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Why is Gravel Riding Such a Thing?

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Why is Gravel Riding Such a Thing?

Old 01-12-22, 09:46 AM
  #101  
mstateglfr 
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Everybody wants a shot at the Gravel Riding Hall of Fame.

being set up by - the gravel race organizers. Self promotion is marketing in most cases.
Does everyone want a shot at the Gravel Riding Hall of Fame? When I line up at a gravel race, I largely dont see people who are concerned about winning. A handful are concerned about winning, a majority are concerned with their own PR or a time they set as a goal, and a good number are wanting to push themselves while having a good time.
That doesnt seem to align with everybody wanting a shot at the Gravel Riding Hall of Fame.

Small races set up by race organizers are really a blast, at least where I live. Demand is healthy- there is a rush when signup goes live for some races. The races I ride in are all hosted by some really positive and supportive people.
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Old 01-12-22, 10:01 AM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
It just depends on what type of area you grew up in and what you're familiar with. To a city person such as yourself, these pics are probably nirvana. But to someone such as myself, who grew up hauling hay out of fields like those, taking said hay down roads like those in 100+ temps, it's not.
1. You hauled hay down roads on your bike? Down from places like the Bitteroots and Black Hills, no less?

2. While I was born in the city, I spent a lot of time "in the woods" and "on the water" in New England during my high school years. And I once spent nearly 4 months on the road riding through everything from mountain snow to weeks in a row of intense heat and humidity with very little some days none) shade. I still like bike touring. And try working in an enclosed metal hot dog cart on a street corner with no shade when it's 100 degrees out and there is 95% humidity. Sure. I would never do it again, but I have no idea what bearing that has on where I like to tour and why.

3. One of my points is that I don't understand how someone (the OP) who about his MTB and road experience cannot understand why some people like riding unpaved roads so much.

Last edited by indyfabz; 01-12-22 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 01-12-22, 10:03 AM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
You're making me drool with these pics!
Thanks. Don't have access to the interesting ones at the moment.
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Old 01-12-22, 10:11 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
1. You hauled hay down roads on your bike? Down from places like the Bitteroots and Black Hills, no less?

2. While I was born in the city, I spent a lot of time "in the woods" and "on the water" in New England during my high school years. And I once spent nearly 4 months on the road riding through everything from mountain snow to weeks in a row of intense heat and humidity with very little some days none) shade. I still like bike touring.

3. One of my points is that I don't understand how someone (the OP) who about his MTB and road experience cannot understand why some people like riding unpaved roads so much.
Here you go. you can get the experience yourself! Bucket list for a lot of riders. Road, MTB, gravel, you can do it all and talk about how awesome it is. One of the other BF members I road it with this past year gave it a 10 out of 10. Different strokes for different folks.Take a look.

https://www.hh100.org/
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Old 01-12-22, 10:12 AM
  #105  
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Why is Gravel Riding Such a Thing?
Lots of gravel and hard-packed dirt roads, in many places. Once was, in more-rural areas, that gravel roads were predominant; in many spots, they still are, outside the "main drags" through town.

I've always viewed them as something between a paved roadway and an open cross-country track. A road bike works fine on the former; a mountain bike, on the latter. But Gravel's somewhere in between. Doesn't require the more-ponderous setup of an outright "mountain" bike, but it'd beat up the average road bike. Hence, "gravel bikes," which (at least from my perspective) beef-up those parts of the bike that are most subjected to increased stresses (wheels and forks) above and beyond what a regular road bike would otherwise have.

Gravel's not really my thing. Never have enjoyed cobble stone roadways; IMO, gravel's only marginally better, insofar as it's usually (at least these days) an off-the-beaten-path type track. I'm very much a paved surface type, myself. But then, I've generally viewed bikes as a means of transportation, more than a sport as such. If I want to get off-pavement, it's worth donning the shoes and hiking togs, taking things a bit slower.

Got to love folks who try to squeeze the most from whatever conditions, though. Road, cross-country, gravel, snow/sand, whatever. It's all good.
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Old 01-12-22, 10:37 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Here you go. you can get the experience yourself! Bucket list for a lot of riders. Road, MTB, gravel, you can do it all and talk about how awesome it is. One of the other BF members I road it with this past year gave it a 10 out of 10. Different strokes for different folks.Take a look.

https://www.hh100.org/
I think you are conflating two different issues/questions.

And I would rather do this again, if only because it's not in Texas:

D2R2 - The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée - Franklin Land Trust
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Old 01-12-22, 10:44 AM
  #107  
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Another thread in addition to the one I linked to earlier:

Can somebody please explain gravel riding to me? - Bike Forums
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Old 01-12-22, 10:59 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Frankly, I find it highly suspect that someone with MTB and road riding experience would legitimately not understand the "fascination" some have with gravel riding. I mean, just look at how many people ride the GDMTBR every year. And that's just one , small example. Here are a few others I just happen to have handy at the moment.






If my local roads/trails were predominantly like the above I would absolutely own a dedicated gravel bike. Although a modern endurance road bike would be absolutely fine on all those segments, but I presume there are more gnarly parts en-route that might benefit from wider tyres? A lot of our rural back roads are actually rougher than those, but with enough smoother tarmac to not warrant anything wider than 32 mm tyres, which many modern road bikes can accommodate. So that's what basically works for me, hence my Giant Defy and Canyon Endurace. I'd take either of those on those nicely groomed trails.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:07 AM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I think you are conflating two different issues/questions.

And I would rather do this again, if only because it's not in Texas:

D2R2 - The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée - Franklin Land Trust
Maybe, but the point is, you poised the question about you don't understand how some people could not get the "fascination" with gravel riding and then posted those pics as an example of how good it can be. And someone immediately said that they were drooling over your pics. But for others, such as myself, who have been riding or working on similar roads, in similar landscapes, it doesn't click. You might find that hard to believe.

Here's something you also might find hard to believe. One of the things I really like doing when I'm in a big city such as DC or Chicago or your town is to get on their version of the metro and just ride. I love it. It's a far cry from the dirt roads/pastures of my teenage years. Very entertaining. I know, not something you'd recommend. It just what you grew up with and were exposed to.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:11 AM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
They have little in common with modern mountain bikes.
The comparison is usually to 90s mountain bikes.

Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
But gravel bikes are road bikes with wider tyre clearance and lower gearing.
After I provided you with six articles describing the many differences, you keep repeating that. Just pretend you've convinced me and move on.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:15 AM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Maybe, but the point is, you poised the question about you don't understand how some people could not get the "fascination" with gravel riding.
Yes. It smacks of suspicion that the OP, given his stated experience, cannot understand why some people enjoy gravel riding. You do understand that I was referring only to the OP's assertion, and in the context that it was made, oui? (I did not question why some people don't like riding on gravel because, for example, they had to carry hay in 100 degree weather.) Translation: I think this thread is a device because I find the premises unfathomable. "Hi. I have hiked the entire AT in one go and have walked around many major cities in the U.S. Can someone explain to me the allure to some people of hiking a local nature trail for a couple of hours?"

Feel free to feel otherwise.

Last edited by indyfabz; 01-12-22 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:22 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
At the risk of oversimplification, there seem to be a few classes of reasons:

1. Rider is afraid of traffic on roads.
2. Poor quality pavement on local roads.
3. Plentiful gravel roads near rider.
4. Lower traffic volume on gravel roads.

Almost nobody wants a gravel bike because it's hot and they want a new bike that's "in," so obviously marketing isn't driving the demand for gravel bikes.
'Gravel Riding' as noted is around and has been since the creation of the bicycle; and still very available in many areas.
I don;t think the intro of 'Gravel bikes' suddenly created a 'thing'. Has been done long before by many ...
What one chooses to ride to navigate these paths/roads has been varied. When in Germany to spend time in my family home, I choose my Opa's fiets to ride the local forest and farm paths.
4 points above cover the high points, although I would modify #1 slightly as to 'fear'. To me is just a realization that 'traffic' has become too 'distracted' and the possibility of becoming a traffic mishap statistic has become significanty higher; even here where road cycling is a BIG thing and becoming more accommodated for.
Let me add 1.2 - more risk on designated paved bike/MUPs - because of low awareness riders of E-bikes. Too many incidents and possible collisions from unaware/over-entitled meatheads on 50 lb+ machines, doing 25+ mph on crowded paths also used by families and their small children...

There are plenty of riders in the Santa Barbara area who now have Gravel Bikes, because they are a 'Thing'. I'm okay with that.
There are still those who're still riding their converted 'roadies' and 'mtb's.
There really isn;t much 'gravel' in our area (SB Valley), a few green spaces... but when you go off-road, it mostly serious MTB stuff.
especially the Los Padres Back Country.
Much of what are 'dirt roads' in Northern SB County are on private lands, going thru vineyards, so access is limited...
SO I'm reducing my 'roadie' riding and rediscovering the great MTB riding available, half the miles, 1/1000th the people, 2x the fun.
Now I only have 2 things to worry about - 1. making a stoopid move that will send me into a canyon... 2. Becoming Cat food... LOL!
... happy for those who have found the added pleasures of 'gravel' and off-road... also ok with the new tweak of 'gravel' on the equipment soul...
adds a small load on the whole 'environment' issue, but certainly moving in a better direction. ride/recycle/reuse !!!
Ride On
Yuri
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Old 01-12-22, 11:23 AM
  #113  
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In my state, gravel is the new pavement. If you want to get away from heavy traffic, your choices are bike paths or minor roads that are crumbling. Some counties are converting pavement to gravel because it's cheaper to maintain.

So far as bikes go, I think it's hard to guess why certain bike categories are popular, because a lot of casual users such as myself aren't committed to riding under a limited set of conditions. We're looking for something that's likely to be comfortable, versatile, and that looks good.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:29 AM
  #114  
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I'm a total urban rider and I find neither the road scene or the MTB scene all that interesting. With a gravel bike I can ride long routes that connect both the roads and off-road trails straight from my door. In fact I actually have two gravel bikes, one optimized for more serious off-road and lower gearing and the other one higher geared for road with light off-road capabilities. Also I've noticed in less developed countries gravel bikes are becoming more popular for exactly this practical reason. Gravel bikes are the one bike that can do it all.
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Old 01-12-22, 11:47 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
SO I'm reducing my 'roadie' riding and rediscovering the great MTB riding available, half the miles, 1/1000th the people, 2x the fun. Now I only have 2 things to worry about - 1. making a stoopid move that will send me into a canyon... 2. Becoming Cat food... LOL!
Did long distance, back-country (aka "trail") running, back in the day, for many of the same reasons. Easier on the body, 1/1000th the number of people around, 2x the fun. But at the risk of launching into a canyon, breaking a leg, becoming cat (mountain lion) food, etc.

Nice thing is, whatever somebody's "thing" happens to be, it doesn't impact any others. They can do what blows their own hair back, and those doing their "thing" can do that. Everyone's content.

It's nice having the freedom to choose whatever "works" for a person. Some aren't nearly so fortunate.
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Old 01-12-22, 02:01 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post

After I provided you with six articles describing the many differences, you keep repeating that. Just pretend you've convinced me and move on.
I glanced at one of those links and it talked about frame geometry differences between a road race bike and a gravel bike - a bit longer and slacker like you would expect. But there are also plenty of road bikes with that kind of geometry too. They are pretty subtle differences, which is why most mainstream gravel bikes can be used effectively as dual purpose road/gravel bikes. I've even considered building a dedicated road bike based on several "gravel" frames - Open UP, Factor LS, Factor Vista, Look 765. I'm not pretending anything. If you start widening the gap by comparing a full-on aero road race bike against the gnarliest end of the gravel bike market then the geometry starts looking significantly different. But when you compare a racy endurance road bike vs mainstream gravel bike they are not much different and in some cases identical. Comparing a Cervelo Caledonia vs Aspero we are looking at 10 mm reach and 15 mm wheelbase. That and the extra wheel clearance and lower BB is it. Component build is obviously going to be different too, but it's all just details.

But before we got into this debate I was merely pointing out that road/gravel bikes are very closely related, while mountain bikes have moved to another planet.
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Old 01-12-22, 03:14 PM
  #117  
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tl;dr
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Old 01-12-22, 03:25 PM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
... I was merely pointing out that road/gravel bikes are very closely related, while mountain bikes have moved to another planet.
Yep. Seems kind of obvious.
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Old 01-12-22, 04:35 PM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
tl;dr
Summary - gravel bikes are still road bikes with wider tyres.
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Old 01-12-22, 04:50 PM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Summary - gravel bikes are still road bikes with wider tyres.
At least you've convinced yourself. Congratulations.
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Old 01-12-22, 04:57 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
At least you've convinced yourself. Congratulations.
Thanks
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Old 01-12-22, 04:58 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Summary - gravel bikes are still road bikes with wider tyres.
Do 40mm tires fit on a road bike frame? How many attachment points do roadies have. Gearing?
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Old 01-12-22, 05:03 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Getting a bit beat up is part of the game and exciting mastering technique to fly down a single track.
I've never ridden gravel as there really isn't any around here, but I think you answered your question. I can see how some people would like to get off the beaten path without getting into the game of getting beat up.

John
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Old 01-12-22, 05:18 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by Gravel Rider View Post
Do 40mm tires fit on a road bike frame? How many attachment points do roadies have. Gearing?
I meant conceptually, not literally. Although there are some road frames that can. You can have low enough gears on a road bike last time I checked.
What I'm learning from this thread is that some gravel riders appear to be trying to distance themselves from roadies as if it really is something very different, requiring some sort of special bike that isn't essentially a road bike with wider tyres.

Sorry guys I didn't mean to be negative (read back through my earlier posts on this thread for proof) but this is getting a bit tedious. The differences between a typical gravel bike and even a fairly racy endurance road bike are pretty minimal. Tyre clearance being the main differentiator and now road bikes are edging up well into the mid 30s and even 40 mm clearance in some cases, there's hardly anything in it. Maybe an extra bottle cage?

We've had plenty of threads here asking should I buy an endurance road bike or a gravel bike for 50/50 road/gravel use? There is never a right or wrong answer to that. With 2 sets of wheels they are pretty much the same beast.
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Old 01-12-22, 05:25 PM
  #125  
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There is absolutely an overlap between what is considered a Gravel bike and what is considered an Endurance Road bike. An Endurance bike with 38s is basically a gravel bike as well in my book.

My bike (Soma Fog Cutter V1)) is called Endurance Road, but it can take 42mm tires.

Overlap and fuzzy boundaries are fine. The fact that some bikes blur the lines does not mean the terms are not useful.

When it comes down to it, Gravel bikes ARE road bikes. They are just road bike that don’t suck on gravel roads.

If anything, Gravel bikes are a more true “Road” bike as they actually work well on most roads. Pavement Racing bikes are the niche bike.
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