Gravel tech is actually one of the few places that we saw genuine innovation and change in 2017, with much of it inspired by mountain bikes, and we were lucky enough to attend many interesting and fun gravel events this year and ride a huge variety of gravel bikes, too.
So here’s a roundup of some of the trends and bikes from a year in gravel, as well as some predictions on what we might see in the future.
This feature was inspired by the Rondo Ruut, one of BikeRadar’s Headline Bikes for 2018. We’ve collated eleven bikes that we believe you should know about in the coming year. Some are super bikes, while others might display great value for money, but they all have one thing in common — they’re all important bikes that show how incredibly varied road and mountain biking is today.
The headwind bites — this short climb was ten times more difficult than the picture portrays — sadly images can’t show the wind!Arnold Bjornsson / Lauf Cycling
The quirky Icelandic brand even launched a new frame to complement its fork earlier this year and Tom Marvin spent a few taxing days tackling the worst weather and terrain that Iceland could throw at him.
The bike incorporates a flip-chip in the fork to subtly alter front-end geometryBen Healey / Immediate Media
The Rondo Ruut is a unique gravel bike with subtly adjustable front-end geometry. This is accomplished by incorporating a flip-chip — similar to those seen on some adjustable suspension platforms — in its fork.
The Rondo Ruut is one of BikeRadar’s Headline Bikes for 2018
The Low mode drops the front end of the bike, making it feel more like an endurance road bike than a gravel bike, while the Hi mode slacks out the front-end of the bike to improve stability in rougher terrain.
The Velo Orange Pass Hunter disc is a versatile steel framesetJack Luke / Immediate Media
Rondo isn’t the only brand experimenting with geometry for gravel bikes. While not a strict gravel wagon, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Velo Orange’s Pass Hunter disc, which uses a relatively unique low-trail front end to improve handling when riding with a front load.
Scott’s Addict Gravel 10 is, just like all its similarly-named siblings, addicted to speedRussell Eich / Immediate Media
Gravel riding has its roots in races such as the legendary Dirty Kanza and 2017 also saw a marked increase in the number of dedicated go-fast gravel wagons. The market is saturated with adventure-oriented do-it-all bikes, so it was really refreshing to see bikes designed for out-and-out off-road speed.
We tried out the new Exploro on all sorts of surfaces this yearMarc Gasch / 3T
Although it launched way back in 2016, the BikeRadar team also spent a lot of time on the 3T Exploro in 2017. No matter what you think of this divisive bike — and the wider concept of an ‘aero’ gravel bike — there’s no denying that it’s an incredibly innovative machine and may be a sign of what to expect in the world of gravel racing.
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork, fixie-botherer, tandem-evangelist, hill-climbing try hard, and thinks nothing of taking on a daft challenge for the BikeRadar YouTube channel. With a near encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling tech — from the most esoteric niche nonsense to the most cutting edge modern kit — Jack takes pride in his ability to seek out tech and stories that would otherwise go unreported in the cycling media. Jack has been a Senior Staff Writer at BikeRadar for three years now and is currently testing an All-City Mr Pink as his long term test bike.