|More and more bike companies are selling road bikes built to be ridden on dirt roads. Are they marketing hype or the future of cycling?
Along with disc brakes, the biggest buzz in road riding is around bikes built for a variety of terrain (dirt roads, singletrack, etc.), not just pavement. These drop-bar machines tend to have longer wheelbases than a normal road bike, more upright positions, lower bottom brackets for stability, and clearance for wider tires. They’re being promoted as gravel bikes, adventure bikes, all-road or all-terrain bikes.
Marketing aside, if one thing can be said about this emerging segment of bikes, it’s that there are no hard-and-fast rules about what falls into the category. Road bikes have always existed on a continuum, from light, fast, aggressive race models to longer, stabler touring machines. The gravel movement has a similar scale. Cross-bikes have been around forever, too, and though they generally have quicker steering and are oriented more toward short, fast, aggressive efforts, comparing geometry numbers shows that the differences between them and adventure roadies are blurry.
So how is a consumer to make sense of it all? Do we need all this variety? And are these bikes even that useful or fun to ride?
Gravel riding, aka gravel grinding or adventure riding, is an increasingly popular form of cycling that combines elements of road- and mountain-biking, and consisting mostly of distance riding over unpaved roads.
Whether dirt roads or gravel roads, trails must consist of non-technical and unsurfaced roads to qualify as gravel riding. Since cities mostly have paved roads for commuters, gravel riding trails are usually located in rural areas. This tends to afford