Sunday, March 03, 2024

The "Gravel Influence"

A "gravel bike" is any bike (you want to sell)
 Long ago, when I first got involved in riding regularly on gravel roads (2004/2005) we did not have "gravel" anything specific to cycling. We used cross bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. Converted hybrids, cruisers, and old 27 X 1 1/4" tired 70's road bikes. Anything, really, was a possibility for your gravel bike as long as you got along with it. 

This spawned the "any bike is a gravel bike' generalizing amongst cycling punters back in the day when gravel specific bikes started showing up in the early twenty-teens. "You don't need a gravel bike! Any bike is a gravel bike! They (The cycling brands) are just coming up with excuses for you to buy something. You don't need a gravel specific bike!

We all know now how that went. Now we have "gravel everything" and the cycling brands have gone gaga over the category which is about the only positive category in cycling now. Is it silly? Is it nonsense? In several ways, yes, it is completely marketing hooha and should be seen as such. Not that we don't need tires, bicycles, and some accessories geared for the gravel enthusiast. We do, but you probably know what I mean here. 

What I have seen recently are a lot of bicycles being fitted with drop bars and being offered on used sites like Facebook Marketplace where the sellers say this is a "gravel bike". I find this trend interesting to observe. Obviously what is going on here is two-fold. On the one hand you have folks tinkering around with relatively cheap, inexpensive used 90's era hard tail MTB's. Cool. I get that this might be kind of a fun past time, sort of akin to the guitar people who assemble Fender-like "partscasters" out of aftermarket parts. There is a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in the sense that "I built this". 

But I also think that there are a certain number of these bikes that are being spiffed up with a drop bar, being tagged as a "gravel bike", and posted in the hopes that what was once a $75.00 used bike could bring in $150.00 - $250.00. Because "gravel".

In that sense it would seem that the term "gravel" has become a currency of sorts. Not only for legitimate brands in the cycling industry, but for the individual who is hoping to turn a buck on a 30 year old bicycle. Not that this is a "bad" thing. The marketplace will vote with their dollars, as always. I just find it intriguing.

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