8 Reasons to Try Gravel Cycling

Aug 30, 2021

1. IT’S SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Gravel cycling offers an opportunity to mix it up and explore the roads less travelled. Something different from your go-to road cycling rides that you’ve no doubt tackled one too many times. From right outside your back door, to adventuring through your hometown or city, and a whole world of incredible off-road destinations to travel to. It’s also your chance to take a breather from chasing Strava segments or crunching numbers and just let go. Explore, be adventurous and get a little lost. It offers a whole new sense of freedom.

2. TRAFFIC-FREE CYCLING

A huge plus to gravel cycling is that once you hit the dirt, you’re riding traffic-free. You no longer have to worry about the constant hum of cars zipping by you, those painful non-stop traffic lights for you city goers, and the constant inhalation of toxic fumes. Also offering another incentive to switch right off, enjoy the serenity and embrace nature.

Photo by Nicholas Kupiak

3. MORE RACING

If you’re the racing type, then good news – gravel racing is a big deal and it’s only going to keep climbing the popularity ladder. And with that, more and more events worldwide continue to establish themselves.

Gravel biking events vary in distance from shorter courses, to day + ultra-endurance outings. The ultimate event of the year for the gravel community is without doubt, UNBOUND – formerly called Dirty Kanza. An absolute epic that travels around the infamous Flint Hills of Kansas and includes six events of varying distances. A must add to you near or distant future gravel racing expeditions.

The key differential between gravel racing and road/MTB racing is that there’s a unique ethos of inclusivity that’s sport wide. For starters, every man and woman participating start together at the same time (so pros, amateurs, and those who are just there for a bit of fun). Then there’s a great sense of camaraderie – everyone’s there to do what they set out to do, followed by enjoying a toast or two together post-race. It’s a highly welcoming community, so no need to feel apprehensive or daunted about signing up for your first gravel race, whenever that may be.

Photo by J.Vargus⁠⁠

4. BETTER BIKES AND EQUIPMENT

As gravel cycling and racing has continued to develop, naturally – so has the equipment. At Factor, we’re right in check with the latest gravel cycling movements and trends and last year, proved our commitment to the gravel racer with our development of the Factor LS. The LS was designed to meet the demands of gravel racing at its highest level, game to conquer all types of terrain and versatile enough that you’ll barely notice you’re on a gravel bike on the road. For the kind of rider who thrives off an off-road adventure and dares to do it at speed. Refined, lean and with just the right amount of stiffness optimal for gravel cycling. The cherry on top – there’s no dragging around unnecessary baggage as its frame weighs in at an ultralight 950g.

Photo by Coffee Stop – Service Course
Factor LS Gravel bike Mads Christensen
Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

For the rider who is a little more about adventuring and exploring the roads less travelled, the Factor Vista may be more your jam. It’s the kind of bike that can do it all. Referred to as our ‘all-road’ bike as it’s built to tackle all roads. From gravel trails, to the often less than smooth back country (or city) lanes, to good old fashioned tarmac. Built for comfort and long days in the saddle, but also more than up for a race – if that’s what you’re into!

Photo by Ashby Shoots

5. IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS

Gravel cycling is like the in between of MTB and road cycling. You won’t be heading for the technical trails made for fat tyre feens, but the terrain that will be beckoning will no doubt provide a great opportunity to up your skills. From bike handling, to descending and cornering. You’ll be tested more off-road and put a little more out of your comfort zone. Then with the beauty of no traffic on the roads, you’ll be able to test the waters a little when you’ve gathered your confidence and you’re up for the challenge. Practice makes perfect…time to hit the dirt.

Juan Antonio Flecha Factor LS
Photo by Ashby Shoots

6. RIDE ALONE OR WITH MATES

Another reason to get on board is that gravel cycling is ideal for riding solo, with mates or a group. Unlike mountain biking that is a little more suited to riding alone (or with a friend, but with limited chatting – all focus)! Gravel cycling has a whole new ‘social’ kind of vibe. Perhaps less about racing to the coffee shop and more about enjoying a social tap off-road followed up with a beer at your local.

Photo by Nicholas Kupiak

7. RIDE IN ANY CONDITIONS

Another big perk of gravel cycling is that you can get outdoors to ride year-round, no matter the season and whatever challenges mother nature throws your way. Hit the gravel trails on a cold rainy day, embrace the snow through the thick of winter or escape the heat of the summer sun by heading for some sheltered forest tracks.

 

Photo by Rubber N’ Road

8. GO BIKE PACKING

Gravel cycling and bike packing go hand in hand. For starters, a gravel bike is sturdy and capable enough to carry all your essentials, without weighing you down too much. The Factor LS and Vista both have capacity to carry a frame bag and bike packing essentials. The Vista is built to carry more for those who are undergoing a multi-day escape, while the LS is more about keeping the weight down, maintaining speed and a minimalistic approach.

Secondly, bike packing on a gravel bike allows you to explore a little more and set out off the beaten track when you so desire. Opening doors to explore incredible scenery throughout your trip.

Gravel bike packing Switzerland Factor Vista
Gravel Bike Packing Parkhotel Valkenburg

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