Road Bike Vs Gravel Bike – Jebel Shams Epic Ride Oman

October 15, 2019

– Road cycling has been undergoing
a change in recent years in that it’s no longer
confined to just roads. – Take for example,
that mountain over their Jebel Shams it’s the highest peak in Oman the third highest on
the Arabian Peninsula. By all accounts it is a
fantastic ride to the top but we know that it’s
not completely paved. There is tarmac but there is also gravel. No for this kind of mixed surface riding, you can get yourself a dedicated bike. A gravel bike. Now despite the stupid name
they are actually great, we love them, they’re fantastic fun. And they open up loads of
new riding opportunities. – Do you really need one though. I mean for this kind of surface with tarmac and gravel
would you not be better off on a bike that excels
on tarmac, the majority, and then just kind of gets by on the dirt. – I don’t actually know. But this seems like
the perfect opportunity to test it out. I mean an epic venue for an epic race. Road versus gravel. (mood- music) – According to the route
planning app Komoot the climb is 21 kilometers long and roughly 20 percent of that is gravel. Now I’ll probably lose so I’ve sneakily added on an additional gravel loop around the summit which takes
the ride up to 60 kilometers and is now 50-50 gravel and road. A true mixed surface route. (mood music) – What then are the weapons of choice. Well I’m being resolutely traditional in the sense that I’ve got
narrow 25 millimeter wide tires, and rim brakes. Those two factors combined
with a super light Orbea frame set means that this bike does not weigh very much. Close to six point eight kilos. Perhaps not surprising that it’s close to the legal racing weight limit. ‘Cause this bike would absolutely be at home in the pro (mumbles) were it not for the fact
that it’s being ridden by me. Now if I was to use a disc brake version I would be able to get
wider tires in there. Starting to blur that boundary a little between road and gravel. Although another thing I’m gonna miss the disc brakes having that
extra braking performance in these arid conditions. I perhaps will regret that tire choice. My main concern being impact punctures. So I’m having to run a
little bit higher pressure than I otherwise would like. My second concern if I’m honest is for my paintwork ratteling down those rocky descents. (high energy music) – I’ve opted for this absolute
beast the Canyon Grail. Now it may be heavier
than size featherweight or bare but it’s designed
to take an awful lot of punishment. And much like myself,
it’s kind of like strong, rugged and versatile. This is a bike that’s
capable of on and off road, has much bigger tires than size so much more clearance. It’s kind of the cycling equivalent of an SUV to size sporty little coupe. Although in the right hands this could be far more capable off road than an SUV. Although it probably would struggle to tow a Caravan or fit
three kids in the back. You’ll notice that our ride to the summit of Jebel Shams includes over
2,000 meters of climbing but we’re gonna begin
with a gravel descent. Step aside sir, I picked
the right tool for the job. – I’m not actually gonna do that at all. I don’t fancy a double puncture
straight out of the box. (mood music) This is kind of quite close to the limit. I’m just telling myself
that Pyre Ruve is bumpier. – Ya mate, I’ve got a flat. – I’ve got some spare tubes if you want. – This isn’t supposed to happen. – I brought 14 of them. It’s weird, I thought it
would be better out here than that. (energizing music) – Well I’d image that Ollie has a grin like a Cheshire cat right now. Where as I am having to
breath a sigh of relief. I didn’t hemorrhage as much (mumbles) his slightly ironic puncture and the fact that was pushing pretty hard. But never the less we’re on time right now so the ball is in my court. I would hope that I’m
moving considerably faster. Primarily down to my skinny, slick tires which role considerably faster. It’s not exclusively down to
rolling resistance though. Aerodynamics plays a big factor. Wider tires are less aerodynamic. Good handful of watts are cruising speed. And while it might not
feel like it’s important it all adds up to the
sensations you get on the bike. A road bike just feels faster
because it is basically. I mean Ollie was right when he said this is a sportier little coupe press on the accelerator and away you go. Even the geometry is designed
to make this bike feel fast. It all adds up to being super responsive and super engaging. I don’t really care about that because I know a little
geometry can make a bike feel fast it doesn’t
actually make it any faster. And Sy knows this too ’cause he even did a video on it two months ago. And although the wider
tires aren’t that great and the stable handling
isn’t helping me going uphill on smooth tarmac. Well it certainly felt blooming amazing going downhill on that
gravel like a rocket ship. (drums) (mood music) – Bridgie, still havin’ fun mate? – I’ll admit I’m not
quite making that headway I’d like to on the smooth section. That while I’m saying is
entirely down to the bike not the rider. But, fortunately there is
still more gravel to come. Which will play into my hands. Coming for you Richardson. (baa) – This is what I like about road bikes, their all about perfect roads,
dancing up smooth tarmac just ticking off those meters of climbing and just being rewarded
with every pedal stroke. All the while bathed in absolute agony of lactic acid. That happens whatever bike your on right. – Sy is clearly set out to make the most of his Orbea road bike in it’s
natural habitat, the road. The tarmac section is a good 30 kilometers and particularly on these
final steep gradients he’s stretched out quite a gap. Also helped in part by my
slightly ironic puncture. Maybe I was just getting too
rad even for a gravel bike. Either way gravel fans, there’s
no need to panic just yet. – What’s it like to ride
a gravel bike on a climb on a road like this. Well I own a Orkan much like Sy’s and I can tell you that this being heavier and having the wider slow rolling tires is noticeably more difficult. I’m really having to put out more effort. But, my bike does have gears
that are better equipped for these steep gradients than Sy’s. I’ve got 34-34 which means although slower I have no problem getting up. And this climb Jebel Shams
is an absolute brute. There’s loads of them, double digit ramps and it’s the altitude too, it’s hard. But another key point is
that although I do have slower rolling tires I have the option to run narrow, skinny slicks. But Sy wouldn’t have the
versatility or the option of putting my tires on his bike. They wouldn’t fit. This is hard. (upbeat music) Back to gravel, we’re
here in three, two, one. Feels a little bit like walking barefoot across really rough ground. I just kind of want to tip toe but I can’t. To be fair I mean, I’ve
missed speed up hill but the chances of doing any damage to my wheels and my
frame are pretty limited. Certainly no more so then
hitting something big on a road. But I’ve just got to
hope that nothing sharp finds it’s way through my tires. There’s the gravel. Yes, gravel to the top now. There it is. The odds swing back in my favor. ‘Cause I have the wider tires I can run them lower pressure. I’m running about 40 PSI, which means I’ve got more traction on a loose surface and better rolling resistance. I’m coming for you Richardson. (upbeat music) This extra loop sees les wheeled traffic then the main climb. And so it’s increasingly less forgiving on the road bike. In fact it’s pretty rough. But just perfect for the gravel bike. My cunning plan has worked. Time for me to get my head down. – Crossed in the rough later. (mood music) – Again, I’m a little bit
over this now I think. The gravel is really exhilarating in small sections. Like there’s this illicit thrill ’cause you get a feeling that you actually shouldn’t be
doing it on a road bike. But after this many kilometers I know that I actually shouldn’t be
doing it on a road bike because it’s really uncomfortable and because I’m not
actually having as much fun as Ollie. (mellow music) – Back on the tarmac. I’ve got a gap. I reckon, I can push off and get this. Feeling alright. Here we go. Back onto tarmac. Only slight problem now is I’ve got quite a bit of ground to make up and my body is in bits, it is not happy with riding copious amount
of gravel on a road bike. Or maybe it’s just the
fact that we’re 2,000 goodness knows what meters. And we’ve just done an epic ride. (dramatic music) I’m coming for ya. Really slowly. The road’s so twisty turny
I can’t get a glimpse of him so I can’t know how far ahead he is. (mood music) (mumbles) this is the top. Where is he, where is he, where is he. Can’t see him. Oh my god. Oh. (dramatic music) Oh man. (dramatic music) (beep) (footsteps) – I want Sy to think I’ve been here ages. Got to think I’ve got changed. Act casual Bridgewood. – Oh my goodness. You’re in casual kit, you
must have been here ages. You smashed me. – Yeah, yeah. – Fair, fair mate. Well done. That was crackin’ race. I didn’t think you would have made it back to actually got to ride together as opposed to two solo (mumbles). That was good fun wasn’t it. – Mate, this is off the charts. – Stay away from the edge Ollie. (mood music) – Gravel bike, road bike. Gravel bike’s word on gravel
but which would you have if you could only have one. – If I’m honest, that’s a tough one. – I would not want to
sacrifice any part of that bike that makes it so great on the road but yet compromises it for gravel. But yet, I mean you did
admit you had a lot of fun. – Yeah. – I thought, I don’t know. I mean that’s more
versatile but that’s just an out and out thoroughbred
and I love it for that. – I don’t think it’s an
either, I just want both. I’d have both. (mumbles) and all that. (laughing) – There we go. I’d hopes to conclude that
actually a road bike is perfect on gravel but it’s
(mumbles) bit’s of gravel. But it prefers the road. – We’re gonna go downhill now, on gravel so good luck with that mate. (laughing) – Right, well if you
want to see another video where Ollie and I actually discuss a quite complicated issue
gravel versus cyclocross then you can click through to that one just down there. Please make sure to give this video a big thumbs up as well, nothing else. Just been an absolutely
cracking place for an epic ride.

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