to roll their eyes in apathy and jump on their perfectly fun and functional bike they’ve had for years. Rightly so public.

Gravel is one of those things that has appeared in mainstream cycling consciousness over the past 3 or 4 years that has drawn a mixed reaction from the cycling community, some elated and preaching that it’s the best thing ever and some of the eye rolling apathetic crowd. Well, we’re firmly in the former and I’m going to tell you why you should be too.

 

‘Gravel is that stuff on my drive, right?’

Yes. It’s also a cycling genre that has appeared thanks to those crazy yanks and their desire to smash huge distances on long perfectly formed fire roads stretching for miles into the wild west landscape and emerging from it has been a flurry bikes to fill the niche.

When us Europeans, in particular the British, got hold of it of course we decided to see how hard we could push the bikes in our rugged countryside and so the range of Gravel bike styles has diversified to cover most types of off-road riding you could possibly aspire to.

Gravel bikes on the market now encompass everything from suspended bikes more akin to cross country mountain bikes, carbon fibre aero speed weapons, steel big wheeled luggage monsters and more. The choice is simply astounding, the age of the hybrid is dead, long live Gravel.

Gravel encompasses pretty much anything you can imagine like this Genesis Croix De Fer 10 steel comfort mile eater…

 

…and for those who enjoy beards, camping and riding really silly things on a drop bar bike there’s the Genesis Fugio

Why should I buy one?

‘Because we said so’ not working? Ok, the real reason is that it will change your outlook on riding a bike for the better and deliver a truly transcendent experience as you discover new frontiers and routes you never even considered before.

Gravel bikes give you a pass to do so much more than just road riding, there is close to 140,000 miles of public right of way in the UK a good chunk of that being Bridleway with an estimated 9,300 miles in Scotland. Almost none of it up until recently has seen a drop bar bike, Mountain Bikers and insane Cyclocross riders have kept this delightful little secret for long enough.

Chances are there a miles of local rights of way not far from your doorstep all begging to be ridden and explored and the Gravel bike will let you do it in comfort, ease and speed if your into that. Best of all once your done playing James Herriot and exploring the hills dropping into the road you still have a bike much faster than a Mountain Bike or Hybrid.

In fact such is the state of British roads many road riders are turning to Gravel bikes as a safer alternative for bad weather and winter riding offering more grip and stability with those bigger volume tyres gobbling up pot holes and TFGM’s woeful attempts at road repair.

The Genesis Datum 20 lets you look after your Strava times whilst tickling your off road curiosity

 

The Vielo V+1 is a super bike lighter than most premium road race bikes. A perfect excuse to add something a little different to the stable alongside the road whips

How much…

A good Gravel bike can start for less than a grand, Cyclescheme territory and about what a new cyclist would spend on a good quality first bike. If you want to drop a few k on a top end carbon speed weapon that option is there too. From entry bikes to lust worthy dream machines the variety is what makes the genre so attractive. Looking through all the examples in this post you can see the variation in design to tackle the roughest roads to something akin to a comfy road bike.

 

Gravel doesn’t have to be expensive, at £799 the Specialized Diverge E5 is a superbly comfortable road bike with tyres and gears to explore all those local tracks and paths

Why are you telling me all this? Why does Gravel matter to Bikeshak?

Because we love it. All the staff ride off road drop bar bikes for a reason, because they’re insanely good fun. There’s a masochistic pleasure to be had riding what feels like a road bike down silly off road descents and along ludicrous muddy trails and getting away with it. We’ve found that the broad capability of the bikes has given our riding a new zest, we no longer have to procrastinate over what bike to get out of the shed if we just want to ‘Ride’.

 

We ride what we preach. Here’s Ben’s Ridley X-Trail Alloy, fast, stable and seriously capable off road. A compact road groupset keeps things tasty on the tarmac

 

Luke’s Ridley X-trail 650B currently wearing 700c wheels. Very few drop bar bikes allow two wheel and tyre sizes

Little off shoots from the road begin to catch your eye, meandering through the hills you begin to wonder where those farm tracks lead, you wave goodbye to traffic choked roads on the morning commute in favour of canal towpaths and rights of way.

Drop in and see us if this has sparked your imagination. We stock Ridley, Genesis , Specialized and Vielo who all make a fantastic range of Gravel bikes in all shapes and sizes for all budgets. It’s about time you got to the bottom of this Gravel lark, as the local cycling experts we’ll help you make the best bike purchase decision your’re going to make this year.

Dave Faulkner a Bikeshak regular re-discovering his passion for riding after purchasing a Genesis Croix De Fer 20. Be like Dave, ride the un-ridden and explore the country side
Written on October 27th, 2018 by Ben Othen

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