Gravel bike: what is this discipline and how to choose the best bicycle

27 November 2023

If you are passionate about cycling and are looking for adventures beyond the asphalt, you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we will offer you valuable advice on how to choose the best gravel bike to suit your needs and preferences.

Let’s get started!

What is the gravel discipline?

The gravel discipline is a form of cycling that involves riding on gravel, dirt and mixed terrain roads .

Gravel bikes are versatile, suitable for unpaved roads and more scenic routes .

This discipline combines adventure, exploration and cycling on different surfaces.

Key aspects when choosing a gravel bike

When selecting a gravel bike, there are several key aspects to consider:

  • Frame material: Choose options such as carbon, aluminum and steel. Carbon is light and stiff, aluminum offers a good price/performance ratio, and steel is durable and offers a comfortable ride.
  • Forks: Front forks absorb shocks and affect comfort and control. You can even, but less commonly, opt for forks with damping to suit the varied terrain of gravel.
  • Wheels: Consider the diameter of the wheels (700c or 650b), the width of the tire should be wide for traction and comfort, and the tire tread should be more aggressive with larger lugs for rough terrain.
  • Drivetrain: Choose between a single or double chainring drivetrain at the front. A single chainring is simpler and often sufficient for gravel riding, while two chainrings offer a wider range of speeds.
  • Brake types: Disc brakes are the norm in gravel because of their stopping power and consistent performance in varying conditions.
  • Bike size: When purchasing a gravel bike, it is important to consider the size of the bike. Although their geometry varies from road bikes, the sizing pattern is similar.

Types of gravel bikes according to their use

There are several types of gravel bikes, each designed to suit different uses and preferences. Here are some of the most common types along with their key characteristics:

  • Traditional Gravel Bikes: These bikes are versatile and are well suited to a variety of terrains. They have a balanced geometry that combines comfort and performance.
  • Flat Handlebar Gravel Bikes: Designed with flat handlebars similar to those of a mountain bike, these bikes provide greater control on technical terrain. They are ideal for cyclists who prefer a more upright posture and want to face challenges beyond traditional roads.
  • Gravel Racing Bikes: These bikes are designed for gravel racing. They have more aggressive geometry, lighter frames and aerodynamic features to maximize speed in mixed terrain.
  • Gravel Monster Bikes: With extra wide tires and robust geometry, these bikes are made to tackle extremely difficult terrain, such as sand, snow and deep mud. They are ideal for cyclists seeking more extreme off-road adventures.
  • Suspension Gravel Bikes: Equipped with front suspension or even dual suspension, these bikes provide greater comfort and control on uneven terrain. They are ideal for more technical and rugged routes where shock absorption is crucial.
  • Bikepacking Gravel Bikes: Designed to carry camping gear and cargo, these bikes are ideal for long-distance adventures. They have mounting points for saddlebags and bags, allowing you to carry everything you need for long trips.

Gravel bike: what is this discipline and how to choose the best bicycle

Is it a good idea to buy an electric gravel bike?

Buying an electric gravel bike can be an excellent idea, depending on your needs and preferences. Here are some considerations to help you decide if it is the right choice for you:

  • Pedal assist: This can be especially beneficial on steep or difficult terrain, where electric assist allows you to tackle more challenging routes with less effort.
  • Longer range: If you’re interested in riding longer distances or venturing out on routes that might be too strenuous on a conventional bike, an electric gravel bike allows you to cover more ground without exhausting yourself.
  • Versatility: Like traditional gravel bikes, electric bikes are versatile and suitable for a variety of terrains. You can explore gravel roads, back roads and trails without worrying too much about the difficulty of the terrain.
  • Adaptability: An electric gravel bike can be especially useful for riders looking to maintain a steady pace in a group or for those who want to enjoy cycling without arriving exhausted at their destination.

We hope this guide has cleared up your doubts and helped you choose your perfect gravel bike.

With your new adventure companion, you will be ready to conquer diverse terrain and discover exciting places.

So, get on your bike and start riding towards new adventures!

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