Riding on gravel with your road bike is nothing new. What once used to be the norm way back when has now become the next big thing. Bike manufacturers are taking advantage of the fact that some of us like to take our bikes on unpaved, blissfully traffic-free roads and fire trails, creating specific designs made for just this terrain. I already have some great adventures in mind for the new gravel grinders. Now I just need to get my hands on one.
So what makes a gravel bike different from a road or cyclocross bike? Some key criteria for these adventure ready bikes seem to be a bottom bracket lower than that of a cross bike but higher than a road bike and a wheelbase a little longer than both (longer chainstay and bottom bracket). Slacker head tube angles are common for a more stable ride on rough roads. The gravel frames usually come accessory ready to be kitted out with fenders and racks.
Niner RLT 9
My absolute favorite gravel bike at Interbike was the new Niner RLT 9. The Niner RLT 9 features a hydroformed aluminum frame, sold both as a frame-set with a Niner carbon fork (MSRP $1,049) or fully built with SRAM Rival Hydro ($2,999) or Shimano 105 ($1,999).
The standard PF30 bottom bracket shell offers both geared and singlespeed compatibility using the new BioCentric 30. The RLT 9 also features disc brake mounts, internal cable routing (also integrated Di2 compatibility with a seatpost wiring port), ample spacing for wide wheels, and 27.2-millimeter seatpost sizing for better shock absorption, especially when paired with the RDO Seatpost (designed for twice the flex of traditional carbon posts).
Raleigh Tamland 2
Built on the Reynolds 631 steel frame, this gravel grinder includes disc brake mounts, rack and fender mounts, with a steel fork, and FSA headset. There is plenty of clearance for even large width CX tires (the Tamland 2 comes with Clement X’Plor MSO 40c tires).
The Tamland 2 components include TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes, Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, and four-arm Ultegra 50/34 compact crankset. Out around this time next year, the gravel grinder will retail for around $2400.
The lightweight aluminum frame of the Revolt features endurance-oriented geometry and plenty of room for large 700 x 50c diameter tires-ideal for comfort and control in constantly changing conditions. Disc brakes and a wide, ergo-shaped handlebar with shorter reach and drop also help boost confidence on rough roads. Details include full-length cable housing for smooth shifting performance in bad weather conditions and the X-Defender downtube guard to protect you and and the bike from dirt and debris.
The Revolt comes in three fully built models – the Revolt 0 ($3200), Revolt 1 ($1380), and Revolt 2 ($1025). The higher-end Revolt 0 features a SRAM 10-speed drivetrain with hydraulic disc brakes compared to the Shimano 10-speed drivetrain with Avid disc brakes on the Revolt 1.
What do you think about the new gravel grinder revolution?