Why are road cyclists riding gravel bikes when hardtails could be faster?

Of course, which bike is faster depends upon the make-up of the trails ridden, and the skill of the rider. How do we explain situations where we choose to use them over a more suited bike?

(Image credit: Michelle Arthurs Brennan)

I remember writing about the 'brand new adventure bike' genre. It must have been some time around 2014. The response was largely negative: 'but this is just a cyclocross bike!', 'the industry is just trying to sell us more bikes!' (well, yes) and 'I've been adventuring for 30 years on 23c tyres,' (congrats on your excellent handling skills).

Not long after I took a spin on Evans Cycles' Pinnacle Arkose adventure bike, following its transition from a cyclocross beast. I remember noticing some nuances in handling and discussing fork offset, trail and head angles with bike designer James Olsen (formerly of Genesis bikes such as the Croix De Fer). It was before my bike reviewing days but I still maintain it's better to notice the change, and then work out how it came about, than let the process unfold the other way round. That way you know without a doubt what you're feeling is not a jaded affirmation of a cleverly constructed piece of product copywriting. My point is that the two breeds of Pinnacle were different, albeit the tailoring subtle.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan the Editor of Cycling Weekly website. An NCTJ qualified traditional journalist by trade, Michelle began her career working for local newspapers. She's worked within the cycling industry since 2012, and joined the Cycling Weekly team in 2017, having previously been Editor at Total Women's Cycling. Prior to welcoming her daughter in 2022, Michelle raced on the road, track, and in time trials, and still rides as much as she can - albeit a fair proportion indoors, for now.