Enlighten me please.

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
It's a genre of bike designed specifically to induce huffing and puffing and harrumphing amongst the aged demographic of cycle chat.
The huffing and puffing and harrumphing is mostly directed at the industry marketing bollox behind advertising them, rather than the bikes themselves. Oddly, geometry and wheelbase-wise, a lot of then seem to bear a remarkable likeness to touring bikes and old-school clubman's bikes that could take sensibly wide tyres even with mudguards fitted.
So why all the marketing BS? Well, plenty of long-term cyclists already own tourers or old steel winter training bikes, don't they? So, to persuade someone to part with their cash for a "gravel bike", they need to be convinced they are something new, and not a genre that has actually been around pretty much forever....:rolleyes:
 
You do here in Norfolk....I saw a sticker on the back of a Land Rover a while back stating he was a member of Norfolk Mountain Rescue, so it must be true. :becool:
Pidley Mountain Rescue :laugh:
 

Rusty Nails

We remember
Location
Here and there
So, a road bike lives in the kitchen, while a gravel bike lives outside?
I've been playing spot the difference though. Lockdown has given me too much time!
Other than the knobbly tyres on the "gravel" bike, and the bars on the "road" bike dropped by one spacer, I think that's all?
Edit... different stems too.
So which ride is the current one and which one do you like the best?
Both look nice, but the Gravel one looks slightly more used, is it the gravel one that gets most use.
And there was me thinking they were the same bike, with some changes.
 
I've reported elsewhere on CC but riding my Roubaix on gravel it's fine until the downhill bit when it feels sketchy and insecure. Somebody will be able to explain the geometry behind that.
Can you point me in the direction of that thread please? Been thinking about taking my roubaix off road and your experiences might be of interest
 

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
Why is it that in the bike world, exotic adrenaline fuelled sports bikes are just normal and doitall general purpose bikes are boutique specialist items.
Because of marketing, and the fact that everyday utility machinery isn't exotic, and doesn't require endless "upgrades". Once an adult rider bought a decent quality 3-speed roadster, unless it got stolen or smashed up in an accident, that bike might very well last the lifetime of the owner - and more. By the time the last of the baby boomers reached adulthood, cars had taken over as the main mode of mass transportation, so there was relatively little demand for utility bikes, and the older generation had already got theirs and they were still going strong if still regularly used.
If you look at the 70's "bike boom" in Europe and the USA, a lot of sales were 5 and 10 speed "racers", then in the 80's and 90's it was MTB's. The industry was looking for new customers for a product that had ceased to be primarily a workhorse for getting around on.
Decent bikes are surprisingly durable; more durable in fact than industry marketeers and bean counters would like them to be, as the replacement cycle is too long for their liking. Unfortunately for them, component compatibility is widespread outside of high end stuff with proprietary parts, so people like me will just keep old stuff on the road even though the marketers want us to weigh them in and buy new bikes every few years. All they can do is literally try to keep reinventing the wheel, and convincing enough riders that their latest offerings really are something new....
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
Well would you believe it, my No 2 daughter who lives in that posh place near London - St Reatham, has just bought herself a Cube Gravel bike and this morning has just done a trial run(25k) into the city (BofE) and back in 90 minutes. Currently working from home, but planning to commute by bike when she goes back!
 
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wafter

Über Member
Location
Oxford
It's a (somewhat irritating, IMO) marketing term applied to a broad spectrum of bikes. The format is much closer to a road bike than an MTB, due to similar (if slacker / more stable) geometry, drop bars and (mostly) rigid frame. Wheels are wider and stronger, tyres fatter and disc brakes a given.

Geometry is typically between that of road and touring bikes; less reach and more stack than a road bike for a more relaxed position, but not as extreme in this regard as a tourer. Longer chainstays / wheelbase and a slacker head angle for more stable handling than a road bike, but again not as much as a tourer.

Gearing is usually lower and / or wider on gravel bikes than road equivalents to account for the wider range of terrain encountered.

"Gravel" bikes differ from cyclocross bikes in that the latter are intended for high speeds for shorter periods, so geometry is more aggressive / more responsive / less comfortable. CX bikes also typically have little provision for additional paraphanalia as they're intended as race bikes; while gravel bikes usually have mounts for mudguards and paniers as they're intended to be more practical machines.

There are clearly some similarities between gravel and touring bikes, however tourers tend to be more traditional; favouring triple chainsets for a wide gear range to tackle uphill slogs with a lot of weight on the bike. Rim brakes tend to be the standard while gravel bikes tend to be more forward- looking with discs and often through-axles, and you're unlikely to find a "gravel" bike with an internally geared hub.

Personally I prefer the term "road plus" or "all road", and love my new Croix De Fer (whatever you wish to label it). It's quick enough to cover ground well on-road while being just versatile enough to open up a whole new world of forest tracks, bridleways, tow paths etc that a road bike would struggle / be completely useless on. A good "gravel" bike will potentially be the most versatile bike you'll ever own if it suits the particular type of riding / terrain you favour - which in my case it does :smile:
 
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