Overweight? No problem! You're no longer bound to city bikes, mountain bikes, military bikes or the like!
I still remember when my favorite atheist, Ingemar Gardell, showed me his gravel bike. He was one of the first to cycle mountain bike tracks, fire roads, and all kinds of terrain with drop bars in our area of Sweden. My reaction was to think "what is this contraption?" a cyclocross bike with fatter tires? Soon after that I was sold out and began to cycle together with him, ready for my "allroad" bike with 28mm tires to break! It didn't! I began to search the internet like nobody's business and found the phenomena called gravel bike, not a new thing in America, but still to take flight in Sweden! Would it really work? Little did I know that the world of cycling was about to change and gravel bikes would soon sell just as much, if not more, than road bikes - wait what? How come?
Not just a marketing trick
It would be fair to assume that the term "gravel bike" would just be the industry's attempt to make us buy even more strange bicycles. But, in fact, not even the industry realised what was going on!
Some brands began to label their cross bikes "gravel" like ROSE from Germany, but the results were not the same. What was the difference?
It wasn't just about putting bigger tires on endurance bikes! Something new was born!
The gravel bike kept the Allroad inspired geometry and keeps the rider on a bit more upright position, although there are quite racy gravel bikes out there like the 3T exploro.
In fact, experts argue that the gravel bike offers a far more stable platform than a cyclocross bike which is geared towards short races, quick steering, and are very stiff. But, make no mistakes, both bikes can tackle the weight of bigger riders, the gravel being best suited even for very big riders. Just remember to actually read the maker's recommendations of maximum load for carbon forks and frames! Having tested both, I'd say cyclocross for quick fun rides, but gravel for longer rides, all day rides, bike packing, micro adventures, and your journey around the globe! There is a reason for that in the geometry and also because gravel bikes often come ready to receive mudguards, bags, racks, lights, and just about whatever else you want to hang on it!
Versatility is the strength of the gravel bike. if you swap the wheels and tires for 28mm or smaller you will have a capable road setup which allows you to hang with your friends on group rides on Saturdays. Come home, rest, swap wheels and go explore MTB tracks, byways and gravel paths roadies would not dare touch!
Leave the bags by the campfire and bomb down the swirling curves of your local forest path with confidence and the added stability of a longer wheelbase, then back again for a sipp of fresh brewed coffee and a snack! Pack everything and ride home enjoying the sunset and the comfort of a taller more relaxed geometry, or stay the night - it's up to you! The bike is always ready! Don't let you weight or size be a hindrance, there are bikes out there for you!
After reading the manufacturer's specifications for carbon forks I opted not to have it for now, and bought an all steel gravel bike, the Specialized Sequoia. Be aware of it's different geometry, size down if you need to. The Sequoia has a lower position than most gravel bikes (lower stack) and a bit more stretched (longer top tube). My regular size of road bikes is 58, but I would do
Could it be the only bike you'd ever need?
The gravel bike does it all without excelling on all of it. But, for us regular folks it's a capable machine!
Drop bars offer several different hand positions and help you relax on long rides. Bigger tires add comfort and more traction and can even be set up tubeless! Disc brakes give a great deal of power in all weather conditions. The ability to hang up to five water bottles makes sure one will be coffee - yeah! A more tolerant frame ensures that the ride home won't kill your hands and joints. Big guy approved!
Rider: Ebbe XLbiking. Height: 187cm Weight: 144kg.
Bike: Specialized Sequoia Base model. Tires: Specialized Sawtooth. Saddle: Brooks B17 Special. Jersey: Aerotech Designs. Head gear: Sigr. Shoes: Decathlon TRIBAN touring/gravel Dream Bike: La Fraise Randonneur "Tout Terrain"