BikeChain-Gravel
BikeChain-Gravel


All You Need For Gravel Cycling

For those seeking adventure, the gravel grind calls. It’s not about the lycra, watts or carbon wheels - we ride gravel to explore and turn onto country roads that were once not so inviting. Getting lost is all good, just make sure your gear is gravel quality!



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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I ride a gravel bike on?

Gravel bikes are extremely versatile and can be ridden on tarmac roads to smoother MTB trails. Dirt fire roads are the ideal terrain for exploring on a gravel bike. Picking the most suitable gravel tyres to suit the terrain you plan to ride will make a large difference to gravel riding experience.




Is gravel riding harder than road?

You will probably find riding a gravel bike slightly harder than riding a road bike. Wider tyres on rougher, often corrugated roads use more energy to cover the same distances, plus gravel bikes are usually slightly heavier bikes than their road counterparts.




What should I bring on a long gravel ride?

The length of your ride will determine what you need to bring on your ride. On longer gravel rides you need carry much more than a short one hour training ride. Gravel specific clothing has addition pockets in bib shorts and jerseys to help you carry these additional items.

  • Nutrition: Energy Gels and bars are small compact with high levels of carbohydrates for energy. Electrolyte tablets or powder are an essential item especially on hot days to keep hydrated and stop cramping. Also possibly a hydration pack if water top up’s are unlikely.
  • Spares: Two spare tubes, pump/C02 pump and spare cartridges, tyre levers, chain breaker, and spare chain quick link are highly recommended.
  • Directions: a GPS computer or mobile phone with GPS are very useful when exploring gravel backroads you may not be familiar with.
  • Footwear: MTB or gravel specific shoes and pedals are worthwhile as you may want to stop for a break to explore. These will allow you to freely walk around unlike road shoes.



  • What do you wear on a gravel ride?

    You can now purchase gravel specific clothing that has additional storage pockets in the bib knicks, jerseys and vests, which is quiet useful when on longer rides. Gels and bars can be carried in leg pockets and phones, money etc. can be stored in the rear pockets of the Jersey or bibs. If the weather requires a vest or jacket these can also be stored in these rear pockets




    What accessories do I need for a gravel bike?

    Accessories for Gravel are similar to regular road riding such as a pump, CO2 pump and cartridges, GPS computer, two bottle cages or hydration pack. If you’re planning on doing some longer touring style gravel rides then bike bags to carry additional food, clothing and sleeping/camping gear may also be required, depending on your plans.




    Why is gravel riding so popular?

    With the introduction of gravel bikes people are enjoying exploring new areas they may have never ridden before. Gravel bikes give the rider the opportunity to get away from busy roads and cars. The bikes are very versatile so allow riders to ride the road, pathways, gravel roads and even some MTB tracks - many riders are using their gravel bike as their do it all bike now.




    Gravel Riding

    What is gravel riding? 

    Don’t assume that gravel riding takes place only on gravel surfaces, as the name is somewhat misleading. Instead, expect a combination of anything including paved surface, unpaved, dirt, mud, a little bit of everything, really! Indeed, the best way to describe gravel riding is to say it is a hybrid of road and predominantly off-road riding. A gravel rider likes nothing more than suddenly discovering a road has come to an end, and it’s time for them to choose their own adventure. If you love getting away from sealed roads, but you’re not a super technical rider, then gravel could well be for you. 

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    What is a gravel bike? 

    Given the terrain and type of riding we’ve just described, it probably isn’t a surprise for you to now learn that a gravel bike borrows a bit from both worlds; road and mountain. It makes sense, right? That said, there is no such thing as a classic gravel bike as the finished look depends very much on the manufacturer. Indeed, one might take more cues from road cycling whilst another may choose to draw more inspiration from mountain biking. 



    Despite these nuances, typical gravel bike features include: 


    Drop handlebars 


    As you would see on a road bike, the drops are here because gravel riding often incorporates long stretches during which you can really settle in, drop down and find your groove at a decent pace. 



    Wide tyres 

    As you would see on a mountain bike, expect wider profile tyres (40mm) to help you move across all that challenging terrain. This also means you tend to travel more slowly than you would if on a road bike. However, unlike some mountain biking, you won’t have enormous tread - there will be some grip with more aggressive options available for muddier conditions. 



    Low gearing

    Again, to help you over the trickier terrain and up any surprise steep climbs.



    Aluminium or carbon frame 

    This type of riding calls for a material that can take a knock but something that doesn’t weigh a lot; you need to be agile, fairly speedy, but ready for the curveballs this riding will throw your way. 



    Slacker frame and fork angles 

    This helps give the bike more stable handling, which is very much necessary off-road. 




    What should you wear when gravel riding? 

    Bib & baggy short combination

    For maximum bum support/comfort and minimal chafing, opt for a cycling bib and (if it’s your style), a pair of baggy, waterproof cycling shorts over the top, Santini offer a specific gravel collection for all your gravel needs. There’s a growing trend in gravel for ‘fitted baggy’ - again, it’s like a hybrid between road and mtb!



    Base layer 

    Look for moisture-repelling material that will keep you warm on those cold wintery days out but also dry as you really pick up the pace. 



    Jersey 

    You want a jersey with plenty of pockets as chances are you’re out cycling for a long stretch, but you’re nowhere near a cafe, petrol station or supermarket. So, fill those pockets with nutritional snacks and any spare parts/ puncture repair tools that don’t fit elsewhere. Look for material that is great for high-paced riding; plenty of breathing panels, cooling and moisture repelling properties.



    Quick-zip jacket 

    Aim for a wind and waterproof jacket that you can whip on or off quick as a flash, as gravel doesn’t do downtime so well!  




    Gravel riding accessories 

    Gravel bike shoes 

    Aim for a wind and waterproof jacket that you can whip on or off quick as a flash, as gravel doesn’t do downtime so well!   We mentioned earlier that more and more brands are developing gravel-centric lines, and this is particularly true for shoes. Because you’re likely to be out for long sessions on rough surfaces, a classic mountain bike or road bike shoe just isn’t ideal. Instead, you should go straight to gravel specific bike shoes like the Rockit lace-up cycling shoes from Northwave.



    Gravel shoe features include: 

  • Grippy outsoles that enable easy walking/running off the bike 
  • Two-bolt cleat compatibility 
  • Supreme stiffness 
  • Plenty of breathability 
  • Fast-drying 
  • Low-maintenance cleaning 

    Bike frame mounts

    This form of riding lends itself well to adventure touring. As such, you can find mounts to attach to the bike’s frame for carrying panniers, etc. 


    How do you start gravel riding? 

    Gravel riding is all about the road less ridden. So, the best place to start is with a spirit of adventure. You don’t have to buy a gravel bike immediately. Perhaps if you have a road bike, you might want to swap out the tyres for something with a bit more tread. From here, veer off-piste and see where and how you go. That said, we think a gravel bike is a pretty safe investment. Indeed, given the diversity and breadth of riding it exposes you to, chances are you will get your money’s worth (and then some)! Get online and Google gravel biking clubs in your area. Visit your local bike dealer and ask them for introductions. You can also touch base with us - see below! 


    Contact us with any gravel riding questions

    If you’ve got gravel under your skin and you want to know more, or you just haven’t found what you’re looking for, contact us. We’re here to help with any questions you have or advice you’re after, especially if it’s about the awesome sport of gravel riding! We’d love to help, so reach out to us today.



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