Road bikes can be a good way of getting around in the city. But if you want to have fun, you should think about heading off-road. Gravel tracks are often more challenging and have been built with cyclists in mind. Plus, you don’t need to worry about the risk of getting hit by a car.
Even better, you don’t need to rush out and buy a new gravel bike. With a few changes, your road bike will be able to handle the off-road tracks. Let’s look at some of the modifications you will need to make.
This is one of the easiest changes you can make. It’s also one of the most beneficial. The wider wheels will reduce the chances of getting a puncture. You will get more grip, which is important when you are riding on rocky gravel roads.
How wide the tires can be will depend on the clearance of your road bike. This will often be limited. To get the right fit, you will need to measure the width. Don’t forget to take into account your brake pads. You might be able to fit a 32mm tire. But if you can’t do this, you can get away with a 28mm tire. But you will need to make sure that it’s full before you start riding.
When it comes to choosing the wheels, most people will choose carbon fiber. These tend to be lighter, so you will be able to travel faster. They are also tough, able to cope with a rocky track. On the downside, they can be very expensive. Because of this, you might want to give aluminum wheels a go. They will be able to cope with a rough track but they will be inexpensive.
Change The Cassette
Typically, you will need a different gear ratio on a gravel bike. This is designed to give you the power you need to deal with difficult hill climbs. The good news is that you don’t need to change the whole gear system. All you need to do is put in a new cassette. You should be able to use an 11-32 cassette.
If you are a beginner, the prospect of changing the cassette can be intimidating. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. The video below will walk you through the process of changing the cassette on your bike.
Road bikes are designed with relatively sturdy frames. But riding on gravel will put them under a little more pressure. There will be flying rocks, which have the potential to dent the frame. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to protect your frame from this type of damage. All you need to do is wrap some tape around the frame. Don’t forget to take steps to protect yourself from flying rocks, like wearing sunglasses.
Taping The Handlebars
Most of the time, you shouldn’t have any problem using your road bike handlebars on gravel roads. But if you are heading onto rough roads, you might want to make a few changes. You can swap them out with gravel-specific handlebars. You should be able to find a pair that is compatible with your bike.
But the best solution is often to tape them up. This will give you a little more grip, making steering the bike easier. You’ll also be able to stop the vibrations that can reverberate through the bike. You might also want to bring them a little closer to the center of the handlebars. This will give you more control, which can come in useful when you need to do some tight turns.
Seat And Peddles
The finishing touches are to change the seat and adjust the peddles. You should get a seat that offers you a little more flexibility. This will add a little more suspension, so you don’t feel every bump in the road.
Many road bikes come with clip-in peddles. On gravel roads, this often isn’t very comfortable. There might be times when you need to stick out your legs to stop the bike from falling over. Plus, the harsh rocky roads can quickly damage the cleats on your shoes.
Buying A Dedicated Gravel Bike
Converting a road bike to a gravel bike can be done, with a few simple changes. But there are still some areas where you will start to feel the limitations of this approach. For example, gravel bikes often have racks to help you carry equipment. This is necessary if you are planning on going on overnight trips. Technically, it is possible to add some storage to a road bike. But the approach is still limited, especially when it comes to heavy equipment like tents. Because of this, you might want to consider buying a gravel bike. Here are some of the ways you can make sure that you are getting a good one.
You should look at the size of the frame. This will ensure that you feel comfortable when riding the bike. The taller you are, the bigger the frame will need to be.
An often-overlooked area is the weight of the bike. While it might seem like a trivial detail, if you are going off-road, you will need to carry the bike onto the track. You should be able to comfortably carry the bike on your shoulders.
Finally, it’s important to consider the price. You don’t want to spend a fortune on your gravel bike. The good news is that being on a budget doesn’t mean that you need to use a low-quality option. You can get a great gravel bike for under $1,500. This gravel bikes compilation tells you what you should be looking for.
It is possible to convert a road bike into a gravel bike. You won’t need to make too many changes. The most important ones are changing the tires, getting new wheels, and changing the gearing. After you’ve done this, you will be able to go off-road with confidence.