Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Curious: what is a gravel bike?

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Curious: what is a gravel bike?

Old 05-31-22, 09:14 AM
  #1  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Curious: what is a gravel bike?

I may get a gravel/all-road bike in the near future, but what people use them for seems to be all over the place. So it seems like a good subject for a discussion. (I'd say poll, but I'm not sure I can get multiple questions on one poll.) I doubt there will be a consensus, but the spread may be interesting.

What's the roughest road you'd consider riding on a gravel bike before you go to a mountain bike or fat bike? Bushwhacking, single track, double track, old road that's not maintained, gravel road that sees a road grader every election year, rail-trail, or something else?

How big a tire does your bike handle (or do you want it to handle)? 2", 47-48, 42, 38, 35, 32 mm?

If you take a load, how do you handle it? Bar bag, frame pack, seat bag, rack trunk, panniers, or a backpack?

What about lighting? Battery powered lights, just a blinky or two in the rear, full dyno system, or never ride at dark?
pdlamb is offline  
Old 05-31-22, 09:42 AM
  #2  
Rolla
Victimless Criminal
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 2,523
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1118 Post(s)
Liked 2,711 Times in 1,205 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
What's the roughest road you'd consider riding on a gravel bike before you go to a mountain bike or fat bike?
I'll consider riding a gravel bike on anything that presents itself. That's the beauty of the bike -- it'll take on whatever you encounter on a ride. But if I know I'm "going mountain biking" on mountain bike trails (singletrack, rocky ledges, bermed turns, steep climbs and descents, etc.), I'll choose a mountain bike. Horses for courses, as they say.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
How big a tire does your bike handle (or do you want it to handle)? 2", 47-48, 42, 38, 35, 32 mm?
My SSCX is 700 X 35. The all-road is 650b X 47. The adventure bike is 27.5" X 2.2". The mountain bike is 27.5" X 2.8." Again, horses for courses.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
If you take a load, how do you handle it? Bar bag, frame pack, seat bag, rack trunk, panniers, or a backpack?
Depends on the load. I have a frame bag, a bar bag, a seat bag, and fork bags. No racks or panniers.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
What about lighting? Battery powered lights, just a blinky or two in the rear, full dyno system, or never ride at dark?
Battery powered lights front and rear, sometimes a helmet light.

I don't think any of this really answers the question "what is a gravel bike," because the lines that separate mountain, gravel, CX, all-road, road plus, and adventure have blurred to the point of meaninglessness. Add to that the concept of "underbiking," and the distinctions become even less clear and important.
Rolla is offline  
Old 05-31-22, 10:18 AM
  #3  
ClydeClydeson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1,417
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 485 Post(s)
Liked 739 Times in 430 Posts
Most new gravel bikes are kind of a cross between a road bike and a rigid 1990s mountain bike... drop handlebars and room for (what are now considered) narrowish off-road tires ~2"+-.

They also generally have modern technology such as hydraulic discs and often 1X drivetrains with a monster sized cassette, although some have 2X drivetrains.

Anyhow, that's what you get if you are in a bike shop looking to buy a new 'gravel bike'.

If you were to find a commonly ridden piece of gravel road and survey what types of bikes people are actually using as 'gravel bikes' then there is no one clear answer. My 'gravel bike' is an older road touring bike with medium/wide tires and mini-V brakes. My buddy rides his cyclocross bike with cantilevers. I see rigid mountain bikes and hybrids doing lots of gravel miles too. I notice fewer folks on full suspension bikes, and my personal experience is that fat bikes aren't ideal for long gravel rides, but I'm sure loads those bikes are used too.
Some people obsess over what are the ideal wheel sizes and handlebar shapes, but everybody has a different opinion, and if they are actually putting their opinion to use and riding then their opinion is correct.
ClydeClydeson is offline  
Likes For ClydeClydeson:
Old 05-31-22, 10:39 AM
  #4  
jonathanf2
Full Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 469

Bikes: '17 105 2x11 Sprint CF Comp / '21 GRX400 2x10 Poseidon X

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 223 Post(s)
Liked 394 Times in 197 Posts
I think most "gravel" bikes tend to have wider tires for rougher terrain and lower gearing than road bikes, but not as low as MTB gearing. After that, anything goes.
jonathanf2 is offline  
Old 05-31-22, 10:42 AM
  #5  
prj71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Central Wisconsin
Posts: 3,772
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2259 Post(s)
Liked 736 Times in 491 Posts
This subject has been beat to death. A simple google search will give you all the answers that you seek.
prj71 is offline  
Likes For prj71:
Old 05-31-22, 10:48 AM
  #6  
Polaris OBark
Dirt Roadie
 
Polaris OBark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,212
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 638 Post(s)
Liked 811 Times in 490 Posts
I think the one distinguishing feature of a gravel bike is that it resembles a canonical drop-bar road bike, but can accept wider tires (say 35-38mm) that make off-pavement riding more pleasant (or possible).

For example, the current Trek Domane would qualify. There are of course many purpose-built gravel bikes, but they might be less capable on paved roads.

Attributes like disc brakes and lower gearing really help, but I wouldn't consider them defining characteristics (but would insist on them for any of the off-road rides I do). Disc brakes also allow fitting 650b wheels with wider tires.

It should be able to handle most non-technical single track and very rough, steep, unpaved fire-roads to get the full potential, while ideally not presenting a huge on-pavement penalty.
Polaris OBark is offline  
Old 05-31-22, 06:12 PM
  #7  
superdex
staring at the mountains
 
superdex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Castle Pines, CO
Posts: 4,501

Bikes: Obed GVR, Fairdale Goodship, Salsa Timberjack 29

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 371 Post(s)
Liked 172 Times in 96 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
What's the roughest road you'd consider riding on a gravel bike before you go to a mountain bike or fat bike? Bushwhacking, single track, double track, old road that's not maintained, gravel road that sees a road grader every election year, rail-trail, or something else?
The best(worst?) part about this whole gravel bike phenomenon is that you'll find bikes designed for every one of those situations. It's more nuanced and open-ended than even the whole mountain bike xc, trail, enduro, downhill, dj, etc variants. And don't get us started on comparing geometries.

Some gravel bikes are speckled with mounts so you can load up with bags and disappear up the Colorado Trail for a month (i.e. the Canyon Grizl). Some gravel bikes are essentially a pro-level road racer with big tires (Aspero, I'm looking at you). Some bikes try to do it all (Specialized Diverge maybe?).

One way to get a feel for what a particular bike's intentions are is to look at its marketing materials. Picking on Canyon for a sec, the Grail video shows a man reaching the end of pavement, shrugs and lets some air out of his tires and happily forges ahead on the dirt road in front of him. The Grizl video has bags, single-track, hike-a-bike, and camping. Could you go bikepacking through the woods on a Grail? Of course. Is it meant to? Eh, probably better suited for the roadier side of the spectrum. But nobody's gonna stop you, either. You can also get a notion of its intended purpose by the tires specc'd. The Grizl comes with 45mm Ramblers --dern near a full on mtb tire. The Grail has the Schwalbe G-One R in 40mm --a gravel race tire. For what it's worth, I have plenty of pavement between me and dirt roads/trails, so I chose something roadier with 38mm GravelKing SS tires (it does fit 50mm rubber if I wanna push its limits on rockier, more mtb-ier terrain). --And I have a "proper" mountain bike for the occasions I purposely head for technical single track. That's what works for me. May not be what you're looking for.

You have to do some soul-searching to know what kind of riding you prefer: where and how you'll want to ride it, how the new bike fits in your current lineup, and try to narrow it down from there. One way to think about it is a 'gravel' bike is kinda a modern 'anywhere' bike. --But you have to define your own 'anywhere.'
superdex is offline  
Likes For superdex:
Old 05-31-22, 09:05 PM
  #8  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 14,510

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8234 Post(s)
Liked 5,065 Times in 2,944 Posts
If I can't comfortably ride a road on 43mm tires, I will just ride a different road. I suppose I would slap 50mm tires on the bike to do some epic low maintenance ride if the opportunity presented itself, but for all actual riding in reality, a 43mm tire is great for my weight, speed, comfort, and road conditions.

For lighting, I use the same lighting I have for any other bike- a garmin varia in the rear and a cygolite in the front. They both attach/detach quickly so I just move them when needed and ride.
If I rode crazy 350mi fravel races in March, then maybe a dynamo powered lighting system would be best.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 06-01-22, 06:21 AM
  #9  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,845

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1143 Post(s)
Liked 403 Times in 325 Posts
Gravel bike is anything you want it to be. I guess the question is, what to you want it to be? In the most Generic terms, it is a drop bar bike that can take 33mm or larger tires. But like with road bikes, you can get a touring bike, and endurance bike, or a sprint bike. Add to that a fatter tired mountain bike.

For terrain, I'll pick the tire size more than I pick the bike. With the right tires, the bike doesn't make too much of a difference.

Load - I like not to ruin my aero. I hate a bike that acts like a sail into a headwind. For commuting, I'll use a messenger bag (low center of gravity, no sweat on my back), longer trips frame bag(s). If I'm going big (and slow) and self contained, nothing beats a set of Ortlieb's.
chas58 is offline  
Likes For chas58:
Old 06-01-22, 06:49 AM
  #10  
scottfsmith
I like bike
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 468

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 195 Post(s)
Liked 206 Times in 134 Posts
I bet if Strava ran a data analysis on all the miles in their database done on so-called gravel bikes they would see that 95% of those miles were on pavement. Personally for me it is a lot of work to get to good gravel riding, it takes 1+ hours in the car each way. So I'm yet another 95%-er.

Anyway, in practice most people are using gravel bikes as road bikes with occasional gravel riding thrown in. Kind of like how SUVs today are doing 99%+ road miles. There is nothing wrong with that, but to me it doesn't make a lot of sense to own two different bikes when two wheel sets will do the job.
scottfsmith is offline  
Likes For scottfsmith:
Old 06-01-22, 07:15 AM
  #11  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
I don't think any of this really answers the question "what is a gravel bike," because the lines that separate mountain, gravel, CX, all-road, road plus, and adventure have blurred to the point of meaninglessness. Add to that the concept of "underbiking," and the distinctions become even less clear and important.
I take your point about the lines blurring. You did mention above that for really rough stuff you'd take your mountain bike; does that imply that you see MTB as the fatter tire/rougher trail end of the continuum? Presumably when you get down into the 20s tire width you're now on the "road" end.

I had to smile when you brought up underbiking. A while back I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at the end of the day there was a couple hundred yards of gravel driveway to the campsite. I rode my touring bike (32s) up the driveway, passing a half dozen other riders who'd decided the gravel was too much to ride, so they were walking. I'm sure there are riders who would think nothing of riding 25s up that driveway, but there's also the "brought the wrong horse for this course" mentality!
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 07:26 AM
  #12  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I think the one distinguishing feature of a gravel bike is that it resembles a canonical drop-bar road bike, but can accept wider tires (say 35-38mm) that make off-pavement riding more pleasant (or possible).

For example, the current Trek Domane would qualify. There are of course many purpose-built gravel bikes, but they might be less capable on paved roads.

Attributes like disc brakes and lower gearing really help, but I wouldn't consider them defining characteristics (but would insist on them for any of the off-road rides I do). Disc brakes also allow fitting 650b wheels with wider tires.

It should be able to handle most non-technical single track and very rough, steep, unpaved fire-roads to get the full potential, while ideally not presenting a huge on-pavement penalty.
Huh. I was thinking a bit fatter tires, since I've got a touring bike that'll handle 35 (and maybe skinny 38) tires. Maybe I don't need another bike?

Most of the fire roads I've seen in the southern Appalachians tend to be decades old, with washed out gullies that are hard to hike. Are the fire roads near you better than that?
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 07:31 AM
  #13  
GhostRider62
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 2,697
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1587 Post(s)
Liked 1,314 Times in 825 Posts
A gravel bike is the construct foisted upon us after selling us a mountain bike and then endurance bikes.

On a road bike, 28 or 32mm are plenty for most gravel where I live. For tougher stones, I ride my road bike with 650b x 38mm compass extra legere tires. If anything is technical, it is Mtb although I do wonder what I would race on the Tour Divide had I not had my injuries.

I use backpacking bags although recently bought a Tailfin setup

I use two rear blinkies.

I carry two front battery powered lights (one backup).

But gravel for me is more incidental rather than a destination. Some of my routes have gravel, most don't. 25mm isn't fun. 32mm is fine. for me. YMMV
GhostRider62 is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 07:33 AM
  #14  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
I bet if Strava ran a data analysis on all the miles in their database done on so-called gravel bikes they would see that 95% of those miles were on pavement. Personally for me it is a lot of work to get to good gravel riding, it takes 1+ hours in the car each way. So I'm yet another 95%-er.

Anyway, in practice most people are using gravel bikes as road bikes with occasional gravel riding thrown in. Kind of like how SUVs today are doing 99%+ road miles. There is nothing wrong with that, but to me it doesn't make a lot of sense to own two different bikes when two wheel sets will do the job.
Trying to look at this from a more generic viewpoint. Would it be fair to say your "gravel bike" would be one that had the capability to handle wider tires (whatever that's defined as), and you'd prefer to have two wheelsets, one for narrower tires and one for wider? Would I be correct to guess you'd want disc brakes to make the changeover easier?
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 08:04 AM
  #15  
Jeff Neese
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 714
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 385 Post(s)
Liked 249 Times in 167 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I take your point about the lines blurring. You did mention above that for really rough stuff you'd take your mountain bike; does that imply that you see MTB as the fatter tire/rougher trail end of the continuum? Presumably when you get down into the 20s tire width you're now on the "road" end.

I had to smile when you brought up underbiking. A while back I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at the end of the day there was a couple hundred yards of gravel driveway to the campsite. I rode my touring bike (32s) up the driveway, passing a half dozen other riders who'd decided the gravel was too much to ride, so they were walking. I'm sure there are riders who would think nothing of riding 25s up that driveway, but there's also the "brought the wrong horse for this course" mentality!
My view is that it's all about the tires, and also the expectations and tradeoffs you decide to make.

I put drop bars and Continental Top Contacts on my 1989 Trek 970 (rigid mountain bike) and called it a gravel bike. We ride mostly hardpack dirt roads that get graded fairly regularly, but there's often sections that get pretty rough. The Top Contacts handle it very well but are also just fine for the paved roads we also ride. When there's a lot of really loose gravel or deep sand, not so much. I'm fine with getting off my bike for short stretches and just walking. That covers 90% of our riding, and for rougher courses I just use a bike with big fat MTB tires. That's why we need multiple bikes - there really isn't one bike to do it all, or at least do it all well.

In your example, if that short stretch up the driveway to the campground is the only section of the ride they had trouble with, maybe they didn't bring the wrong horse for the course. The Blue Ridge Parkway is paved, right?
Jeff Neese is online now  
Old 06-01-22, 08:28 AM
  #16  
Polaris OBark
Dirt Roadie
 
Polaris OBark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,212
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 638 Post(s)
Liked 811 Times in 490 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Huh. I was thinking a bit fatter tires, since I've got a touring bike that'll handle 35 (and maybe skinny 38) tires. Maybe I don't need another bike?

Most of the fire roads I've seen in the southern Appalachians tend to be decades old, with washed out gullies that are hard to hike. Are the fire roads near you better than that?
My touring bike (Soma Saga disc), even though it takes 55mm tires and handles off-road well, somehow just doesn't seem to quite cut it as a gravel bike. This of course is entirely subjective. Hopefully your experience will be different/better.
Polaris OBark is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 09:06 AM
  #17  
Rolla
Victimless Criminal
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 2,523
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1118 Post(s)
Liked 2,711 Times in 1,205 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
does that imply that you see MTB as the fatter tire/rougher trail end of the continuum?
I think that's their strength.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Presumably when you get down into the 20s tire width you're now on the "road" end.
I don't have any bikes with tires that narrow, but if I did, that's where I'd ride them.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I rode my touring bike (32s) up the driveway, passing a half dozen other riders who'd decided the gravel was too much to ride, so they were walking. I'm sure there are riders who would think nothing of riding 25s up that driveway, but there's also the "brought the wrong horse for this course" mentality!
I learned a long time ago that sometimes the "wrong" bike can be more fun. My singlespeed cyclocross bike remains my most-ridden bike, even though it isn't always the most practical.
Rolla is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 11:30 AM
  #18  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
My touring bike (Soma Saga disc), even though it takes 55mm tires and handles off-road well, somehow just doesn't seem to quite cut it as a gravel bike. This of course is entirely subjective. Hopefully your experience will be different/better.
If I may prod a bit, what's keeping the Saga from being your personal gravel grail? (Oops, did I just invent a new marketing meme?)
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 12:13 PM
  #19  
Polaris OBark
Dirt Roadie
 
Polaris OBark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,212
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 638 Post(s)
Liked 811 Times in 490 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
If I may prod a bit, what's keeping the Saga from being your personal gravel grail? (Oops, did I just invent a new marketing meme?)
Canyon invented that marketing term.

It is kind of a wee bit sluggish to ride unloaded, both on and off road, compared to my custom steel "all road" bike. Like I said, it is entirely subjective, and perhaps quite unfair. In addition to having disc brakes and allowing huge tires, it has (slightly) flared bars, and Redshift Stopshock seatpost and stem, so in many ways it should be ideal. I have bar end shifters for 11 speed mtn gearing, and a 46/30T White Industry's crankset, and good hand-made wheels (WI hubs and HED Belgium+ rims), so it is really well-equipped. If I didn't own the custom bike which has spoiled me, I would probably appreciate it much more.
Polaris OBark is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 12:30 PM
  #20  
prj71
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Central Wisconsin
Posts: 3,772
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2259 Post(s)
Liked 736 Times in 491 Posts
As Kapusta says...A gravel bike is a road bike that doesn't suck.
prj71 is offline  
Likes For prj71:
Old 06-01-22, 12:56 PM
  #21  
scottfsmith
I like bike
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 468

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 195 Post(s)
Liked 206 Times in 134 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Trying to look at this from a more generic viewpoint. Would it be fair to say your "gravel bike" would be one that had the capability to handle wider tires (whatever that's defined as), and you'd prefer to have two wheelsets, one for narrower tires and one for wider? Would I be correct to guess you'd want disc brakes to make the changeover easier?
Right.. one narrow wheel set one wide, definitely with disc brakes. Ideally I would run 30mm road and 42-ish mm gravel. What I have currently is 30mm road and 35mm gravel, I am hacking my gravel bike on an endurance bike since I wasn't really thinking about gravel when I bought my current bike (Specialized Roubaix 2020). I am using tire liners to make those 35s ride more like 42s if needed. For my next bike I'll start by looking for something taking up to 42mm or so tires but still great on the road. Or maybe I'll be more hard-core on doing gravel trips and will go with two bikes.

For loads I use Tailfin panniers, they put all the load at the rear but are off-on in a matter of seconds (both bags and racks) so I don't have a bunch of junk attached to my bike on road rides. If I did longer trips I would at least get a handlebar bag and maybe a frame bag.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 06-01-22, 04:45 PM
  #22  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,845

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1143 Post(s)
Liked 403 Times in 325 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Trying to look at this from a more generic viewpoint. Would it be fair to say your "gravel bike" would be one that had the capability to handle wider tires (whatever that's defined as), and you'd prefer to have two wheelsets, one for narrower tires and one for wider? Would I be correct to guess you'd want disc brakes to make the changeover easier?
That is me.

I spend decades on a mountain bike, because road bikes are totally inappropriate to the roads around here (crappy broken up cement, asphalt and chip seal). At the beginning of this century, they were trying to tell us road bikes had to be ultra stiff, small tired, tight clearance Tour-de-France machines. Those bikes were crap on real roads, and I never bought one. an '90's mountain bike was faster.

finally, gravel bikes were re-invented (just like we had in the '70's) I can now ride them on my local roads, commute on them, and out sprint road bikes on our local club rides (on crap asphalt).

Currently running a CX bike on 37-38mm Conti GP5000 and Schwalbe Pro-one tires. ~10 watts rolling resistance - its as fast as my track bike, but usable on the broken asphalt we have around here. About 10% faster than the roadies on 25mm tires at 120psi. Its kind of a cheater tire on asphalt, but quite fun on class 1-2 gravel. Its giggles and laughs sprinting past road bikes on rough asphalt because they are being pummeled to death on our roads.

for rougher gravel I bump up to 40-50mm tires that can handle 2" thick gravel they lay down around here when re-grading a road.
chas58 is offline  
Old 06-02-22, 12:52 AM
  #23  
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 4,137
Mentioned: 41 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1905 Post(s)
Liked 1,165 Times in 565 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I may get a gravel/all-road bike in the near future, but what people use them for seems to be all over the place.
That's because people are all over the place. Gravel bike use cases are very heavily regional, depending on the geology, geography, and types of right-of-ways. I wouldn't choose a gravel bike based on a global median use case, because such a bike may or may not have anything to do with my surroundings.

What are people around you doing?
HTupolev is online now  
Old 06-02-22, 08:14 AM
  #24  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
That is me.

I spend decades on a mountain bike, because road bikes are totally inappropriate to the roads around here (crappy broken up cement, asphalt and chip seal). At the beginning of this century, they were trying to tell us road bikes had to be ultra stiff, small tired, tight clearance Tour-de-France machines. Those bikes were crap on real roads, and I never bought one. an '90's mountain bike was faster.

finally, gravel bikes were re-invented (just like we had in the '70's) I can now ride them on my local roads, commute on them, and out sprint road bikes on our local club rides (on crap asphalt).
Took me 15 years after I moved here before I got back on the bike, and I honestly didn't know how good I had it. The multi-term mayor kept paving streets, and that, police, and fire was most of the budget. (Schools are separately funded here.)

That was back in the last millenium.

Since then, a succession of mayors have diverted money to various pet projects, which don't include the streets (except for big interchanges on the edge of town). Now our streets average halfway between cracking pavement and what I call "allegedly paved." I've taken to re-routing whenever a road near my route has been paved in the last 5 years.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 06-02-22, 08:20 AM
  #25  
pdlamb
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 7,629

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1935 Post(s)
Liked 1,196 Times in 759 Posts
Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
That's because people are all over the place. Gravel bike use cases are very heavily regional, depending on the geology, geography, and types of right-of-ways. I wouldn't choose a gravel bike based on a global median use case, because such a bike may or may not have anything to do with my surroundings.

What are people around you doing?
Good points, and a good question. My feeling is that most gravel bikes bought locally are carted off on multi-hour drives or flights to get to gravel. TBH, that's half my proposed use case. The other half is back roads in gravel in a few locations near town, one of which claims to be a mountain. The third half (thanks, Click and Clack!) is the allegedly paved roads mentioned in my previous post. These streets feature pavement, most of which surrounds potholes or is broken up into 2" pieces for hundreds of yards. So most of the curiosity deals with the first half, what can I tackle when I hit the road and go to "gravel?"
pdlamb is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.