Gravel Bike Might Be the Only Bicycle You Need

Discover the versatility and all-purpose performance of gravel bikes

Mia Trailsmith
Oct 21, 2021
Image of a gravel bike with a lake and trees behind itImage of a gravel bike with a lake and trees behind it

Why Gravel Bikes Are Cycling’s Hottest Trend

Over the past few years, there have been two major stand-outs in the cycling world: Gravel bikes and e-bikes. It’s not hard to see why gravel bikes have become so popular - they’re the perfect catch-all for cyclists who want a bike that can handle multi-surface road conditions.

Gravel biking culture started in the 1970s and 80s from the bike camping culture of the time. Although it’s been around for a while, it remains largely open to interpretation. One person might picture pastoral scenes of crunching over quiet gravel, while another person may envision gruelling epic journeys of hundreds of miles. In the words of former WorldTour pro cyclist Peter Stetina, “Gravel is more of a style than a surface.”

Colin Strickland, the winner of the 2019 Dirty Kannza (now known as UNBOUND) says, “It’s a blend between mountain biking and road biking, borrowing different characteristics of each to find a middle ground.”

While mountain biking is often a solo and highly technical discipline and road cycling has a ‘serious cyclist’ reputation, gravel biking is known as a relaxed, accessible community that’s welcoming to everyone.

“Gravel is more of a style than a surface," says former WorldTour pro cyclist Peter Stetina.

“Gravel is more of a style than a surface," says former WorldTour pro cyclist Peter Stetina.

The true magic of gravel bikes lies in the fact that they’re the perfect companion for the untamed spirit. You can explore undiscovered routes, plan bikepacking tours, and become one with the riding surface - which is a perfect reminder of why you started riding in the first place: the sheer pleasure of testing yourself against the elements and finding adventure on two wheels.

What Exactly Is a Gravel Bike?

One of the first true gravel bikes, the Warbird by Salsa Cycles, was manufactured in 2012 and designed to be lightweight and ready for any occasion. By 2021, almost every major bicycle manufacturer featured a gravel bike in their lineup.

Also known as ‘adventure bikes’, some gravel bikes look similar to mountain bikes while others more like road bikes with slightly wider tires, so it’s unsurprising that they can be a little hard to define. A gravel bike might be the right choice for you if:

  • You only have space or budget for one bike.
  • You’re looking for a safer way to ride. While gravel grinding comes with its share of hazards, you’ll be able to ride off-road without worrying about motorists.
  • You find the freedom and solitude of being able to explore off the beaten path appealing.
  • Your commute follows an off-road trail.
  • You want a bike that can ride on pretty much anything you throw at it.

Although both mountain bikes and gravel bikes are designed to go off-road, the design of gravel bikes places less emphasis on stability, they’re more lightweight, and they feature drop handlebars. The gears on gravel bikes have evolved to allow for all types of terrains and inclines, and the geometry is designed to have a longer wheelbase to allow for better control.

Gravel bikes usually include provisions to mount mudguards, racks or bags, and many bottle cages which makes them appealing to adventurers and commuters alike.

Comparing gravel bikes and hybrid bikes can also be tricky because the differences between them are quite subtle.

Hybrid bikes (also known as ‘commuter bikes’) are designed with comfort in mind and are often used by commuters looking to get from A to B, while gravel bikes are purpose-built for handling anything.

Although hybrid bikes are designed to have mountain bike qualities and can take on many different types of terrain, they’re ultimately best suited for paved roads.

How Much Does a Gravel Bike Cost?

Generally, gravel bikes are more expensive than mountain bikes or basic road bikes because they use premium materials that are durable as well as lightweight.

So, why the hefty price tag?

In our experience, when it comes to bikes, you can only choose two: Light, strong, or cheap.

For the best value and performance, a good gravel bike will usually set you back between $2,000 to $3,000 although you can find entry level gravel bikes under $1,000.

Most gravel bike frames are carbon or steel, but if you want a titanium frame (which is lighter than steel and more hard-wearing) it’ll cost a fair amount more.

One of the most appealing things about gravel bikes is the fact that you can have multiple sets of wheels. Many gravel riders have two sets of wheels: one for off road and another light set of road wheels that allows them to use their gravel bike as a capable road bike - but those also don’t come cheap. Just the tyres on the extra wheels generally cost around $150, while less expensive ones are $50 to $75.

A set of nice road wheels can easily cost $2,500 (don’t worry, you can add these to your Sundays Insurance bicycle insurance policy!)

Why You Should Consider Insuring Your Gravel Bike

2020 saw a massive cycling boom in the US, but an unfortunate side-effect of increased demand is an increase in theft. While gravel bikes aren’t specifically targeted, there was an overall 24% increase in bicycle theft in the US between 2019 and 2020.

If you’ve got a gravel bike that you spent thousands of dollars on, you’ll want to ensure it’s covered not only for theft, but also for accidental damage. Even though gravel bikes are built to withstand abuse, rough terrains can make your bike more susceptible to accidental damage, especially if you’re pushing the limits while participating in a race or event - luckily, we’ve got you covered for those too.

Specialist bike insurance from Sundays Insurance covers your bike against many of the dangers it’ll face outside of the home that homeowners and renters insurance might not, such as theft, accidental damage, and malicious damage.

Because the policy is designed specifically for cyclists, you can also choose to add optional coverages like racing coverage and worldwide coverage.

What Sundays Insurance Covers

Specialist bike insurance can be intimidating if you’re a casual cyclist or simply use your bicycle to commute - but it’s not only designed for serious cyclists! With bicycle coverage from only $8 per month, almost anyone can ensure their bike is covered.

Theft From & Away From Home

We cover theft from and away from your home. Receive a new for old replacement of your bike as standard for the first 2 years since purchasing your bike new.

Plus, if at the time of activating the policy your bicycle was purchased new within the last 60 days, you have the option of extending your coverage to a lifetime new for old replacement by selecting the lifetime new for old cover option when taking out the policy.

Optional Racing & Event Coverage

Select optional racing and event coverage and we’ll cover your bicycle if the damage is caused by a specific incident, crash, impact, or road hazard while taking part in a race or event. You don’t have to choose it and pay for it if you don’t want your coverage to extend to races.

Accessories, Custom Parts & Wheelsets

With Sundays Insurance you can insure custom parts fitted to your bicycle, such as upgraded carbon handlebars or a dropper seatpost.

Additionally, accessories such as your GPS cycling computer, headlight or bikepacking bags can be covered up to the value of $250, $450, $750 or $1,000. Add additional wheelsets to your policy so you can swap them out to suit your ride with total peace of mind.

Transporting Your Bicycle on a Bicycle Rack

If you live in a city where you can’t completely swap your car for cycling, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself needing to transport your bike on a bike rack.

If you regularly transport your bike on your roof, statistics show that there is a very good chance that some day, you’ll forget it’s there and try to drive into your garage.

As cyclists ourselves, we know that things happen and we’ve got your bicycle covered while you transport it on your car.

Want to see how much it’ll cost to cover your gravel bike? Get an online quote in minutes.

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