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Why is Gravel Riding Such a Thing?

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Why is Gravel Riding Such a Thing?

Old 01-13-22, 09:33 AM
  #151  
mstateglfr 
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Originally Posted by MNHarv View Post
Permanent lighting for one. I think most of Europe requires headlights (at least) on their bicycles. IHGs are the norm there but not here in the United States. Once someone gets to the higher distances where they ride overnight U.S. riders usually convert their lighting systems to permanently integrated systems. Seems like fenders, or mud guards if you prefer to call them that, really only come on touring bikes in the U.S. whereas Europe again treats them as necessary. (I've seen local riders here in MN with centrifugal cup holders mounted to their bikes.) Who knows... probably shrader valves...
There are gravel races that are 250-350mi and riders use lights. Somehow they have managed to ride thru the night. Whether its dynamo generated lights or a few usb lights- they are not lacking for lights.
As for fenders, a bunch of gravel bikes can take fenders. Some have dedicated mount locations and some have hidden mount locations. Many gravel bikes can also take a rack.
Then there are obviously some gravel bikes that are designed to be basically a wide tire race road bike and arent designed to handle fenders.

I guess the lighting isnt permanent on most gravel bikes, but if the desire isnt there, is that a big deal?
For the record, the current version of my gravel bike has fender and rack mounts as well as internal front and rear routing for dynamo powered lighting. https://fairlightcycles.com/product/...v=79cba1185463
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Old 01-13-22, 10:44 AM
  #152  
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I think riders that are alums of West Virginia University ride a different style of gravel bike. It's a cross between a MTB and a randonneuring bike. I believe they call it a Mountaineering bike.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:46 AM
  #153  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
There are gravel races that are 250-350mi and riders use lights. Somehow they have managed to ride thru the night. Whether its dynamo generated lights or a few usb lights- they are not lacking for lights.

As for fenders, a bunch of gravel bikes can take fenders. Some have dedicated mount locations and some have hidden mount locations. Many gravel bikes can also take a rack.

Then there are obviously some gravel bikes that are designed to be basically a wide tire race road bike and arent designed to handle fenders.


I guess the lighting isnt permanent on most gravel bikes, but if the desire isnt there, is that a big deal?

For the record, the current version of my gravel bike has fender and rack mounts as well as internal front and rear routing for dynamo powered lighting. https://fairlightcycles.com/product/...v=79cba1185463

Sounds to me like the line has blurred. SInce trail can be changed by the mere diameter of the tire used, and geometry can be had off an assembly line or custom made, it comes down to opinion. It doesn't surprise me any more than someone disagreeing with me than my disagreement with someone else's opinion.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:01 AM
  #154  
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Originally Posted by MNHarv View Post
Sounds to me like the line has blurred. SInce trail can be changed by the mere diameter of the tire used, and geometry can be had off an assembly line or custom made, it comes down to opinion. It doesn't surprise me any more than someone disagreeing with me than my disagreement with someone else's opinion.
I just have to disagree with that.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:10 AM
  #155  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I wonder about those people to. I cant imagine the UK or most big cities dont have access roads or unmaintained stuff to ride. there has to be abandoned factories, railroad access, power line fire roads. Maybe I am wrong and their worlds just suck.
Or maybe the U.S. has normalized not maintaining road infrastructure, factory closures and offshoring, and lax enforcement of the motor vehicle code. Maybe I am right, and our world just sucks

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Old 01-13-22, 11:19 AM
  #156  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Or maybe the U.S. has normalized not maintaining road infrastructure, factory closures and offshoring, and lax enforcement of the motor vehicle code. Maybe I am right, and our world just sucks
My world is great.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:40 AM
  #157  
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Great topics here.
One that interested me is what is a randonneuring bike. Based on my time with the Detroit Randonnuers, there is no one bike type or style.
Depending on the route is how I will choose one of three bikes I use. For those routes with very little gravel, I usually opt for my mid 2000's aluminum fuji ace with a steel fork and 28mm tires. The other bike is my Optima Baron recumbent. For the routes with nearly 50% gravel (the Happy Trails 200k and Trail Mix 200K), I usually use my late 80's Trek 330 converted to 650b with 38mm Pari-Moto tires. The Pari-Motos handle gravel well enough. And since speed really isn't the main focus of a brevet, the slower bike works well for these events. Most of my gear is either just an under the seat bag and a top bar bag with 2 tubes and maybe some goodies. For longer 300k rides or changing weather, a handlebar bag, under seat bag, and maybe even another top bar bag. Nothing too crazy. Just enough to stay somewhat lightweight and still make my control stops.

And another thing about more people moving to gravel riding. It's the complaints I hear from home owners in rural areas. "Jeez, these cyclists are all over the place now-a-days", and usually in a negative tone. On many of the gravel roads in my area, there may be only 1 or 2 cars on a gravel road stretch every 5 minutes. But the minute a rural home owner sees a cyclist, he immediate loses his $#|T? Well, if they didn't keep glancing at their shiny phone devices and actually slowed down, moved over, and passed us in a safe fashion, maybe we wouldn't be moving to gravel roads as much.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:44 AM
  #158  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I wonder about those people to. I cant imagine the UK or most big cities dont have access roads or unmaintained stuff to ride. there has to be abandoned factories, railroad access, power line fire roads. Maybe I am wrong and their worlds just suck.
The UK is very varied in terrain, but in most areas it would be difficult to find a long continuous "gravel" route. So both road and mtb riding are more popular. There are purpose built mtb trail centres all over Wales and Scotland and lots of great rural road routes and natural mtb trails. There are fire-roads too, but usually with much more interesting singletrack and/or really nice paved roads nearby. Plus a lot of fire-roads here are dead end tracks or short loops around forest parks etc. There is also a limited network of dis-used rail tracks, but you don't need a specific gravel bike for those. They are mostly used for casual family rides.

One specific area in the UK that would strike me as perhaps being ideal for a gravel bike is the New Forest. Lots of off-road trails there where a mtb is overkill and a road bike not ideal unless shod with 32 mm+ tyres.

It definitely doesn't suck! LOL.

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Old 01-13-22, 11:49 AM
  #159  
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Gravel bikes encompass a fairly large spectrum of bikes for super slack to road with a larger fork and some space on the chainstay's...

I ride "gravel" because I don't ride to go fast I ride for mental health, if my goal was speed I'd get a wŁnder bike and go to town. I raced cyclocross for the local team from 2012 to 2017 it was great for beating my body into submission but it didn't help upstairs I don't much worry about my body anymore I just want to relax. Gravel bikes let people get out, talk, and see things, yes that all could have been done on a mountain bike but they've gotten pretty specific anymore..

Let people have their fun and don't worry about it

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Old 01-13-22, 11:50 AM
  #160  
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Originally Posted by friday1970 View Post
Great topics here.
One that interested me is what is a randonneuring bike. Based on my time with the Detroit Randonnuers, there is no one bike type or style.
Depending on the route is how I will choose one of three bikes I use. For those routes with very little gravel, I usually opt for my mid 2000's aluminum fuji ace with a steel fork and 28mm tires. The other bike is my Optima Baron recumbent. For the routes with nearly 50% gravel (the Happy Trails 200k and Trail Mix 200K), I usually use my late 80's Trek 330 converted to 650b with 38mm Pari-Moto tires. The Pari-Motos handle gravel well enough. And since speed really isn't the main focus of a brevet, the slower bike works well for these events. Most of my gear is either just an under the seat bag and a top bar bag with 2 tubes and maybe some goodies. For longer 300k rides or changing weather, a handlebar bag, under seat bag, and maybe even another top bar bag. Nothing too crazy. Just enough to stay somewhat lightweight and still make my control stops.

And another thing about more people moving to gravel riding. It's the complaints I hear from home owners in rural areas. "Jeez, these cyclists are all over the place now-a-days", and usually in a negative tone. On many of the gravel roads in my area, there may be only 1 or 2 cars on a gravel road stretch every 5 minutes. But the minute a rural home owner sees a cyclist, he immediate loses his $#|T? Well, if they didn't keep glancing at their shiny phone devices and actually slowed down, moved over, and passed us in a safe fashion, maybe we wouldn't be moving to gravel roads as much.
My tires were 20mm in 1995 on PBP, 25 mm in 2015, and 23/25mm in 2019.

Like you, I used 35 or 38 mm tires (Compass/Herse) if there is a good amount of gravel on a brevet or if the roads are potholed to hell.

The size of the stones and depth of the bumps determine the tire size and pressure.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:55 AM
  #161  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
The UK is very varied in terrain, but in most areas it would be difficult to find a long continuous "gravel" route. So both road and mtb riding are more popular. There are purpose built mtb trail centres all over Wales and Scotland and lots of great rural road routes and natural mtb trails. There are fire-roads too, but usually with much more interesting singletrack and/or really nice paved roads nearby. Plus a lot of fire-roads here are dead end tracks or short loops around forest parks etc. There is also a limited network of dis-used rail tracks, but you don't need a specific gravel bike for those. They are mostly used for casual family rides.

One specific area in the UK that would strike me as perhaps being ideal for a gravel bike is the New Forest. Lots of off-road trails there where a mtb is overkill and a road bike not ideal unless shod with 32 mm+ tyres.

It definitely doesn't suck! LOL.
I am sure it doesn't suck. I probably should not have been sucked into the UK comment anyway. lol.. Like I said I cant imagine that the same areas don't exist everywhere. From your review it sounds like they do.
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Old 01-13-22, 12:03 PM
  #162  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
I am sure it doesn't suck. I probably should not have been sucked into the UK comment anyway. lol.. Like I said I cant imagine that the same areas don't exist everywhere. From your review it sounds like they do.
Yep, gravel biking is definitely a thing in the UK. Just not as popular as road/mtb over here.
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Old 01-13-22, 12:08 PM
  #163  
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
My world is great.
Ah, you took the blue pill ...
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Old 01-13-22, 12:29 PM
  #164  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Ah, you took the blue pill ...
I don't need any special medication to enjoy my surroundings.
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Old 01-13-22, 06:38 PM
  #165  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
The UK is very varied in terrain, but in most areas it would be difficult to find a long continuous "gravel" route. So both road and mtb riding are more popular. T
I think one of the great things about gravel bikes, is they tend to be more fun to ride on asphalt then a 2-3" tyred mt. bike, thus even if you don't have great stretches of dirt/gravel roads, you can nicely bridge sections on asphalt. My neck of the woods, Long Island, NY is somewhat like this, scattered wooded and parks/preserves with shorter off road routes that are nicely connected with a few miles on asphalt. I would not want to be doing these rides on my hard tail mt. bike, too painful on the tarmac.
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Old 01-14-22, 04:45 AM
  #166  
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I think one of the great things about gravel bikes, is they tend to be more fun to ride on asphalt then a 2-3" tyred mt. bike, thus even if you don't have great stretches of dirt/gravel roads, you can nicely bridge sections on asphalt. My neck of the woods, Long Island, NY is somewhat like this, scattered wooded and parks/preserves with shorter off road routes that are nicely connected with a few miles on asphalt. I would not want to be doing these rides on my hard tail mt. bike, too painful on the tarmac.
Yeah, there are places here where that would also work well. I'm just not convinced I would need an actual gravel bike for our typical wooded parks. A road bike with 32 mm tubeless would be enough in most cases.
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Old 01-14-22, 06:04 AM
  #167  
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I don't own a gravel bike but can certainly see the appeal where I live. Here in Portugal's Algarve we could host a World Class gravel race akin to the annual WT Volta ao Algarve that we host for road racing.

The most popular bike in this region is the MTB. I race MTB as a consequence albeit also road. The reason is there are hundreds of miles/km of gravel roads. We have plenty of MTB trails that would be difficult for a gravel bike and therefore MTB will remain popular but gravel biking is gaining in popularity because there are so many wonderful roads devoid of tarmac with great scenic views.
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Old 01-14-22, 09:23 AM
  #168  
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I've ridden the paved road alternative--U.S. 93 and MT 43--three times during tours. Nice, but doesn't compare. And it adds 4 miles more of climbing.


Climbing Gibbons Pass, between Sula and Wisdom, MT. I always make sure to look back when climbing. You never know what you might be missing.

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Old 01-14-22, 09:41 AM
  #169  
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So we have had the discussion locally mostly because the trend is kinda starting to happen here. What happens when big three starts selling these same bikes with flat or alt bars? will the world implode? will we actually be riding 90's MTB's again just with 1x and DI2? will my "vintage" rock hopper be a flat bar gravel bike or a old MTB still? am I being tricked into wanting a hybrid?

there are a few small brands selling flat bar versions of their drop bar gravel bikes now, Jones bars and the like are nothing new,
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Old 01-14-22, 12:36 PM
  #170  
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Between Melrose and Twin Bridges, MT. Three cars in about 25 miles.

This view is not available from the U.S. Highway on the other side of the valley.

16 mile climb up to Gold Pass west from St. Regis, MT to the ID border. The first mile is paved. Three cars.

Opted for gravel over city streets finishing a long weekend trip.

Went up a gravel road looking for critters during a rest day in Yaak, MT. Got lucky. Campground host saw a lion that morning up a nearby side road.

Little bugger seen from the unpaved Pine Creek Trail south of Ansonia, PA.

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Old 01-14-22, 01:34 PM
  #171  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Gravel Bikes are Road Bikes that don’t suck on Gravel.

or as I prefer to put it:

Gravel Bikes are Road Bikes that don’t suck.
I think this is the essence of it (where "doesn't suck" means "more capable") with respect to road bikes. I think the main issue is whether you are looking at it from the point of view of a conventional on-road bike vs. a cross-country mountain bike.

From the point of view of a conventional on-road bike, a gravel bike preserves most of the attractive features while permitting the use of wider (eg 40mm) tires and possibly more forgiving gearing. (There are of course other features, like flared handlebars and disc brakes, but these are secondary and more a matter of taste or personal preference rather than distinguishing features -- I use gravel handlebars on my touring bike and non-flare road bars on my gravel bike.) Basically a gravel bike ensures that your ride doesn't have to come to an end where the pavement comes to an end, but instead handles all road surfaces approximately equally. Tires, again, are the most critical difference.

From the point of view of a cross-country mountain bike, it is a bit harder to make the case for a real advantage, but the way I look at it, a gravel bike in general is easier to ride to the trail-head, thus eliminating the need for the obligatory pickup truck or SUV when you want to go for a ride, and is essentially equally at home on or off pavement. Drop bars and lack of suspension are probably looked at as compromises from the point of view of the XC mountain bike, but are advantages from the gravel bike perspective. For single-track, it is much harder to justify (but a lot of XC mountain bikers shy away from more difficult single track.)

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Old 01-14-22, 01:51 PM
  #172  
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
I remember when cross bikes first came out...
No. You donít.
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Old 01-14-22, 07:37 PM
  #173  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Yeah, there are places here where that would also work well. I'm just not convinced I would need an actual gravel bike for our typical wooded parks. A road bike with 32 mm tubeless would be enough in most cases.
Iím conducting an experiment this winter. Our trail system has many patches that are saturated and muddy all winter. They are either frozen or a saturated, muddy mess. Last winter I learned that I really enjoy riding in the cold wind and slogging through the mud and I mostly rode my RockHopper with 2Ē+ wide tires.

This winter Iím seeing how much I can ride my other bike with 700x32 tires. I was pleasantly surprised today to manage a ride through a lot of soft muddy patches with standing water with only a SpeedMax in front and a road slick in back. I assume the trail may reach a level of slop that also requires a bit of tread in back to maintain forward motion and remain stable on the curves. We shall see.

Otto
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Old 01-15-22, 03:04 AM
  #174  
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I have a tendency to underbike, but I find 700c x 33mm tires with a file thread to be surprisingly capable offroad, although with reduced pressure for the rocky bits.

When I wear them out, will throw on a pair of GP5000 TL in 32mm which I have laying around to see how much of a difference it makes.

​​​​​
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Old 01-15-22, 08:51 AM
  #175  
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Some of the big guns.



Former Milwaukee Road right-of-way transformed into a road leading to the ID end of the Hiawatha Trail.

Rock Creek Rd. heading toward Clinton, MT.

Skalkaho Highway in MT.

Skalkaho Highway.

Skalkaho Highway.

Skalkaho Highway.

I fixed the fallen sign.

Skalkaho Falls.
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