Gravel. It’s so hot right now. Flip through any road biking mag or scroll the usual websites and you’ll see it. Stories of romantic journeys across wild landscapes, grainy black and white photos of wide tyres crunching over high contrast pebbles. Gravel riding. It’s basically the new Rapha.
I was naievly thinking (hoping) that the world had hit peak gravel when every single bike company worth their salt had at least one gravel bike in their line up. But no, things kept on “progressing” as gravel grinding took hold. Every time I think the world has hit “peak gravel” the bike industry releases yet another must have “gravel specific” product. Oh boy.
I thought we hit peak gravel with the Canyon Grail’s whack job handlebar. Surely it couldn’t get much worse than that? But no my friends, that was merely the beginning. Like a fat kid devouring a Kirspy Kreme, the cycling community ate up each and every “innovation” that came along.
Was “peak gravel” when Shimano released their gravel specific groupset? Yes folks, you absolutely need a gravel specific groupset to ride on the rough stuff – anything else will shatter into a million pieces or choke on the fine red dust kicked up by your oversized slightly knobbly but really just overpriced commuter style gravel specific tubeless tyres. Peak gravel? Not yet.
Because then the world “groad” happened. Like Brangelina or Bennifer, the hottest new power couple of road and gravel created it’s own mash up. Just putting this out there, if “groad” is in your vocab, you’re dead to me…
Don’t be a Minion to marketing…
Surely “peak gravel” occurred when CyclingTips split gravel riding into not just one, but FIVE separate gravel grades! Now you require a different gravel bike for each different types of gravel out there! Time to whip out the credit card and N+1 or you’ll never be a pro groader. Peak gravel. Surely? But then…
This week: Gravel specific shoes. I’m not even going to give this one a decent rant. I’m merely going to repeat it: Gravel. Specific. Shoes. This MUST be peak gravel, right guys? Right? Please!
Oil slick is so last year… (Source: CyclingTips)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Gravel is overrated. Each to their own and all, but give me butter smooth blacktop and a set of deep section wheels to whip across it on. Or give me a PROPER off-road singletrack mountain biking trail.
None of this namby pamby inbetweener pseudo trendy cycling that the industry are pushing in an effort to sell even more “specific” bikes and kit to none-the-wiser cashed up roadies. No thank you.
You can keep your gravel, you dirty groaders… ;-)