Getting your head around the ins and outs of gravel bike suspension has the potential to be difficult. But don’t despair! I’ve done the research on this topic and will share with you all you need to know.
Do gravel bikes have suspension? Generally, gravel bikes do have suspension, but the spectrum of gravel bike suspension is what’s important. There are lower-level options like carbon fiber layups, as well as higher-level options like short-travel suspension. There are mid-level suspension options available for your gravel bike as well.
Continue reading for more information about gravel bike suspension and for other gravel bike information you won’t want to miss.
The Hierarchy of Gravel Bike Suspension
Gravel bikes, as compared to road bikes, have more substantial, longer-travel suspension designs.
On the lower end of the spectrum of gravel suspension, gravel bikes feature vibration-reducing carbon fiber layups. These are similar to the systems that you’d find on an everyday road bike, and they operate by dampening vibration.
Some widely used suspension options for upgrading gravel bikes include the Redshift stem and Cane Creek Thudbuster Seat Post. Either of these low-cost options will give your gravel bike mild suspension.
In addition, real short-travel suspension for gravel bikes is also being utilized. Specialized Future Shock is integrated into the head tube, according to BikeRumor.com. Other gravel bikes have leaf-spring designs that are simpler than suspension systems that are head tube integrated. Some suspension systems are situated in the fork itself.
Do Gravel Bikes Need Suspension?
The answer to this question comes down to your preferences. If you plan to travel long distances on rough terrain, you may benefit from having suspension on your gravel bike.
However, there are a few things to consider when deciding whether to use a gravel bike with suspension. Consider the following:
- Whether the added weight of a suspension system will negatively affect your ride.
- Whether you have the time, patience, and know-how to maintain your gravel bike suspension.
- Whether you can afford a gravel bike with suspension.
You’ll need to consider all three of the above points before you choose a gravel bike with suspension.
How Gravel Bikes Compare to Road Bikes
Many aren’t aware of the many differences between gravel bikes and road bikes, but it’s helpful to be informed.
Gravel bikes are hailed as the best option for riders who want a hybrid bike that’s good for use on and off-road. They are a combination of a road bike and a cyclocross bike, giving you the best of both worlds.
Gravel Bike Brakes
Disc brakes are standard on all gravel bikes. Disc brakes are regular brakes on steroids. These specialized brakes are designed to impart more braking power. This is great for off-road trips because, with more braking power, you can have confidence riding through a wide range of terrain types (windy, rainy, etc.).
Gravel Bike Design
When you look at a gravel bike, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like a regular road bike. Gravel bikes have a more relaxed design as compared to other bikes. You’ll notice the following:
- The head tube of a gravel bike is usually longer.
- The bottom bracket is lower than you are used to if you use a cycle-cross bike.
- The head angle is slicker to allow for smoother steering.
All of these gravel bike design aspects help to give it a specialized feel and specific capabilities for traveling in dual-terrain (on and off-road).
Gravel Bike Tires
Another difference between gravel bikes and other bike types concerns the tires. Gravel bikes sport large tires, much larger than everyday road bikes.
Larger tires help to increase the rider’s comfort when going over bumpy, rough terrain.
Gravel Bike Ride
Gravel bikes were designed to be light and fast when in use. They are designed to be sleek, without added bulk or weight. This is so the rider can have as much control as possible while riding in whatever conditions they choose.
Selecting Your Gravel Bike
Whether you’ve already decided that you want to buy a gravel bike or you’re still on the fence, you will benefit from the information to come. To choose the best gravel bike for you, you’ll need to consider several points of interest. It may be helpful to check these off as you’re selecting your bike.
Ask About Terrain Capabilities
First, you’ll want to verify whether your bike is designed for riding on mixed terrain. If you want to be able to ride on mixed terrain, a gravel bike with these capabilities is a good pick. If you are shopping in person, ask the bike retailer directly how the bike is to be used. When shopping online, take your time and read about how the terrain the bike is designed to be used in.
Tires to Look For
Second, as briefly touched upon earlier, good gravel bikes are equipped with wide tires. A good general size range is 28c+, right up to 40c. Use this recommendation to ensure that you have max comfort and grip.
Third, scope out the types and number of mounts on the bike. High quality gravel bikes have several types of mounts. Some popular mounts to look for are bottle cage mounts and pannier rack mounts. Both of these mount types increase convenience while riding, making longer adventures more comfortable.
Last, but definitely not least, make sure that your gravel bike comes with disc brakes. Having the ability to stop quickly can be a matter of life and death. This is all the more apparent when riding on rough or problematic terrain. If you aren’t sure whether a gravel bike features these brakes, be sure to ask an expert.
Gravel Bike Picks
We’ve gone over lots of interesting topics surrounding gravel bikes so far. But this article would be incomplete if we didn’t explore some awesome gravel bikes.
This gravel bike has everything you need for top-level riding on and off-road. At around $1500, you get rack ready mounts for touring, clearance up to 44c tire and a carbon sport fork suspension to ensure a smooth, light ride. The bike is praised for its overall ride, as well as its extras. Click the link above to explore it on Amazon.
At a bargain price, this Tommaso brand gravel bike gives you all the necessities without extra bells and whistles. The bike rides well in all terrains, has premium compact handlebars for comfort and control, and wide tires for added stability. It’s highly rated on Amazon.
Here’s a higher-priced gravel bike by Cinelli. It’s got all-terrain capabilities, disc brakes, and suspension via frame Columbus. It also features front and rear fenders. This bike is a must for riders who have deep pockets.
People love this bike because of its suspension and speed capabilities. It’s been said that while riding this bike, you’ll feel as if you’re floating. Check it out on Amazon at the link above.
Another mid-priced pick, around $500, this Giordano gravel bike gives the rider everything he needs and a bit of what he wants. The bike glides through all-terrain, and it features a lightweight design and high-speed capabilities. You get powerful disc brakes, 30mm wide tires, and STI shifters as well. This bike is a great base model for beginner gravel bike users.
Customers love the Giordano bike because of its smooth ride, strong steel frame, and affordable price.