White shoes, socks and best bike season is all but done and dusted. For those of us with a few bikes in the garage, it’s nearing the time to put the fast bikes away and dust off the winter bike. Now, for anyone who is thinking of upgrading their winter bike or looking for a bike to do it all, it’s probably about time you considered a gravel bike. At Pedal Cover, we fully support the N+1 brigade because A) One more bike won’t hurt and B) our generous multi-bike discount means that the additional cost to insure your new steed will be relatively minimal. So with that in mind, here are five reasons why gravel bikes are better than road bikes…
Hang on hang on? What is a gravel bike?
Although to the untrained eye, they are vaguely similar in terms of looks to a road bike, the differences end there. Gravel bikes are designed for riding on a variety of terrains, including gravel roads, dirt trails, rough pavement, and light off-road tracks. Quite simply, they are designed to be fast over all surfaces. Gravel bikes are characterised by several key features and design elements:
- Longer wheelbase which lends to better handling stability off road
- More frame tyre clearance
- Disc brakes as standard although nearly all road bikes now fall into that category (Booo!)
- Lower gearing for off road riding
- More relaxed geometry
First and foremost, for autumn and winter rides, with more debris, wet leaves, potholes, mud and loose gravel on the roads, having a bike with more air volume in the tyres will not only give you better traction and confidence, but you’ll also have a more comfortable ride. After all, in winter, speed and aero isn’t everything. Head to the quiet lanes out of harms way and enjoy the roads that you wouldn’t dream of subjecting a set of gorgeous carbon rims to!
Ride anywhere (almost)
With more grip, a bigger range of gears and the ability to shrug off rough roads, the gravel bike gives you more freedom to get off the busy roads and onto some glorious cycle paths. For some inspiration, why note head over to our partners, Cycling UK to check out their gravel routes?
Get bike packing
Bike packing is all the rage. Why? Because of the unrivalled sense of adventure you experience when completing your own mini tour. Planning a mini adventure is huge fun and the sense of achievement you get on a self supported ride is second to none. For a some inspiration on UK gravel routes, check out this blog by the king of gravel, Markus Stitz’. He has also written some brilliant books on bike packing in the UK (hint hint, Christmas present idea for a loved one….)
Better commuter bikes
The more relaxed geometry, wider tyres and space for mudguards add up to make a big difference when it comes to riding in in urban conditions. From our experience, it’s easier to hop over road furniture on a gravel bike than it is on a decked out road racer. Additionally, lots gravel bikes are equipped with mounts for panier racks or frame packs so you can ride without a big rucksack on your back.
It’s the only bike you’ll ever need
Ok, I’ll admit it. This isn’t strictly true and besides, we all like having a few bikes, right? Is the gravel bike as fast on the roads as an aero road bike? No. Is it as capable as a hardtail 29er when riding off road? No. Do you need one to replace your trusty daily commuter bike? No. Can the bike perform to a great standard in all of the above examples? Yes. And that’s precisely why they’re so popular and why we love them so much. With an extra set of wheel, you can instantly transform your bike from an off road warrior to a super slipper tarmac machine. 2 bikes for (almost) the price of one.
As the saying goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often times better than a master of one” The trusty gravel bike, is the epitome of this phrase and with many people looking for ways to save money, perhaps trading in some old bikes to go towards one gravel bike may just be the best thing you did.
Do you agree with us or do you think it’s another case of the bike industry inventing a solution to a problem which didn’t exist? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget, Pedal Cover offer bicycle insurance designed to cover your when gravel riding, anywhere in the world. If you need any assistance, just give out customer support team a call on 0800 121 4424