Gravel Bikes: A Game-Changer in Cycling

In the global cycling community, there is a style of bike that is gaining traction and is evolving at a rapid pace: the gravel bike. A combination of road bikes and mountain bikes, the gravel bike is designed to tackle diverse terrain. But what exactly is a gravel bike and why should you consider choosing one?

What is a Gravel Bike?

As the name suggest, a gravel bike is built to be used on gravel roads, dirt paths, rough trails, and everything in between. It pairs the seed and efficiency of a road bike with the durability and stability of a mountain bike, forming the ultimate machine appropriate for a variety of surfaces. The main features of a gravel bike include wider tires for better traction, disc brakes for reliable stopping power, and a more relaxed design ensuring a comfortable riding position.

Why Choose a Gravel Bike?

  1. Versatility: Gravel bikes are incredibly versatile, allowing riders to explore a wide range of terrain without compromising performance or requiring multiple bikes.
  2. Comfort: The more relaxed geometry and wider tires of gravel bikes provide a comfortable riding experience, especially on rough surfaces, making them ideal for long-distance rides.
  3. Adventure: Gravel bikes open new opportunities for adventure, whether it's exploring scenic gravel trails, embarking on bike packing trips, or discovering those hidden, remote landscapes that are often off-limits to a traditional road bike.
  4. Fitness and Fun: Riding a gravel bike offers a unique fitness challenge, combining elements of endurance, strength, and technical skill when taking on the various terrains.

What Makes a Good Gravel Bike?

When it comes to choosing the best gravel bike, there are several contenders that stand out for their performance, design, and overall ride quality. We spoke with Steadyrack Brand Ambassador, Ultra Cyclist Jack Thompson, to find out what he looks for in a gravel bike!


The type of riding I undertake generally involves long days in remote parts of the world and so there’s a couple of key characteristics I'm looking for in a gravel bike.


Comfort is number one, but not at the expense of speed. I’ve opted for the Specialized Diverge STR which is a gravel ‘race’ bike with some clever inbuilt suspension. It blurs the line of road and mountain just that little bit more. Up the front there’s 20mm of suspension built into the headset of the bike and in the rear there's an additional 30mm.

For multi day bike packing adventures and long days of 400+km on rough terrain, the added comfort has become my friend!

Tire clearance is another important factor for me. I’m of the opinion that ‘the wider the tire, the better.’ As the terrain gets rougher, the wider tire adds to comfort but also the bikes ability to handle the terrain. Steep rocky descent, no worries! I’ve got 47mm tires on my bike at present and it just enables me to take the bike on trails and descents I wouldn’t otherwise be able to explore.

Finally and somewhat related to comfort is the bikes geometry. Again, because I spend a long time on my bike, I don’t want the geometry to be too aggressive, nor do I want the angles of the bike to be too steep, otherwise the bike handles too fast – which isn’t great when it gets technical! Slightly higher front end, slightly slacker head and seat tube angles makes for that extra plushy ride and that ability to ride for long hours!

Check out my Specialized Diverge STR in full ‘race mode’ HERE:


Don’t forget – there is only one way to store your gravel bike at the end of a thrilling ride, and that’s with Steadyrack! We have various sizing options to perfectly suit your setup with our OG, the Classic Rack, being the go-to option for gravel bikes.