Keep this in mind when purchasing a new Gravel bike
You want to buy a Gravel-Bike or learn more about Gravel? You wonder if Gravel-Biking is just an entertaining fad or already an established way of cycling?
There are many myths surrounding the topic of Gravel, there are numerous events and rides and every year new Gravel-Bikes are launched on the market. But that's not all, because technical descriptions like 650B or Dropbar, as well as bikes of similar categories like Cross-Bikes make sure that you quickly lose the overview. The term bikepacking is often used in connection with gravel. Here we give you an overview of the topic and what you should consider when buying a gravel bike.
What is a Gravel-Bike?
Let's start with the technical conditions that make a bike a gravel bike. If you look at a gravel bike from a distance, it looks a lot like a road bike. There's the sporty frame, the road bike handlebars (or drop bar) and the tidy appearance without lights, fenders or the like.
On closer inspection, however, it is noticeable that a Gravel-Bike has disc brakes and - for a road bike - rather thick tyres, some of them even with a coarse tread. Some bikes also have a single derailleur - no front derailleur or only one chainring. Bolt holes or eyelets at various points of the frame also provide the possibility to attach bikepacking bags, mudguards or even a light system.
If you go one step further and take a seat on a Gravel-Bike, you will notice in most cases that the bike offers a rather relaxed seating position. Not only can you do leisurely laps after work, but also really long tours over one or even several days.
As already mentioned, wide tires fit into a modern Gravel-Bike. Exactly how wide these can be varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. But often it is up to 40 mm tire width or even more. Some bikes even offer the possibility to install 27.5 inch wheels. These are also called 650b and offer more traction and comfort due to their higher volume. So you can ride on really rough terrain. But attention: not every Gravel-Bike can take this kind of wheels. Some models come with 650b wheels ex works, others only fit the usual 28 inch or 700c wheels.
Since the last gram of weight is not necessarily important for gravel bikes, these bikes are rather designed for durability. The built-in parts, the frame and the fork should be able to withstand a lot. Therefore they are characterized by a robust construction. Furthermore, all models are also suitable for women. There are no special Gravel-Bikes for women as such.
The sum of the individual parts of a Gravel-Bike results in a sporty, but above all comfortable bike, mostly with road handlebars, a lot of tire clearance, disc brakes and the possibility to attach the bikepacking equipment or other equipment to it.
The features at a glance:
- moderate sporty to relaxed geometry
- mostly racing bike handlebars
- wide tyres, partly with tread
- Mounting points for various attachments
- durable components
- suitable for ladies and gentlemen
Why a Gravel-Bike? What are the advantages?
The advantages of a Gravel-Bike are as manifold as the bikes themselves. If you like, gravel bikes combine the advantages of all bike categories.
First of all, the bikes are really fast bikes that get you from A to B super fast. Many people use gravel bikes for commuting as commuter bikes, because they are very similar to racing bikes. The sturdy construction is easy to use in all weathers, so you can get to work quickly.
But not only on the way to work Gravel-Bikes offer themselves, but also to undertake long bicycle tours. The relaxed geometry combined with the sporty riding experience makes Gravel-Bikes ideal for this.
The best thing is, of course, that you don't have to worry about the surface being a bit rougher when choosing your route. All roads are open to you! This is probably the biggest advantage of a gravel bike: the wide tyres also make off-road use on moderate mountain bike trails possible. This means that typical gravel roads are no longer a problem in addition to farm and forest roads. The change of the underground is exactly the attraction of the Gravel-Bikes.
With a racing bike you are really fast on the road, but rough surfaces are taboo due to the thin tyres. With a Gravel-Bike, however, almost all possible routes are passable.
But gravel bikes are not only universal all-rounders when it comes to the surface. Also in terms of equipment and attachment options, almost all models can score with great variety. Depending on the manufacturer and model, the modern bikes from 2020 offer the possibility to mount almost everything. For the dark season you would like a permanently installed lighting system? No problem. You want to go on a long bikepacking adventure and are looking for eyelets to attach the equipment? There are. In autumn and winter you want to attach fenders? That also works perfectly.
The advantages at a glance:
- universally applicable
- greater planning freedom for tours as any type of ground can be travelled
- offer sufficient comfort
- are robust and durable
- suitable for off-road use
Gravel bike and cyclocrosser, isn't that the same thing?
With the characteristics and equipment mentioned above, you can ask yourself: And what exactly is the difference to cyclocross bikes? Isn't this also a racing bike for off-road use? Yes, crosser or cyclocross bikes are very similar to gravel bikes in many ways, but in some aspects they are also very different. The two main differences are the tire clearance and the geometry. Gravel bikes can in most cases accommodate much wider tires because their frame is designed to accommodate them.
The other difference is the geometry, which is mainly responsible for the seating position. Gravel bikes are primarily designed for comfort and long distances. Cyclocross bikes, on the other hand, are designed for races that usually last no more than an hour. Therefore, the geometry there is much more sporty and the seating position is not as comfortable.
How does a Gravel bike ride?
Although, as already mentioned, it is sporty but still very comfortable to ride, the general riding characteristics depend very much on the model. Not only do the frame geometries differ, but also the materials the bikes are made of. Besides aluminium and carbon, some Gravel bikes are also made of steel. The frame material of course has a significant influence on how a bike feels when riding. Gravel bikes made of steel are usually somewhat heavier, but have a higher self-damping capacity. Aluminium bikes are often lighter than steel bikes. The front-runner in terms of weight remains the carbon frame, however. These are extremely light, but also much more expensive.
Of course, the specific tire width and size also plays an important role in the riding experience. The more volume the tyres have, the more relaxed the ride. However, the overall handling becomes less agile with increasing tire width and size. Accordingly, this measure is another individual factor when it comes to the riding feel of a Gravel bike.
Basically it can be said that gravel bikes offer a relaxed riding experience. In addition, these bikes score points for comfort and smoothness of ride.
The riding characteristics at a glance:
- smooth running
For whom is a Gravel-Bike suitable?
A Gravel-Bike is a very versatile and almost universal bicycle. But for whom exactly is such a Gravel-Bike suitable? The answer is quite simple: for almost everyone. A Gravel-Bike can really cover almost all areas of cycling. With thinner tyres - for example 28 mm - it is more like a fast road bike, but with 650b wheels and 47 mm wide tyres it is almost a mountain bike.
Gravel bikers are basically very multifaceted. There are gravel bikers who prefer to ride around comfortably and stop at every café and beer garden. Others, on the other hand, love a challenge and plunge their bikes into the craziest adventures and long-distance rides of up to 400 kilometres and more with changing surfaces.
But what surely unites all Gravel bikers is the love for nature and the desire to ride a robust, as well as durable, high quality bike. They are not necessarily interested in setting new best times in races, but rather in experiencing something in nature.
A Gravel-Bike is therefore suitable for all those who like to be outdoors and want to cycle on different surfaces all year round. With the possibility of adding various attachments, such as mudguards or a lighting system, you can use gravel bikes 365 days a year.
The areas of use at a glance:
- year-round cycling
- changing substrates
- Multi-day tours
How much does a Gravel-Bike cost?
It is like all other things: there is almost no limit to the price. The lower limit is about the 600 Euro mark. In general, gravel bikes can be divided into the entry-level middle and upper class in terms of price.
In the entry-level class up to about 1.200,- Euro there is a stable basis in the Gravel world. The frames are mostly made of aluminium or steel. The disc brakes are often mechanical and the gears are kept simple. The total weight of beginner Gravel bikes is in most cases above the ten kilogram mark.
In the next price category, for up to 2.000,- Euro, there are better gears and mostly hydraulic disc brakes. The frame materials can also be aluminium and steel, but are then often made of better alloys. The ten kilogram limit is usually broken by middle class Gravel bikes.
Absolutely high-end Gravel-Bikes are mostly made of carbon and their equipment elements play in the first league in all areas. This applies to the gearshift and brake system, wheels and all other attachments. Usually such Gravel-Bikes cost from about 2.200,- Euro upwards and weigh less than nine kilograms.
In all price ranges you can get gravel bikes that you can rely on and trust on your way. With quality and longevity, all gravel bikes can usually score points - even if the price differences naturally affect performance and handling.
The costs at a glance:
- Beginner variants from 600,- to about 1.200,- Euro
- Middle class Gravel-Bikes go up to about 2.000,- Euro
- High-end Gravel bikes start from around 2,200 euros
What do you have to look out for when buying a Gravel-Bike?
Now it is called Gravel-Bikes for Sale, but what do you have to pay attention to when buying a Gravel-Bike? Since there are no special Gravel-Bikes for women, there is no need to separate the sexes. The question you have to ask yourself when buying a bike is mainly about the specific area of use and the frequency of your rides.
If your new gravel bike is going to be used on really hard gravel roads or even flowing trails, then you should choose a model that can take 650b wheels and offers solid equipment. But if you are riding on moderate forest tracks and asphalt, the 700c wheels with about 35 mm tire width will be sufficient.
The geometry is quite similar. If you prefer to ride fast and not so long, then a sporty gravel bike should suit you best. But if you want to go on (very) long tours and bikepacking adventures, a more moderate gravel bike is better suited for you.
But not only the length of your rides is important for the choice, also how often you want to sit on the bike at all. If you only want to use your new gravel bike once a week for a short spin, a bike from the beginner category up to 1.200,- Euro will certainly be sufficient. But if you plan regular rides and even real training, then it is worth increasing your budget to at least 2,000 euros.
Important criteria at a glance:
- How often do you want to ride your gravel bike?
- How long should the tours last?
- How rough are the surfaces?
- Do you have preferences regarding the frame material?
Conclusion on the topic of Gravel
If we now summarize all the information, then a Gravel-Bike is made for use on changing surfaces. Long tours can be ridden very well. Because of the many mounting possibilities it can also be used for commuting and bikepacking. Gravel bikes are robust and durable and are aimed at riders who like to ride fast.
One thing we can tell you in conclusion: We love gravel bikes and strongly advise you to try it yourself. But be careful: The new freedom to ride and have fun on all roads has a huge addictive factor.
In our category Gravel-Bikes you will find a large selection of different bikes from Rondo, Orbea, Fuji, Bombtrack, Cinelli, Giant, Aventon, Octane One, Breezer, NS Bikes, Creme Cycles and Genesis.