***NEWSFLASH: GET £1.50 off tickets to the Cycle Show in Birmingham - where you'll see many Adventure Road Bikes. Just use the code TWC when checking out***
Gravel bikes. Gravel Grinders. Adventure Road Bikes. The bike geek crowd has been full of philosophy over the emerging breed of bike for well over a year.
[related_articles]Now, we wouldn't want to suggest that some of the philosophical, whimsical,
Adventure Road Bikes could be best defined as the Do It All Bike. Not sure what you want? Get a ‘Do It All’. Only have space for one bike? ‘Do It All’. Have a lot of bikes, and need to fill as many gaps as possible with the ultimate N+1? Go Do It All.
The Gravel Bike fad began in the US – the bikes were suitable for long, gravel tracks that are common across the pond. In the UK, we lack these grainy stretches, but we have plenty of semi-muddy trails and paths weaving through parks, so they gained the name ‘Adventure Road’ bikes. Adventure Road Bikes are fit for moderate off-road use, but still fun on the road – they are made to mould to the needs of whichever adventure takes your fancy as you close the door with a full day ahead of you.
We expect to see a lot of Adventure Road bikes at the upcoming Cycle Show (get £1.50 off an advanced ticked with the code TWC) - but what actually are they?
How to Spot an Adventure Road Bike
These new and (to be honest) not all that strange looking machines take a great deal of influence from cyclocross bikes. Of course, cyclocross bikes would be capable of managing the terrain in question. However, the races they are built for are typically aggressive, one hour long affairs – but a typical ‘Adventure Road’ rider is planning a much more extensive excursion.
Therefore, the new breed of bike was created a little more relaxed, with more provision made for long miles, and less care taken over details that optimise a bike for the rooty trails and muddy conditions of many CX races.
The key differences, in bullet point form, are thus:
- A long wheelbase and low headtube angle mean controlled steering – that in actual practice means you’ll have more chance of staying upright if it gets a bit muddy than you would on a road bike.
- Since the prospective rider might be out for a few hours, the head tube will usually be longer, and the top tube shorter, than a traditional racey cyclocross bike, this creates all day comfort and stability over rough terrain.
- It’s generally considered that the rider will not be racing hard over roots and large rocks or obstacles, so the bottom bracket stays in a similar position to a traditional endurance road bike, as opposed to being lifted as it is on a cyclocross bike, to avoid it hitting the ground – this means the bike feels better and more powerful when taken on the road.
- Since the bike could be used for all sorts of adventures – including touring – they usually come with mounts for pannier racks and mudguards – which is kind of handy of you want to commute on it, too.
- Tyres of course can be changed as you see fit. However, most will come with enough clearance for you to use anything between 28c and 42c tyres. The wider the tyre, the faster and more comfortable the bike will feel off-road, whilst narrower tyres will feel quicker on the road. Often, the bike can be rolled off the shop floor with 30c tyres, which represent a happy medium.
- Disc brakes are often fitted – making these fast stoppers, even in the wet.
What Can You Use Adventure Road Bikes For?
A better question might be ‘what can’t you use them for?’
Adventure: The mid-geometry between cyclocross and endurance road bike geometry means that these bikes still feel great on the road, so you won’t be missing out on the joys of rolling fast and quick on the tarmac. However, the increased clearance means you can fit wide tyres, and have plenty of room for mud to accumulate without becoming a ‘mud gate’ and causing constant braking unless it’s seriously dirty out there. That means the ideal use is a long, all-day ride, exploring routes on and off-road – basically allowing you to dive around your local area, unrestrained by the surface below your wheels
Commuter: The upright position and added pannier rack mounts mean these bikes are often considered excellent commuters. Add in the disc brakes for those ‘emergency stop’ moments, and you’ve got yourself a dream machine for city streets.
Winter Road Bike: The endurance geometry means an adventure road bike could be a good companion for long, winter base miles. Space for wider tyres, which offer greater contact with the ground and thus better grip in the wet, are a plus, as are the British weather friendly disc brakes.
Cyclocross: Just because these bikes are a little less aggressive than traditional cyclocross race bikes, it does not mean that they’re not suitable for a few CX races. If you wanted to turn semi-pro and start giving Helen Wyman a run for her money, then you might want to upgrade, but many of these bikes will do the job with as little as a more mud-slicking tyre change.
Where Can You See an Adventure Road Bike?
Adventure Road bikes have been the hot topic at the last few big cycling industry trade shows, such as Eurobike in Germany. Thankfully, one such show visits the UK soon, in the shape of The Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham on September 25-27.
There will be a selection of exciting new 2016 Adventure Road bikes for you to check out at the show. We asked them which were the most exciting Adventure Road bikes to be exhibited over the long weekend, and they picked out these beauties:
Raleigh Mustang Elite £1,000 - Raleigh introduce the Mustang this year, featuring SRAM’s 1x groupset, offering all the gears you need with only a single chainring on the front. The Mustang will be on show for the first time at this year’s Cycle Show.
GT Grade Ultegra £2209.99 - The MTB focused manufacturer introduced the Grade this year, a ‘non-conforming’ adventure bike with a rear triangle under the saddle to provide more comfort for off-road sections.
There aren’t a great deal of female specific Adventure Road frames around, at the moment- but there are a couple. These include:
Pinnacle Arkose - £1,050 - Available in some mega fun, bright colours from Evans Cycles. The Shimano 105 equipped model is currently on offer for £1,050, too.
Liv Invite - £699 to £1,199 - Liv have also brought their range of Adventure Road bikes, previously only on offer in the US, to the UK for 2016. The Invite range starts at £699 for a Shimano Claris groupset and goes up to £1,199 with a Shimano Tiagra groupset and CoMax Compostie frame.
You can get £1.50 off tickets to the Cycle Show at NEC Birmingham this month by entering TWC when prompted for a promo code. Enjoy!