One of the most interesting developments of the past years in the world of cycling has been the launch of the gravel bike by the biggest brands. The gravel bike is a road bike that has been modified to be able to not only tackle the tarmac, but also unpaved roads, dirt tracks, and all those other roads normally only accessible to the mtb. Guendalina Dal Pozzo, Sales Manager with 3T Cycling, will tell us more about this world
The gravel bike? Nothing new actually, it is kind of a re-discovery. The passion for gravel bikes started in the USA. This new bike category was initially proposed by small brands and over time also by the larger ones.
But what makes it so interesting?
First of all, surely the fact that cycling is becoming less of a trend and more of a passion destined to last.
Secondly, the option to go from the streets to unpaved roads without being afraid to have to turn back home because of a broken bike.
Thirdly (although not in order of importance!), the fact that it allows you to cycle safely without having to worry about traffic and related risks.
I am sure that these three aspects, more than anything, make the “gravel phenomena” a phenomena destined to take hold and last over time.
So, what is a Gravel?
I would say “the soul and hart of cycling”. A step back in time, a sort or return to the roots. A gravel frame is a road bike frame (aerodynamic) but with a tire clearance that allows larger tires and knobbed tires to be mounted. It has internal cable routing and disc brakes for the perfect brake on any type of terrain.
In general, gravel bikes put the cyclists in a more upright position and are less aerodynamic than road bikes. As a matter of fact, the goal is to allow for longer trips on mixed terrain in complete comfort. As such, it loses a bit of reactivity and agility but gains in stability and affability.
Also, the positioning of the handlebars is more relaxing and provides better control in case of very technical terrain.
The frame is, in general, less extreme and aggressive in its geometry with respect to a road bike. It has longer rear stays and a wider seat post angle.
Gravel bikes also have a tire clearance that varies between 28 and 40, and for some models up to 50mm. This allows the buyer of a gravel bike to own one bike and simply change the wheels and tires in function of the intended use and the type of terrain that will be confronted.
Other features that are not to be underestimated are the skewers and the disc brakes. Also, the drop is higher so that you do not have to worry too much about rough terrain.
Concluding, the gravel bike is certainly part of the past as for the sophistication of its elements, as it is part of the future with its new concept of cycling. With only one frame you have the possibility to have an extremely adaptable and versatile bike, perfect for unpaved roads, dirt roads and the tarmac. Willingly, you could also mount suspension forks to have a bit more comfort when leaving the beaten track. These are frames that are compatible with the assembly of travel bags and as such are ideal for true riding journeys.
In our company, we have made a strategic choice with the Exploro to enter the gravel market, because we are convinced it is the future of cycling. Our bike is a product rich with technology and knowhow. The monocoque frame is made of carbon fiber and has a 50mm down tube that allows the air to be diverted from the profile of the water bottles, while the saddle tube is 25mm. Other features are the low rear stays, which have an asymmetrical design to allow the use of 700c tires, as well as 650b MTB tires with a section up to 2.1", with the same blockage. Other brands that, like 3T, have decided to bet on the gravel bike, are Open with its UP, Bianchi with its Allroad, Cannondale with its Slate and Canyon with the Infinte.
In short, start looking around you, because in no time you will be surrounded by this new and very special bike. I can assure you that cycling trend will last.
Guendalina Dal Pozzo D’Annone
A triathlete since 3 years and an Ironman finisher. Her passion for cycling has grown since she started working for 3T as Sales Manager.