Gravel bikes are well-known because of their versatility and durability. However, are gravel bikes comfortable like most users say? Is it true that gravel bikes are comfortable to ride on both trails and roads? Let us find out!
Are gravel bikes comfortable? Yes! Gravel bikes are comfortable! They are designed to maintain comfort while riding on different surfaces. Gravel bikes usually have hydraulic brakes, tires like mountain bikes, lower wheelbases, and comfortable frames. Gravel bikes are the most comfortable type of bike!
Gravel bikes were made versatile so that users can ride them on any surface comfortably without sacrificing speed and control. They are great for beginners because of their versatility and durability! You can bring them on roads, trails, and even on the mud! You can bring gravel bikes on these kinds of surfaces without purchasing multiple bikes and giving up comfort!
However, let us dig deeper for us to know the reason why gravel bikes are comfortable bikes. If you are ready to learn more about gravel bikes, let us move on!
Reasons Why Gravel Bikes Are Comfortable?
Like I have mentioned above, gravel bikes are comfortable bikes. However, what are the reasons why gravel bikes are comfortable? What makes it comfortable? Let us take a look!
The first reason why gravel bikes are comfortable is because of their tires. The tires of gravel bikes are bigger than road bikes’ tires. That is why gravel bikes can be used on roads and trails without worrying that the tires might get punctured.
The second reason why gravel bikes are comfortable is because of the versatility of their handlebar. You can change the stem if you want to make your position more aerodynamic, or you can adjust it again if your back hurts and you don’t like aerodynamic form.
Gravel bikes are like a combination of street bikes and cyclocross bikes with a relaxed geometry, bigger and wider tires, upright seat shafts, and strong disc brakes. Gravel bikes are designed for long treks. But because of their versatility, they can also be used for daily riding. You can ride in comfort no matter what type of surface you go through!
Gravel Bike Geometry
Gravel bikes are bikes that offer more stability compared to typical street bikes. The slack seat tube and head tube angles, long chainstay, longer wheelbase, and lower bracket of gravel bikes are similar to the mountain bike. You get the comfort of a mountain bike that can go on roads and off roads without the stiffness of a road bike.
Gravel Bike Seats
There are many options for gravel bike seats, which are called bike saddles. With gravel bikes, you can sit like how you sit on a mountain bike or a road bike by adjusting the length of your stem. Choosing the right bike saddle will add more comfort to your daily ride or exciting journey on trails and mountain paths.
When you purchase your gravel bike, you should look for comfortable bike seats so that your butt will not get hurt when you go for a long trek. If you decide to buy a saddle that isn’t standard, make sure to compare it to the standard saddle of your gravel bike first.
Gravel Bike Tires
Gravel bikes have wide tires, and wide tires mean more comfort and grip performance on rougher terrain. However, having wide tires may feel heavier on asphalt. Gravel bikes come with two wheelbases, which allow you to switch tires. If you ride on the road, you can switch your tires to road bike tires. But if you cycle on muddy terrain, you can switch it to wider tires.
If you will modify your standard gravel bike tires, check first if it is compatible with the model of your gravel bike before purchasing.
Gravel Bike Brakes
Almost all gravel bikes today use thru-axles and disc brakes. It is actually safer because a thru-axle won’t open or fall out. Disc brakes offer more comfort, stability, and control. Disc brakes generate an incredible amount of stopping power, which is essential for trailing.
Gravel Bike Handlebars
Whether you ride on the road, trails, or muddy terrains, the drop bars on a gravel bike offer a good balance of options. They have good grips on every side of the handlebar, which is why you can switch up your hand positions depending on where you are and how tired your hands are.
The handlebar of gravel bikes is typically flat on the top, curve down, and flare out. Their flexibility offers a handful of comfortable steering options. Also, you can change your stem easily so that you can decide whether you will go for an aerodynamic position or not.
Do Gravel Bikes Hurt Your Back?
Gravel bikes sometimes might hurt your back, but you can prevent that. How? By choosing the right stem for your bike. I have mentioned this many times in this article already. If your back hurts when you are in an aerodynamic position, you can purchase a shorter stem.
Aside from changing your stem, you can also adjust the height of your seat post. A higher seatpost puts the cyclist in a very aggressive and aerodynamic position.
A higher seatpost is actually good because it can help you pedal faster. However, if you are not flexible or aren’t used to this kind of position, your back might hurt.
Choosing the right bike is a key component to avoid back pains. If your reach is too long, it can cause pain in your low back. There are numerous ways you can adjust your gravel bike to make it feel more comfortable. Also, it is helpful to go for a checkup because sometimes back pains don’t come from the bike but your body.
For example, tight hamstrings might cause pain in your back. You could feel this pain down into your lower back. If your hamstring is fatigue, it could also cause you to have impaired mobility when riding, which puts stress on your lower back.
If you feel this kind of pain, you might need to do stretching or strengthening exercises to get your hamstrings better and stronger. However, the best way to treat it is to consult a doctor because doctors usually know best!
Another reason why your back feels pain while cycling is because you lack core strength. You need to have a good strong core to hold your body in the correct position. If your core strength is weak, you might use your back muscles instead. It can cause strain, fatigue, and pain in your bike while riding. If this is you, you might want to do some planking or other exercises that will toughen up your abs.
How To Make Your Gravel Bike Comfortable?
Bike fitting is essential, especially if you have leg length discrepancies or back issues. You can do bike fitting professionally or by yourself. Below is the video of the bike fitting process:
Improper saddle height is a common cause of why you feel discomfort on your gravel bike. When you sit on your saddle, your knee should have a slight bend in the bottom of your pedal stroke.
If your knees bend too much, you need to raise your seatpost. But if your knee is straightening down completely, your seatpost is too high. Adjusting your seat to the proper height can make your gravel bike much more comfortable.
If the reach on your bike is too long, you might feel discomfort on your gravel bike too. It can cause lower back pain. But if your reach is too short, you could feel crunched up on your gravel bike, which is also uncomfortable.
If the bike size is right already, you can change your reach to be more comfortable by putting a shorter or longer stem on your bike. The shorter the stem on your gravel bike, the less aerodynamic position you will be. It is like you are only riding on a mountain bike. But if it is too long, you will be in an aerodynamic position.
Aside from getting the right fit, there are other things you might want to consider to make your gravel bike more comfortable:
First, change your bar tape. Thicker bar tape can help your hand if your hands are sore from gripping too tightly. You might also want to consider buying padded gloves. It is very helpful!
The second is to try different tires. Like I have said, your gravel bike tires’ size can be changed easily. However, before you buy tires, check first if it is compatible with your gravel bike’s model before purchasing.
The third is to get some quality shorts. If you go for a long trek, you should buy padded bike shorts. The chamois in the shorts will help you feel more comfortable in the saddle for longer.
Are Gravel Bikes More Comfortable Than Road Bikes?
Yes! Gravel bikes are more comfortable than road bikes. Road bikes are built for speed, which puts the cyclist in an aerodynamic, aggressive position. It requires more flexibility and core strength to handle the bike.
Gravel bikes are made for both off and on roads. It has a more relaxed geometry. You can bring your gravel bike anywhere since its tires are tough and wider than the tires of a road bike. Also, your position is not aerodynamic on a gravel bike, but if you wish to be, you can adjust your stem and handlebar effortlessly.
You can use your gravel bike anywhere without worrying if your tires will get punctured along the way. In road bikes, you have to avoid rocks and uneven surfaces because they can puncture your tires since road bike tires are thinner.
Gravel bikes are the most comfortable type of bike for anyone that loves to ride on different surfaces, from road to trails. Gravel bikes’ versatility, geometry, tires, and brake systems are what make gravel bikes comfortable.
If you love to ride on roads but decided to take a trail during weekends, this bike has you covered! You don’t need to buy multiple bikes because a gravel bike will help you fulfill your riding ideas!
Related Article: Are gravel bikes good for long distance?