What is a gravel bike ?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
greyingbeard
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What is a gravel bike ?

Postby greyingbeard » 28 Aug 2020, 8:33pm

Is it a fancy tourer ? Is it an mtb with drops ? is it 2 bikes in one ? Seems to be about the price of 2 normal bikes.
What isnt it ?

I dont get the "thru axel" either. I'm sure Axel would object to some tube being stuffed thru him.

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speedsixdave
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Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby speedsixdave » 28 Aug 2020, 9:23pm

Well it's not a proper tourer unless you're careful. My mate has bought a Merida gravel bike with the Shimano GRX 1x11 groupset and though the electronic gears and hydraulic discs are lovely, you're limited (by Shimano) to a 24.9" bottom gear on 40-584 ('27.5in'/650b) wheels which is not a suitable bottom gear for a loaded tourer in hilly terrain. As my friend will discover the hard way in a fortnight's time in north Wales.

A classic 1990s rigid mountain bike with a triple chainring has the potential to be a more suitable touring bike, and is just as versatile.And for about a quarter of the price. Discuss.
Big wheels good, small wheels better.
Two saddles best!

Brucey
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby Brucey » 28 Aug 2020, 9:38pm

'gravel bike'; (n) a bicycle, made of gravel
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beagle
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby beagle » 28 Aug 2020, 10:04pm

Brucey wrote:'gravel bike'; (n) a bicycle, made of gravel


:lol:

PH
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby PH » 28 Aug 2020, 11:28pm

I don't think it's changed since the last time it was discussed, or the time before that, or the time before that.
It's a way of getting more sensible bikes and components into the mainstream, really what's not to like?
And every bike is a tourer if you want it to be.

scottg
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Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby scottg » 28 Aug 2020, 11:37pm

If you live in the States, and roads look like this,
you get bike that look like this.
Google "Guitar Ted".

b road.JPG


HEADER RG.JPG
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Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG
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peetee
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby peetee » 29 Aug 2020, 9:30am

Scottg’s 2nd picture looks like the vast majority of bridleways in Wessex and my 1990 mountain bike is more than capable of handling that at any speed. Why you would need hydraulic disc brakes for that sort of terrain is beyond me.
What is a gravel bike? Well, first and foremost it’s a term used to describe a range of bikes that fill the gap between modern mountain bikes and road bikes. A gap that wasn’t there 20+ years ago. Now mountain bikes are hugely over-engineered for the capability of and terrain used by most owners, dripping with downhill competition tech they are, effectively, engine-less motocross bikes.
As to whether they do the job better than another bike, well, any off-road ride that I do is divisible into repeated sections that would suit one style of bike over another and I quite often wonder if I might have been better off on ‘the other bike’ but it doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed the ride.
Last edited by peetee on 29 Aug 2020, 9:50am, edited 2 times in total.
Winter had arrived in the land of Kernow. Along with it came wet roads and cool winds.
“Oh, my wheels and coupling rods!” Peetee exclaimed.

pwa
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby pwa » 29 Aug 2020, 9:40am

A "gravel bike", as I imagine it, is a drop barred disc braked bike, fairly lightly built, that has some of the on-road pep of a road bike, but, with the potentially wider tyres also happy on gravel roads. I can imagine a lot of people having a use for a bike like that. What's not to like?

tatanab
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby tatanab » 29 Aug 2020, 9:50am

peetee wrote:it’s a term used to describe a range of bikes that fill the gap between modern mountain bikes and road bikes.
Where does a CX (cyclocross) bike fit in?

pwa
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby pwa » 29 Aug 2020, 9:56am

tatanab wrote:
peetee wrote:it’s a term used to describe a range of bikes that fill the gap between modern mountain bikes and road bikes.
Where does a CX (cyclocross) bike fit in?

Perhaps the "gravel bike" is the modern replacement for the CX, except (usually) without the shoulder friendliness.

peetee
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby peetee » 29 Aug 2020, 10:00am

tatanab wrote:
peetee wrote:it’s a term used to describe a range of bikes that fill the gap between modern mountain bikes and road bikes.
Where does a CX (cyclocross) bike fit in?


Cyclocross bikes were a niche in terms of mainstream marketing. It was rare to find them occupying shop floor space. From the outset they were relatively fragile machines based on road bike tubing. Careful riders with a good dollup of skill and experience could get good service life out of them but offering such a specification to the general public as an off-road bike would be fraught with problems. The advent of carbon-fibre has allowed bikes to be designed that can be strong and lightweight.
Winter had arrived in the land of Kernow. Along with it came wet roads and cool winds.
“Oh, my wheels and coupling rods!” Peetee exclaimed.

PH
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby PH » 29 Aug 2020, 10:12am

tatanab wrote:
peetee wrote:it’s a term used to describe a range of bikes that fill the gap between modern mountain bikes and road bikes.
Where does a CX (cyclocross) bike fit in?

A proper CX bike? Less race orientated geometry, bottle bosses, guard and rack fittings, wider tyres.
Or the faux type? Probably not that much, it's an evolution on the same theme. Disc brakes have been the real game changer, not in themselves, but for the ability to run wider tyres without resorting to the disliked canti brakes.
But what's in a name? If the bike suites someone's riding, why would anyone care what it's called? This is hardly anything new, for a long time the MTB was the most popular bike type, and with good reason, yet very few went mountain biking on them.

PH
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby PH » 29 Aug 2020, 10:16am

greyingbeard wrote:Seems to be about the price of 2 normal bikes.

I'm sure this isn't true, they seem to be available at all price points. And what's a normal bike?

tatanab
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby tatanab » 29 Aug 2020, 10:18am

peetee wrote:Cyclocross bikes were a niche in terms of mainstream marketing. It was rare to find them occupying shop floor space. From the outset they were relatively fragile machines based on road bike tubing. Careful riders with a good dollup of skill and experience could get good service life out of them but offering such a specification to the general public as an off-road bike would be fraught with problems. The advent of carbon-fibre has allowed bikes to be designed that can be strong and lightweight.
The question was sort of rhetorical. I would agree about comparatively fragile in the days when a CX bike was for riding cyclocross - a decade or two or more ago. In more recent years the term CX was sold to the public before the gravel niche came along, and there have been threads about "do I need a CX bike or will my other bike work for a commute on a bridleway". I think, only an opinion, that gravel bikes are CX bikes with fat tyres.

Brucey
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Re: What is a gravel bike ?

Postby Brucey » 29 Aug 2020, 10:19am

also, genuine CX bikes are designed to accept UCI-mandated tyre sizes; any more clearance that that is just to provide mud clearance, so if you can fit tyres about 40mm (say) or larger to a real CX bike it should be considered a bonus. For a while many manufacturers offered something they called a CX bike but it was usually far removed from the real thing; I called them 'fauCX' bikes. They were usually more like a touring bike with slightly lighter build, steeper angles etc, road-ish gearing (some with triple chainsets) and most of them had fittings for mudguards and even racks; great for practicality but it betrayed their true purpose, being a useful allrounder rather than a true CX (race) machine.

Gravel bikes are arguably a similar type of machine to fauCX , but with scope for fatter tyres, and default disc brakes. Unlike fauCX, a gravel bike doesn't hide its load-carrying pretensions. A gravel bike is arguably someone in a marketing department's best effort at making a 'trendy' light touring bike, but with offroad pretensions.

cheers
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