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Choosing Your Perfect Gravel Bike by Juliet Elliott

By We Love Cycling

Summer tends to draw even the most road-inclined of us towards trails in one way or another. If you’re considering a gravel bike as a new addition to your two-wheeler fleet, here is a quick guide for what to focus on when choosing the perfect fit.

A very important thing for you is to consider what type of activity or terrain you would like to enjoy on the gravel bike and for how long, such as single-track mountain bike trails or all-road riding with gravel and tarmac sections. This will largely inform your final choice and influence the bike’s features and capabilities.

Here is what you should focus on once you’ve decided what you want the bike for:

1. Decide on the frame geometry that suits your preferences and riding goals. Cyclocross bikes offer fast, sharp handling but may not be as comfortable for long gravel rides. Gravel-specific bikes often have a longer wheelbase and slacker geometry for enhanced comfort.

2. The bike’s tyre clearance. Gravel bikes typically accommodate wider tyres compared to road or cyclocross bikes. The wider tyres provide increased comfort, grip, and the ability to handle different types of terrain.

3. Consider the gearing options. A 1x (single chainring) setup is commonly preferred for gravel bikes. Ensure the bike offers a wide range of gears to tackle steep climbs effectively.

4. Assess the wheels that come with the bike. While wheels can be upgraded later, it’s good to have tubeless-ready wheels for a more comfortable ride and reduced risk of pinch flats.

5. Depending on your preferences and riding style, you might want to consider additional components like suspension forks, suspension stems or a dropper post. These can be upgraded later if necessary.

6. The type of handlebars. Flared handlebars provide increased control during descents and cornering, as well as a wider turning circle. They also allow for the attachment of bikepacking bags without interfering with the shifters.

7. Look for a bike equipped with disc brakes. Disc brakes offer reliable and consistent braking performance in various conditions, ensuring your safety during rides.

8. Check if the bike has frame mounts for additional accessories. Depending on your needs, you may want to mount a stem bag for storing gels during gravel racing, attach extra bottle cages on the fork for bikepacking or add a rack or mudguard.

9. Lastly, ensure the bike fits you properly and provides a comfortable riding experience. Consider factors such as reach, top tube length, and head tube length, which affect the bike’s handling and your overall comfort.

Remember to test ride different bikes, consult with experts, and consider your specific preferences and riding goals before making a final decision. Happy gravel riding!