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Are Gravel bikes just a fad?


Lucho dillitosMedia & Blog

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Two cyclists riding gravel bikes on an unpaved road.

Are Gravel bikes just a fad, or should I think of getting one?

Gravel bikes seem to have taken the bike industry by storm over the last few years, so we are going to try to help you answer the simple questions : what on earth is a gravel bike, do you need one and should you buy one?

You might well have asked yourself, as I did – “this is just a cyclocross bike”, “the bike industry are just trying to sell me more bikes and basically re-inventing the wheel!”

“Why don’t I just get a Mountain Bike?”… etc… etc.

Let’s just find out quickly, a bit more – what are gravel bikes?

Gravel bikes are drop-bar bikes [think Tour de France style] that allow you to go off tarmac roads and onto more different, varied terrain and unsurfaced roads and paths.

With a gravel bike, riders can ride road – sacrificing some performance – and then transition onto gravel roads or single-track forest trails. The theme with a gravel bike is adventure, unconstrained by terrain. It reminds me of the reason as kids we all loved bikes, that sense of FREEDOM.

In addition to bigger tires, gravel bikes generally have bigger frames and are just all-around more comfortable than road bikes off terrain or on long distances. Gravel bikes are  more stable on off-road terrain compared to Road bikes, which are designed to be super responsive and efficient.

So, if you live somewhere with a lot of forest trails, unsurfaced gravel roads, basically the back woods, then this could be your perfect ride.

We would conclude that gravel bikes are more than a fad, for several reasons.
Reasons gravel has exploded in popularity,

  1. Venture off the beaten track
  2. Get back to nature
  3. Explore,
  4. Stay away from traffic
  5. That true sense of community
  6. Exploration
  7. Adventure
  8. Escape
  9. Freedom (and not forgetting)
  10. FUN.
Our Verdict

Drum roll please… yes, who wouldn’t want one in their bike stable. If you do have a lot of country tracks, unpaved roads and gravel around you, then yes, a Gravel bike might be your perfect bike. But for the majority of us who do not have this type of terrain I would stick with your road bike. Consider buying one as your 2nd bike if you can justify it but maybe don’t opt for a really expensive one. Use it for dual winter riding and gravel racing. I’ve included a few links to some reasonably priced bikes… and to some gravel races if you are now tempted!
Sounds good? I’m off to buy a new bike…

Some cool links below as always.