Turn Your Road Bike Into A Gravel Bike | GCN How To

Turn Your Road Bike Into A Gravel Bike | GCN How To


– You don’t need a gravel
bike to ride on gravel. People have always taken
road bikes into the dirt. But if you do ride a lot of gravel, or you wanna ride more
gravel, then it could be a good idea just to tweak your road bike so that when you do leave
Tarmac, you’re more comfortable and you have more fun. Crucially though, you’re also
gonna wanna be able to turn it quickly and easily back into a road bike and with no lasting damage. (rock music) The first investment
that you should consider is into wider tires. The rule of thumb is
to fit the widest tire that you safely can into
your frame and your fort. You can of course ride gravel roads on a 23 mil wide tire, but you’ll probably need to pump it up so it’s rock hard in order to minimize the risk of punctures. And at that point, you’re
then gonna be going an awful lot slower and
in much less comfort. So, on an ordinary road bike, you probably wanna be able to squeeze like a 28 mil wide tire and that is perfectly wide enough to tackle some proper gravel. On an endurance bike, with disc brakes, you might be able to get a 32 in there, and then you’re really in the game. Although, to put it into context, on an out and out gravel bike, you could probably fit a 40, maybe even a 45 millimeter
wide tire on there. On this one, which is a
true out and out road bike, I do happen to have
monster tire clearance. So I’m just gonna see if I can go big. (rock music) Next, we’re gonna wanna
try and protect our bikes as much as possible, because gravel means rocks. And rocks means scratches
to our beautiful paint work and potentially even dents
to our delicate frames. But there is a quick fix, and it’s stuff called frame tape, or helicopter tape. Now I’ve literally just nicked this from the mountain bike guys. This is particularly heavy
duty black mastic tape from 3M. And this will be absolutely perfect for chain stays, because
as well as actual rocks flicking up and striking,
the bumps are also gonna mean you get more chain slaps. So this will protect the
delicate carbon there, and actually as a bonus, stop
or dampen the noise slightly. Then as well as this thick black stuff, you can also get clear tape as well, and that I would use
liberally on the down tube to protect against rock strikes comin’ up from the front wheel. And in deed the inside
of your seat stays here and behind the seat tube. I always find when I’m
riding off-road as well, that the ends of my cranks
get really scuffed up from rocks. And so you can actually invest in little rubber bumpers that
go over the ends of them. So if you wanna keep them
in pristine condition, that might be a good shout too. Next up, let’s talk gear ratios. Because riding on gravel is harder, therefore, it tends to be slower, therefore, you could really
do with smaller gears. Generally, the quickest,
easiest, and cheapest thing to do is to change your cassette at the back for a larger one. But you got to be a little bit careful because you’re limited
by your rear derailleur as to the size of cassette you can use. In this case, with a
Dura Ace rear derailleur I can fit an 11 to 30 on there. Often with Shimano
mid-length cage derailleurs, or indeed large cage, you can get an 11 to 32,
maybe even 11 to 36 on there. But there is a cool little gizmo sold by Wolf Tooth Components
called a road link. And that basically lengthens
your derailleur hanger allowing you to run an 11 to 40 cassette which is absolutely massive. The other thing you can do, of course, is to change your chain rings up front. But I’ve already got a
compact chain set on this, so 5034 chain length. So I can’t actually get
a smaller inner ring unless I change the whole cranks for a super compact. But if I was gonna be
doing loads of gravel, that could be an investment
that I would want to make. Road bikes are pretty robust, but one area where you could potentially see an expensive mechanical
problem is with your wheels. Not because they’re not strong enough, just because you’re more likely when riding down gravel to meet big rocks or big potholes, leaving
you with a flat tire and a possible ding in the rim. Now on an alloy wheel,
that could be fixable if it’s not too bad. But on a carbon wheel,
that could prove terminal. Not because the wheel’s not strong, just because of the
properties of carbon fiber. Anyway, a good idea, therefore, if you’ve got the funds,
is to invest in a second less expensive set of wheels. Not as I said, because they’re stronger, but just because you’d then be liberated from worrying about every
rock that glances off your beautiful wheels. Then as an added bonus, you could always leave
these second set of wheels set up with your fat gravel tires and your fat gravel cassette, meaning that your other pair can be left with your road tires and your road cassette. Therefore, you can swap
between your gravel road bike and your road road bike just
by swapping your wheels out. No fafth, no fuss. (jazzy music) Our final modification, is to suggest using mountain bike shoes
and mountain bike pedals. For the simple reason
that mountain bike shoes you can get off and
walk because they’ve got rubber tread on there. Now it’s not that you
have to get off and walk when you’re riding on gravel, but you might, even if
it’s just for a selfie. And if you are treading on gravel on your carbon soled road shoes, you could very quickly
find they get scratched beyond belief. So, mountain bike shoes are bonus. I would rather spend time in the saddle with road pedals as opposed
to mountain bike pedals, but if you’re using mountain bike shoes, you can’t fit road cleats on there, hence why you have the need for the mountain bike pedals, as well. But there is a bonus to these, they’re double sided
meaning that it’s easier to clip in. Well, there is my modified road bike. Wider tires, different wheels,
I’ve swapped out the pedals, and changed my shoes. I’ve got different gearing on there and I’ve protected it as much as possible with frame tape. The only modification left is to myself. And as esteemed journalist
Kelly Fritz once said, baggies are actually a state of mind. And so too, I believe, are fanny packs. I’m now, not only ready for gravel, I’m also on trend as well. All I need is a beard. But I could potentially
be waiting a life time for one of those. Right, make sure you check out some more of our gravel
content here on GCN. There’s another video for you just there. Rock on. Gravel! (jazzy music)