Thursday, July 26, 2018

Enough With The "Gravel Bikes" Already!

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Case in point- The Alex Moulton "Gravel Bike".
A week and a half ago I posted about how e-mtb and e-bikes in general were scooping up all the R&D dollars in the cycling industry. Well, what is left over is being put to work by many marketing departments in efforts to find ways to attach "gravel" to products.

It's getting bad when you get press releases for "gravel specific clothing" that is just cycling clothing done in muted colors with small details changed from full on race kits. You know......how cycling clothing should be done anyway? Yeah..... That's another subject.

But what I wanted to zero in on today was that I am seeing more and more companies jump on the gravel train with bicycles that are, well......interesting in some cases, but downright goofy in others. I've seen no less than three different e-biked gravel rigs offered. To me , that is the epitome of weird. A bike that, in all likelihood, the battery won't last for more than one ride, since, well, range is limited with many of these rigs.

Then there is the Kinesis brand out of the UK. They have had a great business doing bikes for the UK's Winter season and Audax riding for years. Suddenly these bikes became "gravel bikes" and they just introduced a new, more "road-ish" version. To be fair, these bikes get rave reviews, but the marketing..... Yeah. Also- I've nothing against those Kinesis rigs. I wouldn't mind trying one myself. They look great. Especially the titanium version, which I think would be really lovely.

The State Bicycle Warhawk
Not that there aren't legitimate entries into the genre' these days. Take for instance the State Bicycle Warhawk. Besides the militaristic name, the rig seems okay and the geo actually isn't bad. You could do worse for sub-$600.00, which is pretty great value in a single speed these days.

But the thing is, the term "gravel" is beaten to death, and I am growing weary of it. Especially when it gets tagged to everything, or so it seems, in cycling these days. I figure if it is burning me out, it is wearing on many of you as well.

What's worse, it takes energy away from what could be a liberating movement in cycling. The whole "not-roadie, not mtb" thing could be the marketing boon that cycling always has wanted. Getting away from the racing thing, or the "make it easier" thing, when it could be about something more life changing, world changing, and yes- revolutionary. 

Of course, average marketing people aren't interested in this. They look for the low hanging fruit and blast it with the "AK-47 of Advertising" until our eyes and ears bleed. Then they find the next thing to hook consumers into with, whatever seems easiest, whatever is trending, and blast away at that.

You could say I was part of the problem. I may resemble that remark, but I could also point you to several blog posts done circa 2011-2012 where I expound upon how an "all-road" approach to cycling could bridge the gap between roadie racer and mtb shredder, inviting a wider swath of the public out to cycle for adventure and fun.

But whatever.....Just stop it with the pasting of the term "gravel" on to all your products already!

6 comments:

Ben said...

I waiting for Gravel Nutrition!

Mark Thorrowgood said...

One thing I am noticing is the doubt creeping in among those who are having "gravel" bikes marketed to them in places in which they don't work all that well. By that I mean that gravel specific bike with road gearing is great, provided you ride it in a places with long, long gravel roads, like the Mid West USA.

Bike radar UK recently had an article arguing that hardtail MTBs are probably just as good as gravel bikes. It was 100% correct, but correct in the context of the UK. In Australia or the USA there are gravel roads that are as long as the UK itself and which can be ridden very well with an Ultegra groupset. Take the same Ultegra bike to the Welsh valleys and suddenly you are very underbiked and wondering why you don't just have a hardtail XC MTB.

Gravel bikes just don't work properly everywhere. For my native New Zealand they would be great, with mountain bike gearing. The same goes for the UK. Short twisty gravel roads with very steep terrain as opposed to the pains they were originally designed to be ridden on with compact road gearing.

Sean Carter said...

"But the thing is, the term "gravel" is beaten to death, and I am growing weary of it. Especially when it gets tagged to everything, or so it seems, in cycling these days. I figure if it is burning me out, it is wearing on many of you as well.

What's worse, it takes energy away from what could be a liberating movement in cycling. The whole "not-roadie, not mtb" thing could be the marketing boon that cycling always has wanted. Getting away from the racing thing, or the "make it easier" thing, when it could be about something more life changing, world changing, and yes- revolutionary."

Exactly!

However, "easier" isn't cool in the chest-pounding, rah-rah, navel gazing, elitist, exclusive, mainstream bike biz. They just don't get that many people - the majority? - are not interested in blowing their brains out every time they ride a bike.

Thanks for writing this - I'm off on another whateverduro where I won't be breathing hard and wearing cotton clothing.

Sean

PedalingPower said...

I think the Moulton definitely doesn't need the "gravel" moniker but it's looking like a reasonably sensible bike otherwise. Maybe cushy tires don't fit this style of bike regardless?

Skidmark said...

Asphalt Clay Dirt & Country roads bike — ACDC

Gravelo said...

Chuck every possible strain of gravel stuff into a lagoon and have The Fonz jump it so we can get back to gravel being a roots thing. Please.