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So...when every other review now refers to a bike's potential on "gravel", does anybody have any actual Gravel Roads (like the US big brand marketing teams think we need their bikes to ride on) near them?  

Near me, we only have crap tarmac and grassy/rooty/occasionally stony bridleways.

 

48 comments

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pjm60 [56 posts] 5 months ago
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Every forest has a network of access tracks, I'd count that as gravel. 

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oldstrath [970 posts] 5 months ago
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Plenty in the Cairngorms, Monadhliath, Great Glen areas.

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madcarew [744 posts] 5 months ago
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Yep. Miles and miles of them, but I'm in NZ.... Ride my Supersix evo on them with GP4000's. Very few punctures....

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philhubbard [144 posts] 5 months ago
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We have 280km of trans pennine trails based about 5miles from us. Mostly canal paths but a lot of it has nothing else around it

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kil0ran [924 posts] 5 months ago
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Yup - New Forest hardpack gravel access roads which are superb to ride on. Wide, grippy, well drained, even at this time of year. Only downside is the network isn't joined up and not all of the roads are open access for cyclists. Bit of a campaing going on at the moment to change that. 

Then north of me I've got the whole of Salisbury Plain to play on - flinty, chalky, wide-packed tracks mainly. There's also a bunch of drover's roads south and west of Salisbury meaning you can almost get to Shaftesbury without using tarmac roads.

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Duncann [1351 posts] 5 months ago
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Most Forestry Commission plantation access roads would be "gravel roads", even if no-one called them that until recently.

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KendalRed [206 posts] 5 months ago
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I have the Grizedale forest between home and work, and this has miles of 'gravel' trails - they are a destination for MTBers, and I have ridden them on my hardtail. I wouldn't take a full blown road bike on them, but I suspect a 'gravel' bike would fair okay on them, as would a cyclocross set up. They aren't really a thoroughfare though, they just tend to criss-cross each other, although I have diverted from the tarmac road to them and bypassed a few miles of tarmac, but they certainly aren't a viable short cut. Good fun though, and nice to be in a really quiet part of the Lakes at this time of year (different after Easter I imagine).

There is an interesting article in the latest Cyclist Magazine, where three 'gravel/adventure' bikes are ridden and reviewed, and the terrain they go on seems to vary from tarmac to gravel tracks to bridleways, definitely more 'off-road' than just gravel roads.

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rkemb [71 posts] 5 months ago
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There are a number around South Oxfordshire: http://cycleclassics.co.uk/white-roads-classic-sportive/

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VecchioJo [413 posts] 5 months ago
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there's a few round here on the South Downs, although loose stone over hardpacked dirt might be a more apt, if longwinded description

 

that said, i'm not sure i've ever been up an actual mountain on my Mountainbike, but when someone says the word i know exactly what they mean without having to read a page long explanation about what they are, much like the way the catch-all genre descriptive term 'Gravel Bike' is used nowadays

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alansmurphy [1832 posts] 5 months ago
5 likes

My 'gravel' bike occasionally has outings on old railway lines etc. It is also my commuter and winter bike with the clearance, knobbly tyres etc. all a bonus.

 

Those against them crap on about snake oil and marketing ploy but surely anyone with half a brain buys the bike that suits their needs. From the roads you describe, a gravel or hybrid bike may be a good option...

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Canyon48 [1003 posts] 5 months ago
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I'm inbetween Bristol and the Mendips - no gravel roads here really.

There's a few gravel access roads in a couple of the woods on the Mendips, and a couple of the local cycle paths follow old railway lines, which are sort of gravelled.

Most the routes are simply too muddy or stoney to be ridden (enjoyably) on anything other than a MTB.

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CygnusX1 [849 posts] 5 months ago
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Yep. Some of the roads round here are so pot-holed tha every car driving through them spits more gravel & hard-core onto the surface.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/pot...

 

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crazy-legs [1014 posts] 5 months ago
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Loads.

Whole mix of wide well-surfaced old railway lines converted to leisure use, forest / moorland fireroads, farm tracks, access tracks and then a mix of bridleways some of which fall more towards the "full on MTB" end of the spectrum but plenty of which would be covered under the generic "gravel road/track" description.

I use my CX bike but it's set up with tubeless 38c G-One tyres which are definitely more gravel road tyres than CX race tyres.

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Crampy [117 posts] 5 months ago
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We have a great many here around Oslo, Norway. Google «Nordmarka». Its all gravel.

My CX bike is used more on gravel than a CX course.

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Leviathan [3057 posts] 5 months ago
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Lots of them here, Mersey valley/Chorlton Water Park.

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Boatsie [230 posts] 5 months ago
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Yes although mtb, bmx preferred due to lumps and rhythms. Almost assembled a 38mm road bike but that's because I feel old and comfy nice on not so good bitumen. Can't imagine it being as quick as a tiny frame on the loose stuff. Sorta avoiding hurt nowadays.

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IanEdward [199 posts] 5 months ago
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Yes, loads, plus I've plotted a few routes recently either using Google Map or Strava where what appeared to be a road turned out to be farm track of some sort. Thankfully it's been winter so I've been on my 'gravel' bike (my singlespeed drop bar commuter with 38c tyres) and it's been a fun diversion off the tarmac.

Problem is I don't want to use my singlespeed for the sort of long hilly routes I've planned for the summer, makes me wish I could fit bigger than 25mm tyres on my road bike, next bike will  definitely be 'gravel'!

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Edgeley [538 posts] 5 months ago
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Yes,  mostly the Sustrans tracks which have been "patched"with loose chippings. 

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pwake [445 posts] 5 months ago
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Loads in Texas. Heading out this weekend for a 100k gravel ride, about 3k will be on paved roads. Might be worth a look at Gravelmap.com; looks like people are uploading sections in the UK.

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Crashboy [70 posts] 5 months ago
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VecchioJo wrote:

there's a few round here on the South Downs, although loose stone over hardpacked dirt might be a more apt, if longwinded description

 

that said, i'm not sure i've ever been up an actual mountain on my Mountainbike, but when someone says the word i know exactly what they mean without having to read a page long explanation about what they are, much like the way the catch-all genre descriptive term 'Gravel Bike' is used nowadays

 

Fair point regarding the mountainbike  - l live on/in Fenland so I certainly haven't been up a mountain with my MTB. The top of a speed bump is considered a viewpoint  around here.

 

Thanks for the responses  - seems we have a fair range of "gravel" definitions though - I think "loose stone over hardpacked dirt" as you say is probably closest to what I have access to.

 

I'm not a marketing hype hater as such - I don;t object to the term Gravel Bike per se, but I suppose my original question should have been  "does anyone have those long, lush looking (dry!) gravelly roads like the marketing shots  show (as opposed to the narrow, litter strewn, brown, mucky trails I'm used to) near them"! 

I stand corrected, and will shut up now and go for a ride.  smiley

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alansmurphy [1832 posts] 5 months ago
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Ha ha, apologies, I'm in a grump.

 

There's just a few on here that reckon we've all been duped - they must be on a steel frame with 23 tyres and an 11-23 cassette. I may coin the term 'do it all drop-bar' as I reckon many gravel bikes are part cross, part road/pothole, part sod it and ride!

 

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Miller [118 posts] 5 months ago
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Crashboy wrote:

I'm not a marketing hype hater as such - I don;t object to the term Gravel Bike per se, but I suppose my original question should have been  "does anyone have those long, lush looking (dry!) gravelly roads like the marketing shots  show (as opposed to the narrow, litter strewn, brown, mucky trails I'm used to) near them"! 

I like the idea of gravel bikes, and have done a few CX sportives, but I do think the US experience does not bear much relation to UK. The US is huge and my impression is that there are thousands of miles of roads that are unmade but nevertheless flat and wide. Round here, Chilterns area, there is a lot of rideable off-road but it's bridleways, greenways etc covered in leaf litter, stones, chalk outcrops, ruts and mud. Can still be a lot of fun. The nearest thing I've experienced to proper gravel roads was the Dirty Reiver route through Kielder and that still included some hideously muddy and rutted sections.

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Bmblbzzz [191 posts] 5 months ago
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Parts of the Fosse Way south of Cirencester are gravel. Other parts are mud, and tarmac. Probably mostly mud, really. 

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kevvjj [385 posts] 5 months ago
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Yes

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asdfqwerty [41 posts] 5 months ago
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I've ridden gravel roads in Colorado that are smoother than most sealed roads in the UK. I wish we had some of that here, though forestry commission tracks are sometimes decent.

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Crashboy [70 posts] 5 months ago
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asdfqwerty wrote:

I've ridden gravel roads in Colorado that are smoother than most sealed roads in the UK. I wish we had some of that here, though forestry commission tracks are sometimes decent.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if some almost inaccessible  poor or war torn thirld world countries have better road surfaces than parts of the UK.

 

Whichever way I route my short daily commute my Marathon Mondials take a severe hammering - for the off road riding I do, they're ace; but for a touring tyre recommended for traversing the world with minimal punctures, they are not doing so well on 18KM per day on my route to work - and I've tried many types of tyres, all the same story.  A gravel road (whichever definition we choose) would be easier on them I think!

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Luv2ride [111 posts] 5 months ago
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Bmblbzzz wrote:

Parts of the Fosse Way south of Cirencester are gravel. Other parts are mud, and tarmac. Probably mostly mud, really. 

Parts of that start near to where I live, but late last year long sections got "resurfaced" using huge chunks of aggregate.  Made it almost unrideable on my bike even though running 700x40mm tubeless, and I think walkers and horses were struggling with it too.  A real shame.

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SingleSpeed [429 posts] 5 months ago
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Nope, but I once took a Tarmac Demo bike round the MTB trails at Haldon.

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ChetManley [95 posts] 5 months ago
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Yes, lots around Bedfordshire. Old quarries 2 minutes from my house, tree plantations, drovers roads, farm access routes, the ancient Icknield way.

Not mile after mile of them, but a lot if you know how to link them up.

Outside of gravel riding, a gravel bike is very practical all rounder.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2042 posts] 5 months ago
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I think there are some trails near me but I haven't been off road for an age, now I've built a road type bike to do exactly that and acquired some wider boots I'll have to crack the old OS out and pinpoint some likely candidates.

Certainly nothing like what is shown in the ads I agree.

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