Top 10 reasons why you should get a gravel bike
As the popularity of gravel biking increases, you may wonder if gravel bikes are worth the hype. We’re here to tell you, yes, they are! With the discipline originating from the US, the love of gravel bikes has spread across the pond, and we can’t get enough of them. With the versatility and freedom they bring, it’s no wonder why everyone wants a gravel bike.
If you aren’t 100% convinced yet or you’re thinking about buying a gravel bike, we’ve put together our top 10 reasons why you should get a gravel bike to help you decide.
Table of contents
- Adventure biking and bikepacking
- More forgiving geometry
- Change tyre options
- Multiple gear options
- Great for beginners
- Racing and community
- Great breaks
- Improve your skills
- Custom extras
What is a gravel bike?
Firstly, if you don’t know what a gravel bike is, let’s break down the basics. Gravel bikes combine features of the classic mountain bike, a cyclocross bike and a road bike. Faster than a mountain bike but more stable than a road bike, you can ride gravel bikes on various road and off-road surfaces, giving you the best of both worlds.
For example, gravel bikes feature drop handlebars and typical road bike geometry but are slightly longer and slacker, giving you a more relaxed position. They also have more mounting options for luggage and water bottles for longer rides.
However, as the genre gains popularity, there are more variations of gravel bikes depending on the intended use. For example, you can use a variety of tyres and wheels to suit your terrain.
The main selling point for getting a gravel bike is its versatility. A gravel bike will allow you to break free from the tarmac and explore off-road trails. Due to their thicker, knobbly and wider tyres, you can swap between tarmac, gravel, off-road, rocky, single-track and bridleways.
So if you want to use a bike for exploring the countryside and commuting to work in the city, a gravel bike is the perfect choice.
2. Adventure biking and bikepacking
People sometimes refer to gravel bikes as adventure bikes for good reasons. They are the perfect companion for long-road adventure rides or multi-day bike packing trips.
With more relaxed geometry and multiple hand position options, you can ride comfortably for hours on a gravel bike. Gravel bikes also have the capacity to install bike rack mounts to carry baggage and extra water bottle cages for long rides and overnight stays.
3. More forgiving geometry
Despite having drop handlebars, gravel bikes have a much more forgiving geometry. You won’t have to hunch over like on a road bike, offering a more comfortable upright cycling position.
Also, the wheelbase tends to be longer, and the head tube is more slack than a road bike, meaning you have more stability in the handling.
4. Change tyre options
Most gravel bikes come with wide tyres. However, most of them will also allow you to change to any tyre type. If you’re sticking mainly to the road, opt for slick 700 tyres for a quicker pace. Or, if you’re hitting the trails, opt for 650s for extra traction. There are also special tyres if you want to try your hand at cyclocross.
Being able to swap different tyres for varied terrain means you won’t have to buy a bike for other disciplines. A gravel bike is ideal if your budget is tight and you enjoy many cycling activities.
5. Multiple gear options
Like with tyre options, you can upgrade or change your gears depending on the terrain. For example, a light option would be a single chainring at the front with a wide selection of gears at the back. This gear setup will get you up steep hills and is less likely to bounce off when navigating rocks and roots on the trail.
Alternatively, if you go on tarmac or road routes more, you can opt for a traditional double chainring in the front and compact, subcompact or mini gears on the back for a smooth cadence change.
However, for most situations, gravel-style gearing will get you through any terrain.
6. Great for beginners
A gravel bike is one of the most accessible bikes you can choose if you’re a beginner. You don’t have the pressure of other road users and traffic as you have the flexibility to ride off-road.
You won’t have to use it for technical mountain bike trails or be in an uncomfortable, unstable position like on a road bike. Gravel bikes also tend to be lighter than mountain bikes, so you won’t tire using them if you’re not used to cycling. It’s also super fun! You can cycle at your own pace and wherever you want to explore.
Road and race bikes tend to be quick and responsive, which can feel unstable and twitchy if you’re a beginner due to the steeper headtube and shorter wheelbase. But the longer wheelbase, slacker headtube, and flared drop bars for a wider grip and thicker tyres will give you a stable and steady ride, helping you to feel more confident in the saddle.
7. Racing and community
Another reason to get into gravel biking is to meet and get involved with like-minded people who appreciate gravel riding. Find other cyclists that enjoy a good time on beautiful bikes searching for the next epic adventure. There are many gravel cycling groups in the UK to explore, and by staying off the roads, you’ll be able to socialise side-by-side safely on off-road trails.
Feel like challenging yourself in a gravel classic or sportive? With the advance in the popularity of gravel cycling, there are more gravel races to compete in. Or, you can take your gravel bike to any cyclocross race with the right tyres.
8. Great breaks
Gravel bikes often feature a hydraulic brake system, providing better-stopping power on the rough stuff. However, you won’t want to get grime in your rim breaks if you’re going on muddy or dusty tracks. Luckily, you can opt for a gravel bike with disc breaks. Disc breaks also don’t limit tire clearances like rim breaks. There is plenty of versatility within the gravel bike market.
9. Improve your skills
Gravel bikes allow you to improve and diversify your cycling skillset. Learn how to ride on rough terrain. Learning how to control your bike on loose gravel will help develop your handling on the road and improve your pedal stroke in power, consistency, and awareness of track obstacles. Learn to stay in control as you go with the flow when the track becomes unpredictable.
10. Custom extras
Gravel bikes allow you to upgrade and modify them to work for you. Choose or customise your gravel bike with a dropper post or extra suspension. Or, if you want more help getting up the hills, an e-gravel bike would be better. With so many options, you can choose the best gravel bike for your preferred cycling.
Gravel bikes at Swinnerton Cycles
If our list of top 10 reasons to get a gravel bike hasn’t convinced you to try a gravel bike, we don’t know what will! The world is your oyster when you embrace the freedom of a gravel bike. Use them to keep fit, commute to work or enjoy the great outdoors wherever you go. Why not check out our gravel bikes for men and women today at Swinnerton Cycles and find your new favourite adventure bike?