Gravel Bikes Explained

Although at first glance, a gravel bike can look just like a cyclocross bike but they are actually very different propositions and in this post we look at exactly what a gravel bike is, and why they are one of the most versatile and capable bikes that money can buy. Gravel bikes are fantastic for a few reasons, but the biggest reason being that we think they are fantastic, is the fact that they have been designed to ride fast and hard across all kinds of terrain and ground. These bikes are perfectly at home on fire roads as well as on the commute, and riding throughout the colder, wetter winter months during training sessions. 

Gravel Bike Characteristics

Without going into the exact technologies of a gravel bike, there are a few main principles which makes a gravel bike a gravel bike. The first design key of a gravel bike is both simplicity, and weight saving - everything about a Gravel bike has been designed to be kept simple, these bikes are light, yet functional and can be ridden fast. 

The second most important part of a gravel bike is the ability of the bike to tackle a massive range of different surfaces. If you are cycling along tarmac and fancy dipping off to ride down a rough track, an old railway line for example, you can do so with complete ease. Having ridden a gravel bike first hand, it’s incredible how much they negate the need for a mountain bike - even if some parts are impassable all you have to do is pick the bike up, walk with it for a few metres and plonk it down again on a more suitable surface!

Perhaps the most important part of riding and owning a gravel bike is forgetting about sheer performance and simply enjoying the journey. These bikes are not about high speed sprints and record timings or serious off road action, but instead the flexibility to cycle wherever you want, whenever you want to. 

Gravel Bike Design

As gravel bikes are a relatively new design, the geometry of the frame of gravel bikes can vary. Typically, bike brands either design a gravel bike bias towards a mountain bike, or bias towards a road bike. That being said, compared to a cyclo-cross bike, the riding position and the frame offers a more relaxed design providing a riding position suitable for everything from long distance cycling and meandering, to commuting. 

The wheel and tyre setup of a gravel bike also sits between a halfway house of road tyre and off road tyre. These tyres offer a pretty low rolling resistance, but will have enough of a tread pattern to cope with loose surfaces. They will however massively struggle in off road situations, such as mud. As these bikes are designed to be cycled long distances, across so many different situations they are typically well equipped with places to have water bottles and luggage, making them a good option when used as a tourer. 

Gravel Bike Online from Westbrook Cycles

At Westbrook Cycles we stock and supply an excellent range of gravel bikes from the biking industry's top players and have gravel bikes in stock from:

  • Bergamont
  • Cannondale
  • Giant
  • GT
  • Scott

You can view the full range here, and as always if you have any questions about choosing the right gravel bike for your requirements and budget, please just get in touch.