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Simplicity of Gravel rides

Simplicity of Gravel rides

Want to keep it simple? Buy a gravel bike and go for a ride.

Simplicity of Gravel rides 

  Why a gravel bike? What is a gravel bike? I get the question all the time. Gravel riding is just that, riding a bike on gravel roads. Do you need a gravel bike to ride on gravel roads; no but there is a difference between an actual gravel bike and a mountain bike or a hybrid or a road bike.  This is starting to get complicated I know, but there is a simplicity to gravel riding and the Gravel genre. 


  First, don’t over think it too much. A gravel bike is a road bike with wider tires. Yes, there is more to it than that, but wider tire clearance is what makes the most difference. Mountain bikes have 55mm tires or more and road bikes have 25-28mm tires. Gravel bikes have 38mm-45mm tire clearance. A good middle ground for riding gravel roads, hi-way and even some dirt single track, in some cases all in the same ride. More on that later. 


  The wider gravel tires allow lower pressure, which can aid in both grip and comfort but still give good rolling efficiency. Why not just ride my mountain bike you ask? The gravel bike with 42mm tires will be more efficient. Your mountain bike is well suited for roots and rocks but not as efficient as a gravel bike on gravel roads. Think of it this way, if you raced yourself on a gravel road 40 Km long, the gravel bike would win by close to 30 min. You would not work as hard and as a result would have more energy to push harder. The gravel bike with narrower tires would not be as comfortable (relatively speaking) but would cover ground easily while also able to tackle small obstacles and loose gravel at speed.   


   Now where is this “simplicity” you ask? Here’s the thing, grab your gravel bike and go for a ride. Ride to work on the bike paths, ride the Hi-way for a 40km and then head back home. Kids want to go for a ride, grab the gavel bike and go to the park. Want to go with friends and ride an epic gravel ride for 110 km, you are good to go. Get home from work and feel drained, grab your bike and go for a 30-minute ride. You will feel great and ready to tackle dinner and everything else life throws at you. 


  Wear shorts and a T-shirt or go full on spandex. It doesn’t matter and there doesn’t seem to be any rules like there are in road cycling or even mountain biking. If I am riding over 40kms I generally wear bib shorts and a tighter fitting top with pockets in the back, otherwise just shorts and a t-shirt works well. I use my gavel bike for most of my riding. I ride to work and then on the way home I take the long route to get my fitness in. Sometimes I just grab the bike and ride for an hour in town. Make it simple, grab and go. 


  Gravel bikes are the one bike for commuting, fitness rides and epic gravel rides you will remember for the rest of your life.  


  1. Matt Matt

    Great article! I get asked “what is a gravel bike” a lot and this is a perfect summary. I love the versatility of gravel bikes.

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