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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Total versatility, imagine in a single ride being able to do road sections and uncovered without worrying about damaging the bike.
- You will be able to make much longer trips, with greater comfort, using conventional panniers or with a bikepacking system.
- With this modality the cyclist’s direct contact with nature and landscapes is also much more prominent.
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.