'People aren't as snooty or uptight': gravel boom shows no signs of slowing, and here's why

Gravel bike riding is "one of the fastest-growing sports" on Strava, with 55% more people doing it in 2023

Riders at the UCI Gravel World Championships 2023
(Image credit: Thomas Maheux / SWPix)

More people are logging gravel rides than before, according to new data from exercise app Strava.

The ride-sharing platform has today shared its Year in Sport report for 2023, revealing a 55% year-on-year increase in the number of athletes who recorded at least one gravel ride. 

In the report, Strava wrote that trail and off-road sports are “taking off”, with gravel riding “one of the fastest-growing sports” on the platform. 

For Metheven Bond, rider for the Ribble Collective who has represented Team GB at the UCI Gravel World Championships, this is thanks to how "approachable" the gravel scene is. 

"It's a lot more open," he told Cycling Weekly. "People aren't as snooty or uptight. I think in the the road scene sometimes, if you've not got the best gear and you've not got everything, people are afraid to go on club rides because they might feel a bit intimidated." 

Bond also explained that gravel bikes give people a greater sense of freedom. 

"For a lot of people buying a bike, if they want to get into cycling but they're not sure what to get, suddenly a gravel bike means they can try a bit of everything," he said. "They can go on the road, they can try cyclocross on it, they can try bits of mountain bike courses.

"If you get a road bike, you're stuck doing road cycling."

Last year, sales of gravel bikes bucked trends of decline in the UK market. 

According to data from the Bicycle Association, bike sales hit a new historic low in 2023. Gravel bike sales, however, were the only type up on pre-pandemic levels. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, David Ward from bike brand Giant said there has been “real growth” in the market for gravel models. 

“The most recent aluminium drop bar developments we’ve made was on the Revolt gravel bike, and we’ve done the same on the Liv Devote,” Ward explained, adding that sales of Liv gravel bikes have helped propel the brand into a market-leading position. 

Elsewhere in the Strava report, the share of users who recorded an e-bike ride in 2023 rose by 23%. Mountain biking, too, grew last year, with 13% more users logging it in an activity. 

Strava also revealed Trek, Specialized and Giant as the most popular bike brands on the platform. 

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