Gravel, All-Road and Adventure bikes have been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds over the past 5 or so years. Bikes that have stable geometry, similar to a road bike but have excellent tire clearance and a more capable component spec. With uses ranging from bikepacking to commuting, here are a few reasons why we think they make a lot of sense for a lot of people.
- For the time constrained city road rider (gravel bikes aren’t just for rural areas)
The reality of owning a road bike in Toronto is that if you want to use it to it’s full potential, you need to kind of….leave Toronto. The GTA is surrounded by some of the best road riding the country has to offer but if you live within the city limits, nice roads with few stop lights are limited and leaving the city on your bike takes a lot of time, which is something that we all seem to have less and less of. We love our dedicated road bikes, but over the past 5 or so years, we’ve found ourselves riding our gravel bikes more and more.
If you have a bike that has slightly more tire capacity than a road bike, your options of fun places to ride in Toronto increase dramatically.
Toronto has lots of traffic, and lots of roads in miserable shape, but it also has an abundance of green space, parks and ravines. A gravel bike gives you the option of mixing up your terrain and taking more interesting routes. In some cases, way faster.
- There's less of a barrier to entry to gravel riding than other categories
This is one of the main reasons we’re drawn to this style of bike. The industry has all sorts of ways they define a gravel bike, however to get started the barrier to entry is much smaller than other categories. One of our favorite after work rides takes us from the store through Cedarvale Park, to the Beltline Trail and then over to Moore Park ravine. This is a 20 ish km loop where 80% of it is on dirt, grass and gravel, but it can easily be done on an entry level hybrid with a good set of tires. This isn’t to say that a higher end bike won’t have its advantages, but in terms of getting more people involved our sport, there’s a lot to like.
- The focus is just having fun on your bike and seeing where it can take you.
The way we see it, gravel bikes give you options. Do your entire ride off road, or go for a road ride knowing that you have the ability to duck into a park or ravine system and ride most trails. We love those types of rides! We’d also love to take you on some. If you want to stay up to speed with group rides we offer, don’t hesitate to sign up for our newsletter. You can do so at the bottom of this page.
- Geometry and fit is better than it’s ever been for this style of bike
Going to nerd out for like 2 seconds here, but the industry seems to be figuring this one out well lately. When purpose built gravel bikes started popping up from bigger brands, in most cases they were bikes that didn’t ride super well. They were capable, but most felt sluggish and if you wanted to use them as your cyclocross or road bike, they didn’t really cut it. Now though, bike manufacturers have found a great happy medium that gets bikes to feel lively and fast, but also stable. Newer tech and design has allowed for this change. Norco for instance, has offset their chainstays on the Search XR model which allows them to have huge tire clearance, but also shorter chainstays than you might expect. Unlike models 5 or 6 years ago, you now have bikes that (with a tire swap) really do have the ability to keep up on a road ride because they have proper gearing options, or have the ability to help you do that cyclocross ride because they handle really well in rough terrain.
- There are races to do if you want them, and the vibe around them couldn’t be more awesome.
Gravel racing doesn’t have the same long history like road racing, cyclocross or even mountain biking, so races don’t really have to operate within any particular set of rules or structure. The bigger races that have been popping up have done a great job to create a “good vibes” culture surrounding them, which seems to be paying dividends in attracting people. Grinduro is an event that has a couple editions, one in Scotland and one in California. There are serious racers who enter, but the organization has put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that it’s not just about the race, but also the pre and post party surrounding it. Paris-Ancaster is another somewhat local race that takes place about an hour outside Toronto. It's an amazing ride that has grown to host upwards of 2000 racers annually and every year there are tons of people that compete with entry level bikes and are there to finish, or beat their time from last year.
- Adaptable bikes, that suit more than one purpose (WELL) is something the industry needs to help get more people riding.
There are SO many choices out there for people buying a new bike. As a consumer, if you’re looking for choice, now is better than ever before. But objectively, it can be daunting for someone doing research to make a purchase. Having a bike that can do more than one discipline (and well might we add) can help get more people exposed to all the amazing things each discipline of cycling has to offer.
Want to try one? Email us to book a demo bike.