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What are gravel bikes?
So I guess you have to ask the question… What are gravel bikes? Gravel bikes are somewhere between a road bike and a cyclocross bike. They are not quite as racey as a cyclocross bike but can tackle more mud, rough terrain than a road bike.
There are some stand out differences of a gravel bike which make it good for the job it was intended for.
Essentially gravel bikes can mean absolutely anything really. Just because you are thinking of buying a gravel bike or already have one doesn’t mean you actually have to use it for gravel rides. This bike can be used simply as a winter bike if you are looking for a more comfortable road horse on the road. A lot of people now choose this type of bike simply because the UK roads are quite unpredictable, with more and more grit, mud, pothole and salt on the roads this can actually be a really good choice for you winter hack.
So what kind of kit makes up a gravel bike.
Disc brakes – more often than not you will find disc brakes on a gravel bike, simply because stopping power can be more useful when going down steeper off-road/gravel section which helps to keep the bike more stable under these conditions. You wouldn’t want your brake choice to stop you from descending the most awesome track through the local forest would you?
Wider tyres – this is a no brainer really. Wider tyres mean more grip because of the lower psi, this means the contact point on the surface area is greater. On the uneven surfaces, this gives you the ability to run knobbly tyres to give you that much needed extra grip on the canal towpaths and gravel roads. Not to mention how much more comfortable the ride will be.
More clearance – the clearance around the rear stay and the front forks are essential for mud clearance if you so happen to come across muddy sections on your multi terrain ride.
Longer wheelbase - this helps to keep the bike stable in rougher conditions and also helps the handling of the bike across unstable terrain.
Slacker head angle. – this is to again make the bike easier to handle on the off-road surfaces. Making it less sharp and twitchy to handle than a cyclocross race bike meaning it makes it less responsive but more comfortable to ride. Especially if your gravel rides take you over longer distances.
Wider bars – this helps you to control the bike a little easier when descending or riding through slippery mud. It aids in keeping the bike in a straight line and gives you the ability to maneuverer the bike a bit more easier.