Keen to get off busy roads, but still want to cover a lot of ground? Longing to check out new routes, maybe get a little dirty, while gripping drop handlebars? A Gravel Bike could well be the answer. Here are our top tips for Going Gravel.
Keep It Smooth
While hard-packed tracks can be ridden almost like tarmac roads, loose gravel corners, descents and climbs take a little more thought. A bit like riding or driving on slippery surfaces, such as ice or snow, make your braking and stearing actions smooth and gentle to maximise your chances of keeping it ‘rubber side down’. Looking at the track ahead, pick out the smoothest route which will allow for the most trouble-free option. There’s no prizes for searching out the rockiest terrain, although your dentist might thank you for it.
Riding reasonably surfaced roads can allow your mind to wander and survey the landscapes and have a good look at your surroundings or ‘zone-out’ a little. Riding gravel needs a more attention. Gravel tracks & trails can be constantly changing and unpredictable, look at the track a few metres ahead and adjust your riding line accordingly. Tracks can also feature random stuff, like water hazards and wild animals.
Sit for grip
Steep climbs on loose gravel need a fair amount of grip. 30 – 40mm tyres often don’t have a huge amount of grip from their contact surface area. Maximise grip on loose climbs by staying seated and putting more weight over the rear wheel. For long, loose climbs it could be worth stopping and dropping some air pressure from the rear tyre.
Less grip means it’s a good idea to minimise the work our tyres need to do. Cornering and braking at the same time on gravel can result in a dramatic loss of traction, get used to braking early, scrubbing off speed before starting your turn.
Despite all the marketing hype, even gravel bikes have their limits. There is a fine line between a gravel bike and a 29er Mountain bike. If you are regularly asking your gravel bike to pull-off MTB style maneuvers, you could be heading for the edge of you and your bike’s capabilities. Instead of stretching the boundaries and channeling your inner John Tomac, pull back a notch and take it easy. Try to ride your bike in a more relaxed frame of mind and just enjoy being off the roads and away from traffic.
We are expecting the next batch of Malt G and Malt G1X Gravel bikes to be delivered in the next few weeks. Check out our current range of Gravel Bikes in stock here.