So you bought your gravel bike, you have planned your route, and started exploring some of the more rugged tracks that you have been envious of for the past few years. This bike is great, whether it's on rutted roads, roads or forest trails, you have rediscovered your love for cycling. Traffic jams and the ability to dive into the green are as comforting as the tranquility you find.
But what if everything is not as good as you want, and your steed does not provide the comfort you have always hoped for? Assuming you have purchased a bike of the right size and it is not overstretched or cramped, this list will help you find more comfort on rougher surfaces. Therefore, we will recommend some options in ascending order of cost to improve your comfort.
Let your tires expel some air! If you come from a road bike, it is normal for 25-28 mm tires to have a pressure of 80-100-120 psi, then you really need to press the top of the Presta valve and lower it. How soft is it? Well, if you are still using inner tubes (more on that later), don't go crazy at first, but look at the tire and read what it says. The width of 650b tires is usually 45 mm or more, so their driving speed is slightly lower than similar tires of 700c x 38 mm. 30-40psi is a good initial guide-to be honest, 40 is the top level. The best part is that it is free. Just don't be too low, or you will give yourself a snake bite.
A. Handlebar tape-From £15, squeeze your handlebar tape. Is it soft and grippy? If it is a new stock strip, it is likely to be a bit thin and can definitely be improved. A good guide for gravel bikes is to look for tape that is at least 3 mm thick and feels grip or sticky when wet/wet. Most stores will sell one or two of these versions, and some higher-priced stores also have gel pads.
B. Handlebar liner When you install a new tape, the liner is the easiest to install, but if your existing tape is not glued to it, it can be easily unfolded and can be reused, then it may be worthwhile before buying a new tape try. You can buy specific tape bottom pads, or you can go the DIY route and wrap the rods with old inner tubes at all major pressure points.
Redshift not only makes the cushion fit your tape, but also makes a handle for your drop end, called Cruise Control Drop Bar Grips (quite a bite), which provides more support and comfort to your palm, not just tape -Prices start at £37.
C. Double wrapping-starting from £10, wrap the second tape directly on top of the first tape. You may find that due to the increased diameter, the new tape is not long enough, or that the very fat strip is not suitable for you, but some people swear by this method of increasing comfort.
Over the years, in the brutal Paris-Roubaix competition, double wraps and tape underfills have been used to provide professionals with extra comfort, and are cheap options that can be tried.
Also, don’t forget that you may need longer tape to get around any extra gel pads and handles you install
D. Handlebar option-£20-35. If you use a handlebar on a gravel bike, the aftermarket handlebars may be more comfortable than the handlebars newly installed on the bicycle. Perhaps the most famous grip manufacturer is ODI, which offers semi-ergonomic grips from its Elite series. The professional version is definitely worth a look, because Anna gave them a 5/5 comfort level.
In order to obtain a more ergonomic shape, Ergon’s paddle handles provide comfort for your heel. Several versions offer adjustable rod end options and additional handles are available, which is very useful in long-distance riding
Converting your wheels to a tubeless system can help you avoid punctures, increase comfort, and improve the overall riding experience, as long as your rims and tires are "tubeless ready." Just set them and run your tires at a lower pressure (think 30psi or lower) without the risk of being bitten by a snake, which will give you more comfort and control.
Check out Liam's excellent guide on how to convert a bicycle to tubeless tires here to learn how to set the wheels to tubeless tires.
You are looking for a valve, rim tape (possibly installed) and sealant for approximately £50. Although you may need a suitable track pump to inflate the tires, this is not always necessary.
Unfortunately, if your rims and tires are not tubeless tires, this is a more expensive solution, and more of a wheel upgrade, but in the long run, it is very worthwhile. If your rims and/or tires are not ready for tubeless tyres, you can try latex or TPU inner tubes, which will improve your riding feel and in some cases increase your puncture resistance-starting from £18.
It may be worthwhile to look at a glove with a gel pad in the pressure area of the palm. Not everyone likes padded gloves, I don't like them, I prefer padded gloves, but they are worth a try. According to tester Stu, gloves like Lusso's Momentum summer gloves have just the right amount of filling and only cost 20 pounds.
At the other end of the market, Q36.5 Unique Gloves for £56 has inserts designed by Elastic Interface-people responsible for some of the best suede shorts, so they know how to provide comfort. Read Mat's review here.
If you prefer full-finger gloves, check Endura's Strike II gloves or winter options, check Galibers' Barrier Deep Winter gloves.
Some of you may be surprised that placing a very good cushion between you and your saddle can make the ride more comfortable. Shorts, just like gloves, are a product that is difficult to recommend because everyone makes a slightly different approach, but if you haven't done this before, it's definitely worth trying some. It may help relieve pain in the sitting bones and lower back. These 7mesh Foundation boxers are very comfortable. If you prefer bib-type shorts, please check out the DHB Moda and Blok series.
This is a return of a relatively new and old idea. Currently Redshift's Shockstop Suspension Stem and Kinekt Suspension Stem seem to have a very market.
We spoke highly of the Redshift stem. It is 200 grams lighter than Kinekt and 20 pounds cheaper, but they are both good and provide 20 mm of travel at the hood, which can create a huge impact on sharp edges on rough surfaces. Influence. Both can be adjusted according to the rider's weight and taste, and can be used for suspension rods and flat shoes. They are a bit heavier than standard stems (in the case of Redshift), but the benefits far outweigh the weight loss, especially on rutted gravel.
The wider flared handlebars, shallower drop and flatter top can greatly improve your comfort, rather than the more traditional round deep drop road handlebars. The angle and width of the flares seem to increase every year, and there are several options that are more than 50 cm wide. Check out Jon's article here for the biggest one. In fact, an increase of 2-4 cm in width and a smaller drop will help improve your handling and comfort on gravel-if they have a flatter top, the effect will be better. Some, such as genetic dryers, provide all of the above functions and are raised 20 mm from the valve stem to provide a higher and more comfortable position.
Lauf and Spank’s handlebars provide damping properties in their structure to eliminate the hum of your riding surface. Lauf blends military-grade glass fiber with carbon fiber to provide shock absorption, while Spank uses patented Vibracore foam in the handlebar to absorb small diameter vibrations.
Matt can certainly feel that the Spank Vibracore bar is working in his test set, we are currently testing Lauf Smoothie so please come back and see what we think of them
There are many different options on the market that are designed to reduce the impact of the rut and roots of the lower back of the rear wheel. These range from cleverly designed carbon fiber columns, such as Canyon VCLS, to built-in columns, such as USE's Ultimate Vybe, to flexible parallelogram seatposts, such as Cane Creek's ST G4 and eeSilk and Redshift's Shockstop.
Then there are Redshift's Suspension ShockDrop, PNW Coast Suspension Dropper and Rock Shox Reverb XPLR, which allow you to lower the seat in the technical part and provide a certain amount of suspension at the same time. Check out our roundup on road.cc here.
"The situation with suspension forks is starting to get tricky because their axle-to-crown length is longer than the rigid forks mounted on your gravel bike, so you need to take this into account when considering upgrades. The front fork will lower the head tube angle and make the handling feel less straightforward, but it is essential to set the sag on any suspended front fork. Doing so will reduce the listed shaft-to-crown length and the geometric shape Any result of the impact.” You may not notice the difference, or on the other hand, it may have a big impact on the feel of your bike. Four of the five options here will definitely add a lot of weight.
Currently, only a small number of suspension forks are available for gravel bikes. They are Lauf Grit SL, Fox AX, MRP Baxter, Cannondale Lefty Oliver and Rock Shox Rudy XPLR. Except for Lauf, the others are telescopic suspension forks, which look like very short versions of their mountain bike brothers.
Lauf is different. It completely relies on the bending of the glass fiber board to provide damping. It cannot be adjusted in any way, and it is not as rigid as the other four front forks, but it is the lightest at only 850 grams — about 350 grams heavier than most carbon gravel forks — so you may not notice it The weight is too much. . Different from the very split appearance.
The weight of the other three front forks is 1300-1600 grams, the stroke is 30-60 mm, and the size from the axle to the crown is 427-456 mm. We haven't tested the new Baxter or Rudy XPLR, but the AX and the original Baxter work well despite the limitations of the bike that suits you. Lefty Oliver also requires you to use their specific "Lefty hub", which may exclude you.
You can replace the frame with a built-in suspension or a frame with damping materials in carbon fiber at any time. Cannondale's Carbon Topstone is a good example. It can do all of this, but it's not cheap and it's not a real upgrade-it's more like a new bike.
Hopefully there is something for all budgets, it gives you a lot of ideas and lets you know how to try to improve the comfort of your gravel bike. If you missed anything, please leave a comment in the comments below.
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