Riding Gravel is here to stay, with more riders than ever purchasing and enjoying using gravel bikes to provide their cycling fix. Allowing road bike type performance, with the ability to enjoy travelling across byways, bridleways and fire roads.
For most people, riding a road type bike off road can be a pretty intimidating experience at first - so in this post, we look at some gravel bike techniques and tips to get you proficient in the quickest possible time frame. Some of the advice, you will recognise from other types of cycling, whilst others are specific to gravel riding.
Gravel Bike Cornering
The typical road bike techniques of approaching corners wide, running into the apex of a corner before leaving wide again - is not effective or possible during many gravel rides. This is because the edges of corners and routes when cycling off road are often the roughest, so you can be riding your bike into all kinds of terrain. Remember also not to lean in too a corner too much, with a loose surface providing an unstable platform for you to do so. Instead, scrub speed off before the corner and stay relaxed through the full corner - sticking to the smoother surface for safety and speed. Lean the bike and keep your body relatively upright.
Gravel Bikes do not deal with unexpected obstacles very well, so ensure that you look ahead and plan where you are travelling - as seriously rough terrain on a gravel bike can be incredibly uncomfortable. Look for smooth and fast lines that play to the strengths of your gravel bike.
Gravel Bike Tubeless Tyres
One of the best upgrades you can make to any gravel bike, is choosing a tubeless tyre setup. Although gravel bike tyres are wider than road bike tyres, to accommodate off road use - pinch flats can occur, and running tubeless tyres allows you to run lower tyre pressures, providing greater off road levels of grip. Tubeless tyres are also run with sealant, which protects the tyre from thorn strikes and punctures from stones.
Ride a Gravel Bike Quicker
If you are used to riding road bikes, you will be well versed in looking ahead for vehicles, drains and potholes - so use the same approach when riding a gravel bike off road. Spot your ideal line through off road terrain, keep your head up and the quicker you travel, the further ahead you need to look. Find a balance between riding over everything, and being too careful in selecting your route.
Riding Gravel Bike Ascents
One of the biggest changes road cyclists will feel on a gravel bike riding ascents off road, will be the experience of a loss of traction when climbing up gravelly, uneven terrain. Unlike on a road bike, where standing up is the natural thing to do - sitting down and keeping weight over the rear of the bike helps ensure the rear tyre can grip.
Riding Gravel Bike Descents
Riding a gravel bike downhill, is much the same as riding a road bike downhill. Concentrate on keeping out of the saddle and remaining over the rear of the bike to help stability and control. Use your standing position to make small adjustments as you travel down. Keep your arms and knees bent, ready to absorb bumps and uneven surfaces that you will be riding on - and always look ahead.
Gravel Bike Unweighting
Once you are comfortable on your gravel bike, you can begin to look at unweighting your bike when you travel over challenging obstacles, such as rocks. Mountain Bikers will be familiar with shifting weight on a mountain bike a little more than road cyclists usually are, with moves such as bunny hops becoming more commonplace.
Get out & Ride
Although hours and hours on the turbo trainer can do little else but improve fitness levels, riding off-road on a gravel bike and pushing the boundaries of your riding, is key in improving your gravel bike skill levels.
Although a gravel bike will more than likely require the same riding position as a road bike, spend some time changing up your tyre pressures and do try running a lower tyre pressure.
Gravel Bikes Online
At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a fantastic range of Gravel Bikes online. All of these bikes have been handpicked from the world’s leading bike brands, and we supply these bikes with complete confidence in their performance and reliability.