|Traditional CX bikes have been the norm in gravel events|
However; with the continued rise in popularity of off-pavement style racing, manufacturers have begun to take note of the genre' of gravel grinding and are making products geared towards riders looking to get new bicycles and equipment for such riding.
Companies like Clement Pneumatics, Campagnolo, Kona Bikes, and Salsa Cycles have specifically used the term "gravel" or "gravel grinding" in their marketing for certain products aimed at cyclo-cross and off-pavement type racing. It is a niche that has thousands of riders competing every weekend on back roads somewhere and these companies and others are now reaching out for this new market to tap into the growth there.
This begs a question: "Is there such a thing as a gravel specific bicycle?" Some will point to 29"ers, "monster-cross" bikes, and pure cyclo-cross rigs and say they are all you'll ever need. However; there are others looking to tweak these types of bikes and stir up a new recipe for a bicycle specifically aimed at gravel grinding.
Of course there is Salsa Cycles Vaya, which was heavily marketed as a gravel race rig in its debut, but even Salsa is expected, (as I write this), to introduce a new model that is more specifically a gravel road racer than even the Vaya is. Prototypes have been seen at some of the bigger gravel events already this year. Kona also has the "Rove" model coming for 2013, another bicycle with a heavy emphasis on gravel road riding.
|Disc brakes will supplant cantis as brake of choice|
The bicycle departs from the traditional cyclo-cross bike used in many gravel events with a lowered bottom bracket, disc brakes, and slightly longer chain stays. While only giving clearance for 35mm tires, (which in my humble opinion is cutting it too close and limits choices for gravel events), this bike seems to cut a line somewhere between traditional road, touring, and cyclo-cross ideas. It doesn't hurt that it has a claimed weight well south of 20lbs either, but one would expect that from a premier carbon fiber marque like Calfee.
Is there such a thing as a gravel road bike? In one sense, any bicycle you ride on gravel fits that description, but it would seem a "sharper tool" is being crafted by some for such riding. Whether or not it becomes a useful, desirable tool for most gravel grinders remains to be seen. Here at GGN, we'll be watching developments on this front closely. Stay tuned.....