Entry level to mid-range gravel bikes are a great option for keeping the wheels turning through winter. “But, what about the rain and filth?” I hear you ask. Well, the great news is… Skin is proven to be 100% waterproof. If it’s just the thought of getting filthy that puts you off, then you are really missing out.
Why a Gravel Bike?
There are design features of gravel bikes which make even the most cost effective bikes ideal for riding through winter. Internal cable routing keeps cables and hoses hidden away from the elements. Dirt and moisture are the main culprits when it comes sticky gear shifting and annoying ‘clicky’ transmission. Mounts for mudguards mean that you can fit proper full size mudguards. These help keep you clean and can reduce the amount of grit and dirt clogging-up your washing machine filter.
Another massive plus for gravel bikes all-year-around is that the geometry for most gravel bikes is perfect for longer rides, on or off road. A more relaxed riding position encourages longer rides at a steadier pace. This is ideal for winter training, especially when you add in the flexibility to mix in some trails and tracks to break up the asphalt.
If you are riding mainly on the road on your gravel bike, it’s a good idea to swap tyres to some more suited to winter road riding. Tyres with added puncture protection for ‘iffy’ winter roads, such as Continental Gatorskins, make a good choice. Alternatively, Panaracer Flataway tape gives an extra woven layer of Kevlar protection to any clincher tyre. If you are into the self-healing properties of tubeless, there are some great options. These include the Schwalbe One TLE with Addix compound, ideal for wet winter roads. If you have a spare set of wheels, it is a good option to have one set for off-road and a set ready for road riding. Check out our gravel & road wheelsets here.
One will do…
Here’s the thing about gravel bikes, and I can’t believe I am saying this but… It is actually possible to just have one bike! My Malt G2X custom build will have covered 10,000 kilometres this year, 25% with full mudguards fitted, mainly on gravel. I find it a really comfortable ride and it weighs in just under 8.5 kilograms. It is largely because this bike is so good that I sold my beautiful titanium, dura-ace equipped road bike – the bike which I thought I would never sell. I decided to sell it when I realised that, given the choice, I actually prefered to ride the Malt and my road bike was like a piece of shiny jewelry hanging in the garage.
Spoilt For Choice
Luckily here at Merlin, we got into the gravel bike market over 5 years ago. In this time our own Merlin Malt range has been tweaked and improved as we got more into the world of gravel. In addition to the excellent, Shimano equipped, Malt G2P Tiagra and Malt G2X GRX we have the G2X frameset for custom builds. We also have a selection of gravel bikes from some the worlds leading manufacturers – here’s our current pick of budget to mid-range (£1099 – £1550) gravel bikes…
The Wilier Jareen GRX gravel bikes features Shimano GRX400 2 X 10 speed components including hydraulic brakes. The 6061 aluminium frame and forks feature mudguard and rack mounts and is finished in striking green and orange.
The stylish Tifosi Rostra XLE features a lightweight 6061 T6 aluminium frame with mudguard and rack mounts and a full carbon fork. Components include Microshift 11 speed transmission, Tekro mechanical disc brakes and Vision Team 30 Wheelset.
With a steel frame and carbon fork, the Wilier Jaroon mixes the ride qualities of steel with modern gravel design. With its flared gravel handlebars and Shimano GRX gravel specific groupset (including hydraulic brakes), the Jaroon is ready for most challenges.
Italian brand Cinelli are all about style and substance. The Zydeco Mud features a high quality chassis – Columbus Zonal triple butted aluminium tubing and the Columbus Futura gravel fork. It has mudguard and rack mounts for maximum adaptability. Despite its obvious style and good looks, the Zydeco is a filth-loving, all-action bike featuring flared gravel handlebars, Vision Team 30 wheelset and 11 speed Microshift transmission.
Check out our Full range of Gravel Bikes here