Gravel Bikes 101

Everyone’s talking about Gravel Bikes…so are we. Let’s take a look at them.

Cannondale Topstone Alloy Gravel Bike

Gravel bikes are a cross-over between road bikes and MTBs, and are popular among road riders looking for new places to ride, and MTB riders looking to do longer distances.
They’re similar to an endurance roadie, with a more relaxed geometry that makes them comfortable over longer distances and rougher terrain.
They have disc brakes, drop ‘bars that flare out for greater control, and wider knobby tyres.

You can take a gravel bike almost anywhere – they’re not the right bike for tight single tracks, but fire roads and unsealed public roads are their bread and butter, with 700×40 tyres that have low-profile knobs. These larger tyres are run at lower-than-normal pressures, and they soak up the small bumps. It’s a kind of suspension, so you stay comfortable for longer.

Gravel bikes are built for riding on poor quality asphalt roads and unsealed roads of all types. We think they should be called ‘Cessnock Bikes’, because they’re perfect for our local conditions. It’s for this reason that we recommend you don’t ride a ‘normal’ road bike in the Lower Hunter.

If you live in a city and ride a road bike, you’ll probably have 700×23 or 700×25 tyres, with lighweight aluminium or carbon wheels. You might also have a lightweight carbon racing frame. These bikes are perfect for high speed and maximum efficiency on high quality asphalt roads and cycleways that you find in cities around the globe, but we don’t have these roads here in the Hunter.

Unfortunately, our local roads will damage these tyres and wheels (and sometimes even the whole bikes) in a very short time. Your bike will seem very harsh to ride, and you won’t enjoy yourself!

That’s why we recommend you ride a gravel bike – theyre built tough and are perfectly suited to our conditions.