What Is A Gravel Bike – Deep Explanation For 2021 (Draft)

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Currently, you can choose for yourself a bike that is suitable for a specific type of terrain. Have you ever thought of buying a bike that can run any surface, whether you go on the paved road or through rugged terrain? That magical bike is called the Gravel bike.

What is a gravel bike, and what makes it possible to meet all road requirements? In the post below, we will give you a closer and more detailed look at this top-of-the-line bike.

What Is A Gravel Bike?

What Is A Gravel Bike
What Is A Gravel Bike?

First, let’s find out precisely what a gravel bike is. You can understand that a gravel bike is a drop-bar bike built to cross all kinds of different surfaces.

Imagine riding a bike designed for you to cross-terrain smooth sailing from the long road through the gravel roads. A gravel bike is also suitable for adventures through forests or hills for long camping.

Uneven roads appeared everywhere. They were damaged and even filled with potholes and crushed stones. Besides, people who love cycling know that riding on rugged roads is always tricky. This has provided more reasons for the gravel bike line to become a reality.

A gravel bike possesses a more durable and robust design than a road bike. Also, gravel bikes have inherited cyclocross bikes’ improvements to be more flexible on rugged terrain.

For more information about a Gravel Bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Gravel Cycling 101: What is a Gravel Bike?

Top Three Best Activities of Gravel Bikes

Touring

The bicycle touring
The bicycle touring

A gravel bike is an excellent choice for various cycling activities thanks to its versatility. Gravel bike will give you great cycling experiences to control challenging terrain trails to gravel roads or long roads. Wide tires and a more comprehensive gearbox with luggage storage are for long adventures touring or camping trips.

The solid and comfortable design has made many cyclists believe in choosing gravel bikes to travel with them. Most people who have experienced gravel bikes feel the greatness of this bike.

Thanks to versatility, they can ride on the long, wide runways and smoothly change the terrain across the gravel road without any difficulty. A bicycle touring without being obstructed by the landscape is the theme that gravel bikes want to bring.

Road riding

A gravel bike is a must-have choice for long road riding. If you are concerned that a gravel bike’s speed will not be equal to a regular road bike, you should think again. A gravel bike can reach maximum speeds of up to 30mph or faster.

Unlike a road bike, a gravel bike does not have enough high gear when the speed is too fast, making it easy to lose control of pedaling because a gravel bike is not made for racing. However, this should not affect your road riding experience much.

Most cyclists have positive feedback on this product after using gravel bikes for road riding. The headtube angle is slightly forward, and the carbon fork offset is shorter, making the rider feel a bit slow at the start. However, this feature has one advantage that makes gravel bikes easier to accelerate.

Slacker head tube angle gives the rider a non-shock feeling and softens the steering wheel when traveling on rocky roads. This is also one reason riders love to use gravel bikes for their road riding activities.

The development of tires and wheel tire casing specially designed for gravel roads creates better balance and faster response than any other road bike.

The gravel bike frame is also stretched more to ensure stability when running at high speeds on looser roads. You feel more confident and safer when driving on uneven roads.

The gravel bike has lots of mounts for storage. You can use them to store water, snacks, or repair kits for the best road riding experience.

Off-road riding

The favorite activities of gravel bike’s loyal fans
The favorite activities of gravel bike’s loyal fans

Because gravel bikes are an innovation from cyclocross bikes, gravel bikes are always loved by off-road riding enthusiasts. Off-road riding is always one of the favorite activities of this bike’s loyal fans.

Gravel bike has reinforced frame and folk to withstand terrain and road surface changes. Most cyclists prefer off-road riding on gravel bikes rather than because they feel that driving a gravel bike is less aggressive than riding a cyclocross bike.

Mud clearance is a great extra detail from the manufacturer. This unit helps to reduce dirt on your bike during cycling through wet terrain, which will give you more peace of mind about cleaning problems and mud that affects your parts’ quality.

Larger tires than the cyclocross bike make for a more comfortable and solid off-road ride. Some beginner or semi-professional racers often choose a gravel bike for their training sessions.

If you are getting interested in gravel bikes, check out these top five gravel events in the link below.

For more information about Off-road riding, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: GCN's Top Five Gravel Events

Unique Features of Gravel Bikes

The geometry helps you very ride position

The geometry helps you very ride position
The geometry helps you very ride position

The frame’s shape also provides the rider comfort with an ample wheelbase. Proper headtube angle along with a wheelbase ensures stability and comfort while cycling. Any reduction or mismatch alteration of any of these factors can result in loss of control and discomfort.

The more extended vertical bar lifts the steering wheel higher while reducing your back’s impact, helping to reduce back muscle tension symptoms. The off-road bike design is a combination of different vehicles for long journeys to be light and comfortable.

Resilient frame

Gravel bike frames are usually heavier than a standard road bike. Larger mass for increased durability and resilience under rough pavement, even when you have the extra load on the frame bag for camping trips.

Manufacturers often use aluminum or carbon as the primary material to ensure high durability for the frame.

Aluminum is cheap, durable, and relatively light, but not as strong as carbon. Aluminum is only suitable as a frame material for low-cost gravel bikes.

On the other hand, carbon gets more attention and trust than aluminum. Carbon frames are usually lighter and more comfortable, and sturdier than aluminum frames.

Tire makes the difference

Tire makes the difference
Tire makes the difference

Large tires are a feature that sets a gravel bike apart from others. The defining characteristic of a gravel bike is the tire. The choice of tires will significantly affect your driving experience on different terrains.

The usual size of a tire gravel bike is about 40mm in width. Having a large volume allows you to move at less pressure, which makes you feel comfortable, requires less effort, and better grip on rough roads.

Tread patterns are also an outstanding element of this model. The tread pattern is designed to increase grip on looser surfaces. The amount of tread and the pattern’s shape will depend on the terrain conditions you want to experience.

For flat roads, having multiple threads is not necessary. However, with dirt roads or looser surfaces, thread patterns should have a denser design for increased friction and stability.

Wheels are designed for the use of tubeless tires. The tubeless tire will prevent the pressure in your wheel from dropping to a minimum when traveling. This tire is highly suitable for rough, rocky terrain due to its elasticity. Air leaking will never be your concern any more when you encounter obstacles.

The sealant will limit the air escaping during movement. If sharp spikes damage your tire, this sealant will serve as a seal to reduce the air’s evaporation.

Gearing is rarely limited

The choice of gear for any bike is up to personal preference. However, gearing in some bikes will have limitations. On the other hand, gravel bikes offer you a wealth of options for choosing the best gear.

A 46/30 gearbox at the front along with 11/34 will be perfect for those looking for mobility. You can glide fast on the road, whether it’s on steep terrain or touring.

If you’re aiming to do off-road riding, a lower set of gear is what you’ll need to conquer this complex terrain. Using small gear will be convenient to climb mountains and limit wheel slip. A compact 50 / 34t chain with wide bandwidth is needed.

If you plan on conquering steep terrain and require a lot of engineering, a micro-chain is perfect for helping you shift gears instead of a standard chain.

Single ring group sets (1x) are a simple yet effective option that many cyclists believe in when gravel riding.

With a 1x system, you eliminate the front derailleur and use only one chainring to minimize operating errors in the system. You get more range than the double chain set produces more significant shifts between the gears.

The rear derailleur fastens to the chainring to help keep the chain in place and run smoothly even under bumps.

Mounts for storage

Mounts for storage
Mounts for storage

Mount is an exciting feature of gravel bikes. Mounts allow you to attach frame bags, water bottles holders, or other accessories to your bike. Some gravel bikes also have mounted to integrate the fender for whatever season you want.

For long trips, water storage is essential. Gravel bike provides you not only one but up to three water bottles. In downtube also integrate bolts to keep tool keg. The top tube at the back of the stem also has mounts for you to bring your food bag with you if you plan on going on a long tour.

Besides, you can find mounts in many other locations to allow you to retrofit bottles or luggage. Some even have mounts for the dynamo light.

For more information about Mounts for storage, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Top 5 | Reasons You ONLY Need a Gravel Bike

The Differences Between Gravel Bike And Other Bike Types

Gravel bike vs road bike

The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Road Bike
The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Road Bike

Road bikes and gravel bikes have many similarities in appearance. In reality, they are very different in many aspects.

The road bike is also versatile, but road bikes focus mainly on tarmac-oriented terrain, as its name suggests. But this does not mean that endurance road bikes cannot run on gravel roads. However, you will soon realize the road bike’s stamina limits when you venture it on rough roads.

Gravel bikes, however, are designed to focus on crossing all roads, from gravel roads, forest roads, dirt roads, or even more difficult road surfaces.

Road bikes are created to focus on speed and endurance races. A road bike is designed to push the speed limit and immediate reflexes in sharp curves. The design of a road bike is usually light and minimizes air resistance to the extent possible. Some designs also create stable handling to give the rider superb comfort on cycling.

On the other hand, a gravel bike is designed to overcome many different types of terrain. Gravel bikes are created for adventure. You can ride the bike comfortably on long flat stretches and then change to a more rugged road surface without any problems.

The purpose of a gravel bike is durability, not focusing too much on speed. However, a gravel bike’s speed can still keep up with a gravel bike.

A road bike usually only has a few mounts for rack and fender. A gravel bike has more mounts than for storage. They typically have 2 to 3 large racks for bottles, mounts to store food and utensils, even luggage.

To focus on various terrain, gravel bike frames are often more rigidly reinforced to withstand the sudden topographic changes from flat road to rough road. That is why gravel bikes are often heavier. However, that extra mass makes it more stable.

For more information about Gravel bike vs road bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Gravel Bike vs Road Bike - What's The Difference? GCN's Epic Gravel Ride

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid Bike

The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Hybrid Bike
The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Hybrid Bike

The difference between gravel bikes and the hybrid bike comes from sophistication in design.

Gravel bike inherits the designs from the road bike and cyclocross bike. This bike is made for riding both on-road and off-road with maximum comfort and stability. A hybrid bike is a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike. The primary function of a hybrid bike is to commute.

In general, both of these vehicles are built to conquer all roads. The difference is that the hybrid focuses on flexible handling speed to conquer all kinds of terrain. Simultaneously, a gravel bike is prone to smooth and stable control.

Built to conquer multiple terrains, however, their riding features and capabilities give them advantages and disadvantages compared to each other in certain areas. Although they all inherit a road bike design, a gravel bike’s control ability on the road is superior to that of a hybrid bike.

A gravel bike is a line of a drop-bar bike at more comfortable control than a hybrid bike’s flat bar. However, people seem more sympathetic to hybrids as flat handlebars are more accessible to reach than drop bars.

Gravel bikes aim to ride comfort as well as to transform the terrain. The gravel bike is geared towards comfort and endurance most effectively from the frame’s design to the tire or gear. Hybrid bikes are designed to move between busy city roads or hills in towns quickly.

Hybrid bikes are designed towards processing speed, so their tires are usually thin to glide quickly. In contrast, a gravel bike has large tires with thread patterns to increase stability and adhesion on surfaces.

Bike design and grip position make a difference in speed and driving style. Gravel bike geometry tends to move forward in combination with drop bars to give the rider a bent position to minimize air resistance.

Hybrid bikes give the rider an upright posture thanks to flat handlebars that easily observe while traveling on busy roads. Their processing power and speed are also greatly improved as a result.

For more information about Hybrid Vs Road Bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Hybrid Vs Road Bike: 5 Key Differences You Need To Know | Cycling Weekly

Gravel bike vs Cyclocross bike

The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Cyclocross Bike
The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Cyclocross Bike

Gravel bike and cyclocross bike are two models that have many similarities. They are referred to as each other’s “cousins”. However, there are some points between them to set them apart.

In essence, the cyclocross bike is a dedicated bike for racing in cyclocross competitions. They are made for short, high speed, and intense races in aggressive terrain. Both are used to conquer complex terrain. But a gravel bike gives the rider more comfort.

For more information about difference between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: What Is The Difference Between A Cyclocross Bike And A Gravel Bike

The shorter cross-bike frame makes the rider feel more aggressive than a gravel bike. The carbon fork is also higher to facilitate jumps on steep terrain or obstacles such as rocks or big tree roots.

UCI regulations regulate the size of cyclocross tires to limit to suit the tournament. The maximum tire size is only 33mm, while gravel bikes are entirely free to choose tire size.

For more information about gravel bike vs cyclo-cross bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Gravel Bike Vs Cyclo-Cross Bike | What Really Is The Difference?

Gravel bike vs Adventure bike

The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Adventure Bike
The Differences Between Gravel Bike vs Adventure Bike

A majority of riders mistakenly think that a gravel bike is an adventure bike. They believe that those two are the same bike, but just another way to call it. But between them, there are subtle details that make the difference. The enhanced performance elements are key factors that make the difference when comparing the two models.

In terms of design, the gravel bike has a shape inherited from the combination of a cyclocross bike and a road bike.  Adventure bikes are more about the characteristics of a touring bike.

A gravel bike is usually lighter in weight than an adventure bike. Their frames are generally made from carbon and aluminum. It also has multiple mounts for extra storage for luggage and accessories.

Geometry is the critical factor that sets these two bikes apart. The longer wheelbase and headtube of the adventure bike make the rider feel more comfortable for the rider on longer trips.

For more information about gravel bike vs touring bike, let’s watch a helpful video on:

Watch video: Gravel Bike vs Touring Bike (Whats the REAL Difference?)

Conclusion

We can see how awesome a gravel bike is through the above post. A gravel bike is highly versatile and will be a great companion for you on all roads. Hopefully, the information I mentioned above will help you understand more about this wonderful bike.

FAQs

Which features make gravel bikes different?

A gravel bike is distinguished by its ability to conquer all terrain types. The bike design creates endurance, stability, and comfort when you switch terrain. The versatility of gravel bikes has made it a hot topic bike in recent years.

Can I use my gravel bike as a road bike?

You can, of course, use a gravel bike as a road bike. Although in terms of speed, a gravel bike may be a bit slower than a road bike, stability, and comfort when cycling is something that a gravel bike will give you when moving on a paved road.

Is a gravel bike easy to get dirty?

Don’t worry too much about your bike getting dirty when you ride it. A gravel bike is equipped with mud clearance to prevent dirt and mud when moving, even on muddy or wet surfaces.

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About Jim Felt

Jim Felt, a man with a genuine love of speed. A man who designed his very first triathlon frame for Johnny O’Mara – the star of Motorcross at “The O-Show” – then got big successes in 1990. In 1994, Felt incorporated with Answer Products to launch his brand, starting a 7-year relationship until 2000. In 2001, Jim Felt relaunched the Feltracing brand in conjunction with Michael Müllmann and Bill Duehring. Our product lines were then expanded into a full line of commuter bikes, cruisers, MTBs, MBX, even road and tri bikes. The total number of models were up to 140 distributed in 27 countries.