Where is all that gravel?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Garry Booth
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Where is all that gravel?

Postby Garry Booth » 13 Jan 2019, 10:18am

I keep seeing adverts for, and reviews of, so-called gravel bikes. But where is all this gravel, apart from the drives of suburban houses? My drive isn't long enough to justify a bike especially for the job. Though there is a gravel bike favourably reviewed in the Guardian, priced at over £5k. I suppose if you can afford a house with a very long gravel drive then a £5k carbon bike is neither here nor there.

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cycleruk
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby cycleruk » 13 Jan 2019, 10:46am

Most of our local roads are turning into gravel. :x :wink:
Just another marketing ploy.
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Paulatic
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby Paulatic » 13 Jan 2019, 10:59am

I can ride for miles and miles on gravel in my area. Forestry roads, windmill roads, farm roads and similar to Cycler our smaller lanes are totally neglected and reverting to pot holed gravel tracks.
I ride them on a 93 Orange Clockwork If ever it breaks then I’ll be in the market for a 'gravel bike'.
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Mick F
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby Mick F » 13 Jan 2019, 11:15am

More mud here rather than gravel.
Can you buy a Mud Bike? :wink:
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peetee
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby peetee » 13 Jan 2019, 11:25am

Ever looked at the bottom of a pothole? The way road repairs are going in a few years all these things will join up and road bikes will be obsolete.

But seriously folks, take a trip down to the New Forest. Anything off-road there is ideal for gravel bikes. Hard packed gravel fire roads and sandy heath abound. MTB's are generally over engineered for that sort of terrain.
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thelawnet
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby thelawnet » 13 Jan 2019, 11:41am

Canada? Australia?

Not in the UK particularly (just by the raw stats, we don't have much of an 'unmade road' network).

AFAICT you have:

* MTB. Intended for rough tracks with rocks & holes & drops, technical terrain. 2"+ tyres, flat, wide bars, suspension

* 'Road bike'. Intended for smooth tarmac. ~1" tyres, fast & not necessarily comfortable. No suspension.

* Cyclocross bike. Intended for smooth tarmac & grass or mud. ~1.2" tyres. No mudguards, no luggage. No suspension.

* Gravel bike. Previously known as a 'touring bike'. Takes mudguards, luggage, but possibly in 'frame bags' rather than panniers. Wide tyres, no suspension, it will be hopeless at your local MTB trail; it's intended for, er, 'touring' but that sounds hopelessly outdated & fuddy-duddy (see also title change of this forum) so it's now called 'gravel', 'adventure' or 'bikepacking'. Good on all sorts of roads/long-distance trails, but not as fast as a 'road bike' on smooth tarmac. Can do 'cyclocross'-type activities but not intended for racing, it's intended for relaxed touring.

Gravel road (Canada), made at a lower cost per km than a surfaced road but maintained according to a standard. Good for gravel bike:

Image

Broken road Indonesia - not maintained at all. MTB with suspension will be better:

Image


Basically there isn't particularly much gravel in the UK - what there is a desperate need to sell people new bikes, so a bike concept is being pushed to get people to buy.

Cours
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby Cours » 13 Jan 2019, 11:55am

Gravel bike, BMX, Chopper, City bike, Tri bike, Mointain Bike.. The industry has been reinventing cycling for 100 years+. Nothing new here.

Brucey
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby Brucey » 13 Jan 2019, 12:17pm

would I buy a 'gravel bike'? Probably not, for the reasons cited above; I already have bikes which do as much offroading as I usually want to do.

However in some parts of the country there are enough farm tracks, bridleways forestry commission roads etc that having a bike that will handle some mild offroading can be a very handy thing. If you live in the same neighbourhood for years and usually ride a road bike, you can find yourself repeatedly passing junctions to rough tracks and becoming curious as to what lies down them. Anything with a little 'rough stuff' potential allows you to break up a routine road ride and explore/use these smaller byways.

It is of course all a compromise; in essence the fatter tyres you have, the faster/easier it is offroad, and the slower it is onroad. However the penalty for fatter tyres onroad is smaller than that of having skinny tyres offroad so it doesn't take much offroad in a route to skew the choice towards fatter tyres. I have done such 'mixed' rides using tyres which vary from about 1-1/8" (28mm) to about 2" (51mm). When I'm in the mood (usually in summer when offroad conditions are fairly benign) I might do a ride of 50-100 miles and between ten and fifty percent of that might be offroad.

BTW one of the good things about such a mixed route is that, often, if you don't feel like a long ride after all, you can shorten the route either by using faster roads or offroad short cuts. A good wheeze on a windy day is to ride mostly offroad against the wind, and then to ride back on good roads with the wind on your back; it can feel like flying on the way home!

cheers
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531colin
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby 531colin » 13 Jan 2019, 12:33pm

^^^Sounds like CTC day rides in the sixties.
Or Roughstuff Fellowship.
Of course, anything remotely associated with "touring" is hopelessly old fashioned, no way to sell bikes.

reohn2
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby reohn2 » 13 Jan 2019, 12:35pm

TBH the main plus with a "gravel" bike is increased tyre clearances,upto 50mm on some,and what with the state of UK roads becoming rougher seemingly by the week,such bikes can be a very good overall choice buy IMO,though I prefer the term "allroad" bike.
I pity those cyclists whose bikes limit tyre size choice to say 28mm max(which more often than not actually measure 25 or 26mm),I know some folk on here will dispute such a claim but I'll stand by it.

It's almost ten years since I discovered the pleasure of big supple tyres that eat up the UK's bad roads,roads which have worsened considerably since.Most touring bikes tick all the boxes an allroad bike does but even some of those,as do some "gravel" bikes,have limited clearances to really be classed as all road bikes,yes some people will ride gravel and rough stuff on 28mm(actual sized)tyres but they're limiting themselves,37mm as a minimum for an all road bike is a better consideration,and for me at least with 20mm minimum mudguard clearance included.
That kind of bike opens up a lot of forest roads,tracks,bridleways,towpaths,etc that can be ridden comfortably at speed,that limits a raft of bikes other than MTB's(which can be a literal drag on crapmac*)
Whilst "gravel bike" maybe the new black from a marketeer's POV,don't right them off as a pure marketing gimmick the right one kitted out with the right tyres and decent mudguards is gold dust IMO.

*crapmac is my term for UK tarmacked roads
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reohn2
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby reohn2 » 13 Jan 2019, 12:55pm

Brucey wrote:........It is of course all a compromise; in essence the fatter tyres you have, the faster/easier it is offroad, and the slower it is onroad.

Whilst that's true it's a very small truth,my tests over a 70mile all tarmac loop ridden a few times,have proven that whilst the bigger tyres were slower it was only approaching 1mph,and that was on a bike weighing 12.5kg on 37mm supple tyres,compared to 10.5kg bike on 28's.
The big plus was the absence of fatigue on the fat tyre bike

However the penalty for fatter tyres onroad is smaller than that of having skinny tyres offroad so it doesn't take much offroad in a route to skew the choice towards fatter tyres. I have done such 'mixed' rides using tyres which vary from about 1-1/8" (28mm) to about 2" (51mm). When I'm in the mood (usually in summer when offroad conditions are fairly benign) I might do a ride of 50-100 miles and between ten and fifty percent of that might be offroad.

BTW one of the good things about such a mixed route is that, often, if you don't feel like a long ride after all, you can shorten the route either by using faster roads or offroad short cuts. A good wheeze on a windy day is to ride mostly offroad against the wind, and then to ride back on good roads with the wind on your back; it can feel like flying on the way home!

cheers

My pleasure of offroad riding is the absence of motor traffic,(which is an increasing hinderance in these parts)the pleasure of the countryside and the more technical challenge that offroad riding offers,especially on a rigid dropbarred machine.
I'm finding my recently built Gensis Vagabond on 2inch Conti RaceKings an absolute pleasure on such rides,it can be ridden almost anywhere and isn't too slow on crapmac :)
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mattsccm
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby mattsccm » 13 Jan 2019, 1:20pm

Plenty of gravel here in the Forest of Dean. Just got back from a 40 odd mile ride with just a few road crossings for the tarmac. Could do lots more with some minor road rides. All FC stuff so I could have managed it on my disc wheeled TT bike.

I prefer a CX bike. I can't fit a 40mm rear tyre but 35 is fine and its a bit more lively that the modern batch of long and low gravel bikes. I treat the gravel like roads with no cars and less potholes.

whoof
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby whoof » 13 Jan 2019, 1:51pm

Garry Booth wrote:I keep seeing adverts for, and reviews of, so-called gravel bikes. But where is all this gravel.

Where are all the mountains that mountain bike owners in Southern England are riding up and down?

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Mick F
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby Mick F » 13 Jan 2019, 1:55pm

:lol: :lol:

Mountain Bike is a US term, and we have All Terrain Bicycles. Makes more sense I think.

MTB vs ATB and MTB has won out, sadly.
Mick F. Cornwall

whoof
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Re: Where is all that gravel?

Postby whoof » 13 Jan 2019, 1:58pm

Mick F wrote::lol: :lol:

Mountain Bike is a US term, and we have All Terrain Bicycles. Makes more sense I think.

MTB vs ATB and MTB has won out, sadly.

Gravel bike is also a US term.