5 tips for beginning gravel cyclists
The number of gravel events, the amount of sold gravel bikes, the dedicated gravel collections of cycling wear brands and the endless gravel routes you can find online: these are all indications that gravel is not hype. Gravel is here to stay. The gravel bike brings you closer to nature and invites you to explore more. Whether you like car-free roads or enjoy going on scenic adventures, we give you five tips to get started with gravel cycling.
Adventure can be found at your doorstep. The best way to start gravel cycling is to leave from home and just start exploring. Adventure starts where tarmac ends! Take the trails you would normally skip on a road bike and see where you end up. Maybe it's just a dead-end forest path, maybe it leads to a true gravel paradise you had no idea about!
Every start is hard, so take it easy and don't expect too much of yourself in the beginning. You don't have to cover monstrous distances (immediately) on your gravel bike or take on extreme gravel adventures. Put the focus on discovery and enjoyment and don't let average speed or distance throw you off the map.
The beauty of offroad gravel adventures is the amount of options you have. You can explore all kinds of surfaces with your gravel bike: from single track to rough country roads and gravel paths. So, there is something for everyone!
Go for the lighter gravel trails during your first gravel rides. Then you are still away from civilization and in the middle of nature without having to tackle the most extreme trails right away. Give yourself some time to get used to riding on new and different terrain.
It's handy to take a few things with you when you set out on your gravel bike. Definitely don't forget to bring some drinks and food while cycling. In addition, it is handy to bring a repair kit. The chances of having a puncture while gravel cycling are higher than when cycling on asphalt. So, make sure you always bring the equipment to fix a flat tire: an inner tube, tire levers, a multi-tool and a pump or Co2 cartridge.
If you are used to clipless pedals, opt for mountain bike shoes and pedals. Clipless pedals allow you to transfer more power. Some gravel cyclists like to ride with their road shoes and pedals. Of course, you can do that too, although unclipping is a little less easy and road shoes are a lot less comfortable. Should you prefer not to clip into your pedals, flat pedals are also an option.
Although you can have endless discussions with gravel cyclists about what the perfect gravel tire is, there are some guidelines to keep in mind when choosing a new tire.
- Wider tires provide more grip and more comfort. In addition, wider tires can handle lower pressures, giving you more grip on loose surfaces.
- The route and weather have a big influence on the right choice of tires. For example, it is advisable to use somewhat wider tires with more tread in wet weather conditions on rough gravel paths. In dry conditions, on the other hand, a thinner tire with less tread will do you more good.
- Optimise your tire pressure! The right amount of tire pressure depends on the conditions. Most people ride with far too high tire pressure on gravel trails. Play a little with the tire pressure and make sure you find the right balance between riding comfortably and having enough grip.
Are you going to ride on gravel trails for the first time? Then see what the options are with your current bike. What is your bike's maximum tire clearance? If you can use 30mm tires, for example, it's best to ride some gravel trails (in good weather conditions) already.
Does your current bike not match your intended riding style? Then it might be time to buy a new bike. Do you like limitless adventuring over rough terrain and would you love to go on bikepacking trips? Then our Kanzo Adventure is a good match for you! With its progressive yet comfortable geometry, plenty of mounting points for luggage and bottle cages and a maximum tire width of 52 mm, you'll be ready for any offroad adventure. Do you have a different riding style? Then check out all our gravel bikes here.
Don't forget to have fun! The biggest advantage of a gravel bike is the adventure that comes with it. In the beginning, stay in your comfort zone and develop your offroad riding skills. After that, the real work can begin. The more time you spend on your gravel bike, the more confident and the better you will become.