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Gravel

What an uninspiring name.

So, we are all riding ‘gravel’ bikes now. Or are we? Let’s face it, the whole gravel scene is basically an American thing. Here in the UK we don’t have unending miles of gravel roads. They just aren’t a feature unless you live close to Kielder Forest for example. And let’s face it, if many of us did, it probably wouldn’t have unending miles of gravel roads.

gravel road

Some gravel. Exciting stuff.

Adventure bikes…there’s another tag that doesn’t really fit. From a manufacturer’s perspective I can see where they are coming from. Design a bike that is competent on the tarmac or off, loaded or unloaded. Make sure it has all the characteristics an intrepid, 21st Century tourist (or bike packer) might want and voila! An adventure bike.

Sorry, it still doesn’t cut it for me. My adventures take place closer to home and at my time of life, the prospect of sleeping out…well I gave that up when I was a lot younger. Anyway, let’s face it, bivvying isn’t for everyone. So that makes it more of a tourer…or does it?

Is it a hybrid?

Well is the gravel/adventure bike a hybrid or is it a product of mechanical evolution?

Looking back at ancient history, the first MTBs were little more than hybridised road bikes. The 26 inch wheels were an anomaly and though it took a while, the ‘development’ of the breed resulted in the 29er. Call me old fashioned but, take away the suspension fork and 29ers are pretty close to road bikes. It doesn’t take a huge imaginative leap to work out that if you tweak the angles a bit, slim the tyres down and add drop bars then you end up with a machine benefitting from the best that road and off road bikes have to offer.

It sounds a lot like evolution to me.

Rigid 29er MTB – Pre-Gravel/Rough Rider/AdventureCross frame of choice.

What’s my name?

Does any of this help us come up with a name or tag that better suits the UK Gravel/Adventure bike?

A furious Whatsapp session or two had James and I exploring potentially appropriate names for these bikes. MultiCross was the best we could come up with but even that doesn’t sound right. Mind you, it sounds a lot better than ‘gravel’ which is a miserable name.

Apart from the all encompassing “cyclist” what do you call someone who rides a gravel/adventure bike? They aren’t a roadie, nor are they a mountain biker. Any ideas gratefully received.

Gravel Skills Tips

So stoked on gravel.

Rough Stuff

Rough Riders is an option but you can’t escape the fact that The Rough Stuff Fellowship have been doing what everyone else is doing, for years. It would be disingenuous to appropriate their name. I can’t help but feel they are pretty close to being spot on. Maybe I should start an East Anglian Chapter!

Last modified: 2nd February 2018