Why Gravel Bikes Are So Expensive (Solved!)


Gravel bikes are all the rage now, and clearly combine so many benefits into one. But one thing has been bugging me – why are they so expensive?

Gravel bikes are expensive because they combine premium engineering and expensive materials together. From a design perspective, they are both comfortable, durable, and versatile. In the materials, they are made from carbon fiber, aluminum, and sealant tires, all of these being costly.

With such an expensive price tag, you need to know everything about gravel bikes before you invest in one.

If you would like to buy a gravel bike or are interested to know what they are, how they work, and what their pros and cons are, this article will be your perfect guide!

Gravel bike with palm trees behind

Why Are Gravel Bikes So Expensive?

There are many other factors that make a gravel bike the most sought-after bike in our times.

These include the addition of expensive materials, high-end tires, wheels, suspension, mounts, frame, saddle, and gears.

All of these things compound together to make the price range of the gravel bikes a little steep. 

Gravel bikes are an investment into your future that will last for a long time. The versatility in design makes it possible to ride the bikes in normal conditions as well as on off-road tracks.

All of these benefits come together in the shape of a small metal bike, hence the prices run a little high. 

To give you an idea of the leading gravel bikes on the market and their prices, check out this video:

Ridley makes world-class bikes for road, cyclocross, and gravel.

What Are Gravel Bikes?

As the name indicates, gravel bikes are specially designed for riders to use over a variety of different harsh surfaces like gravel.

These bikes are also known as “Adventure Bikes” and are designed to be faster and more robust than normal road or mountain bikes.

A gravel bike has a lot to offer such as increased gear range, different geometry, space for bigger tires, and an ergonometric design of the handlebars and seat.

The concept of gravel bikes came from the USA where people are fond of riding over rough, stressful terrains that range from forests to rigid tarmac. 

Special attention is given to the design of these bikes, making them extremely versatile in their use.

They are much faster, durable, and stronger than any other bike and you only need one bike to cover your commute, road training, and any off-road adventure that you want to go on.

How Are Gravel Bikes Different from the Other Bikes?

There are several things to consider before you invest in a gravel bike. What sets it apart from all the other bikes is mostly its framework, geometry, attention to detail, and machinery. 

Framework:

The materials used in the making of the frame of the gravel bikes are either aluminum or carbon.

Both aluminum and carbon are lightweight materials that respond well to the external environment and can easily sustain external pressure. These materials are chosen for the frame of the bike to make them comfortable, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. 

These materials are also beneficial as they absorb most of the vibrations and make your ride even smoother. The frame of the gravel bikes provides the perfect ergonometric setting of the seat and the handles for maximum agility and comfort. 

Geometry:

Whether it is a mountain bike, a road bike, a cyclocross bike, or a gravel bike, they have similar-looking frames. Yet all of these bikes are designed differently according to their purpose and that sets them apart from each other.

Gravel bikes are designed for stable handling off-road on rough surfaces. They have a longer wheelbase and looser angles for the frame.

These bikes will give you a more upright position than bikes with older geometry, as it has a longer head tube and shorter handle reach.

This is designed for a greater level of comfort during long rides while providing agility to move around and fix your posture according to the need of the trails. 

Tires

Tires are the defining feature of a gravel bike.

The entire concept of being able to ride rough, rigid, harsh, and uneven tracks is made possible with the help of these huge, sturdy tires.

These tires have a big part of play in deciding which terrains you can ride on.

The typical width of the tire of a gravel bike is 40mm and the extra volume of these tires lets you run low pressures of 40 Psi and less.  

The tires are specifically created for gravel bikes, not just in terms of size and width, but also due to the presence of a tread pattern that aids its grip on loose surfaces and creates friction on steep slopes. 

The tires of gravel bikes lack the inner tube which helps in keeping the pressure of the tires down without risking flats. The sealant in the tires combats thorns, rocks, and sharp objects that may cause punctures by forming a seal around the cuts before excess air escapes. 

The frame of a gravel bike is designed with excess room for large tires and any additional space that may be needed to handle the mud and dirt from the tracks.

Gearing:

Gearing is yet another important feature of gravel bikes.

If you are planning on taking your bike hiking, or to terrain with trickier climbs and steep levels, you will require lower gears.

Therefore gravel bikes should have a 50/34t compact road chainset to tackle hard climbs. 

Super compact chainsets are a common feature in gravel bikes which enables the bike to easily go over hard climbs.

If you want to ride your gravel bike off-road or onto more difficult terrains, your bike needs to to have suitable gearing. The super-compact chainsets are recommended over standard compact chainsets in such cases. 

Other Features:

Flared drops are another key feature of gravel bikes that provide extra stability, improve handling, and control off-road riding by through extra leverage for steeper terrains and faster momentums.

These bars are placed at a shallow drop for easy accessibility and a wider range of mobility. 

Mounts have become a unique feature of gravel bikes which make them a great choice for traveling and biking across the country. Bolts for water bottles, luggage, tool kegs, etc., are provided on the bikes to keep your pockets free and help you travel long distances without any worry. 

Gravel bike on a leafy floor in a forest

Pros and Cons of a Gravel Bike:

Pros:

  • You can switch out the tires for larger wheels and tires, giving an improved grip and comfort on bumpy tracks. 
  • You need only one bike to cover all your activities: your daily commute and off-road excursions.
  • Dual suspension or dropper post are not present traditionally in a gravel bike, which can make the bike go at a sedate pace and lets you experience and enjoy your surroundings.
  • They are long-lasting and a worthy investment.
  • They can be used for your daily cardio workout by taking in around the block in the morning. These bikes have spaces for your water bottle, accessories, and other necessities that you may need on this ride. 
  • They have a simple, straightforward design with minimal components.
  • The materials used are lightweight and agile, making it easier for you to ride, jump and perform stunts on your bikes. 
  • It gives you the ability to explore new tracks and pathways that have not yet been discovered.

Cons:

  • The larger width of the tires creates more resistance which causes resistance and slows the bike, making it slower than a traditional road bike.
  • The bigger tires on the bike make it heavier than other ordinary bikes.
  • They are better but also more expensive than mountain bikes or basic road bikes. 

Wrapping Up

I’ve got to admit I learned a little myself in writing this article. That’s one of the cool things about blogging. You get to talk (or write) about the things you like and sometimes you discover some things that you didn’t know yourself.

Such was the case here, and I’ve half-convinced myself that I need a gravel bike.

How about you?

At any rate, I hope this post has helped shed some light on any questions you had about all things gravel. Until next time, happy riding!

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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