For some, finding the right bike style is simple: road bikes for commuters and mountain bikes for trail-riders. But what if you need a bike that serves double-duty, getting you to work on time, while also being ready for an evening out on the trails? If you subscribe to the ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos, then you need a bike that can do the same.
A gravel bike—also known as an adventure bike—can fill this void. In addition, a gravel bike allows new cyclists to explore different terrains without needing to purchase multiple bikes. Today, we will touch on the many reasons to buy a gravel bike, as they are a versatile two-wheeler that deserves a place in any cyclist's garage.
What Is a Gravel Bike?
Gravel bikes can be thought of as the 'crossover SUV' of the cycling world. They ride the line between mountain and road bikes, utilizing features from each style to create an all-purpose bicycle. Gravel bikes will always employ a fully rigid frame and tires with a knobby tread. Otherwise, the specific components may differ between bike models.
Most gravel bikes include drop bars for conquering the road and wide tires and disc brakes for transitioning to the trails. Other standard features include a single drivetrain and multiple mounting points.
Where Can I Use a Gravel Bike?
The beauty of gravel bikes is their versatility. They utilize a hybrid design, somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike, giving riders the confidence to tackle any situation. Commuting to work is quick and effortless—the frame geometry, ample gears, and comfortable handlebars make for a smooth experience on the road.
After work, a gravel bike can take willing riders down the roughest trails. Numerous mounting locations give you the option to add fenders or extra gear for especially adventurous rides. Some premium bikes—such as the Doggler Gravel Bike—even include dropper seat posts, making downhill riding a more comfortable experience.
And for the truly adventurous, gravel bikes can even support riders on touring and bikepacking trips. The single chainring may limit the extent to which it can be used for long-term touring, but most weekend trips should be enjoyable with a gravel bike.
Are Gravel Bikes Good Road Bikes?
Gravel bikes perform well when used as road bikes. This is especially true for commuters, as the added cargo mounts allow you to attach essential add-ons for the city. Fenders can be attached for a cleaner ride in inclement weather, while you can mount cargo bags for longer commutes. Gravel bikes can accommodate most tire sizes, so swapping out for road tires is a breeze.
For the same reasons that runners choose to train in high altitudes, a gravel bike can be a helpful training tool for racers. Although not quite suitable for racing on its own, cyclists find it helpful to train with a gravel bike's added weight and resistance.
Can I Use A Gravel Bike As A Mountain Bike?
Gravel bikes can handle almost anything you throw at them, so you can ride confidently when using them as a mountain bike. Reinforced frames and forks add safety to your ride when the road gets bumpy. Wide tires help with off-road handling, and an enlarged fork allows riders to swap out tire sizes as needed. Are you heading out on an extended backroad adventure? Just pop on some trail-worthy tires, and you're good to go. Adding a dropper seat post to your gravel bike enables you to take on downhill rides as well.
The toughest trails will test the limits of a gravel bike. Without a full suspension system, big drops and other dangerous terrains might throw you for a loop. But if you're the type to hit the most extreme mountains and cliffs, you probably already have a dedicated mountain bike for the job.
Why You Need A Gravel Bike
A gravel bike allows you to try out different riding styles without the cost of multiple specialized bikes. Gravel bikes are a better choice for city-riding when compared to mountain bikes, as they lack the added weight of a suspension system. Gravel bikes are also an excellent choice for commuters who want the ability to try out the off-road trails every so often.
Gravel bikes perform well on touring trips due to their multiple mounting options. A specialized touring bike may be more suitable for cross-country trips, but the weekend warriors will have no problem bikepacking for a few days on a gravel bike. Make sure your gravel bike utilizes disc brakes if you expect to be riding in inclement weather, as rim brakes just won't cut it with the weight of a cargo-loaded bike.
For cyclists suffering from wrist or arm injuries, a gravel bike can provide some relief from the constant bumps and shakes of the road. In addition, the sturdy frame and robust tires of a gravel bike will absorb more impact when compared to a roadie.
Even the most serious cyclists—with a handful of specialized bikes already in the garage—will find enjoyment from a high-quality gravel bike. The ability to handle both street and dirt on the same ride is a tough proposition to pass up.
Street? Rocks? Mud? No problem! Gravel bikes strike a balance between road and mountain bikes, combining essential aspects of both to create a versatile vehicle. The all-weather and all-purpose design keeps biking fun and simple. Gravel bikes can be used almost anywhere, so you're always prepared for the after-work trail ride or the long trek across town. We hope that our gravel bike guide has left you with a clearer picture of what to expect from the unique bicycle style.
The Doggler Gravel Bike is a low-maintenance, high-performing bike with thoughtful additions. A dropper seat post allows riders to lean back while flowing downhill, and flat bars lend to a more comfortable riding experience (swapping out for drop bars is simple). For more specialized riders, the Doggler series of bikes are also available in City and Mountain models.