Best Gravel Bikes 2020: Gravel Biking Guide For Beginner

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best gravel bikes

Best Gravel Bikes: In recent years, we see on the stands “hybrid” bikes, built like roads but with disc brakes and big tires. Not really road, not really cyclocross, these newcomers are classified in a family that the Americans call the “gravel bike“.

If translated literally, it means “gravel bike”. What are these machines? Still a new marketing concept or real need on the part of cyclists?

Small presentation of these road bikes that do not hesitate to leave the asphalt.


A gravel bike, what is it?

A gravel bike is a sporty bike, drawing in the DNA of road bikes for maneuverability, cyclocross and trekking for all-road appearance and endurance. If we look at the elements of a gravel, we can quickly find this multiple heritage.

The most distinctive elements are immediately recognizable: disc brakes for safe and precise braking, tubeless tires with large sections (from 30 to 48C). The clearance at the frame is more important than on a road to be able to accept large sections.

The frame has a typical endurance geometry, with sometimes a slooping more important than a road and a higher direction sleeve to be able to adopt a more straight and relaxed driving. Always in the same optics of comfort, the pedal is placed lower to less give the impression of rolling ‘posed’ on the bike, as one can have on a road bike. The bases are also longer, to better absorb the vibrations of Best Gravel Bikes.

The development (cassettes and trays) is also different from what you can find on a road bike. Since you must be able to take your gravel on much less rolling ground than bitumen, we are on the court: 50/30 or 48/32. Many gravels are in mono tray with a cassette of 10-42 to be able to pass everywhere.

Side hanger, we remain on a racing hanger but again, changes have been made to be able to hold his bike gravel on rough terrain and ride comfortably long. Concretely, a gravel hanger will have a flared shape with the cocottes inclined inwards you better grip and less effort. This type of hanger requires to adopt a less aerodynamic position but this is not the goal sought here.

If you make a lot of road, it will be wiser to keep the classic road hanger. Otherwise, do not hesitate to crack for a specific hanger.

As you can see, the keywords on a best gravel bike are comfort and versatility.

The gravel, a versatile hybrid

The gravel bike is therefore at the crossroads of these different practices:

Cyclo-cross: with a gravel bike, you will find the pleasure of venturing on small undergrowth roads and stony paths. In short, assured fun!

Endurance: a gravel is studied to ride long in a comfortable way, for you long walks.

Mountain biking: without the same crossing abilities as a mountain bike, a gravel bike and an off-road vehicle, you share the same taste for adventure and freedom. You will be able to please you on the white paths, the traces filled with leaves or the muddy paths in winter season.

Hiker: it rejuvenates the old image of the hiker. Indeed, many models of gravel are planned to be equipped with mudguards or luggage rack and you will be able easily to equip your gravel to make it a perfect bike of long trip, able to take you far on roads not always paved.

Commuter : as manoeuvrable as a road bike and with a powerful and secure braking, the gravel bike is a very interesting option for those who use their bike every day to go to work. Bonus, with a gravel, it is easy to cut through a small road or a path to vary the routes!

A colleague who used to ride a road Genesis recently converted to big tires. And he is delighted, “it’s super fun! “. His Volare warms the winter while his gravel is on the road every day. And at the weekend, he can now vary the training by adding the paths of the forest of Rambouillet to the turns of the valley of the Chevreuse.

A gravel is suitable for all uses. It is maneuverable enough to slip into the urban traffic, you can easily equip it with luggage racks if you need to carry groceries; it is dynamic enough to hold the pace during a group outing on the road and above all, it is strong enough and comfortable for you to explore the paths in the woods.


Browse the paths with a mountain biker

Make a hike with more mud than in cyclocross (and return in the evening plastered up to the eyebrows)

You can do anything with a gravel 🙂

But where does the best gravel bikes come from?

The Gravel phenomenon comes from the US Midwest, where cyclists have become accustomed to driving on small roads and unpaved roads for the past ten years.

At the time, the riders hacked their bike or road bike by adding the biggest tires that passed between bases to collect shocks. Endurance races already exist there, like the Dirty Kanza or DK200, which as its name suggests, travels 200 miles in the Flint Hills of Kansas; the Trans Iowa, a self-guided hike of more than 482 km in Iowa or the Super Skaggs which takes the pilots on 160 km and 32 004 m of D + under the Californian dodger.

Gravel Bike
Photo: pixabay

Of course, similar paths, it invites to the ride!

To make a sport comparison, we can say that gravel is the equivalent of trail running: in full swing, events flourish and brands want their specific model at all costs.

In the past two years, the industry has noticed the public’s enthusiasm for this new use of the bike and has seized this new trend to give birth to their latest babies, super versatile bikes that allow you to go from the city to the fields. without worry. No more tinkering with your cyclocross, your road bike or having multiple frames. Now, cyclists wanting to go from road to road can do it with the same bike.

If the calendar of events gravel is well supplied to the US, we are only at home. Among the best known, the Caminade brand organizes the Grell 66, the Torino – Nice crosses the Alps in September and June, the Velovert Festival has planned the Graveleuse Marin (82 km and 1840m of D + in the Vercors).

More locally, groups of enthusiasts are setting up rando gravel, like the beautiful Echappée in Paris. Do not hesitate to inquire around you! The Best Gravel Bikes in France is in full development.

Best Gravel bike
Photo: Pixabay

How to choose your best gravel bikes:

Frame (Alu, Carbon, Steel, Titanium): gravel are not the lightest bikes in the world, so you will find steel frames, known for its quality of comfort and strength. For those who want to go further and want a lighter bike, they will be more focused on aluminum or carbon. The Fuji group has released the Jari frame. The latter turns out to be comfortable as for example the CDA from Genesis.

Gravel tire: no type tires, the choice of your tires will mainly depend on where you ride and your experience.If you drive 70% with your gravel bike, you will not choose the same tire as you do 70% of your rides on the pebble.

In an extremely rolling area, you can keep sections in 28 to 35. On the contrary, if you ride a lot on the road, in any weather and looking for comfort, go for 38 to 45 (more is wider, more you will gain in comfort and handling). Schwalbe and WTB offer many models of gravel bike tires, you should find one that suits your needs.

Gravel hanger: As we have seen above, the gravel bike is used with a slightly different hanger from a conventional road hanger: more spread down to gain stability when descending on uneven terrain, wider for a more comfortable position. Depending on your preferences, your practice and your experience, you can mount a flat hanger or a special gravel hanger or even a more compact road hanger.

Tubeless or tube: prefer tubeless tires to be able to roll at lower pressures.

Single-deck transmission: a single-deck transmission is the top of the gravel bike! Less maintenance, less time spent pawing its levers on a technical course, less weight, a simplified transmission so more reliable, anti-derailment, in short, it’s a real plus!

Read also: 
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5 Best Trials Skills That Every Mountain Bike Rider Should Know – MTB Skills


Best Gravel Bikes: Where to buy a gravel bike? What is the best product on the market?

As usual in the world of cycling, it’s the level of equipment that will drive up the budget.
The quality of braking is now very good thanks to the disks that now equip the bikes, thus ensuring a powerful and progressive braking even in the mud! Of course, there is a difference between the different ranges of discs but they surpass the braking by pads when the coating is wet.

To recall the range at Shimano starts with Claris => Sora => Tiagra => 105 => Ultegra => Dura-Ace.
The entry level is in Claris and the high-end ultra-light is in Dura-Ace.

For beginners and leisure use on weekends, the SARACEN HACK 02 gravel bike is excellent value for money. Equipped with wheels in 35C, it is ready for the roads without fear of loss of adhesion. His group in Tiagra is good at entry level.

At Decathlon, the brand is also interested in the gravel phenomenon with a Triann RC 500 equipped with Shimano Sora.

The brand also offers an even more successful model with the Triban RC 520 equipped with Shimano 105 2 * 11V that accept tires up to 36C!

Cheap and properly equipped, Triban Decathlon will accompany you on your outings on roads and your escapades on the trails.

For those who prefer famous brands to equip themselves with a gravel bike, you are spoiled for choice thanks to the widespread democratization of gravel!

Thus, at Cannondale is the Topstone model that is equipped with Shimano Sora 2 * 9V and with 40C tires.

At Cube, the Nuroad is in Shimano Tiagra 2 * 10V with 35C tires (it accepts 40C).

Tommaso Siena – Shimano Tourney Gravel Adventure Bike

There is nothing better than the feeling of the perfect bike. This feeling inspires confidence and pride, and we believe it is essential to reach your full potential as a rider. Every single thing we do at Tommaso is about these feelings, they are what drive passion and innovation in this industry, and these are the values that make us who we are as a brand.

Trek offers his Checkpoint AL3 gravel bike in Shimano Sora 2 * 9V and 35C tires.

Finally, on the side of BMC, the RoadMachine X Rival model is a level above (its price is almost double the previous models) with a single-platter SRAM Rival Group 1 in 1 * 11V!

The mono tray simplifies the choice of speeds because you no longer need to worry about the board!
You just have to choose the speed that suits you with a very large and versatile cassette


To summarize, bests gravel bikes are a road bike-inspired sports bike with off-road genes to allow it to explore the roads and paths without difficulty during long rides. Originally appeared in the USA, the versatility of gravel also seduces us. Being able to go from the road to the paths, to cycle comfortably during the week and to hike on the white paths the weekend attracts a lot.
The gravel is playful, powerful and comfortable, it allows you to ride freely by freeing constraints, what pleases many!

The phenomenon is becoming democratizing, brands now produce dedicated models, you will undoubtedly find a bike that will fit you!

Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking

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