Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 107 total)
  • Gravel biking: How it started, how it’s going…
  • singletrackmag
    Free Member

    Gary ‘Rocketdog’ Walls from the UK Gravel Collective (and regular Forumite) has shared this article with us about where he thinks gravel came from, an …

    By singletrackmag

    Get the full story here:

    Gravel biking: How it started, how it’s going…

    igm
    Full Member

    Isn’t 2018 quite late to the party? I was out on a Singular Gryphon ten years earlier.

    Drop bars, rigid, and whatever 29er tyres you fancied – including Big Apples.

    Apart from that, I tend to agree with the sentiment of that article.

    jonnyboi
    Full Member

    Agree with the article, but it’s also hard to balance. Gravel cycling is great, you spend less time on the roads with all the stress that entails, more time out in the countryside.

    Getting more people involved is obviously a good thing, but that also brings commercialisation and the additional competitiveness as new niches and marketing opportunities are opened up.

    2016 DR felt like a long party, 2022 felt like a commodity to be exploited.

    mattsccm
    Free Member

    Hilarious if , and I guess it’s meant to be, somewhat tongue in cheek.

    Much of what the author seems to not like is very much what he is promoting even if it’s just the uniform trendy gravel riders wear. The idea that “I’ll get away from the hype of cycling” is hype itself. Indeed the need to write the article contradicts what he seems to be saying. Or maybe he is just not very explicit in his writing.?

    Surely what he pushing is normal cycling. Gravel isn’t suddenly the cuddly version of cycling. You don’t automatically get dropped on the road or the MTB. But you might. You damn well might get a hammering on our club evening gravel rides, especially when the pub is 45 minutes away and the usual arrival time is 30 minutes ahead. 10 bikes in a chain gang behind the 75 year old on his chipped ebike. Or we may do bugger all.

    Having said that I find anyone trying to find meaning in anything like this  ridiculous. It seems to be that too many people are looking for a niche.

    I was very very late to the party in respect of getting a dedicated bike only 30 years ago. I was very late riding distances on gravel 50 years ago. (All right that might have been only 20 miles as I was 10).

    Nothing has changed in cycling . All he has done is got himself in print. In deed I question the fact he has an Instagram thingy. That in itself is nowt but self glorification and contradictory to the article surely.

    stanley
    Full Member

    Isn’t 2018 quite late to the party? I was out on a Singular Gryphon ten years earlier.

     

    It’s not a competition!   I think that was the main point of Rocketdog’s writing.  Doesn’t matter if you took your 5-speed Raleigh Racer down to the local woods in 1980, or if you just bought a BSO-gravel bike yesterday, everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in 🙂

    ampthill
    Full Member

    I’m very much propping up the riding slow on a dogs dinner of a bike end of gravel.

    Perceptions are hard to battle as they are in people’s minds and don’t necessarily reflect reality. I’ve done 3 gravel events this year. I’ve seen a huge variety of bikes, fitness and skill levels rubbing along together just fine.

    I’ll end with my ultimate yawns ville comment on when it all started.

    Cycling started with “gravel”. Tarmac wasn’t invented until years after the bike

    stanley
    Full Member

    mattsccm… Wow. Respect. But so serious.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Nothing has changed in cycling . All he has done is got himself in print. In deed I question the fact he has an Instagram thingy. That in itself is nowt but self glorification and contradictory to the article surely.

    How cheery was this response. As one of the followers I’d say the Instagram was a bit of a laugh and promoting going for a ride. Which is kind of what the article is about.

    charliedontsurf
    Full Member

    I enjoyed that. Thank you.

    The Dorset Gravel Dash, now the Dirt Dash is said to be the first gravel event in the uk. Covid has messed up the time flow perception continuum, thingy but it’s over 10 years old now.  In that time the scene has changed, the bikes too, and the people.

    At first it was a very experienced hardy bunch. But you needed experience… for example a ten speed drop bar STI shifter will only work with a 9 speed MTB mech… bloody confusing. Mini V brakes and “travel agent” cable pull adjusters were also needed to get stuff working.

    In recent years folk ride off the shelf gravel specific bikes… and the barriers are no longer there. The crowd has changed, and the bikes, but the vibes are still good and true. Everyone seems happy.

    I really enjoyed the pioneering days of gravel, and I’m also very happy with the current scene. It’s all cool.

    PJay
    Free Member

    Since getting back into cycling, maybe 20 years or so ago, I’ve always ridden gravel. Riding gravel before gravel bikes just mean doing it on hybridised hardtails with semi-slick tyres (I always bemoaned the lack of decent semi-slicks). I’m currently still doing it on a rigid Singular Swift, although, rather late to the ‘proper’ gravel bike game, I’ve gathered together the parts for my first gravel bike build, which I’ll be doing over the winter.

    I’d suggest that there has always been gravel riding, it’s what you ride rather than what you ride it on, but proper gravel bikes do seem great (I’m looking forward to trying mine out).

    — Edit —

    It’s all been done before – Rough~Stuff Fellowship Archive (@rsfarchive) • Instagram photos and videos

    The cycling industry does seem to like its ‘fads’ and we seemed to be ready for gravel biking; I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the way some bike manufacture or other tried Gnarmac – basically a proto-gravel bike, which never took off.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Good article indeed, they who have most fun win…

     

    And gravel seems to be morphing into touring in my friendship group. Another Good. Thing.

     

    13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    For me this was why gravel bikes were so exciting, it opened up areas I’d dismiss as too far away by MTB, or even worse, that I’d have to drive to before riding.

    Couldn’t agree more with this bit, I’ve explored more and ridden more new (and at times awesome) singletrack once I got a gravel bike than ever before, and having seen some of Rocketdog’s posts I think we share a liking for the entire spectrum of what might be rideable on a gravel bike.

    Sadly I really disagree with the general tone of the rest of the article though, which seems to be permeated with that tired old MBUK-esque sense of butt-hurtness about roadies and people who like riding fast* 🙄

    *or at least trying to, the speeds I tend to average by rights I probably SHOULD be riding around in a lumberjack shirt with a danglemug, constantly making sure not to take myself too seriously 😎

    igm
    Full Member

    It’s not a competition!

    Apologies. The late to party comment was spawned by RD’s own comment that putting gravelly tyres on a rigid flat bar 29er wasn’t really gravel.

    If it was a competition, I’d lose.  That’s the general rule on competitions.

    mr_stru
    Full Member

    It’s sport, there will always be people who take it very seriously and people who don’t. For all that everyone talks about road riders being serious there have always been organisations like CTC, now Cycling UK, who are more welcoming and encouraging of just riding. There’s space for everyone and trying to demarcate what is and what is not gravel, or mountain biking or any style of cycling is self defeating and unhelpful. Just let people ride bikes how they want to ride bikes and be happy for them.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I’d be interested in seeing the timeline of when Monstercross became Gravel. I suspect it aligns with the niche becoming not-a-niche. I guess it wasn’t that common to hear it this side of the Atlantic but it was a thing on MTBR for a while.

    tourismo
    Full Member

    I agree with a lot in this article, especially that gravel bikes can open up riding that you otherwise wouldn’t bother with if you only had an MTB. Since buying mine I’ve done way more ‘rides from the door’ linking up off road trails with quite roads. There was nothing stopping me from riding these on my MTB but the road sections would have been a drag. People often criticise gravel bikes for just being 90’s mountain bikes. What I find interesting about this is I feel that rather than the bikes being a throwback to the 90s it’s ethos around the scene. As Rocketdog alluded to, for gravel the rules weren’t set about where you ride or what you wear, much the same as it was when I started mtbing in the late 80s, where you would find people riding in Ronhill tracksters, hillwalking fleeces and everything from Adidas sambas to walking boots. And while we enjoyed riding technical single track it was accepted that a bit of road or forest road would be needed to get to the good stuff. Riding was much more about exploring and adventure and I think this is what gravel is tapping into, for me at least. As for the racing side of things it’s inevitable that it will become more serious/professional and that bikes will evolve to reflect to this just as mountain bikes have. I don’t see this detracting from non competitive side of things, and while I haven’t attended any of the dirt dash events I get the impression that these are more like cycling festivals rather than races. Overall I think the gravel scene will be good for cycling with the road scene requiring a high degree of fitness and the standard of technical ability in mountain bike increasing all the time, gravel is more accessible for more people.

    keithb
    Full Member

    Hmm….  So riding a cross bike around the bridleways and byways if Hertfordshire for fun in 2007, or buying a trek crossrip in 2014 doesn’t count?  Gravel is just a marketeers term for riding a dropped bar bike off road, and the activity significantly predates the term!

    fossy
    Full Member

    It’s nothing new, but there seems to be a bigger push as all round bikes.

    I’ve got a CX bike this year (used) as my old 90’s MTB is used for an off road commute and I wanted a bike that would go on roads and trails locally without dragging out the FS which is overkill. My two road bikes are totally unsuitable for anything other than tarmac. It’s great leaving the house, hitting a few farm tracks, then still rolling well on the road, then dive on tracks again.

    As all round bikes they are great. Mine slightly less so as it is a race bike and no mounts, but I had spare wheels available, so gravel tyres on one set, road on another.

    PJay
    Free Member

    As Rocketdog alluded to, for gravel the rules weren’t set about where you ride or what you wear

    It’s nice that gravel riding frees people up just to be cyclists and have fun, but I’ve never really been bothered by the fashion police. I’ve been riding mountain bikes on roads, in normal clothes (with bar ends) for years; I still tuck my trousers into my socks like I did as a kid. And to prove that I’m still fashionably non-conformist, I’m still running 3×10.

    What gravel biking does seem to do is give people like me permission to be  ‘serious’ cyclists without the need to be skilled or performance orientated; fun and fitness is as noble an endeavour.

    ton
    Full Member

    i enjoyed that.  RD talks sense, always has.

    i dont like the term gravel myself. i wont be the only one who started riding offroad on a cowhorned roadbike in the 70s.  so i tent to use the term ‘offroading’.     all good either way.

    el_boufador
    Full Member

    it’s 90s xc though innit really

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I’d be interested in seeing the timeline of when Monstercross became Gravel.

    It is 2023 and I’ve just bought a Monstercross bike, having owned a ‘gravel’ bike for the last 3.5 years….

    #Countercultural #AntiFashion #DILLIGAF

    racefaceec90
    Full Member

    Haven’t people been riding gravel roads since the dawn of the hobby horse and first bicycle. Even penny farthings. So definitely not new. 

    I would love a gravel bike I must add one day when funds allow.

    rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    i enjoyed that. RD talks sense, always has.

    I’ve always respected you Tony, but that is pushing it a bit far! 🤣

    singlespeedstu
    Full Member

    Isn’t 2018 quite late to the party? I was out on a Singular Gryphon ten years earlier.

    If it’s a dick swinging contest i had one of the first three prototype Gryphons before the production frames were released.😘 Sam and KoS had the other two.

    Prior to that it was a karate monkey with drops fitted.😉

    llama
    Full Member

    +1 MTB from 1990 except the bikes work better and don’t keep breaking

    AND it reduces the stupid macho image associated with riding off road. Dude.

    New edition Gryphon, MTB disguised as gravel bike

    singlespeedstu
    Full Member

    Gryphon, MTB disguised as gravel bike

    Nah. It was always a drop bar MTB.
    Never disguised as anything.
    Mine was always used as an MTB on MTB trails.
    I used my CX bike as a gravel bike.

    llama
    Full Member

    Yes what you say is true, point is that when I ride mine, people call it a gravel bike. I usually just say yes it is.

    midlifecrashes
    Full Member

    Shirley the peak of the UK gravel scene in 2015, not a check flannel shirt in sight!

     

     

     

    tjagain
    Full Member

    f it’s a dick swinging contest

    I was riding a modified road bike with  knobblies offroad in the 80s and my dad was riding singlespeed road bike off road in the 50s

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    I’m a bit of gravel bike evangelist, but at the same time I worry that people (myself included) can end up treating what is really a relatively mundane niche as if it’s somehow utterly unprecedented and profound…

    They’re just bikes, brought about by mashing up some obviously useful features, and accepting that there’s not such a fixed definition of what is a ‘gravel bike’ is, could be an MTB with drops, a slight over tyres CX bike, a hybrid or an ‘alt bar’ bike.

    Yes there’s competitive flavours of gravel now, dunno if things like the “Lifetime Grand Prix” are really in the same non-competitive spirit as tubby Dads and third wave hipsters trundling about on bridleways and knackered B-Roads enjoying the views and a pork pie, but it’s all part of a broad church of “gravel”…

    Andy
    Full Member

    I was riding a modified road bike with  knobblies offroad in the 80s and my dad was riding singlespeed road bike off road in the 50s

    Aye and my grandad rode the lairig ghru fixed in the late .30s (also a founder of Dundee Cycling Club). This is pointless.

    For me, @rocketdog has promoted the idea and built it into a thing. Good for him. Its all cycling. Its all good.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    t’s 90s xc though innit really

    Yes it really is. Infact my 90s MTB often had narrower tyres and a more aero riding position.

    But it’s not like that’s a bad thing. FS bike isn’t anything like a 90s MTB. So actually it’s not as good for lots of the riding from my door

    tjagain
    Full Member

    Aye and my grandad rode the lairig ghru fixed in the late .30s (also a founder of Dundee Cycling Club). This is pointless.

    🙂

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Shirley the peak of the UK gravel scene in 2015, not a check flannel shirt in sight!

    Vegetable! Pakora!

    ton
    Full Member

    Shirley the peak of the UK gravel scene in 2015, not a check flannel shirt in sight!

    lol, never seen that. and what a good weekend we had too. sundays loop was a cracker IIRC

    igm
    Full Member

    You know, sometimes I wish I hadn’t written something. 

    I was trying to say it’s not new, not that I was the first on my Gryphon (which got used for commuting as much as anything). 

    The Gryphon was let down by the lack of drop bar hydraulic brakes, and the groupsets of the time. I had to bodge a 2×10 running an Ultegra road STI, CX front mech, 9sp XT rear mech and 10spd XT cassette.  The cranks were XT with some aftermarket rings to get a reasonable top gear on a 20 road section, but a useable bottom gear off road. 

    Great frame, dubious groupset that worked ok 95% of the time. 

    tjagain
    Full Member

    Thats how I took your post IGM  Missed nuance once more

    Of course gravel biking is not new.  Its been going on since the early days of cyling.  Whats new is its use as a marketing term rather than just riding bikes

    jameso
    Full Member

    Thing is, gravel bike popularity owes so much to the roadies. The road bike boom, CX as a road culture thing and the fixed gear trend all helped create the gravel scene … and the reason so many people are riding off-road on bikes that aren’t very good at off-road stuff and have the least suitable bars for it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and I love road bikes that can go off-road, but the appeal of gravel to new off-road riders and the type of bike they end up on might be a bit of a mis-match. Flat-bar gravel bikes aka good quality hybrids make a lot of sense and then we’re getting even closer to the use that mid 80s to early 90s ATBs saw. XC is back, we just don’t call it XC yet.

    singlespeedstu
    Full Member

    @IGM
    Sorry if my post offended you.
    I was just a light hearted thing not a dig.
    I though the emoji kind of made that clear but maybe not.

    Everything has been done before and will at some point be done again. Nowt new there.

    I was riding home made contraptions offroad back in the early 70s just like loads of other folks my age.
    I’m just glad bikes have got better so no one has to go down that route again.

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