For years, gravel and new gravel bikes have dominated the cycling world, and a lot has changed since the genre's birth. Today there are so many different gravel bikes available that it would be difficult to suggest that most of them would work on a 'cross course.

What are gravel or cyclocross bikes?

In essence, gravel bikes, often referred to as adventure road bikes, are a hybrid between a road bike and a traditional mountain bike. They are made to be more robust than a typical road bike and faster than a mountain bike. They can travel on tarmac, mud, and the majority of other surfaces.

What to Consider When Choosing a Gravel Bike

1. Figure Out What Kind of Terrain You’ll Be Taking On

The range of gravel bikes spans from nearly road bikes to nearly mountain bikes. Because gravel bikes are used so differently by different people, designs have changed accordingly. Because of this, it's crucial to know about how and where you intend to utilize the bike as well as how comfortable you are riding off-road.

2. Choose An Appropriate Component Spectrum 

Do you want your gravel bike to handle more like a road bike or more like a mountain bike? Think about the gravel spectrum. Drivetrain type and tire size are the two main areas where specifications fluctuate. A 2x drivetrain is probably the best option for you if you want to spend more time on the road or rather smooth gravel, travelling quickly up and down slopes.

3. Choose The Material of Bike Frame Best Suits Your Needs

Like road bikes, different materials of the frame have been used, and it is the first thing we have to consider, having carbon frames and aluminium the most common one. Both of these materials have their pros and cons. Aluminium is heavier, cheaper and more robust. On the other hand carbon can be stiff and compliant according to the manufacturers’ design, all while being lighter than their aluminium counterparts.

Gear and Equipment for Gravel Biking in Singapore

1. Tires

Choosing the right tires can make a big difference in your experience in bike riding. Determining what your desired riding conditions helps to determine size, tread, and other important parameters, you need this. You have to make sure they are tubeless regardless of the size and tread you select. Your riding experience will be much improved by being able to run at lower pressures, and the sealant in tubeless tires will prevent you from having to fix a ton of flats. 

There will likely be a tread pattern but how much tread you need depends on the type of terrain you'll be travelling on, which may be further divided into whether you'll be riding primarily on paved, dry gravel, or muddy dirt roads.

2. Gravel Shoes

Depending on the terrain, you may need to hike and bike on dirt roads. You’ll probably need a sturdier shoe than the one you normally wear for triathlons or on the road. In gravel or mountain bike shoes, rubber is used to improve traction when you’re running, and you’ll want a shoe that will dry quickly if you get wet or muddy.

3. Mudguards

In general, gravel rides are messy experiences. The roads aren't paved, so when it rains, they become muddy. Full-coverage fenders won't allow for much tire space and will quickly fill with muck, slowing or stopping your roll. Instead, choose mudguards that clip on or that you can fasten to your saddle rails.

4. Bags and Packs

Some gravel bikes come with fasteners that can be used to secure a bag to the top tube. It is a convenient location to store treats for the voyage. Larger, more durable bags that are weatherproof hang from the top tube and are tightly fastened to other tubes to fit inside the main triangle of the frame to carry food and other supplies.

How to Navigate the Trails in Singapore

1. Southern Ridges Loop

The Southern Ridges Loop, which spans Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park, is a 9 km cycling route through verdant, open places. Switch to your lowest gear while moving uphill because the route includes a few short but strong hills.

2. Eastern Coastal Loop

The Eastern Coastal Loop, which connects East Coast Park to Pasir Ris Park, will amaze you with its beautiful views of the rainforest, wetland, and coastal sceneries. East Coast Park will serve as your starting point, and Changi Beach Park will be your last stop. 

3. Northern Eastern Riverine Loop

You can bike through the residential areas of Buangkok, Sengkang, and Punggol, as well as to Punggol Beach and the Lorong Halus Wetland, by travelling along the Northern Eastern Riverine Loop's flat terrain. This course covers a distance of 26 kilometres.

FAQs About Cross-Gravel Biking in Singapore  

1. Are gravel bikes heavy?

Gravel bikes can vary in weight depending on their specific design and components. However, compared to traditional road bikes, they may be slightly heavier due to their larger tires and more durable frames. Despite this, gravel bikes are still designed to be relatively lightweight and efficient, making them a great choice for riders who want a versatile bike that can handle a variety of different terrains.

2. What are the best gravel tire sizes? 

Generally speaking, the advantages of using gravel are greater with a broader tire. More comfort and grip can be achieved by running a wider tire at a lower pressure. More air is between you and the ground when you have wider tires, which might increase puncture resistance.

3. Are gravel bikes better than road bikes?

Gravel bikes and road bikes are designed for different purposes, so it ultimately depends on what you are looking for in a bike. If you plan to primarily ride on smooth roads or paved surfaces, a road bike may be the better option for you as they are designed to be lightweight, fast, and efficient. On the other hand, if you enjoy exploring off-road trails or rough terrain, a gravel bike may be the better choice as they are designed to be more versatile and durable, with wider tires and stronger frames that can handle a variety of surfaces. Ultimately, both types of bikes have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing between them.