A new trend has swept through the world of cycling and encouraged everyone to leave the tarmac behind and explore new terrain: gravel riding. Gravel riding, or gravel biking, started in America on the wide network of fire roads and off-road trails, and is gaining popularity in the UK and elsewhere. As we test out a new range of gravel riding clothing from super.natural, we’re asking why gravel is great – and why you should try it.
1. Freedom to explore
For anyone used to riding on the road the appeal of a traffic free route is clear. Less noise, no cars, and more space to enjoy the feeling of being out on your bike. More than just a quieter alternative to road, gravel riding opens up a wide range of opportunities to explore over different terrain. Gravel riding doesn’t just mean gravel – it can include taking your bike on a variety of surfaces off-road. Smooth canalside paths, soft dirt trails through the woods or dusty fire roads and farm tracks – everything goes. Let your creativity guide your ride (just make sure it’s safe and legal to be on a bike on the path you choose!).
2. A space to be playful and adventurous
Hardcore road cyclists might prefer the sheer speed of riding on tarmac, but for many the joy of gravel is relaxing and enjoying a more playful style of biking. Taking unpaved paths off into the wilderness can feel like a real adventure even if it’s just a short distance from your door. Unlock the views and the wide open spaces.
Your attitude on the bike and the way you ride can make a big difference as well. New terrain and trail surfaces can feel exciting and fun, and small features on uneven ground encourage a lighter, more playful way of riding.
3. A ride worth sharing
There’s nothing better than discovering a new area or a great trail with your best riding buddies. Like your favourite group rides on the road, gravel gives you something to enjoy together. Quiet, wide trails are perfect for a sociable day out while narrower, technical terrain can be great fun to tackle together. Enjoy your stops far from the busy roads or, better yet, pack a picnic!
4. Everyone is welcome
Gravel biking may not be new, but more cyclists are discovering the joy of finding a good trail and there is a really friendly atmosphere. Treat other riders and trail users with respect and they will do the same – everyone is out there to enjoy the fresh air, the views, and the freedom of the outdoors.
Looking for a more serious challenge? Gravel races, organised events and sufferfest endurance challenges are popular as well if that’s your kind of fun.
5. Easy to get started
Hop on your bike and find a trail – it’s as simple as that. Road bikes, hybrid, MTB, e-bikes and anything in between can be used for your first taste of gravel trail. Commuter bikes are often well suited to gravel riding because they are versatile, sturdy and reliable; likewise, gravel-specific bikes can often make good commuter rides. Just pick a surface that you feel comfortable starting on and give it a go.
As for clothing, often you can get started with what you normally cycle in. As you spend more time on gravel, check out specific clothing like the super.natural gravel biking range. These pieces will keep you comfortable (whatever the weather) so you can focus on enjoying the ride.
The merino brand was founded 2012 in Switzerland with the vision to enable people an active and balanced lifestyle on a healthy planet. This way of thinking is deeply embedded in the DNA of the brand: feel good and comfy in every little adventure that life has to offer. It doesn’t need to be the highest mountain or the steepest wave. As long as it makes you happy – embrace it.