What is a gravel bike?

What is a gravel bike?

Halfway between a road bike and a mountain bike, the gravel bike first appeared in the 2010s in the United States, where minor roads aren't always tarmacked. These stunning gravel trails are a great way for cyclists to avoid the often-dangerous main roads and make the most of the great outdoors.

When do you use a gravel bike? what's it for?

There are currently almost as many definitions of gravel riding as there are gravel riders, but most would agree on the fact that gravel riding is a more relaxed style of cycling, without clubs and federations, and with fewer rules. The bikes' versatility means they're equally at home going down cute country lanes as they are on gravel trails, dirt tracks and byways. It's therefore a much more fun, varied sport that's super enjoyable no matter how experienced you are.

It has a road bike in its DNA, so the idea of speed is important, as well as being lightweight. But you can use it on plenty more types of terrains from cobbled stones, in the mud, on trails, forest paths...

What is a gravel bike?

So what exactly is a gravel bike?

A gravel bike is a bike with the same geometry as a road bike, but whose components make it tougher and more versatile. The tyres are wider and knobby, the handlebar is flared to make it easier to steer, and it has disc brakes so it's more effective in muddy conditions. Ideally, the gravel bike's gear ratio will be such that you can spin more.

While gravel bikes were originally completely rigid, several brands have started installing saddle and fork suspension to cushion bumps.

What gravel bike should you start out with?

If you don't want to invest in a gravel bike straight away, you can already make a few modifications to your road bike as Max explains in this tip. Afterwards, the best gravel bike for a beginner is the one suitable for how you ride a bike. Ask yourself a few questions to find out which one:
What is your budget?
On what terrain do you go cycling? If, for example, you are in the mountains, don't forget you need a suitable gear ratio. If you live in an area with wet conditions, opt for more knobbly tyres. Your choice of bike will differ depending on the terrain.
How often do you go riding?
What do you want to do with this bike? Racing or cyclo-cross? It's preferable to go with a carbon bike in the Van Rysel range. Long distance cycling?. Select a titanium bike from Triban. Going touring for the day? A GRVL520 or GRVL120 will really fit the bill!

What is the difference between gravel and hybrid bikes?

An excellent question! We are often asked: but isn't a gravel bike the same thing as a hybrid bike? No, not exactly. The riding position on a gravel bike is closer to a road bike or a racing bike: a slightly more inclined position, while the hybrid bike has a more raised position, closer to that of a city bike. The gravel bike is also generally lighter, which makes it a more dynamic and efficient bike.

Generally speaking, gravel bikes are fitted with flared drop handlebars, like on road bikes; while hybrid bikes have flat bar handlebars like on mountain bikes. And lastly, hybrid bikes are more generally equipped with pannier racks and accessories.

What is a gravel bike?

Where does bikepacking come into all this?

Bikepacking is a portmanteau of the words bike and backpacking. So bikepacking means travelling with bags fixed to your bike. That's why it differs slightly from bike touring: you don't need a pannier rack, so it's much lighter and more minimalist.

Bikepacking can therefore be done on- or off-road, though in reality gravel bikes lend themselves a bit more to this lighter way of travelling.

What is a gravel bike?

Why do we love it?

At Triban, we love gravel biking because it's great fun and can be done by absolutely anyone. The advantage of gravel riding is that it lets you go off-road - and therefore escape heavy traffic - and needs less technical skill than mountain biking.
Gravel riding gets you off the beaten track, gives you access to the great outdoors, and lets you explore wherever you want!

What is a gravel bike?


Author of "On your bike: the women's guide to cycling" and "Practical bikes", bike tourist, lover of little gravel tracks, and massive fan of nights spent under the stars.


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