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RidingAgain

What is Gravel Biking?

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Been looking at this matter for a few weeks now and found it interesting in the various thoughts different riders have about what gravel riding is.

Here's how one article begins...

"Gravel riding, aka gravel grinding or adventure riding, is an increasingly popular form of cycling that combines elements of road- and mountain-biking, and consisting mostly of distance riding over unpaved roads. Whether dirt roads or gravel roads, trails must consist of non-technical and unsurfaced roads to qualify as gravel riding. Since cities mostly have paved roads for commuters, gravel riding trails are usually located in rural areas. This tends to afford opportunity to discover some incredibly scenic sites that one can only witness during an adventure off the beaten path."

Okay, but that doesn't sound like it covers all that I've read from riders on this and other websites, or seen in some videos, where riding on what is seen as mtb-specific trails is the focus. One person's thought regarding this that I came across was on a video that speaks about how riding on mtb trails really helps improve your overall riding/handling ability for riding on less technical gravel type trails/roads.

But I also came across a video that suggested that maybe mountain biking was becoming boring and that switching to gravel bike made things more exciting again. The presenters even compared gravel riding to what it was like to ride old mountain bikes 20 or more years ago... This being more challenging/rugged than riding newer bikes.

It's strange... Everything always seems to get categorized.

But when I look at this video of Chris Akrigg — granted his skill level is just off the charts — the first thing that I think is that he's just having fun on a bicycle out on some trails.

The bike he's riding has a suspension fork vs. a rigid, and although I'm sure there may be specific gravel geometry, his bike kind of just looks like a normal hardtail mountain bike with skinny tires and drop bars. But the article heading is "This The Best Gravel Riding Video You'll Ever Watch".

To me, it just seems like a gravel bike another way to enjoy riding a bicycle.


https://www.singletracks.com/mtb-videos/best-gravel-biking-video-will-ever-watch/

Edited by RidingAgain

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I prefer "adventure cycling".  That way I'm not restricted to gravel.

Roll a rigid 29er SS that's been modded for 3x9.  Most fun that I've had on a bike.

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Gravel bike = road bike.

The common nominal size of a road bike tire is 700c which, according to the old French sizing system, has an outside diameter of 700mm and a bead seat diameter of 622mm. From this, we can infer that the height of an actual 700c tire was (700 - 622) / 2 = 39mm. Assuming the tire width was comparable to it's height, a traditional general purpose road bike tire was about 39mm wide, which today would be marketed as a gravel bike tire.

Somewhere along the line roads got smoother or cyclists just chose the smoother roads where they could roll a bit faster on skinnier tires. But here in CenTex where every gutter (AKA bike lane) is strewn with excess chip-and-seal chips, I think those old French people were on to something. I'm pretty happy riding shitty roads on 40mm Nano's, but even though they're up for an occasional lap around Point6 or Inner Log, it's still very much a road bike.

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For me it's a road bike that can handle the roads around Central Texas. I got to where I was enjoying the number of miles I could put in versus the difficultly of the routes. So I got a gravel bike and have been enjoying it a lot.

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16 minutes ago, csmceuen said:

Not exactly sure what it is, but I built this thing up this week and I am going to find out tomorrow.

1655176385_Bianchi2.jpg.aaf209dfdc9c97df7d45a6bce9ad9fdf.jpgBianchi.jpg.721eb672b80661d12e65a53e47d5d5b4.jpg

Very cool looking... Got a bit of a retro thing going on. Let us know parts, costs and other build details.

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12 minutes ago, RidingAgain said:

Very cool looking... Got a bit of a retro thing going on. Let us know parts, costs and other build details.

Thanks! Looking forward to getting some rides in on it. Cost was free as a I scavenged all the parts I did not already have from my family/friends who ride cx/road.

2005 Bianchi SASS frame (SS)

Scavenged 26" wheelsetwith rebuilt DT 240s with Maxxis DTH 2.2 tires. I also have a 700c wheelset, but thought I would try these first.

Identiti 26" rigid fork

Zee crankset

Specialized CG carbon seatbost.

Shimano mech brakes (BR-CX-77)

Easton carbon bar/stem with fizik wraps

Random origin 8 seat to match.

Edited by csmceuen

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@csmceueun it is gorgeous!  post it in the gravel rigs thread!

 

Also, I found some more pieces for the bike box that will allow different bikes to be mounted to the frame.  I can't remember if you're up north or down south, I'll keep them handy if you want them.

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1 hour ago, csmceuen said:

Not exactly sure what it is, but I built this thing up this week and I am going to find out tomorrow.

1655176385_Bianchi2.jpg.aaf209dfdc9c97df7d45a6bce9ad9fdf.jpgBianchi.jpg.721eb672b80661d12e65a53e47d5d5b4.jpg

Pretty nice scavenged bike! Looks like it will be fun!

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11 minutes ago, 4fun said:

Pretty nice scavenged bike! Looks like it will be fun!

It really is a cool bike.

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48 minutes ago, St.Bernardo said:

Good lookin' Rig.  Where's the maiden voyage going to be?

Thanks!

Not exactly sure yet. I am thinking I will start by just riding from my house in Lakeline area and ride the entirety of Brushy and see how I feel at that point. Never done any gravel riding before so I am open to suggest routes in North Austin as well.

Edited by csmceuen

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5 minutes ago, csmceuen said:

Thanks!

Not exactly sure yet. I am thinking I will start by just riding from my house in Lakeline area and ride the entirety of Brushy and see how I feel at that point. Never done any gravel riding before so I am open to suggest routes in North Austin as well.

I like right there close to you and grind gravel weekly. I’ll pm you. 

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The rise of gravel bikes based on road bikes (narrow tires, no suspension) seems to be tracking the development of early mountain bikes. In the early days of mountain biking,  people started thinking, this is REALLY ROUGH, how can I smooth out the ride?  This led to front suspension and  things like Thudbuster seat posts.  And on the way, things like suspension stems were tried. These approaches were both abandoned for the most part. 

I just came across this gravel bike seat post, called the ShockStop suspension seat post, which may have possibilities.  It's linkage based rather than spring or elastomer based.   https://redshiftsports.com/shockstop-suspension-seatpost  ($199).  I read one very positive review.   These folks also sell a suspension stem. 

I also came across a recent gravel bike frame design with a mini rear shock where the seat stays meet the seatube.  I recall that LiteSpeed or Lynsky or some other titanium frame Moots! had this design maybe 15 years ago (and still does); it provides about an inch of pivotless rear suspension  

So, gravel riders coming from a roadie background gravitate to a more roadie type bike and realize, at least on rougher roads, that it's pretty damn miserable, so...

Also, disc brakes becoming very common on gravel bikes. 

 

Edited by June Bug

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My gravel bike is closer to a road bike, on purpose. I don't ride on the road, but I like having a road'ish bike. I have ridden it at WC, and it was rather bone jarring.

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Following up now that I have had some time on the Bianchi scavenger.

I have about 150 miles on it now and freaking love it. Not sure if an older MTB is the perfect gravel bike for everyone, but it certainly is for me. It pedals pretty great on the road, but I can really get this thing into some janky stuff and it still rides very well. I have ridden it on pretty much every trail aside from Deception at Brushy. Even took it down Snail trail once which was super fun. The best stuff I found on it is the new SN/Church property. Those are some primo dirt miles back in there if you dont mind getting a little rowdy on you gravel rig.

I originally thought gravel bikes were about just riding a bike on wet days on mixed surfaces. I did not think it would be something I picked to do over a good MTB ride, but the miles and the ability to get even more lost is very appealing to me. 

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This is the fork I am using.

https://www.identitibikes.com/products/xc-rigid-steel-forks/

Seems like it has alot of natural dampening and I really enjoy the feel of it. I wish I had a bit more stack on the bike so the BB sat a bit higher, but no real complaints.

The seatpost is nice as well. It has a decent amount of flex in it which makes it alot more comfortable in the saddle when the going gets rough. Way too expensive for something I would personally buy, but if you have the money I would highly recommend it. I am just glad it had too much set back for my brother lol.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/cg-r-carbon-seatpost/p/156334

Edited by csmceuen

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16 minutes ago, St.Bernardo said:

Don't be racist! about 3x.

Had a girlfriend that was into a 3x. I miss her sometimes, but not often.

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