This example might lead us to think that, at any time, we can take our regular road bike to go into those tracks that are born and die on both sides of the ditches, and that are so attractive. Mind you, we are not telling you not to do it, you simply have to consider a number of factors or conditions before making this decision.
– What kind of bike do I have?
It’s not the same to go from asphalt to gravel on the back of a wide profile bike as it is on a climber. And let’s not say if your usual road mount has a decidedly ‘aero’ cut. In the latter case, unless you want to end up without fillings on your teeth, we do not recommend using a graveler.
Nor is the argument that ‘the pros run the Street Bianche with aero bikes’. First, they are professionals. we don’t They are used to taking the suffering to the extreme on any type of bike and terrain, and their technique for handling the bike in complicated sections is light years away from ours. And in the face of the slightest setback, they have a team car or neutral assistance behind them.
Therefore, everything that comes close to a ‘big bottom’ or ‘endurance’ bike, will be much more suitable for going into stretches of land at our level: for the comfort of geometry, for the level of resistance of the frame, because of its greater ability to absorb vibrations… In fact, we already saw last season how many big funds are ‘gravelizing’with ever wider wheel arches.
– What type of surface?
We refer in this case to the class of track we will face. It is not the same to pedal a road bike on compact dirt tracks, conditioned by machines and where practically the only risk we have is that of a puncture, than to ride on agricultural roads, probably more neglected, where ruts, dips and others can cause kicks and, worse, a fall.
In the first case, probably with the usual road bike and a minimum tire width of 28 mm, you should have no problem. In the second, it is advisable that you stop to analyze what type of bike you are carrying and where you will put it, if you do not want to end up visiting the nearest workshop or the hospital in the area.
– For how long?
The number of hours we spend pedaling on a specific type of terrain should also be a determining factor when opting for one discipline or another and, therefore, one bike or another. Hitting a track every now and then on your road bike is not the same as doing it on a regular basis.
That is, if we start making these small and controlled gravel incursions with our road bike, we see that we like the dirt more and more and step less and less on the asphalt… maybe the time has come to admit a bike from gravel in your life You will be more comfortable, safer and you will enjoy the wide range of possibilities that this discipline offers. Keeping, of course, the road bike, in case one day you hear the call of the asphalt again.
In this sense, we could find a certain parallel to the mountain bike, from when you start practicing the simplest XC to getting to grips with more demanding modes, technically speaking, such as trail or enduro Can you do trail with an XC? You can, but you’ll do better with a trail Can I do enduro with a trail? You can, but you’ll do much better on an enduro, besides being dangerous. That simple.
Can you ride gravel on a road bike? In our opinion, and taking into account everything mentioned above, yes. But you will do much better, safer and more fun with a gravel.