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Gravel bike geometry: Different from a road bike?

Gravel bike geometry: Different from a road bike?

Sometimes, not everything is as it seems. We are referring to the gravel mode. At first glance, they may look like road bikes with larger tires, but the reality is that they are designed and manufactured for very different purposes. The demands of the gravel cyclist are far from those of road cyclists. While the geometry of road bikes is focused on precise handling and fast, responsive driving, the gravel mode seeks extra stability and performance on more technical terrain, as well as comfortable handling for long days on the road. . Let's delve into the geometry of gravel bikes to find out how their design differs from road models.
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But first of all. The geometry of a bicycle is the mathematical basis that predicts the behavior of the frame for a specific type of riding. Any change, no matter how small, can change the character of the bike. Altering tube angles by one degree, for example, can substantially modify the rider's position on the bike, or change steering behavior and interaction with the terrain. Gravel bike Under the same riding conditions, there is no geometry that fits 100% in all cases and for all cyclists. Simply put, there are geometries that prioritize different aspects of the frame's performance. Generally speaking, gravel bikes are designed with a geometry that places the rider in a more upright body position than a road bike. There are always exceptions; For example, in the geometries of competition gravel models this aspect is not so evident. But in general, they have a shorter reach and higher stack than most road bikes. In this sense, there are endurance road bicycles that have a less aggressive position, so certain similarities can be detected. As a general rule, in any case, road bikes feature a short wheelbase, steeper angles and a lower cockpit for agile ride quality and dynamic handling. [irp posts="3919" name="What are the stack and reach of a bicycle and why are they important"] Some of the most determining measurements in a bicycle frame are the seat angle, the head angle, the bottom bracket and the wheelbase. In the frame of a gravel bike, the interaction of these angles and measurements is how engineers make it work on off-road surfaces. Gravel bicycles are designed to ride on very varied terrain: on asphalt, on tracks, on roads and trails. The challenge, therefore, is to find a geometry that behaves decently in all terrains, but that does not compromise excessively with a specific terrain. Woman cyclist on bicycle Transferring the geometry of a road bike to a gravel bike is not a good deal, since the conditions are different. For example, road bikes are shorter, which has a simple explanation: cyclists need to gain any aerodynamic or positional advantage within a group. And that means following other cyclists' wheels very closely. Shorter bikes are more nervous about any rider action or change in terrain conditions. Therefore, it is not the ideal geometry for a gravel bike. Let's start from the fact that, on many occasions, the state of the terrain is unpredictable. The geometry of a gravel bike is designed so that the rider's weight is better distributed for riding on technical terrain, so that more of the body's weight is placed over the rear wheel, compared to road bikes.
The geometry of a gravel bike is designed so that the rider's weight is better distributed for riding on technical terrain.
Let's take an example. To safely enjoy a technical descent on a gravel bike, stability is essential. And this is where geometry plays a leading role. A bike with a longer wheelbase will always be more stable because it is longer. The further apart the wheels are, the less one will influence the other. On a gravel bike, you will notice that a bump from the terrain on the front wheel has less impact on the steering than what you receive on a road bike. And this is due, above all, to geometry. gravel bike A fundamental principle of gravel bike geometry is to prevent, as much as possible, the terrain from deflecting the bike from its path. The longer wheelbase (as well as the chainstays) reduces that feeling of nervousness when you ride over uneven surfaces at high speed. The height of the bottom bracket also plays a role, lower than in a road model, which favors stability. In short, the riding quality is smoother. Since a gravel bike is longer, the amount of frame material is obviously greater than on any road bike, regardless of size. If this material is suitably treated to optimize vibration absorption, this larger structure will influence greater driving comfort.
The chassis of a gravel bike has more material than a road bike, which provides more stability and comfort.
Head angle is the other measurement that defines and differentiates a gravel frame from a high-performance road bike frame. The more open the steering angle is, the response to turning the handlebars is more reactive, faster and even more violent at times. Since gravel bikes have a tight angle, the answer is just the opposite: lazier steering. But why a slower responsive bike? It has its explanation. On a gravel course, there is always the possibility of the front wheel getting caught on one of the terrain obstacles. When this occurs, the cyclist's intervention is required to correct the direction with the handlebars. The fact that a gravel bike reacts more slowly offers the rider some room for maneuver. Otherwise, you may not have time to avoid a possible fall. [caption id="attachment_6507" align="alignnone" width="744"] Cyclist with gravel bike (Image: Dmitrii Vaccinium - Unsplash)[/caption] Gravel bikes have a noticeably tighter head angle than road bikes, which has a decisive influence on steering performance. Do you want another example? We could compare the geometry of two Specialized brand bicycles: the Roubaix road model and the Diverge gravel model. The difference in head angle is significant: 73.5 degrees for the Roubaix versus 71.75 degrees for the Diverge. A difference of 1.75 degrees that we could describe as notable. In fact, if we were talking about MTB, this difference would place these bikes in different modalities. Let's say that the difference between a trail mountain bike and an enduro bike is the same as that between a road bike and a gravel bike. To give you an idea.
The difference between a trail mountain bike and an enduro bike is the same as that between a road bike and a gravel bike.
Continuing with the example, the Specialized Roubaix has a wheelbase of 988 mm in size 54, compared to 1,032 for the Specialized Diverge. Short stems and handlebars with a wider flare also mark the difference between a gravel and a road model. A modest stem gives the gravel rider more leverage through the handlebars, so they can better control the front wheel when riding at speed over rough terrain. This geometry also explains the ease of installing travel bags. You will never carry these types of items on the handlebars or frame of a road bike. In a gravel bike it is perfectly viable. In this case, putting weight on the handlebars or frame alters the center of gravity of a gravel bike. To counteract this, the wider handlebar width, together with a short stem, allows the steering inertia to be stabilized. We have already noted it previously. In summary. To the uninitiated, a road bike and a gravel bike may seem like very similar things. However, geometry places them on very different planes. The steering angle, the width of the handlebars or the length of the stem are capital elements, although you should not take them in isolation either. Other variables such as fork offset and weight distribution are equally important in the performance of your machine. [optin-monster slug="qapjfyhv5zvt1zr0ip1r" followrules="true"]
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