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Cyclist Off Road

Cyclist Off Road Spring 2019

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New for gravel and adventure riding

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United Kingdom
Dennis Publishing UK

in this issue

1 min.
ed’s letter

Welcome to the first issue of Cyclist Off-Road. It has been exciting seeing it evolve from an initial idea into a physical product – but it very nearly didn’t happen at all. I’m almost ashamed to admit it now, but I was one of those who didn’t believe gravel bikes would ever take off in the UK. They just seemed too much like a niche category that we didn’t need. So what changed? For me, I can pin it on a single ride. It was an epic day along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, a mixture of bridleways, forest trails, sand, grass, dirt, mud and tarmac. During that ride, something reawakened inside me: the simple pleasure of riding for riding’s sake, exploring, unimpeded by training data or even a definitive route plan. It’s exactly how…

1 min.
let us know what you think

We’d love to get your feedback on Cyclist Off-Road – the things you like, the things you don’t, and what you’d like to see more of. Your opinions will help determine the future direction of the brand. Please fill in our online survey (it’s pretty quick) and we’ll put you into the draw to win a Restrap saddle bag, worth £99.99. It’s tough, lightweight, waterproof and, at 14 litres, it can hold a lot of gear. Plus it requires no mounts or screws to secure it in place. To do the survey, go to cyclist.co.uk/offroadsurvey…

5 min.
the rise of gravel

Not so very long ago, in the UK at least, the notion of fitting wide, treaded tyres on a drop-handlebar bike and taking it off-road (except for racing cyclocross, of course), let alone strapping on a load of camping gear to facilitate multi-day wilderness adventures, would have marked you out as an oddball. Suddenly, though, the market is awash with so-called ‘gravel’ bikes. Practically every major brand now offers this new breed of robust, do-it-all machine that promotes a more free-spirited and adventurous attitude and encourages us to think beyond the confines of tarmac roads for how we go about getting our riding fix. The result is that the gravel scene has, in a relatively short period of time, been elevated from curious niche to mainstream sector. ‘Gravel’ has become the accepted…

11 min.
bikes #01

It might seem that gravel riding is still in its infancy, but already the market is awash with this new breed of bike. And it is starting to splinter into distinct categories. The definition of what constitutes gravel riding remains open to debate, and different brands are producing bikes to cope with a wide spectrum of road surfaces and conditions, from smooth tarmac to technical mountain bike trails. So what exactly is a gravel bike, and how do you go about choosing the one that best suits your needs? Cyclist Off-Road talks to the brands and builders at the forefront of the gravel movement. Cross over to gravel ‘A lot of the bikes look the same,’ says Dom Mason, founder of Mason Bikes. ‘But there are very subtle details that make a bike…

1 min.
metal guru

‘Metals tend to say to people, “dependability”,’ says Dom Mason, founder of Mason Bikes. ‘Carbon is infinitely more tuneable, and its strength-to-weight makes it superb as a frame material, but it simply isn’t as impact-resistant and I feel you can still make superb bikes out of metal. ‘Titanium is to my mind the best all-round material for a gravel bike,’ he adds. ‘It has a lovely smooth ride feel, and it can still be light. If you drop it on a rock you won’t punch a hole in it. People refer to Ti bikes as “life bikes” and as a frame material for fast off-road gravel experience it’s brilliant. Granted, it’s still expensive, but no more so than carbon. ‘As an aside, we’re also finding that people love the romantic notion of…

1 min.
one ring or two?

As with road bikes, many gravel bikes come equipped with a compact double chainring groupset. However, drivetrains with a single chainring – called 1x and pronounced ‘one-by’ – are becoming increasingly popular for gravel bikes. They might reduce the overall number of gears compared to a double, but they do come with certain advantages. For starters, taking away a portion of the drivetrain – losing the front derailleur, the associated cabling and one of the chainrings – reduces weight, improves rear tyre clearance behind the seat tube and means fewer components overall to maintain. That can be beneficial when you’ve got mud and filth to contend with. Also, a single chainring setup reduces the complexities of shifting. You only have one shift to worry about, simply up or down the cassette. Bringing…