Gravel bikes are growing in popularity at a significant rate. Because you can ride these bikes comfortably on smooth roads as well as off-road, on trails, or wet muddy roads. As Gravel bikes need advanced braking systems to be suitable for various roads, we note that most advanced gravel bikes have hydraulic brakes. But the question is, why do pro cyclists use hydraulic brakes on their gravel bikes?
Well, bikers prefer hydraulic brakes for being modern, effective, and convenient. And, Hydraulic brakes are easier to use than any other braking that has a full-proof well-functioned effective system. If your gravel bike has any other braking, you can upgrade it to hydraulic brakes. In this article, I am going to discuss gravel bikes, their types, braking system, and the importance of brakes used in them.
What Are Gravel Bikes Exactly?
Gravel bikes, also known as ‘Adventure Bicycles’, are suitable for riding on all types of surfaces. Yes, Road bikes perform great on smooth surfaces but are not as useful on trails. Similarly, mountain bikes perform well on trails or on off-road, but not so well on smooth roads. So, researchers invented gravel bikes to solve this problem.
Sporty geometry and drop handlebars make the gravel bikes go fast. Also, wider tyres and slightly wider handlebars make the bikes more stable off-road. That’s why cyclists can ride gravel bikes with confidence on any type of surface whether it is daily commuting or off-roading, can be your faithful companion.
Types of Gravel Bike
Although you can ride gravel bikes on any type of road, manufacturers make these bikes in 3 categories to suit different road conditions. And, I would like to specify all 3 types of gravel bikes here.
Category – 1 Gravel Bike
Companies make category-1 gravel bikes suitable for fitness and gravel rides. So, you can ride these bikes comfortably on dirt roads or paved roads. Typically, these bikes come with 700c wheels with a little narrower tires and a slightly more aggressive sporty geometry.
Category – 2 Gravel Bike
As these types of bikes are suitable for rough terrain, has 650b wheels with wide tyres. Moreover, category-2 bikes absorb more bumps when riding on forest roads, dirt roads, or single tracks. As a result, your movement in all these areas becomes smoother.
Category – 3 Gravel Bike
A category-3 gravel bike is ideal for long adventure-type trips. Most of these bikes have front and rear racks. And, their 700c wheels with narrower tires offer a relatively upright and relaxed posture.
Basic Features Of The Gravel Bikes
Gravel bikes have certain features that set them apart from other bikes. These features essentially make the bikes suitable for all types of roads. Thus recognizing these features properly will help you use the gravel bike more productively.
👉 Frame Geometry
The most noticeable features of a gravel bike frame are its long head tube and a lower bottom bracket. The frame is optimized to ensure a more stable sitting position than a road bike or mountain bike. As these bikes rarely use a suspension fork, they are relatively rigid, which makes riding on dirt or gravel roads super-efficient.
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Gravel bikes typically use drop handlebars like road bikes. However, gravel bike handlebars are wider than road bike handlebars. While a road bike handlebar is 32 to 35 cm on average, a gravel bike handlebar is usually 40 to 42 cm. And, these extra wide handlebars allow the Gravels to ride more stably.
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👉 Disc Brakes
Almost all gravel bikes come with disc brakes. Since riders use these bikes on smooth roads as well as off-road, gravel roads, or wet roads, brakes are an important part of these bikes, especially on wet roads or trails.
If the rider does not control the speed of the bike in time, the chances of accidents are very high. Hence, manufacturers use disc brakes on gravel bikes, which provide effective braking on any surface.
👉 Relaxed Posture
A gravel bike’s handlebars are a little higher, giving the rider a relaxed posture. Due to this, a rider can cover long distances using these bikes. In other words, even if riding a gravel bike for a long time, the rider has to be less affected by problems like back pain, and neck pain.
👉 Wider Tyres
Wide tires are one of the key features of gravel bikes. Where a road bike tire is less than 30mm wide, a gravel bike tire can be around 38 to 45mm wide. And, these extra wide tires help the bikes get more traction on the road. Thus gravel biking becomes more stable and safer.
Different Types Of Brakes On Gravel Bikes
When you ride a bike on trails or off-road, you need to use more of the brakes than on smooth roads. That’s why brakes are so important on gravel bikes as an advanced braking system can save you from major accidents, especially when you want to ride on hilly roads.
Hydraulic Disc Brake:
Generally, gravel bikes come with disc brakes. To be more specific, gravel bikes come with hydraulic disc brakes. Because a hydraulic disc brake is capable of providing you with extremely effective braking.
- Wet or dry, they are more effective in any kind of weather or road conditions.
- Plus, less pressure is required while using them. So, the rider does not feel pain in the wrist even after long rides.
Mechanical Disc Brake:
Some gravel bikes also come with mechanical disc brakes. Usually, manufacturers use mechanical disc brakes on relatively inexpensive gravel bikes. Although these brakes provide just as effective braking as hydraulic disc brakes, they can be a little cumbersome to operate.
- Mechanical disk brakes tend to get a bit stiff if they get older or lack proper maintenance.
- If you use this stiff brake for a long time, you may feel pain in the wrist.
Nowadays, companies avoid using rim brakes on their gravel bikes as they are old types of braking systems, also less effective than disc brakes.
- While disc brakes work equally well in any weather, rim brakes do not.
- As rim brakes are less effective in wet weather and bike riding on trails or steep mountain roads, cycling becomes dangerous.
Upgrade Or Changing Braking System Of A Gravel Bike
Many riders wish to change or upgrade their bike’s braking system considering its importance. Especially in professional riding, the braking may need to be upgraded at times. Also, beginners have some common questions regarding this braking system’s upgradation. Do you also want to get answers to questions like the following? Okay, let’s dive into some of what you are asking us online and offline usually.
Can I Change Gravel Bike Mechanical Disc Brake With Other Brakes?
Yes, you can replace the mechanical disc brakes on your bike with other brakes.
If you want to make your braking system more advanced and effective, you can change the mechanical disc brakes of gravel bikes to hydraulic brakes. As Hydraulic disc brakes are easier and less cumbersome to use, we have already published an in-detailed article on replacing mechanical disc brakes with hydraulic brakes on your bike, which you can follow.
Moreover, you can also use rim brakes instead of mechanical disc brakes if you want.
- Rim brakes can easily be used if your gravel bike has relatively narrow wheels.
- But dealing installing rim brakes can be a bit tricky. Because you may need to drill into the bike frame or fork separately to mount them to the bike.
Can I Replace Gravel Bike Hydraulic Brake With Other Brakes?
Yes, you can replace the hydraulic brakes on your gravel bike with other brakes. If you don’t have time to maintain your brakes properly but want the same braking performance, you can use mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic brakes on your gravel bike. One big plus is- it requires relatively less maintenance than hydraulic brakes.
You can also use rim brakes instead of hydraulic brakes on your gravel bike. Although experts don’t recommend it, many riders feel comfortable using a combination of disc and rim brakes.
- In that case, you can install a rim brake on the rear wheel of your bike.
But to use rim brakes, you have to be careful that there is enough clearance between the brake pads and the rim.
Can I Upgrade Gravel Bike Rim Brake To Other Brakes?
Yes, you can change the rim brakes on your gravel bike to use other brakes, that’s what you should do. Although today’s gravel bikes don’t come with rim brakes, if your bike has rim brakes, you can replace them with mechanical disc brakes.
- Mechanical disc brakes can be a little more expensive to install, but you’ll get more effective braking than rim brakes.
- And, you can ride a gravel bike with confidence in any environment or weather.
But, the best option is to replace rim brakes with hydraulic disc brakes. Most pro cyclists recommend hydraulic brakes for gravel bikes. Although it is more expensive, it may be the best solution for your security judgment.
And, Remember- to install any type of disc brake, make sure the wheels of your bike are suitable for mounting disc rotors.
But Which Types of Brake Are Popular For Gravel Bikes?
Hydraulic disc brakes are the most efficient and popular for gravel bikes. Yes. they are the most effective, easy to use, and recommended by almost all pro cyclists. Generally speaking, disc brakes are more efficient than rim brakes. So, to make gravel bike riding efficient and safe, you must go with disc brakes.
Now comparing both the disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes will be ahead of mechanical disc brakes.
- As the Hydraulic brakes can go smoothly, the rider does not have to suffer from wrist pain even when using the brakes for a long time.
It’s just that you need to spend more time maintaining these brakes. But considering the functionality and convenience, upgrading mechanical to a hydraulic version will be the best for you.
Wrapping Up My Thoughts
Gravel bikes have hydraulic brakes to make gravel riding more comfortable. If your bike doesn’t come with them, try replacing the other brakes with hydraulic brakes. Because a gravel bike with this type of brakes allows you to establish excellent control over the bike in an emergency, just as you would expect.
If you are an avid rider, gravel bikes may be at the top of your list. And, brakes play an important role in taking your riding skills to the top. Therefore, Safe Biking With The Best Braking Mechanism.