Florian Pertsch
Author:
Florian Pertsch

Join the Gravel Community! Features and Races

Gravel Bikes Are Fun on Uneven Ground and on Asphalt

The bicycle industry is discovering the gravel bike trend for itself. Read here on what makes these bikes so fascinating, which races you shouldn't miss and how you can test a new bike for free. 

Gravelbikes vereinen Asphalt- mit Geländetauglichkeit.
Gravel bikes combine suitability for asphalt and uneven ground.

Actually, the main principle of bikes is fully developed: Frame, two wheels, disc or rim brake, handlebar, crank, pedals, saddle - that's it! So the latest development from the manufacturers, the gravel bike, was sometimes viewed with skepticism, even after its official market launch around four years ago. 

But the great popularity in the USA proves the fact that the manufacturers have hit a nerve with their artificially created trend. Also in Europe bikers slowly get a taste for the gravel bike, or as it was exclusively called at the beginning: adventure bike.

After all, that's what it's all about: not letting your adventure with your friends end on an unpaved road. That's where the fun actually starts. On a mountain slope, the sun slowly rises above the summit and the crispest meters of altitude with the following reward at an alpine pasture are still tempting.

With ISPO Open Innovation you have the unique opportunity to support a manufacturer in the advancement of a gravel bike.

"It's great that gravel bikes are now available to the masses," says ex-professional cyclist Dave Zabriskie, who has won stages in the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana during his career: "The experience on a Gravel bike is simply freer, less contact with cars and more contact with nature. Some gravel roads are a bit boring on a mountain bike, but with a gravel bike you can have a lot more fun. Plus: On asphalt you can also ride really fast. At the moment it seems to me to be the only real growth market besides e-bikes."

So what makes a gravel bike? Which characteristics are typical and where do you feel most comfortable with them? ISPO.com answers the most important questions about the gravel trend and gives an outlook on what's new in 2019 and gravel events.

Features of a Gravel Bike

  • Longer wheelbase than a Cyclo-Crosser: more comfort, better climbing characteristics
  • disc brakes
  • Lower bottom bracket: more stability, better directional stability
  • Rather upright sitting position in order to ride longer distances
  • racing bike handlebars
  • Tyres up to 47mm possible for more comfort
  • Eyelets on frame and fork for additional equipment on multi-day tours

As the above mentioned features already suggest, the gravel bike should be used especially in easy terrain - gravel roads, forest roads and not too technical trails - and on longer tours.

The bikes also feel comfortable on asphalt and are used more and more by commuters on their way to work or even bike messengers.

Gravel Bike Races

Here are some of the most beautiful Gravel Grinders in Europe and the rest of the world for those who already have experience with Gravel Bikes and want to measure their skills with other bikers:

  • Roc d'Azur Festival: 9th of October, 2019 - Roc Trophy Stage Race over five days with start in Frejus. Individual races are also possible on all five days. Further information: http://www.rocazur.com/en
  • Dirty Kanza 200: June 1st, 2019 - Probably the most famous gravel event in the USA. Circuit over 200 miles in Emporia, Kansas, where Tour de France legend Jens Voigt, among others, took part. Further information: https://dirtykanza.com/
  • Grinduro: Gravel event with four venues in Scotland (13th of July), Canada (17th of August), USA (28th of September) and Japan (October). 60 miles each, with only four special sections timed. The rest of the route will be designed as a joint exit. Further information: https://grinduro.com/
  • Gravel Rallye Black Forest: July 20th-21th, Breitnau. Three different track lengths (65, 80 and 125km) with up to 2400hm. Further information: https://www.gravel-rallye.com/
  • And if all these races are too short for you, here is an absolute delicacy for all bikers with sitting flesh, who don't let themselves be deterred by a track actually intended for mountain bikes: The Navad 1000: 15th of June, 1000 km from the start in Romanshorn on Lake Constance to Montreux on Lake Geneva. 31,000 vertical meters included. The rules are simple: no entry fee, no outside support, no price money, no excuses, nonstop. Further information: http://www.navad1000.ch/Hallo/
Florian Pertsch
Author:
Florian Pertsch
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