As the race season comes around yet again, FSA / Vision has shared a primer into the new phenomenon called “gravel”.
What is it? Why is it the new rave in cycling? Well, the term gravel comes from the idea of taking your bike off the pavement and onto the unpaved country roads. It means to explore, to get out of your comfort zone or maybe even deeper into it. It means to go back to your roots of where the love of the bicycle brought you as a kid.
Every cyclist has a story or three from when they were young and first learned to ride a bike. Most of these stories involved riding down dirt roads or unkept alleys full of potholes and grit. All of these stories involve the thrill found in freedom; the freedom only a bicycle can give you. Somewhere between freedom on the bike and the real world, life happened. Many of us grew up, grew old, and had families. We developed work lives and habits (for better or for worse) and could even have fallen into a rut. A groove of life if you will.
Whether we rode mountain or road bikes or something in between, is irreverent. What matters is we all reached an impasse. An impasse of time, of convenience, of life. We all know that riding a bike for fun is something that once was but may not be achievable now for whatever excuse we create. Because they are all just excuses in the end. This is where gravel can be found. Somewhere between the status quo and freedom exists gravel.
Gravel is freedom and love, it is an adventure, it is a wonder. It is the ability to get on your bike in your garage, go ride, and ride anywhere. Gravel isn’t discipline; it isn’t a buzz word or hype to sell something you don’t need. Gravel is the life we all had. Gravel is nostalgia. Gravel is freedom. Gravel is love.
With that said, the concept of a “gravel bike” is still developing. There are multiple ideas surrounding this model but all of them equate to just what I talked about above; to put more fun between you and the earth beneath you. Gravel bike needs to be first and foremost something that fits you perfectly. It needs to not just fit you ergonomically but aesthetically. It needs to speak to your soul, to your inner child and sense of adventure. It needs to scream to you “hey, stop what you are doing, and let’s go ride!” Even if just around the block or down the alley, a gravel bike should make you want to go ride it; because you can ride it, anywhere.
A gravel bike should have ample tire clearance, room for your choice of wheel size and tire width. At minimum you need to have a 700×40 or 650×45 to keep the dirt and tarmac roads comfortable. Most new gravel bikes will fit up to a 700×45 or 650×50 with some companies allowing for up to 700×50 (29×2.1) allowing for some real serious versatility. Why would you want this? Easy; a bike with larger volume tires will be more comfortable and more capable the more off-road you get. A gravel bike with 29×2.0 or 2.1 tires is essentially a mountain bike that is perfect for easy trails and some backcountry trips.
With all that said, we hope to see you out there – not on the road, but off it! Unroad Yourself.