What’s it like to go gravel biking? | Cycling Weekly
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What’s it like to go gravel biking? | Cycling Weekly

October 23, 2019


So what is gravel biking? Well like many
areas of our sport gravel biking as we know it today grew up in the US where
there’s large areas of unmade roads and lots of people that want to explore. But
in its purest form gravel biking is literally taking your bike and ride in
wherever you want to go. If you want to ride on the roads, you can ride on the
road, if you fancy just nipping off on to the nearest bridleway,
well do it, if you want to ride up your nearest hill,
just do it, obviously as long as it’s legal. But you can go ride wherever you
want to go. So how does a bike built specifically for gravel riding differ
from a standard road bike? Because to the casual observer they look fairly similar.
This is Orro Terra C carbon fibre gravel road bike and there’s a few
differences between this and the standard road bike that make it really
really good for riding on off-road terrain. If we start of by looking at
the frame, Orro actually incorporate different materials to the carbon fibre
to give it a better impact protection in certain areas. They also tweak the
geometry a little bit so one of the things that it’s really really important
is that you have a good upright position to keep you safe on sort of harder
terrain so head tube wise, we’re talking about a slightly longer head tube and
then the whole wheelbase, so the length of the bike is a little bit longer than
a standard road bike to give you better off-road stability. One of the other
differences you’ll find is that the use of a disc brake allows for much greater
clearances between the fork and the frame so therefore we can actually ride
with a much larger tyre so better cushioning, better grip… Well it also
means as well is you can run a huge tire as well as running mud guards. So for a
bit of versatility this increases the range of the gravel bike. Talking about
wheels and disc brakes: obviously one of the biggest differences between here and
a normal road bike is in terms of the wheels themselves, so we have in general
stronger wheels suited to actually ride in on these off-road conditions and one
of the other benefits of having a disc brake is been able to run a bike with
thru-axles so this gives you a much stronger position and much stronger
wheel. Obviously the tyres are very very different to a normal
road bike. We can have treaded tyres or as we have on here more of a hybrid style
tyres so really this tyre is suited for any style of riding, smooth in the centre
with a bit of grip on the outside to give us a bit sort of more comfort and
control off roads. If we talk about the rest of the bike there are here again a
few differences as well. Often a gravel bike will come with a slightly wider
handlebar. Now we know that obviously a narrower handlebar is better for
aerodynamics and normal bike fit position but a wider handlebar gives you
much better control offroad. Looking at gearing: gearing on this bike is a
standard compact so we’ve got a 50/34 in the front and 11/28 out of the back. Some will come with lower gearing than that but in general if you want to use a bike
all-around so on the road and off roads this is ideal for use. The other final
difference that we’ve done on here is for riding off roads we’ve changed to
mountain bike pedals, double sided Shimano pedal here. This allows you to
use mountain bike shoes with better grip for those off-road situations. The key
word when it comes to gravel bikes is versatility, just because it’s ideally
suited for riding off-road doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t make a perfect road
bike as well. There’s only one way to truly experience gravel biking that’s to
go on a bit of an adventure. I’ve got Craig with me today now he’s
never ridden a gravel bike so what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna go and have a
bit of fun and find out exactly what he feels about it. You ready to go? Yeah! Okay, let’s go! So your first taste of gravel riding?
What do you think? Well it’s pretty awesome actually I’m gonna say. It’s a
bit sketchy at times but that’s part of the challenge I felt. Yeah. What was the
most sketchy bit about it then? Definitely descending on the gravel. Not
really used to the road challenging you as much so it threw some
obstacles in the way. Also I was a bit concerned about like travelling over the
the gravel especially with the carbon bike. Is that big problem? That’s the
great thing about carbon bikes is that they’ve built strong enough to actually
withstand all of these things something like Orro Terra C here has
got an Innegra layer which is an extra sort of like shock absorbent an impact
resistant layer so if the stones do actually hit it, it does tend to
actually sort like bounce off so you shouldn’t really worry at all about this
strength or integrity of carbon. Yeah. Do you reckon you’ll do it again? Definitely!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. 11/28 seems a bit tough depending on how steep / rough the hills are and how slow a rider you are

    you guys were grinding up some of them. Lots of road bikes now come with a 32.

    I would have thought at least a 32 and if going beyond that then thought needs to be given to the rear mech

    36t cassette on mine with a MTB RD for >15% climbs on gravel. Best Ā£80 ever spent….

  2. Tried it once and the best description I can come up with is think of the dirtiest crappiest road you have ever been forced to ride on and then choose to do it on purpose.

  3. I like the bit at the end….. the Orro bike has extra properties in the carbon so that stones just bounce off the frame. What else are they going to do?

  4. The 11-28 was a bit of a mismatch. I'd suggest a 12-32 or 34 and long cage derailleur. If 11 speed even go with a cyclocross level 46 tooth chainring option since it's all 110 BCD.

  5. For me make a better choice get yourself a road bike . An a mountainbike if you go off road šŸ˜‰. Then if you want to try out a spin in the Woods . You don't need to go buy another bike šŸ˜‰. Plus if Winther is to bad on the road . Mountainbike is a lot of fun! Much harder though

  6. i just put less knobby tires on my mtb and it can pretty much go anywhere: road, gravel, trail…gravel bikes are just gimmicks.

  7. An awkwardly acted, cheap effort at trying to pass yet another advert for genuine information. At least GCN do it with a bit of humour and style and their plugs are a bit more discreet. Mind you, their profits must be so huge they can afford a professional production, whereas this just looks awfully amateurish by comparison.

    As for gravel bikes being a gimmick, call me naive but I do think they have their place:

    – Handling is slower, so more stability for cruising at speed while taking in the scenery!
    – The frames are more rugged (also heavier) so they can withstand a lot more abuse, and they (should) have lower gears for tackling climbs on loose terrain.
    – They feel a lot more chilled out to ride than your average race-oriented CX bike and can usually take racks & guards so you can easily set them up for touring.
    – Their geometry means they will handle weight better than a CX machine, especially with weight on the back.

    I think of them as the most versatile type of bike you can own…

  8. So the title is "What's it like to go gravel biking?" and most of the video you talk about the bike, glossing completely over the reason for going gravel riding in the first place. When are cycling companies going to understand that when you're not racing, cycling isn't about the BIKE; it's about the ADVENTURE and ALLURE of being outdoors, ESCAPING your cooped up life, and being PRESENT in a world where we're always either looking ahead or behind. The bike is an amazing way to do all this, but you should be promoting the ADVENTURE, not the TOOL (well, other than the one riding the bike!).

    Anyway, just some hopefully useful feedback.

  9. Why do bike shops sell gravel bikes in areas with no gravel roads? Because people buy gravel bikes in areas with no gravel roads. Why? Beats me.

  10. I personally really want a gravel bike, even if I ride a road bike on gravel with 28s perfectly fine. It's a lot of fun fighting to control the bike and surface with the response of a rigid fork unlike how easy a XC mtb floats over gravel but some softer gravel can sink 28s so a gravel bike with 40s would be sweet. It reminds me of the all terrain bikes of the 80s and 90s. Gravel bikes are pretty much a 90s rigid fork mtb with modern materials, technologies, and geometries.

  11. I wanted a bike like this 10 years ago. Iā€™m a bigger guy and wanted something with more stability and bigger tires than a typical road bike with 25c tires. The only option then was an expensive CX bike or a heavier touring bike.

  12. marketing…
    I will stick with my 26er MTB. Stronger rims, wider tires, lockout fork. Tell me what I can't do.

  13. After replacing all my fillings 5x, I now ride gravel (and sand, mud, muck, puddles, bog, snow, what have you…) on my Radrover.

  14. This is an older show but it's still valid today. Gravel bikes are just becoming noticeable in Spain and there are handful in Madrid. When your visit the local bicycle shops it's kind of tough to find gravel tires.

  15. Its funny how bike industry creats nitch markets from time to time. Earlier it was hybrid bikes. Now gravel. And its great all round bike.

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