THE PERFECT GRAVEL BIKE
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A GRAVEL BIKE?
Go anywhere! That's the motto of gravel biking and that says it all: whether road, dirt track or trail - anything is possible with a gravel bike.
Gravel bikes combine the various disciplines of cycling, but above all they stand for freedom, independence and lots of fun.
THE NEW ROAD RAGE AND HOW CLOSE IT COMES TO THE PERFECT GRAVEL BIKE.
A gravel bike is something like an egg-laying jack-of-all-trades: a real jack-of-all-trades among bicycles, whether on the road or off-road. What sounds so simple and playful is actually quite a balancing act. After all, gravel bikes should not only be stable and versatile, but ideally also super light and at home in every discipline. Long gone are the days when a gravel bike was simply a converted cyclocross bike.
Today, gravel bikes are well thought out down to the smallest detail to cope with all the situations they are exposed to. But even though a gravel bike is so versatile, there are some basic subtleties that you should be aware of before choosing a particular model.
We'll show you what to look out for in this article.
BACKROAD OR ADVENTURE?
Basically, there are two types of gravel bikes that have become established in recent years. If you're a regular adventurer who rides almost exclusively on challenging trails rather than straight farm tracks, you should at least take a look at the "adventure" category of gravel bikes. Here, the border between gravel bike and mountain bike is becoming increasingly blurred, but at least the distinctive drop bar ensures a perfect classification. Wheels with classic MTB dimensions in 27.5/29 inch with up to 2.2 inch wide tyres are not uncommon in this category, however, and use on asphalt surfaces is just as much a secondary consideration as weight.
"Backroad" gravel bikes, on the other hand, are versatile all-rounders that are suitable for weekend bikepacking trips, but are also great fun for after-work rides or even for commuting. They are the perfect mix of road and mountain bike and for most cyclists this type of gravel bike, which includes our Road Rage, is the ideal choice. They are light, fast, comfortable and efficient. The motto "Go Anywhere" is consistently implemented here.
CARBON, ALUMINIUM OR STEEL? THE RIGHT MATERIAL FOR YOUR GRAVEL BIKE
This question can hardly be answered in a general way.
If you are going on a world tour with your adventure bike, a steel frame is ideal. A steel frame is comfortable, robust and can be repaired in any backyard workshop in the event of a defect.
Carbon frames, on the other hand, are unbeatably light, highly efficient, but also expensive and relatively fragile.
Aluminium offers a great compromise between weight, durability and price-consciousness and is therefore ideal for versatile gravel bikes like our Road Rage. Combined with our comfortable and well-designed carbon fork, it offers a robust, long-travel package at a really good price.
WHAT DOES A GRAVEL BIKE COST
No one can answer this question definitively, because as you know, the upper limit is rarely set in stone. What can be said for sure, however, is that there are definitely price differences that depend on all kinds of factors. The material used is just as important as the components used, the weight of the bike or whether it comes from a large production plant or a small factory. Of course you can spend thousands of euros on your custom dream bike. But you don't have to. With our Road Rage, we prove that you can also build an excellent gravel bike at a very down-to-earth price: the basic "Road Rage" model is already available for 1.199,00 €!
The mid-range models Road Rage EQ and Road Rage Essential change hands for 1.399,00 € and 1.599,00 € respectively. The Road Rage Essential EQ is our fully equipped Commuting model with rear rack and mudguards. Last but not least, you can opt for the absolute top model: Our Road Rage Advanced costs 1.999,00 €. As you can see, the dream of the perfect gravel bike doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive!
THE WIDTH IS CRUCIAL: THE RIGHT GRAVEL TYRES
The tyres can significantly influence the riding characteristics of your gravel bike: Thin, low-profile tyres offer less comfort and are not as grippy, but they roll fast and are totally efficient. Thicker tyres, on the other hand, cushion better and offer perfect grip. The tyre diameter also influences the riding characteristics: While 650b wheels provide a more agile, nimble ride, 700C tyres (or 29 inch tyres) roll over smaller obstacles better and exploit this advantage especially at higher speeds. Bikes with larger wheel diameters are generally smoother.
On the Road Rage we rely on 700C tyres, with all models equipped with WTB's tried and tested "Riddler" in 37C. This size offers excellent all-round performance both on and off the road. For even more grip and control, you can retrofit tyres up to a width of 38.5 mm. And if you prefer the more agile handling characteristics of a 650b wheelset, that's no problem: this dimension also fits, and you can even fit tyres up to 48 mm wide.
The Road Rage is not equipped with a tubeless set-up as standard, but you can easily change that too. The tyres are tubeless-ready, so you only need to add the appropriate rim tape, a tubeless valve and the sealing fluid.
THE INNER VALUES: THE GEOMETRY OF THE GRAVEL BIKE
Gravel bikes are often compared with robust road bikes or cyclocross bikes. However, if you take a closer look at the geometry of such bikes, you will notice clear differences. Roughly speaking, both road bikes and cyclocross bikes are designed to be sportier and you sit on them in a much more stretched position. Cyclocross bikes are usually designed with a very large frame triangle and a straight top tube so that they are easy to shoulder.
Gravel bikes, on the other hand, are more compact and usually have a sloping top tube and often a longer head tube. The wheelbase is usually longer and the bottom bracket lower. In addition, the steering angle is flatter so that the bike runs more smoothly off-road. Basically, you sit more relaxed on a modern gravel bike, so that even long rides can be mastered comfortably. As soon as you go off-road, you will appreciate the excellent handling of your gravel bike. That's when bikes like our Road Rage can really show what they're made of!
HE WHO BRAKES... WINS! THE OPTIMAL BRAKE FOR YOUR GRAVEL BIKE.
Disc brakes are a must and have long been standard on gravel bikes. Whether mechanical or hydraulic ultimately depends on your preferences and the intended use. Mechanical brakes are often preferred by riders who take part in long stage races far from civilisation or go on a world tour with their bike. The advantage is obvious: mechanical disc brakes are much simpler in design, so that in the event of a defect they can be repaired more easily than a complex hydraulic system, even in the remotest corner of the world.
Hydraulic brakes, on the other hand, are convincing in normal everyday use with a more defined pressure point and better braking performance. In addition, they usually don't need any attention when you're on the road, because the system adjusts itself, whereas with mechanical systems you have to adjust the brake pads again and again. When it comes to braking performance alone, hydraulic systems are clearly the better choice. That's why all Road Rage models are equipped with hydraulic disc brakes.
THE HANDLEBAR: THE CONTROL CENTRE OF YOUR GRAVEL BIKE
Gravel bikes have long since been equipped with more than just drop bars. Special gravel handlebars are not just a trend, they make sense. Gravel handlebars are usually wider than classic road handlebars and, above all, they have a "flare". This means that the handlebar ends are not only bent downwards, but also to the side. This ensures more stable riding characteristics, but also more space between the bar ends. If you want to mount a handlebar roller, you will be happy about every millimetre gained. Apart from that, gravel handlebars are often designed more comfortably to protect you from vibrations of the uneven ground.
All Road Rage models are equipped with handlebars from our own brand Ground Fiftyone. Depending on the frame size, they are 420 mm (XS/S), 440 mm (M) or 460 mm (L/XL) wide. Otherwise, it offers the best gravel dimensions: the drop is 130 mm, the reach 70 mm and the handlebar has 16 degrees of flare.
A PERFECT TEAM: BIKEPACKING AND GRAVEL BIKING
Hardly any other type of bicycle is better suited for travelling than the gravel bike. You can make fast progress on it, so even longer daily stages are no problem. Nevertheless, you are comfortable on the road and can choose between asphalt or loose ground. Above all, a gravel bike allows you to carry the luggage you need for your trip. Many gravel bikes are equipped with all kinds of additional mounting options for racks or other accessories.
Our Road Rage offers the full programme. In addition to three different positions for your drinks bottles, the top tube is also equipped with threaded eyelets so that you can securely attach a top tube bag. The fork also offers mounts for additional water bottle cages or special fork cages or fork bags if you need even more storage space. You can mount a rear rack on the rear triangle and of course the frame can be retrofitted with mudguards. Some Road Rage models are even equipped with mudguards out of the box: The Road Rage "Essential EQ" comes with mudguards and a rear rack. The "EQ" is even equipped with battery lighting and is thus perfectly equipped for long tours or for everyday use.
SMALL SPECIALS THAT MAKE LIFE EASIER (AND MORE BEAUTIFUL)
Internally routed shift cables and brake lines have long been standard on road bikes and mountain bikes. And it also suits our Road Rage quite well: all cables disappear into the frame, which not only makes for a clean look, but also protects against dirt and impacts.
If you want to retrofit a dropper post, the Road Rage is also perfectly prepared: The cable for the adjustable seat post also disappears completely into the frame.
Text: Martin Donat
Photo: Martin Donat, Tim Winterburn