Alongside our extensive range of sturdy mountain bikes, e-bikes, capable commuters, kids’ bikes and sleek road machines, there’s a new breed of bike in town. Gravel bikes have taken the world by storm, machines designed to take your cycling adventures into a whole new world.
But what is ‘gravel’ all about? Why is everyone banging on about it? Is a gravel bike really the one for you? Well, put your feet up, grab a brew and read on – we’ll give you all the info you need.
The end of N+1?
The correct number of bikes one should own is N+1, where N is the number you already own. Right? Well, when gravel bikes started appearing five or so years ago, we started to rethink that one.
Bike manufacturers realised that most folks just can’t afford, let alone have room to store, a different bike for each type of riding they do. Instead, they started designing a bike that could do almost everything – capable of handling the ride to and from work, blasting around the woods with family on a Saturday and racing mates on a Sunday. The gravel bike was born.
Take Trek’s superb Checkpoint, for example. It’s an extremely versatile bike suited to a wide variety of riding styles, everything from the daily commute to a week-long bikepacking adventure. With massive tyre clearance (up to 38mm), reliable disc brakes, mounts on the frame for mudguards and luggage, and gearing suitable for pootling as well as pounding the pedals, the Checkpoint exemplifies the multitalented nature of gravel bikes.
Look around on your ride home from work and you’ll see a lot of bikes like the Checkpoint pulling up at the lights. We’re not blessed with the smoothest of tarmac in this country, but those pesky potholes pose no problems for these tough rigs. And should the roads get a little unpleasant, they’re sturdy enough to take in that canal path detour when the fancy takes you.
Where does that track go?
Remember when you were a kid and you just went out for an adventure on your bike? No real plan, just riding with friends until your mum dragged you home for your fish fingers?
With a gravel bike, we’ve found ourselves rediscovering that feeling, answering that question of ‘where does that track go?’, confident that the bike will be able to handle whatever the path has in store. Apart from the most technical mountain bike terrain, a gravel bike can cope with pretty much any surface, and the gearing they are fitted with makes climbing easy. Forget about Strava times and personal bests, just jump on the bike and go for a ride. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Expand your adventures
Once you’ve been bitten by the gravel bug, you'll likely want to explore further and further afield. Instead of just heading out for an hour or so we’re seeing more and more folks going for bikepacking adventures on these uber-versatile machines. Stick on a bit of luggage, throw in a sleeping bag and a few supplies and you can pack a lot more into your days off than you ever thought possible. You can trust your gravel bike to cope with whatever the terrain has in store.
These clever bags from Altura strap directly on to your seatpost or sit within the triangle of the bike’s frame, so there’s no extra weight from pannier racks and the like. They don’t affect the balance of the bike either, they’re fully waterproof and provide ample storage space for all you need to scratch that adventurous itch.
We’ve been well and truly sold on the whole gravel game, and we think you will be too. So, pop in to see us, grab your gear and let’s go!