Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

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Bearbonesnorm
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Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:03 pm

Just thinking and thought, is 'Gravel' not exactly the same stuff people used to moan about having to ride? .... "I'm not going there 'cos it's all fire-roads and boring doubletrack".

Has a change of bike offering less grip, poorer brakes, no suspension and a slightly awkward riding position altered perception and made the previously mundane exciting or is it just clever marketing? :wink:
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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by jameso » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:08 pm

:grin:

compared to road riding of the trad/club ilk, it's rather exciting as well as far less likely to include moments of road rage...

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by voodoo_simon » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:10 pm

Yes!

Went to ride one of the Mach loops many years ago, billed as a trail centre to me and was disappointed that it’s was nothing like the Marin et al!

Now, it’s what I search out to ride and have a deep hatred for trail centres!

Read an article on the Rough stuff fellowship and poo poo-ed them a decade ago, now that sums up my riding pretty well :-bd

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Ian » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:24 pm

"I'm not going there 'cos it's all fire-roads and boring doubletrack".
Is this that Chesterabout place voodoo_simon was on about?

A variation of the Monty Python “what did the Romans do for us” springs to mind.

“What did the gravel bike manufacturers ever do for us?”
“Well, there’s the geometry. Much better than them road bikes”
“Ok, besides the geometry, What did the gravel bike manufacturers ever do for us?”
“They developed hydro discs for drop bars. They’re pretty good. Bring to a stop very nicely they do”
“Alright, alright, apart from the geometry and the hydro discs, what did the gravel bike manufacturers ever do for us?”
“Tyres. Much more choice of tyres in 42c or less than there used to be...”
“Alright, fine. Apart from the geometry, the hydro discs and the tyre choices, What did the gravel bike manufacturers ever do for us?”
Etc
:wink:

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Scattamah » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:31 pm

I happen to like double track and endless fire roads in lonely forests...but that's just my bent. I'm also partial to 8 hours of washboard under azure skies (Hartsel to Salida, anyone?). Horses for courses I guess.

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S.
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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by 99percentchimp » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:41 pm

jameso wrote::grin:

compared to road riding of the trad/club ilk, it's rather exciting as well as far less likely to include moments of road rage...
I like it... anything to avoid the A-road induced Tourette's style swearing I normally suffer from...…
Scattamah wrote:I happen to like double track and endless fire roads in lonely forests...but that's just my bent. I'm also partial to 8 hours of washboard under azure skies (Hartsel to Salida, anyone?). Horses for courses I guess.

Greetz

S.
Peace and quiet in abundance has to be good... Japanese 'forest bathing' :-bd.... not so sure about the 8 hours of unsuspended arse battering :lol:
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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Ray Young » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:41 pm

25 years ago I would have moaned and hated it but now it's just part of the ride. I couldn't see myself buying a bike specifically built to ride it though.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by htrider » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:54 pm

Lots of ways around Scotland using good estate tracks but you have to put in the (back) road miles to link them up, as well as the odd bit of singletrack. A gravel bike does this very well. Drop bars on steep descents adds a certain thrill to the proceedings as well....

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Scattamah » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:15 pm

99percentchimp wrote:...not so sure about the 8 hours of unsuspended arse battering :lol:
There was a fair bit of weaving involved and the occasional "oh yeah - I should stand up for a bit and stretch". It's a stretch that sticks in my mind 4 years down the track. But it was pretty vaguely exciting.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Asposium » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:04 pm

I suppose as mountain bikes became, well, more mountain something was necessary to fill the gap.

Hence the marketing people dreamt up gravel.

Least this time it was something half useful; rather than yet another wheel size, tyre size, hub size, etc etc

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:07 pm

Stu, I can't believe you, of all people, used the name 'adventure bike' for these contraptions in your recent blog - how is it any more adventurous than any other bike...?

But it is a valid point, which I have also been thinking about, having recently acquired a 'gravel bike'. I did a little experiment last weekend, and rode the Dorset Gravel Dash on the new bike, having done the same route in similar (pretty much perfect) conditions last year on a hardtail with a Lauf fork. According to Komoot, this 100 mile loop is almost 50/50 road/off-road.

The time to complete was near as damn it the same, except I felt a lot more battered this time on the gravel bike. Dirty Reiver was a similar story - not much difference in time between the two bikes. Now this is not science, not even the GCN type, but it would appear whatever small advantage conferred by slightly less weight and a slightly more 'aero' position where offset by rolling resistance (on bumpy stuff) / lack of control descending at speed. But most of all, it was the extra fatigue that was most noticeable (riding in the drops with a headlamp on is really uncomfortable on the neck); I wouldn't have wanted to repeat the ride the next day on the gravel bike.

However, for something like TINAT, primarily a road ride, but on rough back-roads with a bit of trail thrown in, the gravel bike felt right, and that is probably it's trick; the ability to add the odd bit of rougher stuff on a primarily road trip. This opens up lots of opportunities to link up road sections, or just explore more remote areas (with better bivi options) whilst road tripping. It's a bit of a paradigm shift, but from the perspective of a long distance road tour, the occasional bit of rough is quite interesting, rather than the inevitable long boring part of a big MTB ride, linking up the odd bit of lush singletrack.

Dare I say, the migration of roadies into gravel might be an escape not just from the danger from vehicles on our roads, but also from all the nobbers now riding on the road, behaving like they are a pro racer, but with neither the talent nor understanding of cycling etiquette. Not saying they are all like that, but it does appear to be a growing trend.

To finish on a high, the local council have transformed the road outside my house from a boring asphalt surface to miles of prestige gravel. Bang on trend, those road maintenance f*****s!

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by redefined_cycles » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:18 am

I totally agree with Stu... What a waste of 'standards'... The bike industry should have just brought out another bottom bracket and sold it to us on the basis of how stiff it is and how much tenth of a seconds you can save.

Roadies (I'm kind of a roadie but with my mtb pants means I always get snobbed at when out there on the tarmac) are too resistant to change. I reckon it was a way of getting a few roadies to agree to a 'halfway house' kind of deal whilst discswere introduced.

Discs causing the poor roadie fraternity cuts and bruises. Maybe its not discs, but the fact that they want to ride with their face buried in each others bottoms, thats actually causing the cuts from the discs!!!.

Anyhow. I digress. Hopefully I might be able to fit some 35mm tires into my new (used and battered but new to me as I will build it from the wheels up) Giant Defy frameset. 35mm being needed cos the horrible councils only think ti repair the roads when its so crappy pro riders that will be riding past.

Sorry for the... :-bd

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Scud » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:42 am

I think a lot of it depends on where you live, if you have good mountain biking near you, then the best job for mountain biking, is a mountain bike, 20 years of suspension and brake evolution was there for a purpose....

But, i find a lot of modern mountain bikes a bit sterile because of it, all the suspension and other bits makes them almost too good, i love my Stooge as it rides like a big BMX.

Plus, i live in Norfolk, we don't have many rocky descents or black runs, my "gravel" bike is ace, because i can link up road and off road sections in to one long ride, away from traffic and from my doorstep.

If i lived in the Peaks or Lake District and had that on my doorstep, then i'd be on a mountain bike the whole time.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by ootini » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:41 am

Scattamah wrote:I happen to like double track and endless fire roads in lonely forests...but that's just my bent. I'm also partial to 8 hours of washboard under azure skies (Hartsel to Salida, anyone?). Horses for courses I guess.

Greetz

S.
Same here. I'd rather pootle the day away on long drawn out forest roads, double track, hard pack bridleway etc than going hell for leather down a rocky, rooty, swampy single track, holding on for dear life, my arse twitching like a rabbit's nose.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:06 am

Stu, I can't believe you, of all people, used the name 'adventure bike' for these contraptions in your recent blog
Uhm, very true but I did do my best to justify the reasoning of using 'Adventure' rather than 'Gravel'.
how is it any more adventurous than any other bike...?
It's not, it's simply a name. I can't help but feel that choosing the most unsuitable bike for whatever job is at hand makes it more of an 'Adventure Bike' ... meaning, a Raleigh Chopper is likely the bike that deserves the title more than any other, given that it's pretty much unsuitable for any task. :-bd
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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by psling » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:45 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:Just thinking and thought, is 'Gravel' not exactly the same stuff people used to moan about having to ride? .... "I'm not going there 'cos it's all fire-roads and boring doubletrack".
Whilst I enjoy losing myself in thought, sometimes it doesn't pay to over think things too much! :cool:
In the 'Repack' days a bunch of gravel riders adapted their cruiser bikes to thrash down the gravel trails of Marin County and Mountain Bikes were born. Like you say Stu, almost full circle and we now have Gravel Bikes to ride the gravel but probably not in the same way - foot out, rear wheel drifting. Maybe that will come next to complete the circle.... chainless racing anyone?!?
We go out into the hills to lose ourselves, not to get lost. You are only lost if you need to be somewhere else and if you really need to be somewhere else then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by PaulB2 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:25 pm

A gravel bike would be perfect for 90% of the legal riding you can do in Marin unless it’s changed a lot in the last 10 years. I can one think of one small rock garden at China Camp that was interesting with a barely working 60mm fork and 1.95 tyres

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by dnrc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:37 pm

Scud wrote:I think a lot of it depends on where you live, if you have good mountain biking near you, then the best job for mountain biking, is a mountain bike, 20 years of suspension and brake evolution was there for a purpose....

But, i find a lot of modern mountain bikes a bit sterile because of it, all the suspension and other bits makes them almost too good, i love my Stooge as it rides like a big BMX.

Plus, i live in Norfolk, we don't have many rocky descents or black runs, my "gravel" bike is ace, because i can link up road and off road sections in to one long ride, away from traffic and from my doorstep.

If i lived in the Peaks or Lake District and had that on my doorstep, then i'd be on a mountain bike the whole time.


I second this. i'm in Norfolk too.

I've moved off the roads as much as possible, My "gravel" bike means i can do maybe 50% of my ride on tracks where it's quieter, safer and prettier.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:52 pm

If i lived in the Peaks or Lake District and had that on my doorstep, then i'd be on a mountain bike the whole time.
Nah. Choice is good. There's no end of "proper" mountain biking around here but that doesn't invalidate the option of exploring other tracks and owning/using other bikes too.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:45 pm

And how could we forget the single biggest factor that sells £gazillions of stuff nobody needs - Nostalgia!

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by gairym » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:52 am

ScotRoutes wrote:
If i lived in the Peaks or Lake District and had that on my doorstep, then i'd be on a mountain bike the whole time.
Nah. Choice is good. There's no end of "proper" mountain biking around here but that doesn't invalidate the option of exploring other tracks and owning/using other bikes too.
Agreed!

Around here either an €8k bling carbon road bike or a 650b 150mm travel 'endur0' bike are considered the only real options by most folks.

I love the look on their narrow minded little faces when I zip by on the gravel bike, fully rigid 29+ or even the hardtail on the high mountain trails.

For me it is totally all about options and doing something a little different.

In a place with so many steep ups or steep downs I really like to go ride gently undulating fireroad routes or quiet dirt roads in flat areas.

One of my favourite trips in recent years was the Veneto Gravel route which is about as flat and unchallenging as they come (2800m alt. gain in 600km) - it was sooooo nice just to sit on a bike and pedal whilst enjoying the scenery and culture. I'm very much aware that the T-word could well be correctly used for a trip like that but I don't care, it's all cycling and I bloody loved it :grin:

But.....for sure, 20 years ago I'd absolutely have complained if I'd wasted a ride on miserable fireroads but that youth was a bloody idiot :-bd

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by jameso » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:35 am

I'll be honest, real gravel, the fine, loose ball bearing stuff, always has been horrible to ride. You can't lean into a corner properly with any confidence or brake hard on it. It's rubbish ...
But US County road gravel can be really well hardpacked and smoother to ride than most local B-roads here.

Spent a lot of time on my Croix de Fer 10, 12 years ago as it simply stopped in the mud better than a rim brake bike, the tyres coped with B-roads better and I could link up quiet roads via byways not A-roads. It felt silly on singletracks but in small doses it was a lot of fun. Probably did 25% off-road on it, 75% road. Still do, on a different bike but same approach to riding - it just comes from enjoying road/drop-bar bikes for covering distance on relatively smooth surfaces as an alternative to MTBing, but wanting more freedom and a different ride feel to that offered by a race-inspired roadie bike. Still hardly ever ride actual gravel, still don't like it much when I do :lol:
So though the term is more widely used it's not that relevant in the literal sense. Gravel races like the DK200 are over a decade old now and both US and UK all-road is much older. The only reason we mention gravel is US bike brand influence?

I think it's telling that Guitar Ted, the chap in the US who's behind a lot of the gravel bike boom there, seems to think a Jones on 2.35s with loopbars and flats is a better gravel bike than most that are sold as gravel bikes. Over here I think the fixed>road/CX>road packing/gravel fashion thing is part of why so many people ride off-road very slowly on drop-bar bikes that handle quite poorly on lumpy tracks. I've said it before, drop bars are a pretty bad option for off-road riding... Doesn't mean I don't like riding them. I just won't pretend it makes much sense.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by pistonbroke » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:10 am

I disagree that loose gravel is horrible to ride on, it just requires a different technique to a firmer surface, letting the bike move around and weight over the back wheel. Difficult I know with barbags but here in Spain, the tracks are dry and rubbly so you get used to it. The appeal of gravel bikes here is that they open up much greater route options, it's typical to find lovely surfaced lanes winding their way up into the hills for large distances and servicing increasingly sparse houses and farms, you eventually reach a col where the road runs out and is replaced by a few km of gravel which you wouldn't want to chance damaging road wheels and tyres on, then the tarmac or concrete reappears down the other side. Many people just ride short travel mtb hardtails but personally I prefer a gravel bike as it is perfect for 95% of the ride. Strangely gravel bikes aren't a thing here, yet.

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by jameso » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:28 am

OK maybe not horrible, but give me packed dirt, tarmac or natural rocky or rooty trails over loose unconsolidated gravel. I like slippery muddy stuff at speed though, you can take a risk and have fun while the bike finds it's way and not have massive gravel rashes on your mind :lol:
it's typical to find lovely surfaced lanes winding their way up into the hills for large distances and servicing increasingly sparse houses and farms, you eventually reach a col where the road runs out and is replaced by a few km of gravel
That's a big part of the appeal to me - the roads that end in dirt tracks or have dirt tracks linking them tend to be quieter and prettier. Polar opposite of the roads that a aero TT bike is optimised for (and less silly clothing required!).

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Re: Isn't 'Gravel' the same thing people used to moan about?

Post by Gari » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:16 pm

Another vote for a gravel et al bike in these parts for the estate tracks etc. When I started mountain biking in the late 80s it was all about getting into the hills, on 1.95 tyres, anything unrideable was hab, that’s just the way it was. I am still drawn mainly to that part of biking, where it takes you rather than (just) the technical riding side of it. Never having biked the roads in the US, my personal gold standard for gravel is the f road network in Iceland.

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