Author Topic: Does anyone know what gravel is?  (Read 7501 times)

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #50 on: July 19, 2018, 10:51:53 am »
Mr Macadam will be twirling in his wotsaname.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #51 on: July 19, 2018, 01:42:48 pm »
It's a way to sell bikes that look like the one John Tomac rode in the early 90s, but with disc brakes.  They're not much use for anything except maybe crappy Sustrans paths, which is where most legally rideable gravel is.  Not much good for commuting as few are designed for mudguards, no good for heavy mud (Tomac's was because it was really an MTB) and too slow on tarmac unless you fit road tyres - in which case you've just made a heavy road bike.
Never tell me the odds.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #52 on: July 19, 2018, 02:03:20 pm »
It's a way to sell bikes that look like the one John Tomac rode in the early 90s, but with disc brakes.  They're not much use for anything except maybe crappy Sustrans paths, which is where most legally rideable gravel is.  Not much good for commuting as few are designed for mudguards, no good for heavy mud (Tomac's was because it was really an MTB) and too slow on tarmac unless you fit road tyres - in which case you've just made a heavy road bike.

You realise that there is a world outside the home counties right?

Unsealed roads are surprisingly common. Be it bridal ways of Britain, or the many unsealed roads of the rest of the world. Even in the Netherlands with it's thousands of km of paved cycle ways, it's possible to find unsealed road surfaces for which the gravel bike comes into it's own. Germany has the Trans germany bike route, which is 1600km offroad, most of which is on fast gravel roads. etc...

I commute on my bike (see up thread for photos). It has mudguard eyelets, tho I haven't actually fitted mudguards, as I use my saddle bag to keep the worst off. And the right choice of tyres works well both on and off road.

I think one of the other "features" of the "gravel bikes" is that they piss off grumpy old farts that don't understand them.

Yes the name sucks. But the use case for gravel bikes is a real one, that for many is the one they need of their bike.

Now if the industry could make more groupsets aimed at the gravel market,that would be lovely. I'm talking 46/30 and 44/28 chainsets! and rear mechs that will take a 11-36.

J

--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #53 on: July 19, 2018, 03:31:07 pm »
Roger doesn't live in the home counties...
The earth is vast and beautiful and contains many miraculous places. (Chekhov)

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #54 on: July 19, 2018, 04:16:22 pm »
I think QG is quite defensive about his gravel bike!  A couple of the super-fit Weds night riders have them and they ride them so we can keep up; the extra drag kind of levels the playing field between whippets and those of us built more like 1980s Belgian sprinters.

Still, it's the first time I've been called an old fart  ;D
Never tell me the odds.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #55 on: July 19, 2018, 04:30:40 pm »
I think QG is quite defensive about his gravel bike!  A couple of the super-fit Weds night riders have them and they ride them so we can keep up; the extra drag kind of levels the playing field between whippets and those of us built more like 1980s Belgian sprinters.

Her bike. Yes I am very protective of said bike.

Gravel bikes, despite the name, are a wonderful idea that fills that gap between the out and out road bikes for those who think they are Chris Froome, and the out and out mountain bikes for people who don't like roads. And with the likes of FSA making groupsets aimed at the gravel market (FSA SL-K Modular crankset for example), this provides useful gearing options for mortals for whom even a 50/34 compact is too big.

Quote

Still, it's the first time I've been called an old fart  ;D

I wasn't solely aiming it at you, there's a lot of people moaning about gravel bikes acting like you're average grouchy old fart "back in my day..." "new fangled..." etc...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #56 on: July 19, 2018, 05:05:36 pm »
It's a way to sell bikes that look like the one John Tomac rode in the early 90s, but with disc brakes.  They're not much use for anything except maybe crappy Sustrans paths, which is where most legally rideable gravel is.  Not much good for commuting as few are designed for mudguards, no good for heavy mud (Tomac's was because it was really an MTB) and too slow on tarmac unless you fit road tyres - in which case you've just made a heavy road bike.

Gravel bikes often have mudguard and rack eyelets - it's one of their distinguishing features! And part of the point of them is that (in the disc brake era) you can build a road bike with bigger clearances for negligible weight penalty.

And "crappy sustrans paths" covers an awful lot of places people want to cycle. I'm not sure why this is a negative!

There's a lot of silly hype around them, but what you're basically rubbishing here is the idea of making road bikes with bigger clearances and more practical features, which seems... odd.

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #57 on: July 19, 2018, 05:09:14 pm »
I don't object to the bikes, it's the nonsensical, confusing marketing I don't like. We hardly have any gravel here. But they do have proper gravel racing in the US. What we have here is crap road surfaces, huge potholes and bits of muddy cycle path. Maybe we need a new name for a new niche...the austerity bike.

I am extra grouchy about marketing because I used to do it for a living. The bullshit drove me crazy. Still does.

Samuel D

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #58 on: July 19, 2018, 05:29:07 pm »
I am extra grouchy about marketing because I used to do it for a living. The bullshit drove me crazy. Still does.

How did you get out? Asking for a friend.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #59 on: July 19, 2018, 05:31:25 pm »
If it weren't for marketing, all bikes would be as expensive (and difficult to purchase) as an equivalently specced recumbent.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #60 on: July 19, 2018, 05:46:57 pm »
Customers don't need marketing to vote with their wallet. Look at Ribble.

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #61 on: July 19, 2018, 05:49:24 pm »
I am extra grouchy about marketing because I used to do it for a living. The bullshit drove me crazy. Still does.

How did you get out? Asking for a friend.

Forced out by illness. I somehow ended up running a growing PR company but I'm not one of those who thrives on stress.

SoreTween

  • Most of me survived the Pennine Bridleway.
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #62 on: July 19, 2018, 05:54:41 pm »
I've no idea where RZ lives but I can safely say it is nowhere near any forestry commission land.  Ditto Porkins.   Look for a map of FC land, every bit of it is full of gravel fire roads and all is permissive access.

According to whoownsengland.com FC is the largest land owner in England & Scotland.
2018 targets: Survive
There is only one infinite resource in this universe; human stupidity.

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #63 on: July 19, 2018, 06:02:45 pm »
I've no idea where RZ lives but I can safely say it is nowhere near any forestry commission land.  Ditto Porkins.   Look for a map of FC land, every bit of it is full of gravel fire roads and all is permissive access.

According to whoownsengland.com FC is the largest land owner in England & Scotland.

And a fair number round here are in much better shape that the roads!

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #64 on: July 19, 2018, 06:14:17 pm »
gravel fire roads
Believe it or not I've seen fire roads in UK forests, done a fair bit of enduro motorcycling in such places. In my experience they're at least 10 parts earth to 1 part gravel. Sometimes there's a layer of fresh gravel on top but it soon gets scattered and buried by vehicles.

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #65 on: July 19, 2018, 06:28:50 pm »
I don't object to the bikes, it's the nonsensical, confusing marketing I don't like. We hardly have any gravel here. But they do have proper gravel racing in the US. What we have here is crap road surfaces, huge potholes and bits of muddy cycle path. Maybe we need a new name for a new niche...the austerity bike.

I am extra grouchy about marketing because I used to do it for a living. The bullshit drove me crazy. Still does.

There's loads of it round here. There's a whole 15 mile section of Fosseway.

Nope I'm not going to join in with the luddites. Products need to be sold or companies won't make them. They fill a niche.

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #66 on: July 19, 2018, 07:11:29 pm »
OK, so it's a Cross not a Gravel bike, but my Caadx is by far and away the fastest bike I have (tandem excluded) - I find it much faster than the Synapse which was £1200 more, and the Sammy Slick tyres (no longer available - FFS) are great for hooning along at evens on tarmac; and it's my go-to bike for any off-road except the proper gnarly bits of the moors - it's great for FC tracks.

So in my limited experience, I haven't found gravel/cross tyres slow at all - quite the contrary. They do wear out quickly though - although that might just be because I'm a fat fucker.

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #67 on: July 19, 2018, 07:24:04 pm »
gravel fire roads
Believe it or not I've seen fire roads in UK forests, done a fair bit of enduro motorcycling in such places. In my experience they're at least 10 parts earth to 1 part gravel. Sometimes there's a layer of fresh gravel on top but it soon gets scattered and buried by vehicles.
You're taking the word 'gravel' literally. That's a mistake. You've fallen for the marketing over the product.  ;)

In similar vein, it's a mistake to think an older bike can't be a 'gravel bike' because the term hadn't been invented then.
The earth is vast and beautiful and contains many miraculous places. (Chekhov)

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #68 on: July 19, 2018, 07:55:11 pm »
How long since anyone objected to the term "Mountain" bikes? - which as we know are almost never ridden up mountains.




I think the UK is generally very lacking in rideable, non-muddy gravel. Or rather it is very localised e.g. once I've ridden 40 miles to Salisbury Plain there is many miles of the stuff. Or 110 miles to the start of the TINAT rides, which had some glorious bits in gorgeous surroundings.

Are these bikes good for nothing? Well, they only excel in very specific conditions. Are they pretty good over a wide range of surfaces? Yup, and you can probably ride many interesting routes round the UK without being pathetically slow, or riding miles without being able to look around you. (Mine probably does most miles on shitty low-traffic tarmac.)

My current problem is locating trails that aren't muddy - everything else is generally good fun. (admittedly as I write - with no rain for over a month - mud isn't a big problem! But most of the year, most years, "off-road" mostly = mud. I don't like mud. )

My "gravel bike" is an aged aluminium ex-CX frame (raced to a vets world champs win I'll have you know!!!) with  mudguards, 1x8 + Cantis, down-tube friction shifter.  :smug: It was bought (for pennies) for my commute, but has proved a brilliant "general" bike.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #69 on: August 06, 2018, 07:12:03 pm »
I was skimming through some old CTC Cycle magazines the other day and came across a review of "Sonder and Whyte gravel bikes" by Dan Joyce. Some extracts:
Quote
Both bikes are at their best on some kind of road. They excel on smooth unsurfaced ones, such as good-quality forest fire-roads. ... On actual gravel, ironically, they were underwhelming; loose chippings make for skittery handling on tyres that are, in off-road terms, relatively narrow and high pressure.

Quote
These bikes are to rough-stuff tourers what audax bikes are to traditional tourers: lighter, sportier alternatives. They'll carry less luggage (or none) at higher speeds. I don't think either the Sonder Camino Ti or the Whyte Friston is the only bike you'll need, but either might be the only drop-bar bike you need. They will do country lanes exploring, club riding, gentle off-road riding, commuting, lightweight touring, minimalist backpacking, and more.

If you own multiple bikes, there's less incentive to buy a jack-of-many-trades gravel bike. You're likely to have specialised bikes that already perform specific roles better. So pause before drinking the gravel bikes Kool-Aid and think hard about what you'd really use one of them for. 

And he concludes by saying:
Quote
...The Sonder Camino Ti... would make a fine road-plus bike and, with treaded tyres, a very capable backpacking bike. ...

...The Whyte Friston... would then be a cracking all-roads bike, with the emphasis on surfaced ones.

I was first formally introduced to the concept of splitters and lumpers twenty years ago in the context of dictionary compilers. Dan Joyce is clearly a splitter who sees distinctions between gravel bikes, all-road bikes, road-plus bikes, backpacking bikes and indeed rough-stuff touring bikes. I suspect in this he's typical of people who write about semi-technical things in a marketing-type context (as in reviews) for a living. To me, they're all flavours of the same thing.
The earth is vast and beautiful and contains many miraculous places. (Chekhov)

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #70 on: August 06, 2018, 07:19:24 pm »
I was first formally introduced to the concept of splitters and lumpers twenty years ago in the context of dictionary compilers.

*tapity-tap*

*learns that there's a term for a thing*
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #71 on: August 06, 2018, 07:24:18 pm »
+1.

Confusion to be avoided with other uses of 'splitters' though, e.g.



cheers

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #72 on: August 06, 2018, 07:41:46 pm »
You can't lump all splitters together!

Erm...
The earth is vast and beautiful and contains many miraculous places. (Chekhov)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #73 on: August 06, 2018, 08:06:41 pm »
I was first formally introduced to the concept of splitters and lumpers twenty years ago in the context of dictionary compilers.

*tapity-tap*

*learns that there's a term for a thing*

Women, fire, and dangerous things...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Does anyone know what gravel is?
« Reply #74 on: August 06, 2018, 11:49:52 pm »
I first heard the lumper/splitter terms used in reference to historians, but it is one of those concepts that can be applied wonderfully productively to many different domains (which of the two this might make me is left as an exercise for the reader...)

I'm with Cuzdo in that I reckon they're all basically the same thing, but I'm slightly perturbed in that I could probably enumerate most of the various fine distinctions between Joyce's categories. I read _Cycle_ whenever it drops through my letterbox, but that's the closest thing to a reviews mag that I look at; I suspect this means I spend rather too much time reading about bicycles online, rather than just riding them...