Gravel Riding: An Introduction

Almost one third of our nation’s four million miles of road are unpaved.  Farm roads.  Fire roads.  Service roads.  National Forest roads. The list goes on and on.  Interestingly, the vast majority of performance-oriented bikes are ill-suited for these roads.  While the mountain bikes of the 1980’s and 1990’s may have been at home on these roads, technological developments of the past 15 years have pushed mountain bikes, as well as road bikes, toward niche environments, not adept to perform well outside of their intended use.  Lightweight road bikes for the Rocky Mountains.  Aero bikes for Texas.  Fat bikes for Wisconson or Hawaii.  Freeride bikes for Vancouver, BC.  Downcountry mountain bikes for….well, we're not exactly sure where they fit, yet.

In many ways, the gravel bike developed as a rejection of the need for specialized bikes that are at home in only certain environments.  Combining the efficiency of a road bike with the compliance and comfort of early mountain bikes, the Gravel bike category offers the ability to flow quickly along paved roads along with the stability to handle weathered dirt roads and trails.  

Gravel bike geometry allows for a more comfortable, upright riding position than current road bike trends, meaning you can enjoy longer rides without an aching back or neck.  Wider frame clearance and a longer wheelbase also allows for larger tires on 700c road wheels, with most people settling the 38-45mm width range.  Wider handlebars provide more control and wide-range cassettes offer an incredible range of gears to choose from.  

As BULLS has been known for hitting the BULLSeye on many of the aforementioned niches, we have learned a thing or two about versatility along the way and, as a result,  have some great options for diving into the Gravel world.  

In a recent blog post, we mentioned the Grinder EVO is the bike for people who want a true multi-purpose machine.  The SRAM Apex 1x Hydraulic groupset provides reliable shifting and stopping power, while the front suspension softens both worn out city streets and worn in dirt roads.  The Grinder EVO is well-spec’d for carrying your work supplies swiftly down city streets or supporting your camping gear as you climb the trail to your campsite destination.   Powered by the Bosch class 3 pedal-assist system, you’ll feel confident flowing with traffic to 28mph or heading deep into the wilderness. 

The Grinder EVO Lite leans toward those who prefer a snappier, road-oriented gravel experience. Powered by the Fazua Evation drive system, riders are assisted up to 20mph, but the battery/motor combo can be left at home for those days when lighter weight and self-sufficiency are desired.  The Grinder EVO Lite’s Shimano 105 Hydraulic groupset offers the best value parts package in cycling.

The Desert Falcon EVO is our powerhouse all-road bike, capable of fitting true 40mm gravel tires.  Its slightly more upright riding position provides stability as the Bosch class 3 system assists the rider up to 28mph.  Highlighted with the Shimano GRX Di2 groupset, the Desert Falcon EVO shifts flawlessly over gravel, flint or hardpack.  This bike is a great option for bikepacking.

Grinder EVO Grinder EVO Lite Desert Falcon EVO

One important note about Gravel riding: tire choice is huge!  Tubeless tires offer superior comfort, handling and puncture resistance.  Most Bulls Gravel and Mountain bike rims are tubeless ready, meaning you simply need tubeless-ready gravel tires, valve stems and tire sealant.   We suggest asking your local Bulls dealer what tires are best suited for for your local trails.