What is Capital-G Gravel - and What is Not?
Visually, gravel bikes are somewhat similar to the bikes used in cyclocross, also known as CX: a more or less delicate frame, tyres with distinct treads, and road bike handlebars (AKA drop bars). However, gravel bikes feel much more comfortable on an open track than on winding cyclocross circuits. An oft-repeated motto for “graveling”: the journey is the reward. Gravel is not about riding lap after lap through a marked course. In this respect, it’s the definition of freedom on two wheels, an adventure you can only experience on a bike. It’s about being able to just go for it, without having to fret about road conditions. A gravel bike can ride across almost any ground: asphalt, gravel, footpaths and gnarly root passages.
With such a high degree of versatility, the gravel bike falls under the age-old requirement of one Tom Ritchey: to have a bike for everything, the "1-Bike". At the same time, a gravel bike clearly stands out from its cousins: the mountain bike, which encompasses its own wide array of subcategories, and the high-profile, speedy-yet-sensitive (to the point of discomfort) thoroughbred racing bike.
That said, gravel biking is not subject to the same stringent rules outlined by the Velominati that surround road biking and the enduro scene. No, this type of cycling is about pure freedom–as much on your bike as in your imagination.