From IXCOR time ago we are following the whole movement of cycling on gravel tracks and we are increasingly in love.
What is gravel?
Rolling over gravel goes back to the creation of the bicycle. Before the automobile and the modern highway system, there were roads paved with dirt or bricks built for horses and carriages. The bicycle offered a new kind of adventure and was built to go anywhere.
Today, gravel cycling has become popular for many reasons. As in the beginning, riding a gravel bike offers a new kind of experience. The environment of the gravel community is unique and tends to be more social compared to other types of cycling. It is not included in any of the highly regulated cycling federations and does not require membership fees or licenses. "gravel" refers essentially to any unpaved road: 4x4 trails; public or private utilitarian roads for agricultural, livestock or oil / gas companies; and even roads that have been written off. It can appear with gravel, mud, compacted earth, sand, surface rocks or pieces of recycled asphalt
Like other sporting events, the gravel has those who choose to run and those who choose to simply ride. One of the biggest differences I see between road cycling and gravel are the unknown and ever changing variables. Conditions may vary more when driving on gravel compared to a paved road. Because of the weather and the different types of gravel, there is never a guarantee that one will ride a bicycle all the time. There have been many gravel events where cyclists have had to take their bicycles for miles due to mud and difficult terrain. All this is part of the "unknown" that attracts many riders to gravel.
Like other forms of cycling, gravel can take you to new adventures and unexpected places. It puts you to the test in bicycle handling skills and you can relive the lost passion for cycling, if necessary. There is a very good chance that a first time make new friends and be welcomed with open arms.
This year 2019 we will be present and organize several events where we will show and enjoy the best gravel tracks from different parts of the territory.
They will be social events and without any kind of spirit to the competition, following the philosophy of this cycling modality
Our design and clothing department is already working on a comfortable cut cyclist jersey to adapt to gravel cycling and especially designed to spend many hours on the bike.
Soon you can see the result.
What is a gravel bike and why do I need it?
At first glance, not unlike a cyclo-cross bike, gravel bicycles are really different and often closer to a road-endurance bike. In truth, they sit somewhere between the two. And that can mean a lot of fun and a new look at where and how you are driving.
A gravel bike can provoke a smile in many ways ... there are many different ways to specify a gravel bike, but they all add to the fun!
The design has grown from the gravel races, which are particularly large in the US with its thousands of kilometers of gravel agricultural tracks sometimes very soft, a mature terrain for runners and adventurers. Thanks to its versatility, gravel bicycles have really taken off.
A well-equipped gravel bike can easily become your favorite ride!
What is different from a road bike or a cyclocross?
The most important is the space between the frame and the fork for wide tires, sometimes up to 55 mm. This provides a large amount of mud space and a fantastic variety of tires (endurance bikes rarely fit more than 32mm, while road bikes more career oriented can reach 28mm). The top bike has 40 mm wide tires that can handle most of the surfaces on which you throw it!
They also have more relaxed head angles, taller headtube and longer wheelbases for greater stability (especially on a slide), more low support points for reliable curves and sturdy tubes that meet the standards rather than the maximum rigidity.
Gravel bicycles also feature cantilevered brakes as in the previous black surly, traditionally found in cyclo-cross or disc brakes, as seen in the titanium NDVR below, for several reasons: they remain powerful in the mud and allow large slack in the tires very easily. The discs also eliminate the weight of the tires and are not affected by wheel deformations.
Can I convert my road bike?
Yes you can – in fact, you could probably take in some gravel without changing a thing. However, a few subtle changes can make the experience far better. Here’s our top five:
1. Fit large tires. Bigger volumes give greater compliance, comfort and rim protection, though clearance is the limiting factor. Go for the largest that will fit – not the largest you can buy! A reinforced casing is probably just as important as any tread, as the contact patch is still small. The 40mm x 700c ‘cross tires on our Surly above are ideal.
2. Go tubeless. It’s an excellent way to gain pinch-flat protection and extra compliance – plus tubeless tires already have tougher sidewalls.
3. Fit a padded saddle and thicker bartape. Consider also a carbon seatpost and carbon bars for even greater comfort (and to mitigate weight gains elsewhere).
4. Use strong wheels. A shallow rim with a high spoke count is ideal, to reduce the stress on individual spokes. Happily such wheels needn’t break the bank, and double well as training wheels.
The Vision Team 30s on the Surly pictured above are ideal – the all-alloy wheelset shares many features of our high-end wheelsets, including: aero bladed spokes, an asymmetric 2:1 rear lacing pattern, CNC machined braking surfaces, sealed cartridge bearings and hand-built quality.
Options for disc or cantilever brakes mean they’re suitable for any gravel bike build. You can step outside the traditional 700c road wheel selection, and look to 27.5” wheels where the dirt-orientated MTB models are more robust – such as the K-Force Light MTB 27.5”
Light, hand-built and highly versatile, the tubeless-compatible K-Force Light wheels mate advanced carbon fiber rims with ceramic cartridge bearings– and weigh just 1414g a pair
5. If you’ve got a choice of bikes to convert, go for the longest one with the most relaxed geometry – it’ll be more stable and easier to control in a slide.
Get kitted up, then go have some great adventures!