I live in a bubble. There’s no doubt about that. Working for a custom bike builder means I see a LOT of custom bikes, not only ours but lots of others, too. It’s almost all I look at, and of course, because it’s what I look at, it colors my perception of what people are really riding, what they really want.
In my world, gravel/adventure bikes have taken off like a rocket. My roadie friends are all about fire roads and single-track on drop bar bikes. We talk about tire sizes and tread patterns like mountain bikers. We seek out new trails, new events, and we look forward to the big established rides that come in summertime and early fall.
Disc brakes are another big topic. Which ones? Mechanical? Hydraulic? Mechanical offer better versatility for travel, easier maintenance out in the world, but hydraulic are better at stopping your bike. They feel better. Mostly.
I fear a little we’re in that fertile early period for this sub-genre of bicycle, when most of the componentry and the design vibe will change radically over a season or two, and today’s bikes will end up looking retro before they should. Think of all those Di2 bikes out there with chainstay batteries, or with external routing. They will forever be identifiable as having been built in two or three specific years.
The industry has only made a minor bet on gravel. Unlike 650b mountain bikes, which multiplied in production lines like rabbits in the spring, gravel offerings have only trickled out. The paucity of options is actually what clued me into the fact that what I see is maybe not the same show everyone else is watching.
This week’s Group Ride asks, do you gravel? Do you have any interest? Do you have a “mixed-terrain” bike now, or plans to get one in the near term? Or do you think this is a passing fad, just another attempt to part you from your hard-earned?