How to turn your road bike into a gravel bike
Can you really turn a road bike into a Gravel bike? Of course.
Gravel is a new trend, in vogue for a few years to tell you the truth, but now it is reaching extreme levels of popularity.
Any bicycle company, from an American multinational to the brand of the shop next door now offers this model.
After years of riding on the road, now we want new incentives, new places to visit, etc. This is a quite common trend even in other sports: from skiing on the slopes, you will lean more and more towards freeriding, from racing in the city is where you turn towards the trails, etc …
At this point, however, is where the problem arises.
Who tells your partner you’ve decided to spend another thousand euros on a new bike?
If you’re among the lucky ones who don’t have this headache, you don’t need to read any more. On the contrary, let’s see if I can help you.
1. Bigger tyres
The first change is related to the tyres. Gravel, mud and stones need wider tyres, for greater comfort, safety and better grip on rough terrain.
Nowadays, bikes can easily be fitted with 28mm tyres, often even 32mm or more.
2. Protecting the frame
You know all too well that pesky stones do not get along with the new colour of your carbon frame.
The solution is to apply protective tape. It must be applied on the parts of the framework with the highest risk:
- Horizontal profiles: both at the top in contact with the chain strokes and underneath facing the ground
- Inclined profiles: internal and external
- Oblique tubes: The part towards the ground
- Seat tube: at the back towards the wheel
- Cranks: on the extreme side near the pedal, where they could hit the rocks on the tightest turns
You can find adhesive tapes in different brands and sizes.
3. The right sprockets
They’re the 50×34 ones. No other sprocket sizes work.
As for the cassette, it depends on the type: Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM..
I, for example, with my Shimano 11×32 I go all over the place.
It is very important to be agile, so the best advice is to buy a cassette that has the largest sprocket among the various existing combinations. Warning: this may mean that the chain tensioner needs to be replaced for a longer one.
4. Aluminium rims
The rim takes a hit, it gets bent and your carbon wheel is ruined. As you already know, it’s not because carbon is less resistant, but rather because of its properties that make it “less repairable”.
The best option is to buy two aluminium rims, without spending a fortune. This way, you will have a pair of aluminium gravel wheels, with wide conical rims and an “agile” sprocket set, and your carbon road wheels, with narrower tyres and a gearbox suitable for asphalt.
5. MTB shoes and SPD pedals
You’ll have to walk and MTB shoes are perfect for this, if you don’t want to ruin the carbon sole of your running shoes.
6. Clothing and accessories
Style, first of all.
Wear shorts that are not too tight, but slightly soft, and a pair of bike bags that will give you that explorer look.
For your cycling equipment there is Deporvillage