Text by Adrian Grant
Photos by Eric Levert / Crossroad Tremblant
Before entering the mainstream, gravel riding was very much an opportunity to “run what you brung”, whether it was an older hardtail or a road bike with 28mm tires shoehorned between the chainstays. Neither of these options were ideal. On long loops, any significant stretches of asphalt could turn into a slow and disheartening experience on a mountain bike. Meanwhile, road bikes, with their skinnier tire, could be downright treacherous when the pavement ended and dirt began. The advent of cyclocross bikes provided a better option, but with their aggressive geometry, short wheelbases, and only marginal improvements in terms of tire clearance relative to road bikes, they still weren’t a gravel cyclist’s panacea. What was needed was a non-competitive yet high performance bike, designed for both adventure and fun.
In response, the last five years have seen an explosion in the development of gravel-specific bikes. These include drop-bar frames with a more comfortable upright geometry for longer days in the saddle, and most importantly clearance for high volume tires (a minimum of 700x35mm up to 54mm or more (!) when equipped with a 650b/27.5 wheelset). This has allowed riders to push the envelope even further as to where one could conceivably ride a bike that, at its heart, was originally designed for pavement.
While gravel bikes are viewed by some as yet another special niche, created by a bike industry eager to exploit those looking for their next n+1, I see them as a practical and versatile solution to the problems the average cyclist faces every time they just want to go out for a ride. Specifically, gravel bikes offer an antidote to riding with heavy traffic. Because, let’s face it – cycling on roads with heavy traffic sucks. It can be a stressful nightmare of honking horns, high-speeds, and distracted drivers. And to be frank, the culture around road cycling can at times be intimidating, pretentious and unfriendly to the unshaven hoi polloi unfamiliar with “The Rules”.
In comparison, gravel roads provide opportunities to traverse remote and scenic landscapes, devoid of cars and other distractions, resulting in a relaxing experience. Perhaps that’s why the culture around gravel riding is generally much more mellow. Forget aggressive pace lines, wattage metrics and Strava times, and focus instead on having a good time! Whereas roadies may shun the use of saddle bags or other accruements, gravel riding embraces the use of top tube bags, handlebar bags and framebags to stash essentials like sandwiches, gummy bears and a can of your favourite IPA. Rest stops (or even better, pub stops!) are considered welcome opportunities to eat, drink, and socialize with your fellow riders, and not evidence that you need to harden up.
In short, gravel riding is road cycling’s chilled-out cooler cousin. The cousin most likely to offer you a beer rather than an energy gel. It’ll remind you what’s it’s like to be a kid again, when what mattered most was exploring new places, making friends, and having a good time. So go play in the dirt. Slow down, don’t speed up. Ride like you have nothing to prove, not to prove a point.
Go find your nearest gravel road. And just go for a ride.
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PartsThru axle for the rear wheel. Bolt-on type (no lever), install with 6mm hex key.40$ (CAD)
Gravel Bikes*** SOME UNITS OF 2022 KATAHDIN RIVAL STILL AVAILABLE! ALSO SOME BIKES WITH MINOR PAINT TOUCH UPS AVAILABLE AT SPECIAL PRICE, CONTACT US FOR INFO *** ***Read BikegearDatabase's review on the Katahdin.*** The first generation of the Katahdin has proven itself both in races, gravel events and in bikepacking trips. For its second iteration, the Katahdin gets a makeover with progressive gravel geometry and new features to make it even more versatile. A relaxed 70deg steering angle, longer reach, 75mm bb drop and 430mm chainstays increase the wheelbase of the bike and place the rider in a stable and comfortable position. The goal is less fatigue, and more speed for long outings and / or races. The internal cables for an adjustable seat post, the fork adapted to the use of a dynamo hub, a threaded bottom bracket shell and all the mounts necessary to install bags and accessories are among the features of the Katahdin. The frame is dressed with the Hunt wheels fitted with WTB Venture 650b or 700c tires, as well as the Shimano GRX 2x11 or Rival 1x groupset, which make for a versatile and efficient bike.3,799$ – 4,249$ (CAD)
ClothingA fully equipped fatbike ready to take off. Bikepacking pure and simple.30$ (CAD)
FatbikesIsolated in northern Quebec, located in the Arctic Cordillera, the Torngat Mountains are frequented only by those who have the real will to face the elements of nature. We do not get there by chance. It is a mythical place that imposes respect. An highly inspiring destination for the Torngat fatbike! We have included in this bike the features needed to make it completely versatile. Among other things, the frame is belt-drive compatible, it has an access for a dropper seatpost and is equipped with horizontal rear wheel dropouts. The Reynolds 725 high-grade steel tubing frame and the light, stiff carbon fiber fork accommodate the largest 26″ tires available, as well as the 27.5 x 4.5″. All you have to do is leave the house, get on the bike and explore the territory that is still unknown to you!3,199$ (CAD)
Fatbikes*** It’s time to reserve your Chic-Chocs 2023. Use the promo code chicchocs during the transaction in order to complete your 50% deposit for the reservation. Deliveries are scheduled for November 2022. Contact us for any questions. *** The Chic-Chocs has proven its abilities over the past few years in endurance races and winter expeditions. Whether it's for the Raid du Fjord, the Wendigo Ultra, or riding with confidence on groomed trails, the Chic-Chocs delivers. A stable geometry with a long wheelbase increases traction and flotation on soft surfaces. In addition, the Chic-Chocs is designed with a 205mm q-factor, the narrowest available for use with tires up to 5" wide. Not to be overlooked for an ergonomic position. Two Shimano drivetrains available with RaceFace cranksets and cockpit. Quality SunRingle rims and hubs (ready for -30degC!), and studdable tires that can be easily converted tubeless complete the package. Throw on some 29x3" wheels when the snow melts, and you've got a 4-season bike ready for backcountry bikepacking trips!3,899$ – 4,399$ (CAD)
Gravel BikesThe first generation of the Katahdin has proven itself both in races, gravel events and in bikepacking trips. For its second iteration, the Katahdin gets a makeover with progressive gravel geometry and new features to make it even more versatile. A relaxed 70deg steering angle, longer reach, 75mm bb drop and 430mm chainstays increase the wheelbase of the bike and place the rider in a stable and comfortable position. The goal is less fatigue, and more speed for long outings and / or races. The internal cables for an adjustable seat post, the fork adapted to the use of a dynamo hub, a threaded bottom bracket shell and all the mounts necessary to install bags and accessories are among the features of the Katahdin.
Clothing"S24O" (aka Sub 24h Overnighter) is, in the jargon of the bikepacker, an adventure of less than 24 hours including an overnight stay. The definition of micro-adventure!30$ (CAD)
Gravel Bikes*** If your size is currently 'out of stock' on our website, please contact your closest PANORAMA CYCLES dealer to know what they have on hand. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be the first informed of when the pre-sale will be launched. *** When you venture on the less traveled roads of the backcountry, sometimes, the beautiful road becomes much more bumpy than what was predicted. The asphalt becomes gravel, and the gravel literally becomes an off-road trail. It is for this kind of adventure that the Anticosti was created. The Anticosti bike is built with a bespoke selection of Reynolds 725 steel tubing, thinned where it is needed to reduce weight. A generous clearance allows you to install 27.5x2.1 or 700x50 tires with fenders. You will find all the necessary mounts to carry the equipment for a night in the tent, or for a more ambitious multi-day trip project. Do not let your current bike limit your desire to explore. Take the path you want with the Panorama Anticosti.3,099$ (CAD)