With the surging popularity of gravel bike riding these days, we're consulting our Niner Bikes sponsored gravel riders to answer some of the best gravel bike questions. One question that came up recently is in regard to sartorial choices when pedaling off pavement. Gravel racing legend Yuri Hauswald joins us today for a bit of banter about gravel apparel fashions.
Hey Yuri! Thanks for helping us out with these questions today.
Thanks for reaching out, glad to help.
To start off, what would you say gravel cyclists should wear for riding?
“To be totally honest, gravel cyclists should wear whatever they feel comfortable in, whether that's spandex, baggies or jorts, just wear clothing that you can move freely in, not feel (too) self-conscious wearing, and is functional for your riding needs. I tend to mix it up depending on what I'm doing on my Niner RLT 9 RDO gravel bike. If I'm racing, I'm fully kitted out in my Wattie Ink spandex superhero suit. But if I'm just going for an exploratory jaunt or maybe an overnight bike packing type ride, I'm definitely wearing jorts or baggie shorts over a chamois and maybe a functional t-shirt or piece of light weight wool gear. Layering, particularly a good base layer, and having some mid-ride add on options if the weather is questionable, is ALWAYS a good idea for any type of gravel ride.”
That makes sense! Now, do you think gravel riders need different shoes than other disciplines of riding?
“I recommend using MTB shoes since most gravel rides entail a bit of walking. I wear Shimano's RX8 gravel shoe, but you don't have to get a gravel specific shoe to be comfortable on long rides.”
Good to know. So is gravel riding really any different from road or cross-country biking then?
“The short answer is: YES. Gravel is the crossroads of both road and mountain biking: It's more technical than road riding, but less (usually) than mountain biking. The funny thing about gravel is that, like MTB riding, there are a variety of sizes/types of gravel roads that you encounter when doing events like Dirty Kanza, The Spirit World 100, Rebecca's Private Idaho, and Mid-South. Gravel roads tend to be safer, so they've become a bit of a refuge for folks tired of being harassed by motorists, and they tend to be less intimidating than technical MTB trails, which partially explains the meteoric growth in gravel cycling as a cycling segment.”
Yes, gravel cycling definitely has grown massively in the past few years! What recommendations do you have on what a gravel rider NEEDS to purchase?
“What a gravel rider needs first, in my opinion, is a comfortable bike to ride. Whether it's a hardtail MTB modified for gravel riding or a gravel specific bike, having a bike that fits correctly and is comfortable at the three contact points is paramount to one's enjoyment. If there was one item I would recommend investing in, it would be a really durable set of tires. Gravel roads tend to eat tires for breakfast, so having a set that balances handling/durability/weight is a must. And the WIDER the better.”
Great advice! Thanks so much for helping us today, Yuri!