Gravel Renaissance?

Is it too early to call it a gravel renaissance? Whatever term you choose, it’s definitely a big deal when some of the largest and oldest names in the bike biz start offering gravel-specific models.

Over the past couple of weeks, Raleigh and Specialized both announced steel-framed gravel rigs for (late-2013)/2014. Not content to rest on their laurels, Salsa rolled out updated versions of their popular Fargo (and other models) at their recent dealer camp. Last, but certainly not least, Surly added a new bike model (Straggler) and tire (Knard) to the fray.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, assuming the companies did their homework, more gravel bike options are always a good thing. More brands means more choices, which is especially good if your local bike shop is a one-brand affair. And with more companies scrambling for a piece of the gravel-grinding pie, competition will (hopefully) weed out the uninspired and/or downright-bad designs.

Looking ahead, I think we’re all in for a very exciting ride (bad pun intended).

4 thoughts on “Gravel Renaissance?

  1. Well put. I am new-ish to the party but I love seeing all these options because up until now I just keep making my own bicycles (but they aren’t great). Nice to know that when I am ready to step-up and purchase that there will be quite a few more options for me.

    • With the big(ger) brands coming into the mix, I’m hopeful that we’ll see more of these bikes on showroom floors and available for test rides. So many people buy them sight-unseen, and it’s always a bit of a gamble when you can’t get some saddle time before plunking down your $$$.

  2. The Straggler is a disc-version of the Crosscheck, which makes sense b/c Gravel bike” is just a marketing term designed to sell more cross bikes.

  3. While the new offerings have more in common with cyclocross bikes, there are a couple of changes to geometry that gravel riders enjoy. Mainly the bottom bracket drop has been increased which allows for a lower CG. This is reflected in the Straggler (72mm) as opposed to the venerable CrossCheck (66mm). Small matter, but it makes the long distance gravel rides more steady and comfortable. I’m sure that they’ll be a few more tweaks as time and popularity get the creative juices flowing.

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