Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me?

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me?

Old 02-22-21, 02:46 PM
  #1  
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
epnnf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 397

Bikes: 2016 Masi strada vita due, 2019 Kona Dew Plus

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 267 Post(s)
Liked 80 Times in 55 Posts
Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me?

Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
epnnf is offline  
Likes For epnnf:
Old 02-22-21, 02:49 PM
  #2  
Habitual User
 
Eric F's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Altadena, CA
Posts: 7,525

Bikes: 2023 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2018 Trek Procaliber 9.9 RSL, 2018 Storck Fascenario.3 Platinum, 2003 Time VX Special Pro, 2001 Colnago VIP, 1999 Trek 9900 singlespeed, 1977 Nishiki ONP

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4670 Post(s)
Liked 7,536 Times in 3,570 Posts
"Gravel" = Unpaved.

Gravel bikes are very similar to cyclocross bikes, which have a long history of tolerating some significant abuse.
__________________
"Swedish fish. They're protein shaped." - livedarklions
Eric F is offline  
Likes For Eric F:
Old 02-22-21, 02:55 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Chapel Hill NC
Posts: 1,683

Bikes: 2000 Litespeed Vortex Chorus 10, 1995 DeBernardi Cromor S/S

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 645 Post(s)
Liked 797 Times in 446 Posts
Originally Posted by epnnf
Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
I see gravel riding as non-technical off-road - mud, grass, fire roads, even gravel, I suppose
Litespud is offline  
Likes For Litespud:
Old 02-22-21, 03:02 PM
  #4  
With a mighty wind
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 2,518
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1057 Post(s)
Liked 828 Times in 467 Posts
I think of it as road riding but with occasional ruts and washboards. A little slower, more scenic for my area, and almost no traffic.

A modern gravel bike will go pretty much anywhere you could have mountain biked in the early 90s.
rosefarts is offline  
Likes For rosefarts:
Old 02-22-21, 03:04 PM
  #5  
Expired Member
 
shelbyfv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 11,423
Mentioned: 37 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3626 Post(s)
Liked 5,286 Times in 2,685 Posts
Well lookie here https://www.bikeforums.net/cyclocros...-recreational/
shelbyfv is offline  
Likes For shelbyfv:
Old 02-22-21, 03:06 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 7,626
Mentioned: 37 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6788 Post(s)
Liked 10,661 Times in 4,566 Posts
It’s bike riding. On gravel.

God, I can’t wait for warm weather.
Koyote is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:07 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 4,259
Mentioned: 41 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1971 Post(s)
Liked 1,295 Times in 628 Posts
Originally Posted by epnnf
Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it. It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles. I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires, but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating. And you do it for ... fun?
What are the gravel roads like in your area? Sometimes uncompacted large-aggregate gravel can be a little bit like what you're describing...



...but in most areas this is fairly uncommon. Oftentimes the big chunks are compacted, or held in place by smaller aggregate or organic material. "Gravel riding" is also a phrase that used pretty broadly to refer to all kinds of road riding that may include unpaved surfaces, so things like dirt and grass roads are included in the discussion as well.

Aside from potholes, this gravel road was smoother than most paved roads in the same area:



What "gravel riding" means is also highly regional. People in different places build unpaved roads in different sorts of terrain for different reasons, and they have different material available to build it from. The rural unpaved road network of Iowa is quite different in a ton of different ways from the various mazes of mountainous logging roads in Washington.

But no, the point of gravel riding is not to bounce around on marbles. That's something that incidentally happens, sometimes. Mostly I ride gravel because there are lots of fun gravel roads to ride in my area, often with excellent scenery and views.

I can't ride this awesome road without riding gravel:

HTupolev is online now  
Old 02-22-21, 03:07 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5,716

Bikes: Colnago, Van Dessel, Factor, Cervelo, Ritchey

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3801 Post(s)
Liked 6,987 Times in 2,828 Posts
Originally Posted by epnnf
Obviously I've never done it, or even seen it.
You've never seen a bike on an unpaved road? That's a sheltered life you live.
tomato coupe is offline  
Likes For tomato coupe:
Old 02-22-21, 03:08 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Hacienda Hgts
Posts: 2,051

Bikes: 1999 Schwinn Peloton Ultegra 10, Kestrel RT-1000 Ultegra, Trek Marlin 6 Deore 29'er

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 801 Post(s)
Liked 1,911 Times in 919 Posts
Not much true gravel in my area. Mostly SCE/Fire roads of packed dirt/clay and lots of hikers and dogs. Not really worth the bother in my view. Much better prospects of paved roads that are less traveled and scenic.

I envy those that have scenic forested areas to ride off-road.

Last edited by CAT7RDR; 02-22-21 at 03:15 PM.
CAT7RDR is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:15 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,338

Bikes: Bianchi Infinito XE, Via Nirone 7, GT Aggressor Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 599 Post(s)
Liked 1,261 Times in 585 Posts
Originally Posted by epnnf
It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles.
It is a lot like walking on gravel. Usually no problem.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Likes For Reflector Guy:
Old 02-22-21, 03:16 PM
  #11  
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 12,344

Bikes: 15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, 76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, 17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, 12 Breezer Venturi, 09 Dahon Mariner, 12 Mercier Nano, 95 DeKerf Team SL, 19 Tern Rally, 21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, 19 T-Lab X3, 91 Serotta CII

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3022 Post(s)
Liked 1,614 Times in 990 Posts
Originally Posted by CAT7RDR
Not much true gravel in my area. Mostly SCE/Fire roads of packed dirt/clay and lots of hikers and dogs. Not really worth the bother in my view. Much better prospects of paved roads that are less traveled and scenic.

I envy those that have scenic area to ride off-road.
To be clear, gravel riding does not mean off-road, which is otherwise called trail riding. People certainly take gravel bikes on trails, but as noted above, “gravel riding” simply means riding on unpaved roads. The Adventure bike subset of Gravel bikes is aimed at more extended unpaved use to include trail riding.
chaadster is offline  
Likes For chaadster:
Old 02-22-21, 03:28 PM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
freeranger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 2,558

Bikes: 06 Lemond Reno, 98 GT Timberline mtn.bike

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 412 Post(s)
Liked 682 Times in 425 Posts
The gravel riding I've done has been on rail-trails in southeastern PA. and northeastern MD. Those were crushed limestone, fairly fine, and no riding on marble effect at all. When first put down, and hadn't settled in (rode some just after it was put down), it could be a little loose, but settled in quick and was similar to riding hard packed dirt after that.
freeranger is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:30 PM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 38,778
Mentioned: 210 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18196 Post(s)
Liked 14,943 Times in 7,076 Posts
Originally Posted by shelbyfv
And here;

Please help me understand gravel riding?
indyfabz is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:32 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 38,778
Mentioned: 210 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18196 Post(s)
Liked 14,943 Times in 7,076 Posts
It’s about bears:


indyfabz is offline  
Likes For indyfabz:
Old 02-22-21, 03:40 PM
  #15  
bOsscO
 
bOsscO's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 740

Bikes: 2015 Norco Search S1, 93 Mongoose IBOC COMP

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 288 Post(s)
Liked 340 Times in 206 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
It’s about bears:
Except the bears are hibernating, so now it's about escape.
bOsscO is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:47 PM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,338

Bikes: Bianchi Infinito XE, Via Nirone 7, GT Aggressor Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 599 Post(s)
Liked 1,261 Times in 585 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
It’s about bears:
"In the middle of winter, the trees are bare, and the bears are hibernating..." Name that tune.

Last edited by Reflector Guy; 02-22-21 at 03:53 PM.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:51 PM
  #17  
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,338

Bikes: Bianchi Infinito XE, Via Nirone 7, GT Aggressor Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 599 Post(s)
Liked 1,261 Times in 585 Posts
Originally Posted by freeranger
The gravel riding I've done has been on rail-trails in southeastern PA. and northeastern MD. Those were crushed limestone, fairly fine, and no riding on marble effect at all.
Around here, the rail trails are nice and smooth, hardpacked limestone screenings and 25c tires are fine on them. There is one more-rural trail I am aching to ride on though, and its well known for being rugged, full of ruts, washed-out sand, loose gravel, thick weeds... I'll want a different bike for that one.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Likes For Reflector Guy:
Old 02-22-21, 03:53 PM
  #18  
Word.
 
Brett A's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Rural New England
Posts: 232

Bikes: Surly Disc Trucker, Orbea Oiz XCountry Bike, Specialized Roubaix, Borealis Echo Fat Bike for Winter, many others out in the barn.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 99 Times in 51 Posts
There are a lot of dirt roads in rural areas that make for super fun riding, especially if you have a bike that's made to do them safely at speed.
Brett A is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:55 PM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,865

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2952 Post(s)
Liked 3,105 Times in 1,417 Posts
We have quite a few levee roads where if you ride in the truck tire ruts it's as smooth as asphalt, but the edges can get pretty loose. And then there are the washboards... It's just a great way to mix things up.
caloso is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 04:07 PM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Ann Arbor Michigan
Posts: 152

Bikes: miyata 83 1000,84 1000,83 610,88 ridge runner ,Schwinn 84 high sierra,88 Cimmeron,86 Passage,84 Stumplumper ,83 Mt Whitney,83 Trek 850,Merckx Century,PX10, RB1,XO 1 XO 4,bunch of stuff like that

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 57 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 42 Posts
gravel

23 imm tires dont work so well on unpaved roads so I am sure people started to put on fatter tires to make riding country and dirt/gravel roads a little easier and started to call them gravel grinders.......but recently I overheard people , who just bought brand new gravel bikes , talking about finding some deep fresh gravel to ride on and hone their skills.So maybe riding on marbles is becoming a thing.
homelessjoe is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 04:11 PM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: SE Wisconsin
Posts: 1,868

Bikes: Lemond '01 Maillot Jaune, Lemond '02 Victoire, Lemond '03 Poprad, Lemond '03 Wayzata DB conv(Poprad), '79 AcerMex Windsor Carrera Professional(pur new), '88 GT Tequesta(pur new), '01 Bianchi Grizzly, 1993 Trek 970 DB conv, Trek 8900 DB conv

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 743 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 788 Times in 460 Posts
Riding bikes like they did 90-120 years ago, using better equipment.
fishboat is offline  
Likes For fishboat:
Old 02-22-21, 04:13 PM
  #22  
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 2,888
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1346 Post(s)
Liked 3,269 Times in 1,439 Posts
Originally Posted by epnnf
It sounds like riding on gravel is only slightly safer than riding on marbles.
I find that safety is influenced more by traffic than riding surface.

Originally Posted by epnnf
I assume you use around 3 inch bombproof tires
You can if you want to, but 48mm does the trick most of the time.

Originally Posted by epnnf
but it would seem to me the tires/bike would still take a beating
Bikes and tires are built to withstand far worse than gravel.

Originally Posted by epnnf
And you do it for ... fun?
Yes. And exercise. And transportation. And competition. And camaraderie. And all the other reasons you ride a bike. Is the idea of multi-surface riding really that revolutionary to you?
Rolla is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 04:14 PM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 38,778
Mentioned: 210 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18196 Post(s)
Liked 14,943 Times in 7,076 Posts
Originally Posted by bOsscO
Except the bears are hibernating, so now it's about escape.
I let out a loud “Yesssss!” so he would stop and pose for me. He hadn’t seen me until I did that.

And they will be out of their dens soon.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 04:23 PM
  #24  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 8,757

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2516 Post(s)
Liked 1,836 Times in 1,154 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
It’s about bears:


How big a tire does it take to ride over a bear?

Come to think of it, the second or third closest I've been to a bear was on a paved road. I stopped on a downhill as soon as I saw it (maybe 15-20 yards away), and it just kept ambling toward me. I knew better than to turn around, so I started scuffing my shoes against the road and huffing. It just kept walking. Finally I let out a low growl from about 10 feet away; the yearling bear looked up, turned left, and ambled off the road -- disappeared within about 5 feet of the edge of the pavement. Don't have a clue how it did that; hid behind the first tree maybe? I didn't wait much before I took off.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 05:12 PM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 1,058
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Liked 456 Times in 273 Posts
We have a lot of unpaved roads in Vermont (>50%) mostly pretty well smoothed out. Real, unconsolidated, gravel is much as you imagine, a less than delightful surface on which to ride. Mostly I find that on rail trails. If it has been dry for a long while, the trails can get loose and dusty, or sandy, or gravelly, or rocky, depending on their construction and usage.
Pratt is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.