Gravel Road - Whats it all About?


Affirming its significance in the road cycling world, ‘gravel-road’ or ‘adventure cycling’ is very much here to stay. 

Adopted out of the cyclo-cross discipline of racing, gravel-road has come a long way in becoming its own unique genre of cycling. This explosion on to the road cycling scene has seen every major player in the market producing a gravel-road bike of some description for the 2016 season. Lets us take you through some of our favourite ‘go-anywhere’ speed machines.




Designing the formula for versatility in a bike that is capable of taking you off the road when the desire to explore kicks in is not one to be taken lightly. However, the recent rise of this new breed of road bike has provided a bike that can do just that, a true all-rounder. The idea behind the gravel-bike is to maximise every pedal stroke, like a road bike does, but also to inspire confidence over rough and unstable terrain for when the road becomes a track.

For a bike to give all the power transfer advantages and all day riding potential as a road bike gives you but to also enable to the rider to feel assured over rough terrain means making a few tweaks. Firstly, the geometry of a gravel-bike sits between that of an endurance road bike and a cyclo-cross race bike. This means that a longer wheelbase, slacker head angle, taller head tube and a lower bottom bracket height are all found on a gravel-bike that increases its stability and provides comfort over long-distances.

The forward thinking does not stop there with the gravel-bike mentality as, to capitalise on the platforms true ‘go-anywhere’ ethos, brands have designed in a number of aspects that boost its versatility. A tyre clearance to fit tyres of up to 35mm mean that extra grip is obtained and direct mounts for mud-guards and pannier rack fitting allows the versatility of a gravel bike to shine through.



With many options on the market it can seem a little confusing. Let us guide you through some of the best bikes and kit on the market to take you on your next cycling adventure.


Whyte Saxon Cross Team 2016


Taking everything they know from the mountain bike world, Whyte have created an assured machine with great geometry that has a wealth of versatility. With geometry very much influenced by Whyte’s mountain bike origins, the Saxon Cross Team 2016 boasts an extremely stable ride that is ideal for even the roughest of terrain. With a brand ethos of ‘made in the UK for the UK’, Whyte have equipped the Saxon Cross Team with a SRAM Force 1×11 groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and Maxxis Mud Wrestler tyres (33mm) to suit UK riding conditions as much as possible.

Giant TCX SLR 1 2016

Giants contribution to the gravel-road influx is the TCX, an aluminium frame geared slightly more towards the cyclo-cross scene. However, thanks to a clever design from Giant, the TCX SLR 1 has great potential as an adventure/gravel-road bike. With a slacker head angle and a slightly longer wheelbase then Giants endurance road bike offering, the TCX does well over the wide-open dirt roads as well as tight, technical situations. Equipped with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105, shifting is kept smooth and efficient and the mechanical disc brakes deal with braking over rough surfaces well.

Cannondale CAADX 105 2016

With a mentality of adventuring on the weekend and commuting on Monday, the Cannondale CAADX 105 has versatility running through its veins. Much like the Giant TCX, the CAADX sits more towards the cyclo-cross race bike end of the spectrum, however, thanks to the geometry and spec of the bike, it is very much suited to gravel-road and adventure cycling.  As an option for the faster, more aggressive rider, the CAADX is ideally suited.

The gravel-road phenomenon has broken into the cycling scene and it is here to stay. The ‘adventure’ ethos of the platform has encouraged all brands to develop and put money into offering a gravel-road bike and now a competitive market place has been created. The pure versatility of this design of bike lends itself to popularity, but also gets down to the fundamental reasons of why we ride, to explore, escape and have fun on two wheels.