With the increasing demand for gravel bikes,the gravel frames have gained a lot of popularity, this is certainly due to their versatile character.
If you want to go all out on your bike, you can. If you want to take your bike on single tracks, you can. If you want to go on a three-day bike packing trip, you can. We consider the gravel frameset as the missing link between road bikes and mountain bikes. But not all gravel bikes perform the same in similar situations.
Gravel frame,as one of the most important parts of gravel bike, it is necessary to introduce all the features of it. This article will be a complete guide to gravel bike frames to help you make the right decision.
The features of the gravel frame
The first thing you’ll notice is that a gravel frameset is light and fast. You don’t have to go fast, but you probably will…These bikes are made to be ridden fast on any type of terrain while being nice and comfortable.
This brings me to my second point: you can go anywhere, anytime. This versatile machine can handle almost anything you throw at it: long road stretches, a gravel path you just discovered, a beaten-up tarmac strip… And the best part is you can start right at your doorstep.
And although a gravel frame has a similar riding position as a road bike, the geometry is less aggressive and more focused in long-distance comfort. But this can only one thing: you’ll have fun on this bike. This bike is not meant to race, not to chase your next KOM but just to enjoy the adventure of exploring, riding together with friends and telling everybody what you saw on your last ride.
Which gravel frame is right for you?
When choosing or building a new gravel bike frame, there are a thousand different options, but you must think what you want to do and where you want to ride.
If your goal is to ride singletracks you’ll need a bike equipped with a grippy wide tire but if you aim to ride a Dirty Kanza you’ll look into a lightweight carbon frame with beefy 650B slick tires. We list an overview of the main categories
This is the all-rounder frame of gravel bikes and they make up the largest part of the gravel-bike market. This bikes are usually carbon frames which means that they are light and easy to handle.
The geometry comes close to a classic road- or CX-bike just a bit more upright and relaxed riding position and are fitted with 700C wheels with tires up to 40C. This bike is all about getting to your destination after a day out, making road trips with the family.
As you’ll be making these long trips you’ll need enough mounting points for bags, water bottles or even a luggage rack. A packed bike definitely needs a low gearing ratio to get up all the steep climbs you’ll encounter. Most of the time these bikes also have eyelets to fit some kind of mudguard.
Adventure gravel framesets
This category of gravel bike frames gets its biggest influence from mountain bikes with a an even slacker head angle and wider wheelbase than an All-Road bike. The frame and fork are large enough to accommodate an even larger tire, sometimes even up to a 2.1” XC tire on a 29” wheel.
The larger handlebars makes the bike more stable as this bike is meant to be driven off-road. On some bikes you’ll even find a suspension fork for added control and comfort. This segment of gravel bikes is fitted with durable and robust components, larger disc brakes and even a dropper post which you might be familiar with on your mountain bike. Although this bike shares it’s DNA with mountain bikes, some people even mount a small flat bar to convert it to an old school MTB, you’ll still be faster than mountain bikes on tarmac or gravel roads.
Bikepacking gravel frame
For your weekend trips or even your dream long-distance adventure in foreign countries you’ll want a gravel frame that withstand anything you throw at it with the least amount of possibilities to have technical problems or even a frame breaking on you. This means you’ll be looking for a steel or aluminium frame bike, this way you can go on your trip without worrying too much about the weight attached to your bike.
These gravel bike frames are meant to cover a lot of distance every day. What you’ll be looking for is a bike that can handle any situation without a loss for comfort whether it’ll be a muddy gravel road, winding down asphalt in the Alps or at the start of a steep climb.
These frames come with a nice balanced geometry and an ergonomic cockpit to give you the most comfort while being hours in the saddle.
Another important aspect of these bikes are the components, tech and mounting points. The components need to be suitable for its purpose. This means a sensible groupset, not a road bike groupset with a 54t chainring nor a 1x system with a small cassette.
Large disc brakes are mandatory to stop you and your luggage on the steepest of descents. One of the most important but overlooked components are the tires. For a bikepacking adventure you’ll need a grippy all-around tire with low rolling resistance and good puncture resistance, preferably a 700 x45C tire or wider.Along with a lot of bolting points on fork and frame cable routing is important, this gives easy access attaching any type of bike bag.
Race gravel bike frame
These bike frames are completely on the other spectrum of this category. As the name suggests this bike is all about maximum speed. The geometry has been optimized towards a more aggressive, aerodynamic stance leaning much more towards road bikes. Components and frame will also be lighter, thus more high-end, to shave off maximal weight.
Carbon or even custom titanium framesets are more common in this category, as this material tends to absorb and dampen the vibrations more which makes your race more comfortable and a comfortable bike keeps your body fresher for longer. One of the best known bikes in this category is the Specialized Diverge.
What Frame Material You Can Choose?
Not only is the type of bike important but the material of the frame in itself depends on your needs but most importantly, your budget. It is clear that somebody in search of a perfect bikepacking bike will not be looking at a carbon gravel frameset, they need a more sturdy frameset that can hold the weight of bikepacks without cracking the frame.There are many kinds of materials for making frames. The characteristics of each material will be different.The price is different. We will briefly describe these frame materials separately. The current mainstream frame making materials are Aluminium and Carbon fiber.
Steel is a very tough material. However a bike frame properties depends all on the tube selection by the manufacturer. You can find cheap but very heavy and robust frames to high-end ultra-thin steel pipe construction. Though this premium frames come at a serious price. But typically more robust frames are used, especially for bikepacking.
Aluminium is one of the most cost-effective frames to produce. They offer practically the same stiffness as a carbon frame at a more budget friendly level. Though some compromises need to be made on your ride comfort as aluminium doesn’t have damping qualities. However an aluminium gravelbike frame combined with a carbon fork and handlebars can still be a lot of fun!
The most popular choice is a carbon gravel frame. These bikes are built very light and stiff. But carbon fiber makes it possible for manufacturers to tune a frame exactly how they want it, giving it stiffness where needed but also the necessary flex on other parts of the frame, all this gives more damping and ride comfort than regular metal frames.
Carbon frames do have some drawbacks, in case of an impact damage isn’t always visible. And the carbon fiber layup is an important factor too, everything depends on a manufacturers knowhow to build a frame with the best damping possible.
Titanium is every serious gravel bikers’ dream. Its looks and special properties make it very popular.
Do you think it is worth getting a gravel bike frame? If you ask me, everybody should at least own a gravel bike, whether you are a roadie or a mountainbiker. A gravel bike can open up your world to paths you would never visit or it can help you during a long wet off season maintaining your condition while the roads are too muddy to ride with your mountainbike. Or your sense of adventure calls you out for family bike weekends? Everything is possible on a gravel bike, whatever you want to do you can definitely find the right gravel frame that suits your needs and have the best time of your life on it.
If you have any questions about gravel frame,you can consult with us for free.