Tips and resources

Choosing the right bike for gravel

Gravel riding can be tackled on a wide variety of bikes, but the rougher it gets, the more you should consider the equipment you’re using.

What bike is best?

Depending on the terrain you’ll usually be comfortable on a gravel bike or a cyclocross bike, set up with a broad gearing range, disc brakes and wide tubeless tyres. You’ll have speed, control and good braking.

To modify a road bike for riding on gravel, you should fit tyres as wide as your frame will allow (usually about 25mm or 28mm). This will give you better comfort and grip. Also consider fitting some thicker bar tape to take a little sting out at the handlebar. Please note: Road bike geometries will be a less comfortable set up when compared to a cyclocross or gravel bike, which are designed for gravel/ off-road riding.

Rougher terrain will typically require either a gravel, enuro or CX bike to best handle the terrain. 

Picking your pedals

Gravel riding takes you to wonderful places, but many of them are inhospitable to road shoes/pedals. We advise using mountain bike pedals (SPD, Crank Bros Egg Beaters, etc) and mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats instead of road shoes and pedals.

Some stretches of the route may not be rideable, and rest stops are likely to be muddy. If you don’t have clip-in mountain bike pedals, consider installing some flat pedals on your bike. A top tip, would be to get mountain bike specific pedals which come equipped with pins in pedal for added grip.

Some tyre talk

As a general rule of thumb, lean towards wider tyres at lower pressures, and experiment with what you feel comfortable with tread-wise. There isn’t a right PSI tyre pressure to recommend, this will differ depending on your rims, tyres and body weight.

If you are able to set your bike up tubeless to eliminate pinch-flats on rocky descents, this would be a wise move; just bring some spare tubes in the event of sidewall gashes. Your bikes ability to go tubeless will depend on if you have UST (Uniform System Tubeless standard) rims and tyres.

Gravel bike tyres

Become our friend

Find out more about Bicycle Network and support us in making it easier for people to ride bikes.

Become our friend - Footer