Why get into gravel riding?

Why get into gravel riding?

Gravel is the latest trend that everyone's talking about. But why? What are the benefits of this kind of cycling?

1/ What is gravel riding?

Gravel riding is all about adventure. It involves riding roads and trails on a very versatile bike that's somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike. Gravel riding is great fun whether you want to speed along fast tracks, head off in search of adventure or wind your way down the twistiest paths. It's a fun activity that anyone can do!

To find out more, take a look at this article:

2/ What are the benefits of gravel riding?

Gravel bikes go anywhere

It may look like a road bike, but a gravel bike is equally at home on tarmac as it is on gravel tracks. Gravel bikes are comfortable and durable, letting you ride wherever you fancy. Picture the scene: you're riding down a road and you spot a path winding off into the forest or through a field. With a gravel bike, you're all set to go exploring!

There are several models available depending on your riding style and preferences. First up, there are beginners' models that you can use to ride anywhere without breaking the bank. Then there are special models for fast terrain that have more road-style drivetrains and tyres, while still performing well on rocky trails. If you're more into weaving your way along twisting trails, you'll find models with a single chainring and slightly smaller wheels that make technical sections easier to negotiate.

Why get into gravel riding?

The gravel bike that you choose will mainly depend on the type of riding you do and your budget. However, if you already have a road bike and don't want to invest in a gravel bike, you could always set up your road bike for gravel riding.

Depending on what you feel like at the time and the terrain you're planning on riding, you might want to change the tyres for ones with a different width. This is because wider tyres give you better grip on trails, while thinner ones are best for road cycling because they offer less rolling resistance.

You can also equip your gravel bike with pannier racks and bags to go bikepacking. The frame will have mounts for this exact purpose, giving you the perfect excuse to discover gravel riding in a whole new way!

Gravel riding means adventure

It's one of the main benefits of gravel riding: going off on adventures and getting away from it all! It could be a ride lasting just a few hours, or an all-day or even multi-day bikepacking journey. You're spoiled for choice when it comes to route options, you can fully take in your surroundings, you can forget about roads, cars and performance, and you can concentrate on exploring new horizons and enjoying the thrill of your ride!

Gravel riding is a state of mind

Gravel is also a state of mind: racking up the miles in a more relaxed outfit that looks less like standard "cycling kit", stopping whenever you feel like it for a sweet treat at a local cafe in some rural village...

It's also a very sociable sport. Loads of gravel riding groups have sprung up on social media to share tips and ideas about which equipment to choose, how to turn a road bike into a gravel bike, where the best routes are, etc. It's a vibrant community that's always happy to connect with like-minded people.

More and more gravel events are popping up all over the place, bringing gravel riders together in stunning surroundings. From time trials to gravel trail rides, they're a great way to explore new routes and meet other enthusiasts. One such event is the Badlands gravel ride through the Spanish desert, which Triban ambassador Adrienne tells us all about:

Why get into gravel riding?

3/ Gravel bikes: how are they different?

They're often described as being like road bikes but with bigger tyres, like cyclocross bikes, or even like mountain bikes but with thinner tyres. So what is it that actually makes gravel bikes different from their brothers and sisters?


Mountain bikes are designed for riding in forests and mountains on steep paths or small singletracks. They're therefore very easy to handle and very stable on rougher terrain. They have a flat handlebar and very wide tyres to grip gravel trails, whether you're going up or downhill. They also have suspension to cushion impacts.
On the other hand, the geometry of gravel bikes is more like that of road bikes, with an aerodynamic position to favour speed. They don't have suspension and the tyres are narrower than mountain bike ones, which makes you more efficient on roads while still helping you take on gravel trails Last but not least, gravel bikes are generally equipped with disc brakes for powerful braking on any terrain, including muddy ground.
Unlike mountain bikes, gravel bikes are more comfortable on long, fast rides.

Road bikes are designed for speed on smooth roads. They have an aerodynamic frame and narrow tyres, they're light, and they favour performance.
Though they may look like road bikes, gravel bikes have a wider, more flared handlebar to help with control and stability. The frame is higher and it has a larger travel so that you can mount tyres of different sizes, including fat ones with big lugs. The drivetrain has been designed for rough ground, with smaller increments between gears. All of these things help gravel bikes go anywhere, unlike a road bike, and keep you comfortable without sacrificing speed.

Cyclocross is a cycling discipline that's mainly done in autumn and winter on circuits with both trails and paved surfaces. These circuits tend to be short and intense, with the aim being to go as fast as possible. The routes are technical and feature obstacles, meaning that you sometimes have to get off and carry your bike. Cyclocross bikes therefore have to be light like road bikes, stiff to maximise pedalling power, and responsive.
Gravel bikes are more versatile, comfortable and robust. They're still designed for roads and trails, but they're also intended for long distances.
Find out more: What's the difference between gravel riding and cyclocross?

Hybrid bikes are used for rides on paved roads and paths, whether close to home or further afield on multi-day trips. These bikes are stable and sturdy, with a very comfortable riding position: your chest is more upright, unlike on a gravel bike, where you're in a more aero position.
Gravel riding is a bit more active, whether it's a case of riding at speed on fast trails, or exploring steeper routes.

Gravel is all about freedom, fun, adventure, and sharing the experience with others. It's easy to understand why this new style of riding has hooked so many people. But watch out: once you've tried it, it's hard to stop!

Why get into gravel riding?


I'm a keen dancer and triathlete. When I discovered gravel riding, I instantly fell in love! It's so much more than a sport; it's a state of mind that fits me to a T. Every ride is an adventure, exploring new horizons and sharing the experience with other like-minded people.

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