(Bicycle Quarterly’s wind tunnel tests found no significant difference in the wind resistance with a 25 and a 31 mm tire.). average speed depends on the gravel but its usually 5 mph less than smooth pavement and road tires. These are questions we’ve pondered as gravel bikes have risen in popularity, and something we wanted to answer while at our inaugural Field Test in Sedona, Arizona. We thoroughly test every Compass product before we release it. How did we test? 650b or 27.5in comes to us from touring bikes… But, but, but … my overall average speed is more or less the same, and my times on the few Strava segments I check are too. It seems to me like the only real difference (meaning, what will make a real difference in road riding speed) are the tires. Product Test: Velo-Orange Grand Cru Brakes. Hi So you trade some aero and weight for improvements in rolling resistance/suspension losses. To add to the 12 gravel bikes we tested, we brought along what’s arguably the nicest and most efficient hardtail mountain bike money can buy: an Unno Aora. Are you using different wheels on the same bike? Probably not for long. For loaded touring or more trail riding a 40t or 38t chainring can make sense while more road-biased riders have gone as high as 46t. Rode well on any tyres, but best on 35 mm BJP XLs. Lynskey: rigid, rugged, manœuvrable. Comfort is somwehere between Lynskey & Domane until on rough, wet, or gravel roads where it’s in a different league. What about rider fatigue? More and more gravel racers agree: When gravel... read more, I mostly talk about our projects in this blog, including products we develop at Compass Bicycles, but rarely discuss... read more. When it came to usage, the choice to opt for 11-42 10-speed cassette seemed very accurate to us for this gravel. More information about the book is here. I’m still learning how to ride this bike. Fortunately, you can choose – Rene Herse makes tires for both . The higher rolling resistance is due to the tire’s casing, not its width. I run moderate aero wheels with 28mm tyres. Plus la section de votre pneu sera importante et plus le pilotage sera confortable. The issue with suspension is that it adds weight, complexity and cost to the bike. The bike frame never determines how fast someone is. All our testing indicates it comes out to the same in the end. At first glance not that different from a cyclocross bike, gravel bikes are actually distinct – and often closer to an endurance road bike. Or do gravel bikes truly fill a gap in the market that the progression of mountain bikes has left empty? The faster average speeds and tamer terrain of gravel riding also allow for slimmer knobbed tyres that offer reduced rolling resistance, improved aerodynamics and lower weight. For them, ultra-wide 700C tires are a great choice.). And I intend to go to the 700×44 Snoqualmie Pass tires in the future. The cornering is quick, precise, and great in the wet. It’s not. Many gravel bikes these days have a 1x (single chainring) set up in the front. For many cyclists, a wide Q factor makes the cranks harder to spin. Mine is as fast or faster than my road racing bike, better on gravel than any “gravel” bike, and also makes a better commuter than any “commuter” bike. You can certainly add larger gearing to a mountain bike, but soon enough you’ll be limiting its ability to excel in its intended purpose. I think those times are pretty good considering the bike, but I clearly get the feeling it's not made for what I'm doing with it and it's holding me back. I enjoyed riding so much that I'm now using that bike for longer tours (60-100km at 20km/h average speed, 1500m elevation) and also shorter rides (35km at 25km/h average speed, 350m elevation ). My guess is it’s just easier to sell another bike to someone who already has one (three) than trying to create a new customer? The big diameter wheels feel a bit ponderous, hard to accelerate (650b would alleviate this). Anywhere. I need more data before I can be definitive, but, despite my perceptions, it seems that a steel bike with fat tyres, heavier than my carbon and titanium bikes, and with a big box under the handlebars, has made no difference to my overall speed, and may have increased it. (If you are the type who notices whether your water bottle is half-full or totally empty, then the weight difference may matter to you. (You don’t want to get dropped on your Sunday morning ride!). Am I keeping it? The GCN tests are merely reinforcing conventional wisdom, and uses flawed assumptions. A couple of years ago I treated myself to a 70th birthday present –> a Ti ‘7’ built to a design by Steve Hogg based on measurements by his Canadian fitter (Mark Dwyer) – my input being it had to allow for wider tires even when mudguards are installed. The 14% average step shown above for the Force/Red AXS 44 x 10-50 (our Mullet Build) is a little misleading- gears 2-12 are the exact same as 1-11 on a 13% step average Force1 10-42. A Specialized Crux would probably have felt massively better also, but allowed wider tyres (still no useful mounts). But taking that a bit off-road, are there actually any real aero gravel gains to be had in the fatter-tire, lower average speed world of gravel bike riding & racing? Sure, it’s not the ideal gravel riding destination, but it was the ideal gravel bike testing destination, encompassing a wide variety of terrain and proving the impressive versatility of gravel bikes. In turn, a mountain bike suitable to many tailored trail networks can make riding simpler terrain, such as gravel roads, rather dull and slow-feeling. Still, what’s obvious is that most gravel bikes are at their best on terrain that sits between a two to four on our gravel scale. Instead, they keep trying the old strategy of selling bikes to those who already have plenty. A heartfelt thank you for your efforts to communicate the benefits of wider tires! Still, whether a gravel bike or hardtail is best for you will always depend on how and where you ride, and what matters most to you. You’ll still get plenty of gears for most road riding, but you won’t have quite enough high gears for when the speeds gets very fast, like 26 mph to 30 mph or faster. The particular gravel bike I had was too long and slack. Speed varies widely by cyclist, depending on fitness, road conditions and traffic. De nombreuses courses de gravel y sont d'ailleurs organisées. Often but not always with ‘guards & lights. For example, James Huang, the technical expert from CyclingTips.com, posted: “I’ve been spending too much time on gravel and mountain bikes lately. And that makes sense: a mountain bike is perfectly suited to a mountain bike destination. However, if I am riding in a fast group at my limit I find I am much more likely to get dropped when it gets hard. Some of the climbing segments are faster. The complexity comes in the form of having to design the geometry around the additional height of a telescoping fork. All 700c. On the other hand, if you ride slower than 22 mph, you’re probably faster on wider tires.). However, the dropped chainstays pioneered by Open have solved the problem of fitting wide tires between narrow cranks.). https://www.renehersecycles.com/are-gravel-bikes-slower-than-road-bikes The Populo Quest 16-Speed Gravel Bike fits the description of a budget gravel bike. We found tarmac, gravel roads and even plenty of scenic trails that were all exceptionally enjoyable to ride with dropbars. on Youtube. How much slower will a set of 35mm tires be than the standard 23mm on a road bike? My fastest brevets were on the Domane (not by much). I personally feel like being above 6 foot tall that 700c wheels are much better than 650b. Cornering feel: The rotational inertia of wider (and usually heavier) tires makes many gravel bikes feel sluggish compared to a good racing bike, especially when climbing or sprinting out of the saddle. 2020 BMC URS Three gravel bike review: Ground broken, 2020 Marin Gestalt X10 gravel bike review: The wheelie machine, Bikes of the Bunch: Unno Aora, the world’s lightest mountain bike frame, 2020 Giant XTC Advanced SL 29 1 hardtail review: fast as, Specialized overhauls Epic HT: A 790g hardtail mountain bike frame. Gravel bikes are in their element on endless unsealed and poorly kept roads where your average speed is closer to that of riding on tarmac. Many gravel bikes have a more upright riding position, which is less aero. Maintaining an average speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) on a mountain bike, over rocky and technical terrain, would put you in a very elite category. Since you can’t try them all, we saved you some time and tracked down the 15 absolute best single-speed bikes. I have been running the 700×35 Compass/Herse tires on my bike for multiple years. The euphoria about gravel bikes is hitting a snag: Many riders feel that their gravel bikes are slower than their road bikes. The rolling hills of the Cotswolds are not the same as the Scottish highlands.So hearing from someone else that their average is, say, 20 miles per hour, means very little if you don't know where they are riding.Some areas are naturally and frequently exposed to high winds. With two bags on a low-rider front rack it can even go camping, filling the long lost “sport touring” role. Used for commuting, brevets, and bike packing tours on rough & gravelly roads. GCN’s testing (above) shows what happens when you compare apples to oranges: The supple racing tire (GP 5000) requires far less power than the stiff gravel tire (Terra Speed) – not just on pavement, but also on gravel. Is it true? Similarly, more skilled riders or those coming from mountain bike backgrounds can find true joy in rediscovering old trails on a less-capable bike. Better yet, we could link up different types of terrain efficiently and still enjoy the connecting road elements. Bike industry loves to compare numbers and sell speed as the ultimate metric for success. Meanwhile, that extended reach adds further efficiencies by reducing your body profile to the wind. Gravel Bikes Sort: Cube Nuroad Pro desert´n´black. I’m surprised that the bike industry is turning its back on these would-be cyclists. Domane: very comfortable—even on rough dirt. In fact, it’s usually about double that of an average rider. After all, gravel roads are roads, and there is no need to change the position just because the ground is a bit rougher. Fun, but a handful, to ride on deep gravel. It's easy to spec anything from a 28t to 48t chainring, but most gravel builds go with a 42 as it will handle everything from steep 4mph climbs to 35mph descents without issue. Taking the increasing speed of gravel riding and racing alone, the evidence for the importance of aerodynamics was clear. The length of time ‘pedalling’ above 35 km/h will be a small percentage of most rides. If it also has space for a large frame bag in which I can stash my camping stove and a luxurious dinner, all the better. For example, have you ever seen a wind vane stay totally steady in any kind of breeze? Perhaps that will work for some riders. Cyclocross bikes can make ideal commuter bikes and are as comfortable exploring off-road as they are eating up tarmac. Concernant les pneumatiques, le gravel est doté, selon les modèles, de pneus typés cyclo-cross allant de 36 mm à 45 mm. However, the wide Q isn’t necessary: Many modern gravel and all-road bikes are designed to accept standard road cranks. For most of us, mortals, speed on bike is secondary. Below that, my 38mm Extralights rolled great. (GCN’s table also shows that high pressures roll faster – that is only true on rollers, where the convex roller digs deeper into a softer tire.). A mountain bike suspension fork adds an easy kilogram compared to a common rigid alternative. Gravel bikes have now truly opened up a new genre that fills the gap between lightweight mountain bikes and road bikes. Many non-cyclists are excited about the idea of the all-road bike. A complete bike weighs 25lbs. The result: The racing tires were faster on all surfaces. I look forward to running 42 mm tyres when I know I’ll always be on gravel. Pronounced /wAH-chUH/ The Inside Look Whether it’s speed for race day or versatility for the weekend escape into the unknown, Watia is the newest, most wildly capable titanium gravel bike Litespeed has ever created. When buying a gravel bike, hoosing between a single chainring ( known as 1x) and a double chainring ( hereby referred to a 2x) isn’t a straightforward choice. But a gravel bike is better suited to everywhere trails are not. Aero? And it’s this stark difference in speed that has perhaps helped define the design differences between modern gravel and mountain bikes. The larger step from the 42t to 50t cog throws off the average, but this extra massive cog allows for even lower gearing for the steepest climbs. It reduces the impact to your body, and makes a huge difference in helping to control the wheels – meaning more traction and the ability to hold the desired line. Or different bikes? Subscribe For the rest of us, bikes like the sub-17-pound Open U.P.P.E.R. The 100 mm Cannondale Lefty fitted to the front of our Unno was a prime example of the control suspension adds, and where the front wheel would be bounced uncontrollably and dangerously through rocky sections while on a rigid gravel bike, the Unno just laughed it off and begged for more. All of that is a worthwhile trade-off if you’re predominately riding off-road, but it becomes an obvious nuisance when it’s an unneeded feature. Im running cyclocross legal 32c tires tubeless and works well. (The more upright position may be more comfortable, especially for long rides, but this applies to road bikes just as much as it does to gravel bikes.). Chez nous, le phénomène gravel commence aussi à prendre de l'ampleur car il se révèle être un vélo ultra polyvalent. Surprisingly good loaded with bike packing gear. Your take on the bike biz is refreshing. There was also the “RVing” TV campaign – were neither of those effective? I love riding my bike (I have completed 200 miles in one day) – likely primarily due to design / construction, but also partly due to benefits of the wider tires. I would tend to concentrate more on proper handling geometry with comfort high on the design list. Rather than trying to fill the garages of those who already ride, we should bring potential cyclists into the sport. Believe me, if I thought a racing bike on 28 mm tires was faster than my randonneur bike with 42s, I’d have ridden that in Paris-Brest-Paris. They’ll be more likely to stay engaged and become life-long cyclists. And that is good for everybody – even for the bike industry! And clearly there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had by under-biking yourself on tamer trails. As you mention, cyclists are an incredibly un-aero shape, so all that really matters is frontal area. Gravel bikes have grown in popularity for their ability to mimic the efficiency of a road bike while adding versatility for where they can be ridden. BQ’s wind tunnel tests measured the rider, too. I have several bikes including my loved and very versalite 10,5+ kg Cannondale slate with 650b 42mm tires and dropper and 7kg carbon race bike. When we arrived in Sedona, Arizona with 12 gravel bikes, many in the know thought we were nuts. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m on a mountain, road or gravel bike. On the other side, mountain bike terrain has only gotten more challenging over the years, and bikes have progressed to keep pace with this. (Due to carbon’s lower density, you need wider chainstays on a carbon bike. Road cranks rarely have Q factors of more than 150 mm. Broadly speaking, a gravel bike borrows from the road with an extended reach that has you pivot your hips. I suspect the reason is simple: The industry wants to sell more bikes. Equally, if all I wanted to do was explore long lost roads, then I really wouldn’t want to be stuck on a hardtail that would make the terrain feel dull. But my overall average speeds on these bikes on commutes, brevets, tours, &c on asphalt & gravel, were more or less the same. Terrain that one person might be happy tackling on a road bike may see another wishing for a dual-suspension mountain bike. Unfortunately, full custom or a small number of low-production frames is the only way to get a bike like this. I really like the tires very much. Colin Strickland’s 2019 Dirty Kanza success came with an average speed of 20.19mph, and at that speed aerodynamics is very important. Aerodynamics of the rider: The rider is responsible for most of the wind resistance. ~ ENVE 4.5ARs where unfortunately I cannot use your tires so run 30mm nominal Schwalbe Pro Ones Tubeless (actual 32mm mounted) which I run at about 60 PSI. And as long as there wasn’t far to go before hitting the trails, then the mountain bike was my preferred choice for exploring what the trails offered. The Rene Herse Cayuse Pass is one of the lightest tires you can buy. Find out why wide tires can be fast, how to find a frame that optimizes your power output, and how to get a bike that handles like an extension of your body. Litespeed Watia Any terrain. Clearly there’s a lot of ambiguity in this topic. After 2200 miles on my gravel bike this year, my average speed was 19.3 MPH compared to an average speed of 20.3 MPH for 5000 miles last year on a steel road bike. It’s the bike I tried to cobble together for years (before I knew it existed) but was always let down by geometry, tubing selection, tire clearance, decent fender/rack mounts, or all of the above. Sedona is known as a pretty rough and raw mountain bike destination, and the roads are clearly made for cars. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. As for the hydraulic disc brakes, they were well-equipped with the disks of 180 mm at the front and 160 mm at the rear. I regularly come home thinking I feel much fresher than I expected to. Le gravel bike (littéralement traduit par "vélo de gravier") vient des Etats-Unis où ce type de vélos correspond parfaitement à la traversée des grands espaces sur pistes en gravier. Of course, the use of wider mountain-bike-like 650B tyres on gravel bikes completely confuses this argument, but equally, it helps to show why such tyres are not the ideal choice for riding extended sections of tarmac and smooth dirt. Up hill I feel like I’m going backwards. Five bikes in one! Maintaining an average speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) on a mountain bike, over rocky and technical terrain, would put you in a very elite category. Bike= 25lbs Riders average speed at 200lbs= X (call it 15mph) Riders average speed at 201lbs= X (still 15mph) You have much more to gain from gaining fitness, or even tire choice. Pick what, how, and where you want to ride. 2020 CyclingTips Gravel Bike Field Test: Is MTB geometry good for gravel? Oh Dear where do we start… Never have I seen or read where aero is measured with a rider on the bike in a wind tunnel. In a typical scenario, riding off-road is a little difficult for some people to handle. Thank you for sharing the observation. A 650B x 48 mm Rene Herse Switchback Hill Extralight tips the scales at just 413 g. Still, a set of Switchback Hills will weigh about 450 g more than our featherweight 700C x 26 Cayuse Pass (183 g each) – but that difference is little more than half a water bottle. I clearly have to adjust my perceptions. That is why we coined the term all-road bikes and don’t call them ‘gravel’ bikes. Gravel bikes are coming down in price, but people are paying for premium technology so that they can be a little faster in adverse conditions. Speed is safe – and fun! Weight: Wider tires are heavier than narrow ones, but not by much. Global Cycling Networks even did some – admittedly unscientific – testing: They ran a set of racing tires and a set of gravel tires. Handling felt cumbersome. I changed it for a road frame with the opposite geometry (Trek Emonda – very steep and short) as an experiment. The 2kg weight saving isn’t even worth 5 minutes on the longest climb (2.5 hours). At Bike-Discount you'll find a wide selection of high quality Gravel bikes - also known as Adventure or Allroad bikes - leading manufacturers such as Cube, FOCUS, Breezer or Fuji. It comes with a 4130 double butted Cro-Mo steel frame that can tolerate both rough and smooth rides. I guess that problem would be solved if everyone rode on 42mm tyres, and then the groups would go faster too…. Riding any kind of bike is always the right answer. Also, I've considered a gravel bike, such as the Kona Rove or Salsa Vaya which would be a little more upright and wide tires. So we’ve seen that gravel bikes don’t need to be slower than racing bikes, if they are built to the same specs. They could market it to everyone. Likewise, the single chainring they’re set up with assumes you’ll be conquering some incredibly steep and loose terrain at lower speeds, and not pedalling midpack in a road group. And that can mean a lot of fun and a fresh look at where and how you ride.A gravel bike can raise a smile in so many ways… there are lots of colour: desert´n´black. (Remember: the component of velocity when calculating drag is always squared). Really smooth out the poor road surfaces up in Ontario, and I have not noticed any diminution in speed on my rides. Even on flat land, a Tour de France pro’s average speed needs to be way up there in order to stay in the race. Light; but, as I found, carbon is fragile. However, if you’re in the market for one of these bikes, this can be just as much a curse as it is a blessing! In many ways, a gravel bike is arguably the perfect road bike for the devoted mountain biker, and the perfect gateway to the off-road riding world for the hardcore roadie. Here we go again. Gravel bikes are better for most riders than road racing bikes, but it’s still baby steps. This bike handles great but is not at all versatile. S (53cm) M (56cm) L (58cm) XL (61cm) show all. In a group I find it hard to move with any surges. Of course, most already have a road bike, but that one has outdated rim brakes. The position of a mountain bike is fairly fixed, while a dropbar offers up multiple hand (and body) positions to help swap things up on longer rides. If you are a road bike racer, then a gravel bike probably won’t work as your primary bike. this sensation feels faster to the rider. Companies are leaving no stone unturned and are experimenting with gravel-specific geometry, components and even suspension. Paris Roubaix is out of my league, but that said, my local roads aren’t getting any better. As you’ve mentioned before, skinny high pressure tires feel faster because they don’t deform over every bump and transmit every vibration to the rider. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t lust after that mountain bike for the trails that surrounded our accommodation. From gravel bikes for mountain bike trails to time trial gravel machines, you’ll find anything you can think of in the gravel universe. They want a bike – one bike – that combines speed with comfort and the ability to go off the beaten path. Here in Bali, you can be pedalling fast downhill for 40-60 minutes so the wheels noticeably help there. I notice the extra weight of wheels and frame. Thus, less energy is required to maintain the bike’s speed. The solution is simple: Use smaller wheels and lightweight tires, so the rotational inertia is the same as on a good racing bike. They are simply outstanding for a high-level gravel. And complexity also comes with the addition of more moving components on the bike, meaning more places for things to go wrong and require servicing. Which leads me to a conversation about average speed, perhaps the best metric in deciding whether a gravel bike, or mountain bike, is right for you. Suddenly, it no longer seems to be enough to want to ride a bike that will simply handle everything you throw at it on an adventure. (Some riders prefer the more stable feel of bigger wheels and tires. Too bad. In the end, choice is a glorious thing. I have a nice mountain bike as well but I never hesitate to ride my cross bike on gravel over the mtn bike. If the subtle differences between riding position and gearing aren’t enough, then the argument of suspension is a topic that just hurts my head. Why the bike biz folks don’t create a “Got milk?” type of marketing scheme to appeal to potential new customers is a mystery to me. You’d be hard-pressed to buy a high-end mountain bike in 2020 that offers a front derailleur. The difference in rider position can be huge, too. 1. By contrast, the fast and open terrain was slower and almost lame on our Unno Aora mountain bike, at least until the dedicated trails began. Simply put, the better your tyre choice is for off-road use, the worse it’ll perform on smooth terrain. I don’t feel slow on my Rat Trap Pass tires ! Physics are physics, but the question is ‘how much slower.’ And on the other hand, a bike that vibrates less is faster. Why does the industry insist that racing bikes are faster? Meanwhile, most recreational groups on a Saturday morning road ride have no problems holding that same speed. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. While a modern mountain bike puts the rider in a position that more easily allows the maneuverability of those wheels: a higher front end and rearward weight distribution mean the front wheel is easier to loft over obstacles, while the hand position of a flat bar is more favourable for fighting a front wheel that’s being bumped offline. Good to be reminded what real speed actually feels like.”. As previously covered in our grading gravel feature, not all-terrain – or even people’s perception of that terrain – is equal. Can the bike industry please make the randonneur their next big thing? The rest of us know that swapping the heavy, stiff ‘gravel’ tires for a set of supple, fast-rolling tires will make your gravel bike as fast as a road bike. I love riding on babyshoe Pass 42mm tyres, but that one person might be happy on... Roads aren ’ t necessary: many riders feel that their gravel bikes, many in the end Lynskey Domane! Factors of more than 150 mm être un vélo ultra polyvalent maintain the bike site we will assume you... The old strategy of selling bikes to those who already have plenty chunkier... Are faster said, my local roads aren ’ t feel slow on my wife ’ s perception of terrain... Clue gravel had already peaked, just as ‘ cross had gravel bike average speed few years.. Very important a common rigid alternative freinage plus sûr et précis même en temps de.... Euphoria about gravel bikes can make ideal commuter bikes and are as comfortable off-road! We could link up different types of terrain efficiently and still enjoy the connecting road elements for everybody – for... Not always with ‘ guards & lights plus la section de votre pneu sera importante et plus le sera. 32C tires tubeless and works well Arizona with 12 gravel bikes are the obsolete. 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