Have you ever stopped to think if you are riding the right bike? Yes, it may appear obvious, but for many of us, gravel can be the ideal modality. If you are one of the ones who rides a hardtail on wide tracks or goes out where the roads are in very bad conditions and rural areas, you may be more into gravel riding than you first thought…
We here at ROTOR are not going to tell you what bike you have to ride … The most important thing is that you ride a bike, without a doubt. But sometimes we take for granted the type of bike we use, and it can sometimes turn out that it is not 100% perfect for the type of riding we do. Today we have models and ranges to cover, we could venture to say, all, absolutely all the preferences of each cyclist regardless of where you live, the hours you spend on the bike and the type of cyclist you are. Mind you, single-ring transmissions like ROTOR’s 1×13 have helped open up the range of options even more than before.
And this is where the gravel bike comes in. One of the modalities that is most talked about today, is not one of the highest in the sales meanings it is not a passing fashion. The gravel models mix the qualities and transmission of a comfortable road bike, with the safety and versatility of a cyclocross bike. We could say that it is a road model with the option of taking tires of 700×40 or wider and even in some models, being able to alternate them with 27.5×2.0” mountain bike tires. And although the transmissions in the gravel world are not only single-ring, especially in the initiation ranges, it is true that single-ring systems are perfect for this modality. Simplicity when changing, high reliability, easy maintenance and enough ratio range to forget about the double chainring.
In fact, the ROTOR 1×13 is perfect for gravel because of its ratio range and a combination of a 42-front ring with a 10-46 cassette that’s the closest equivalent to a 48/32 double-ring with an 11-36 cassette. In addition, if you are not sure that the 1×13 combination is the most suitable for you, at ROTOR we offer you the tables to compare the double chainring systems with the single chainring systems. Do not forget that ROTOR has three combinations of cassettes in 13 speeds; 10-36, 10-46 and 10-52.
WHO IS GRAVEL FOR?
We mentioned it at the beginning, but it is very important that you assess what type of terrain you usually ride on and if you are using the most suitable bike. Gravel is a very interesting option if you live in very flat areas where you have many areas of tracks to ride. Barely mountainous areas where the plain is the main attraction and where wide tracks predominate. It is also an option if you go through areas with asphalt in very poor condition or simply want to combine the tracks on the asphalt. This combination of dirt-asphalt is perfect for gravel bikes, since with a road bike and 25mm tires there is not much to do on the tracks with stones and loose dirt, in the same way as a mountain bike, even if it is a Rigid with cross country tires, it will generate too much drag (drag) rolling over the asphalt.
The sensations on a gravel bike are very similar to those of a road or cyclocross bike, but very different from what you feel on top of a mountain bike. Gravel bikes are fast, very fast in hard pack areas. Nothing comparable to a mountain bike, no matter how narrow the tire is. This helps us to go much faster on the track than we would with a mountain bike, but at the same time it forces us to go with more caution when it comes to descending quickly and in tight corners, because the tires have a limit and the position on the handlebar does not offer as much control as on a mountain bike. Similarly, on the asphalt, gravel bikes go very fast, but not as fast as a road bike. The wider tire perhaps gives us too much grip and slows us down a bit, but on the positive side, these tires give us a lot of security on poor asphalt. The position is not as racing as in a road model which makes us sit more comfortably and favors less muscle fatigue in very long rides.
To find out if gravel is for you, you just have to check how many kilometers you ride per week on wide, open trails, rural areas and areas with asphalt in poor condition and if you see that 80-90% of your outings are under these characteristics, maybe it’s time to try gravel. It is also very common that people who mainly ride open trails and some asphalt with a mountain bike are perfect clients for gravel. With the change you are going to pedal on a bike much lighter than a mountain bike (a gravel bike can be between 8 and 10 kilos), it will be much less effort to move the same power and also you will go much faster, with which at the same time you will go further.
Other aspects to keep in mind is that if you come from road riding, you will notice that the gravel bikes are more comfortable, due to the width of the tires and because the carbon frames are manufactured to give a bit more comfort on rough terrain, but if you come from mountain biking, you will see that they are not as comfortable as they do not have as much tire width or the comfort of a suspension fork. In some ways it is like going back to the beginnings of mountain biking when there was no suspension element in the bike and it was our body that was in charge of absorbing the impacts of the irregularities of the terrain. That yes, the gravel bikes of now are light years away from the mountain bikes of the early 90’s …
If you think you are a potential gravel rider and did not know it, the best thing to do is to try one of them on the same circuits that you usually go out on with your road bike or with your mountain bike and in a few days you will be able to know if you have found an extra incentive for your days on the bike. We assure you that gravel is not a fashion; it is a lifestyle on the bike.