Thursday, January 25, 2018

What's In A Name?

From the mountain to the smooth paved surfaces- a bike like this can cover a lot of ground.
The cycling industry is hell bent on discovering the "next thing" in cycling to make a living off of. Currently those niche ideas are e-mtb's and the gravel bike category. However; I have had the opinion and still do, that the cycling industry is actually doing itself more harm than good by calling these bikes for any road, "gravel bikes".

I've been saying that since 2012-13 or so and I even went as far as "crowd sourcing" an idea for a different name for these bikes which came up with inconclusive results.  Why? Because calling these bikes "gravel bikes" is like calling fat bikes "snow bikes". If you don't get snow, or would never consider riding on/in it, then you are going to instantly eliminate such a bike as a possibility for you. That's what happens when we say "gravel bike". It is limiting and unnecessarily puts people off the idea of owning, for all intents and purposes, what is probably the smartest bicycle they could buy.

So, what name should we use? (Here we go again!) Well, I thought long and hard about this and I came up with something. It has to be easy, not really exclusive, but inclusive, and maybe the less understood it is the better. This name follows a similar convention to "mountain bike" which is often abbreviated as "mtb", although it is possible that a lot of folks really don't think what those three letters actually mean.

So, my idea is to call these bikes "All Purpose Bikes" or APB's in short. They serve the wide and varied gulf between mountain and road racing. The anywhere, do almost anything" bike that can be a gravel road going rig, a commuter, a light touring rig, a CX bike in a pinch, can do light single track, and also keep up on the club ride or Gran Fondo ride. RAGBRAI? A perfect bike for that. Skinny tires fit, but this bike would be defined by an ability to swallow 35mm tires at a minimum and 45's max, or then it becomes something else.

Okay, I've put that out there, that's my suggestion. What's yours?

23 comments:

Unknown said...

I really like riding my outside bikes.

hank said...

GT, Howdy;

Like the APB, but as I was reading the thought crossed my mind of ATB (All Terrain Bike). meh, just a thought. Gonna be difficult gettin' some folks off of their wider
(MTB), tires. With wider gap in the chain stays you can always go thinner ...

hank

Bob said...

How about, "GTB", the all purpose "go to bike"? Eh, GT?

BluesDawg said...

Road bike (as opposed to road racing bike.

Ben said...

As I started reading your post I immediately went to Fat Bikes first being called snow bikes. It took me a couple years to stop calling them snow bikes on the sales floor. I feel it will be the same with "gravel" bikes. I agree "gravel" pigeon holes the bike too much. Even QBP took away gravel and replaced with All Road. I like that. I know it's similar to Giant's Any Road. Whatever the industry decides on it will take me awhile to stop calling them Gravel Bikes!

Guitar Ted said...

@Ben- I did not know QBP had done that. Kudos to them. I think you touch upon where a big chunk of the battle will be, and that's with salespeople, the front line to all of this. Unless we can get the salespeople on board with this idea, it won't matter a lot what brands and distributors do, because it is too easy to just let that term, Gravel bike", slip off the tongue and it is harder to ingrain a new term at first. Salespeople are going to take the route of least resistance until they figure out that the very term, "gravel bike" is what is causing the resistance. Just like the "snow bike"/fat bike issue you describe from personal experience.

Michael said...

I like All Roads or All Purpose bikes.

jack said...

SUB - sport utility bikes?

grannygear said...

You call an MTB a mountain bike even if it is not ridden in the mountains. See Florida mountain biking. It is a mountain bike by its characteristics, not its environment.

So a gravel bike is defined by it's attributes more than where it is used although those attributes do define where it may be used. Personally I think gravel bike is fine but I am easy that way.

APB? Meh...as in All Points Bulletin? :) I guess it is better than SUB, an appellation that I recently heard proposed, but not by much.

All Road does appeal though.

gg

CrossTrail said...

To cycling enthusiasts, I call my Black Mountain Cycles with 40 mm tires my "all road bike." To everyone else, it's just my "road bike." In any event, I don't see the long term issue with "gravel bike." After all, "mountain bike" still works, even though most never set tread on a mountain.

Oolong4Go said...

I think of mine as a mixed surface bike. My problem with sports utility is that the utility part makes me think of "cargo bikes".

Living in Iowa I don't have a problem with calling it a gravel bike. But
I do see where someone living in a city would not know just how much more comfortable rough roads would be on a "gravel bike" when they don't see a gravel road just outside their window.

Irishtsunami said...

I agree with Granny Gear. I am currently living in the Miami area and when I talk about mountain biking I get funny looks and questions like "where are the mountains." I tell them it is more of a style than physical location.

While not helpful or maybe not even relevant to the discussion above, I believe that you are on the cusp of a major brand. You can create a gravel e-bike and call the brand "GRAVELECTRIC." Think of the miles of grinding you could do on that steed!

jdc said...

Being someone who works on the sales floor at a shop, it gets to be amusing when you have to reeducate customers as to the fact that fat bikes can actually be ridden on more than just snow. We do well with fat bike sales but I can only wonder how many more we would have sold had the industry not portrayed them as snow bikes. I still get odd looks when telling customers that I ride mine in the middle of summer. We carry "gravel bikes" and I'm very careful to talk about where the customer would like to ride their new bike and the intended use first. Then if a "gravel bike" fits the bill, I'll introduce it as a gravel bike if the customer has used the term gravel bike, or as an all road or adventure road bike if they are unfamiliar with the term "gravel bike". I don't want to turn away potential sales by pigeonholing the bike into being something that you can only ride on gravel roads. As with Craig, my own gravel bike is just one of my "road bikes" to everyone else and regular customers are used to seeing my tires get switched out on a regular basis. When you work on the sales floor it's the same as it's always been. You educate your customers. That's what we're there for.

onoffrhodes.com said...

I still like "Any Road" but alas it is already taken by Giant and more than likely trademarked.

Greg said...

Like others have mentioned, I believe All-Road is the best reference for what we currently call gravel bikes.

timm said...

'allroad' seems to make the most sense to me, road, two track, or trail. What about multi-propose bike (MPB)? Names reflect the origin of a style of bike. Fat bikes were not innovated because people wanted to ride hundreds of miles on sand. Turns out fat bikes are really good in sand, but welded, double rims were made for iditabike (1989). MTB inovation was, and still is (primarily) driven by the requirements of trail riding in mountains. Ultimately, one has to want to do "it", whatever it is. One needs to be inspired to travel a certain way. That person needs some sort of drive to do the thing. How many people walk into a bike shop with no concept of a mode of human-powered transportation, but embrace the concept, buy the bike, AND ride hell out of it--because of what it was called? If the bike just sits in the shed, who cares what it is called.

timm said...

Why not say you are going trail riding? If that is what you are doing.

Guitar Ted said...

@timm- Actually Remolino tires and rims were made to ride New Mexico desert sand before the Alaskans started being influenced by those ideas.

timm said...

It is my understanding that those designs were happening simultanously. Regardless, interest in floatation on snow has, in my estimation, led to the innovations we see today.

timm said...

Made in Alaska Fad: Steve Baker and Roger Cowles. https://www.google.com/amp/s/craigmedred.news/2016/02/26/made-in-alaska-fad/amp/

Guitar Ted said...

@timm- You commented: "Fat bikes were not innovated because people wanted to ride hundreds of miles on sand. "

I was pointing out that you were in error. Because that was one of the reasons why they were developed.

timm said...

i said innovated: make changes in something established.

CrossTrail said...

Upon further review, I will call my Black Mountain with 40 mm tires my "road bike" to everyone, bike geeks included. That's what it is. If another questions its weight, tire width, quickness, speed or such, I will say, "It's just right for how and where I ride. Of course, it's not a road racing bike."