What is a Gravel Bike?

Gravel Bikes are the newest frontier for cyclists. Somewhere between a mountain bike and a cross bike, gravel bikes can traverse a variety of terrains while not being poor on any of them. Lets explore what makes a gravel bike unique, what utility a rider can get out a gravel bike, and why they might just be the best all around bicycle you can own.

Interested in Gravel Bicycle Touring or Gravel Bikepacking? Check out 5 reasons to take a gravel bike on a bicycle tour.
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Special Features

Gravel bike frames are very similar in shape and style to traditional road bike frames. They may be slightly less aggressive and heavier than a standard road frame.Gravel bikes have a longer wheelbase and lower bottom bracket for stability and comfort over rougher terrain. They are generally similar to a cross of road bike.Most gravel bikes come with flared drop bars. This gives a more comfortable ride than standard road bars. Having drop bars gives you more hand position options which can be a benefit when compared to a mountain bike. Gravel bikes come with a range of gearing options. Earlier gravel bikes had similar ratios to a road bike. Newer gravel bikes tend to have slightly higher ratios (easier) to compensate for the more difficult terrain.

All Terrain

The biggest plus to having a gravel bike is the ability to ride on any terrain. They can handle pavement, dirt paths, mild singletrack, and of course gravel. For riders who don’t want to own 4 bikes, this is a huge plus (why you wouldn’t want 4 bikes is beyond me, but to each their own). For the cyclist trying to pare down their stable, a gravel bike can serve multiple purposes. One frame with two wheelsets can handle just about anything except for serious mountain bike terrain. This is also great bike for vacations as you can pack light and still ride almost anything.


Gravel bikes are of course at home on the gravel. They are designed to go fast and be stable on a terrain that most bikes can’t handle. Beyond this, they have a great deal of flexibility in use that many riders find attractive. With a pair of slicks, they can make a great commuter bike that can handle the potholes and grit on city streets. Having larger tires can also make gravel bikes great on multi-use paths that can be bumpy or have debris on them. A gravel bike can easily be used for cyclocross racing, road riding, or even mild singletrack. Throw on some bags and your gravel bike is not set up for bike touring or bikepacking. Simply put, a gravel bike can be used for almost any utility you might need.

Published by Dave and Meredith

Two endurance junkies turned adventure travelers. Come on a trip with us!

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