Gravel bikes were born in the United States for adventure riding on unpaved roads. Gravel bikes can be defined as a successful hybrid between mountain bikes, with which they share the same treaded tyres and wider tyre sections (up to 48 mm), and road bikes, from which they take their frame, fork and handlebar design and materials. Sometimes more MTB or road depending on the components used, modern Gravel bikes are the result of the need to enjoy the bike and go anywhere, with technical solutions that make them the perfect means of transport for tackling secondary roads and unpaved roads, as well as unmade trails and mountain passes. With a Gravel bike you can really do anything and enjoy the pleasure of cycling without sacrificing performance.
One of the most interesting new products of the last few years are the gravel bikes, bicycles with a racing character designed to tackle dirt roads, paths and dirt tracks. The problem of accommodating these large-section tyres has forced designers to create ad hoc rear stays, as we shall see in the course of this article. In summary, we can say that gravel bikes, despite their "physicality" which is very similar to racing bikes, are designed for endurance riding, for long journeys and to offer comfort and stability, so that you can ride for many hours without tiring your body too much. A gravel bike provides a more upright and less aerodynamic stance for the rider, favoring stability and comfort in the saddle with the aim of covering several kilometers a day, alternating between asphalt, dirt roads and undemanding trails. The frame has relaxed geometry, a longer rear triangle and a seat pillar with a more open angle, which makes it possible to increase the wheelbase and mount wider MTB-derived tyres, with sections ranging from 28mm to 36-38mm as standard, up to 40mm. This gives a larger footprint and gives stability and more grip and avoids the 'bounce' effect. For the cable routing, Gravel bikes adopt a solution designed for MTB with cable routing facts inside the frame, cleaner and at the same time protective. The brakes on a Gravel bike are disc brakes (mechanical or hydraulic) with ø160mm rotors. This solution offers high braking power and modularity of the controls and a substantial increase in performance in situations of mud and rain. On a gravel bike we often find a drivetrain from a racing bike. The number of teeth certainly makes the difference, since the front crowns of a gravel bike are often super-compact and therefore have 46/30 and 48/32 ratios to allow smoother pedalling and a higher frequency. There are also frequently Gravel bikes with many mountain bike sprockets so 1x, where the single front sprocket varies from 38 to 42 teeth. It is also possible to mount electrical gearboxes such as Shimano Di2, especially the Ultegra groupset, and given the success of the segment, manufacturers have begun to offer groupsets designed exclusively for installation on gravel bikes: this is the case of the Shimano GRX or the Campagnolo Ekar. From the saddle to the handlebars, comfort and ease of use are the main prerogatives of these bikes. The handlebars are more ergonomic and allow a firmer grip to increase stability on uneven surfaces, and the saddles are more padded. Depending on the configurations adopted, Gravel bikes are an all-round vehicle that can go from dirt roads to climbs, but also urban commuting and touring bikes. A truly borderless bike, a "Modern Eorica", Gravel bikes that retain a retro feel. Total bikes that have taken their cue from those so loved by our great-grandparents. Girardengo, Guerra and Ganna rode heroic, hardy bikes, "ready for anything" and on unpaved roads, because that's what cycling was like in those days, between the two World Wars.