Well now you know what I’m going to say… Yes I think it’s the humble gravel bike but hear me out, I think you might come to agree with me!
Naturally when you think of long distance riding you’re going to think of a touring bike. With its relaxed riding style, light handling and general good road manners. You might be thinking, a gravel bike? Is he mad?
My sanity might be up for debate but I think the gravel bike has a lot more to offer than most might think.
Like a touring bike, the gravel bike has all the mounting points you need to bring everything you need on your long distance ride. So it ticks that box.
A gravel bike has fantastic geometry for low fatigue long distance riding. It is somewhere between the upright control you get with a mountain bike (king of control) and the low down speed of a road/race bike without the back pain. In fact I think the positioning on a gravel bike is better than a touring bike because of the drops but that really is a matter of choice.
The gravel bike has more variety when it comes to gearing to tackle those big climbs and also get the maximum speed in fast sections.
By now I can hear you shouting… Gravel bikes have wider tyres you numpty. That is true, but that’s not always a bad thing. Sure you get more rolling resistance on the lovely smooth tarmac but tell me this, when was the last time you did a cycle on 100% perfect tarmac? For me, I end out having to cycle on lots of different types of surfaces and I like the extra stability and comfort of the slightly wider tyres. And being comfortable will only make you ride faster and longer.
There’s also some people out there on the internet that say that slightly wider tyres can actually be faster because while there is extra rolling resistance there’s also extra momentum and grip to apply the power.
Paths, potholes, debris, water, mud are often things that you will cross on your cycle so why not have a bike that can handle them as well as being fast on the road.
So before you say that touring bikes are the best bike for long distance riding, give some consideration to the gravel bike.