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What’s Gravel Cycling an how is it practiced

Much has begun to be talked about gravel, more and more cyclists are turning their eyes to this discipline, so much so that in the United States currently 10 gravel bikes are sold for 1 road bike, and it already makes experts think that we are facing to the bike of the future.

But… What is Gravel?

Gravel is a modality of adventure cycling, which allows you to easily go from paved roads to uncovered terrain with the same bicycle, this opens up a world of infinite possibilities, we can thus discover new places, landscapes and corners to which we would not have access in a road bike. The objective, more than the competition, is the enjoyment of traveling by bicycle, covering long distances at good speeds over diverse terrain.

So then we consider gravel as an interesting mix between road and mountain biking, since it allows us to have the best of both disciplines and enjoy various routes without the restrictions that appear due to the geometry or components of our bicycle.

We no longer have to decide between MTB and road, between asphalt and unpaved roads, now we can enjoy more versatile and dynamic cycling thanks to gravel.

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Gravel bikers descending

Background of this style

Many think that this type of cycling is something new, that it was born a few years ago, but if we look at it carefully and we locate ourselves in the year 1903, we find the first tour of France, this competition in its beginnings had stages of 300 to 400 kilometers where each cyclist wore his own equipment, the bicycles were made of very resistant materials, large uneven terrain was covered, mainly uncovered, that is what we call gravel in all its essence.

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Legendary gravel comeptitions

Another reference is the cyclocross competitions, in this modality on a bicycle similar to the road bike, but with some variations, the objective is to complete a route with sections of different terrains such as asphalt, dirt, meadow, mud and with a series of obstacles. , which can be natural or artificial, which force cyclists, on many occasions, to get off the bike to avoid them.

What is a gravel bike like?

They are bicycles that in their geometry are very similar to road bikes but with some differences that allow them to face a wide variety of surfaces, carry additional equipment such as panniers, canisters, bikepacking, among others, and that at the same time provide comfort for long trips.

They are also designed and manufactured to be more durable and robust than a standard road bike, have a greater range of gears and more space in the front and rear forks to fit much wider or narrower shells as appropriate.

Some main features:

  • Longer wheelbase for more stability.
  • Greater box height to avoid hitting the cranks.
  • Greater distance in fork and fork to be able to have wider shells.
  • More relaxed steering angle for greater comfort.
  • They have disc brakes for greater safety when braking on uncovered terrain.
  • It has softer developments, similar to those used in MTB.
  • You can place shells with studs for greater adherence.

Other advantages of practicing Gravel

  1. Gravel bikes have a design that allows their wheels to be exchanged, so you can adapt it specifically for the road, for more aggressive mountain terrain and for mixed terrain.
  2. You will ride with a little more security, this modality aims to get you off the asphalt to land that is less traveled by vehicles, thus reducing the possibility of accidents due to collisions.
  3. Once you’ve mastered good technique, you’ll be able to ride confidently on off-road roads almost as fast as you would on a road bike on asphalt.
  4. Total versatility, imagine in a single ride being able to do road sections and uncovered without worrying about damaging the bike.
  5. You will be able to make much longer trips, with greater comfort, using conventional panniers or with a bikepacking system.
  6. With this modality the cyclist’s direct contact with nature and landscapes is also much more prominent.
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What's Gravel Cycling an how is it practiced 8

Who is Gravel for?

The doubt between buying a road bike, MTB or a gravel bike is quite common among cyclists and we know that having to opt for one or another modality is a real problem.

For this reason, to help you with the decision, in the first place, you must be clear that gravel gives you more freedom than the road, that the bicycle is more versatile and that you will never want to enter a dirt road again. or uncovered, or that if you already do MTB, this is a good option to go faster and even to be efficient when resuming the pavement.

Also if you are a cyclist whose main objective is to travel, see new places and NOT just compete looking hard to break all the Strava records, then gravel is ideal for you.

We also believe that some family and friends may prefer that you practice gravel, since it is a much safer modality than road cycling in terms of traffic and the dangers that this entails.

To finish with 14 EIGHT THOUSANDS, we believe that there are two profiles for whom gravel is ideal: for the road cyclist who feels limited for more adventures, longer tours and limited to move to other terrains for fear of damaging their bike; The second profile is the MTB cyclist, who wants a lighter bike, where he can go faster, in a more minimalist way and without losing the freedom that comes from going off-road.

DIRTY KANZA: the most prestigious amateur and pro competition

This is the largest and most prestigious amateur and professional gravel competition in the world, it takes place annually  during the summer in  Kansas in the United States , starting and ending in the city of  Emporia .

This competition started in 2006 with a little less than 100 cyclists and in 2019 2750 competitors registered, including many professionals and former road cycling and MTB professionals.

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91 COMMENTS

  1. Comment: Gravel cycling sounds like a fancy term for riding a bike on unpaved roads. Cant we just call it off-roading?

  2. Wow, I never knew cycling on gravel could be a thing! It sounds adventurous and thrilling. Can you do tricks on gravel bikes?

    • Actually, yes! Gravel bikes are versatile and can handle tricks pretty well. From jumps to skids, you can definitely have some fun. Just make sure to practice in a safe environment and wear protective gear. Happy riding!

  3. I never understood the hype around gravel cycling. I mean, who needs all that dust in their face?

    • Gravel cycling isnt just about the hype or the dust in your face. Its about the thrill of exploring off the beaten path, embracing the challenge, and connecting with nature. But hey, to each their own!

  4. Wow, gravel cycling sounds like a wild adventure! I never knew bikes could handle rough terrain like that.

    • Gravel cycling is overrated. Why bother with all that dirt and rough terrain when you can explore new places comfortably on smooth roads? #LuxuryRide

  5. Gravel cycling sounds like a fun way to explore nature, but isnt it just mountain biking with a fancy name?

    • No, gravel cycling is a distinct discipline that involves riding on unpaved roads, often with a specific type of bike. While there may be similarities, its not just mountain biking with a fancy name. Give it a try and see for yourself!

    • Gravel cycling offers a refreshing escape from the monotony of road and trail riding. Its about embracing the rawness and unpredictability of the terrain. If youre seeking a new challenge that pushes your limits, gravel is where its at. Give it a try and see for yourself!

  6. Gravel cycling is like off-roading on steroids! Who needs smooth roads when you can conquer the unpredictable terrain? #adrenalinerush

    • Gravel cycling may be thrilling, but lets not undermine the beauty of smooth roads. They provide a safe and enjoyable ride for many cyclists, with less risk of accidents. Different strokes for different folks, but safety should always come first. #safetyoverthrills

    • Are you serious? Gravel cycling is just a fancy term for torturing yourself on bumpy terrain. Ill stick to smooth roads, thanks. But hey, to each their own, right?

  7. Gravel cycling sounds cool, but Im still not sure why people prefer it over road biking. Anyone care to enlighten me?

    • Gravel cycling offers a thrilling change of scenery, with adventurous terrains and unpredictable challenges compared to monotonous road biking. Its about exploration, embracing the unknown, and getting closer to nature. But hey, to each their own. Keep spinning those wheels!

  8. Gravel cycling? More like gravel grinding! Who needs smooth roads when you can embrace the gnarly terrain?

  9. Gravel cycling sounds like a great way to explore new places and get dirty! Whos in for some off-road adventures?

  10. I never thought Id get into gravel cycling, but man, its addictive! The thrill of conquering those rough terrains is unmatched.

    • Well, to each their own, I guess. But seriously, dodging potholes on city streets? Thats your idea of thrill? Maybe you should try gravel cycling sometime, my friend. Itll take your adrenaline rush to a whole new level!

    • Gravel biking is a whole new world! It offers a thrilling and unique experience that road biking cant match. So go ahead, embrace the gravel addiction and discover a whole new level of excitement on two wheels! #GravelForever

  11. Comment: Gravel cycling is basically off-roading on a bike, but with more adventure and freedom. Its like exploring the unknown, feeling the rush of adrenaline while dodging rocks and mud. And lets not forget about the gravel bike – its like a hybrid between a mountain bike and a road bike, ready to conquer any terrain. So, whos up for some muddy madness?

    • Comment: Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Id rather stick to paved roads and avoid the pain of dodging rocks and mud. But hey, to each their own, right? Stay safe out there!

  12. Gravel cycling? More like gravel grinding! Who needs smooth roads when you can embrace the bumps and bruises?

    • Smooth roads may not be for everyone, but gravel cycling offers a unique challenge and adventurous experience. Embracing the bumps and bruises adds an element of thrill and makes the journey all the more rewarding. Its all about personal preference and pushing boundaries.

    • Not just off-road biking, mate. Gravel cycling is a whole different beast. Its about exploring new routes, embracing the challenge, and feeling the freedom of riding on unpredictable surfaces. So, yeah, its way more than just a fancy name. Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

    • No, gravel cycling is not just a fancy term for mountain biking. Its a distinct discipline that involves riding on unpaved roads and gravel paths. It offers a unique experience and challenge, so dont dismiss it without giving it a try!

    • No, gravel cycling is not just mountain biking without mountains. Its a unique discipline that offers its own challenges and rewards. Its about exploring new terrains and pushing your limits. Dont knock it until you try it.

  13. Gravel cycling sounds like a fancy term for off-roading on a bike. Is it really that different from mountain biking though?

  14. I never thought Id see the day when cycling on gravel became a thing. Whats next, riding on sand? #NotForMe

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