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Part 1: A Beginner's Guide to Gravel Biking - What Kind of Bike Do I Need?

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What is a gravel bike and what kind of gravel bike should I buy?

Is a gravel bike a road bike or a mountain bike? Well kinda both and kinda neither. Don’t worry, we’ll explain. 

A gravel bike takes aspects of both road and mountain bikes! Attributes taken from road bike design include:

  • Drop handlebars
  • Lack of suspension (although some gravelers are using suspension forks) 
  • A frame design that  is very road bike oriented

The treaded tires and more gentle geometry allowing you to sit a little more upright are cues taken from mountain bike design. The outcome is a bike that performs pretty darn well on paved and dirt roads and green to easy blue-rated mountain bike trails. 

Women gravel biking in Colorado

How should you choose your gravel bike? 

Look at what you plan to use your gravel bike for. Some riders want to ride mostly paved roads and some gravel roads, others may want to take on gravel roads and basic mountain bike singletrack. There are gravel bikes that are a bit more oriented to really sticking to paved and gravel roads (think the Canyon Grail or the Pivot Vault) and those that are much more mountain bike oriented with more gentle geometry, ability to mount tires up to 2.3 (Rocky Mountain Solo or the Kona Rove). 

Also, many shops will offer demos or check out brands that offer demos at events and festivals. Nothing compares to throwing a leg over a bike and spending some time on it. 

Want to learn more about gravel riding? It is the largest growing segment of cycling. Ask about gravel riding groups at your local shop and we’re loving what the gals at Girls Gone Gravel are up to. They have great resources, a podcast and host an annual festival. Check ‘em out! 

More in this Series
Part 2: A Beginner's Guide to Gravel Biking - What Should I Wear? 

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