Gravel bikes, also known as adventure road bikes, have become very popular in recent years. More and more manufacturers offer them nowadays as part of their portfolio. They are a very popular choice among cyclists and they are available for a reasonable amount of money. If you’re in the market for a new commuter bike they are a very interesting option indeed.
Are gravel bikes good for commuting?
The versatility of gravel bikes makes them excellent for cycling to work. They combine the speed of a road bike with the ruggedness of a mountain bike and the comfort and mounting options of a hybrid bike. Gravel bikes are comfortable on longer distances and can be equipped with fenders as well as a rear rack. They offer a wide range of gears for those who need to climb hills on their commute, and the drop bars offer multiple grip positions, and almost all of them come with disc brakes. These characteristics make them a very appealing option for bike commuters.
Advantages of a gravel bike as a commuter
- Comfortable geometry
- Wide tires absorb bumps and are less likely to have to pinch flats
- Mounting points for mudguards and carrier
- Wide gear range makes it easy to ride uphills and fast on flat roads
- Drop bars offer several hand positions and are easy on the hands
What is a gravel bike?
A gravel bike is a bike that combines the advantages of a road bike (fast), off-road bike (capable on gravel and muddy roads) and a touring bike (capable of carrying lots of weight on the racks mounted on it). In geometry, it resembles a road bike, but its parts are slightly modified and optimized so it can handle rough terrain and it can carry bags.
What kind of commutes are gravel bikes best for?
Gravel bikes are best for medium to long-distance urban commutes, and they are very good for those who need to ride on gravel or off-road sections. Their wheels can be up to 50 mm wide, which efficiently absorb shocks coming from road imperfections, crossing tram or train tracks, etc. Wider tires are also known to be less susceptible to pinch flats.
They’re good for commuting all year round. They have mounting points for carrier and mudguards. They are quite fast and nimble just like road bikes, and they don’t weigh too much more. If you need to carry your stuff to work, but you don’t want to carry a backpack, you can mount a rear rack on a gravel bike and you can use it with panniers.
Is a gravel bike good for someone who is a bit heavy?
Yes, it is. Gravel bikes can take a lot of beating and they can be used by heavy riders.
How to make a gravel bike ready to cycle to work?
If you want to bike commute on a newly purchased gravel bike, you need to factor in some extra costs on top of the bike itself, which is sold bare-bones most of the time. Here are some essentials you will need:
Most gravel bikes come without pedals so you can mount those that are most fitting your ride. For a commuter, the two best options are platform pedals or dual function pedals that allow you to ride with regular shoes or with clipless MTB shoes.
Mudguards are essential if you plan to bike commute year-round. They keep the water from splashing on your rear side or on your belly. They also keep some of the water away from your panniers. The nastiest water isn’t that falling from the sky, but that splashing up from the ground.
You will definitely need a good set of lights that indicate your presence to other road users and also allow you to see on dark road segments on short winter days.
You will need a reliable bike rack to mount your panniers on if you want to avoid the discomfort of back sweat. Gravel bikes have mounting holes for racks, so you can put it on permanently. You can also use racks with a quick release, which offers the benefit of converting your bike into a weekend spinner.
A good waterproof pannier is a trusty companion of a bike commuter, especially if he needs to carry a laptop or other things that shouldn’t get wet. When it comes to waterproof bags, there are many options, but the gold standard are always the Ortlieb bags. They are neither the cheapest nor the prettiest, but they always come out as the most durable and reliable option.
Gravel bikes, or adventure road bikes, can be excellent commuters offering their rider plenty of comfort. They are made to endure harsh conditions, which gives you the peace of mind that they will last for a long time.