For the past few years, gravel biking has been gaining popularity among cyclists, but lately, it's all we hear about.
You may be wondering what to bring on your epic gravel ride? Here’s our complete kit of essentials for a long day on dirt roads!
Gravel bike rides offer the unique opportunity to get off the beaten path and explore the territory like few other sports do. By using fast but versatile bikes, riders can cover great distances on less-than-ideal roads to access places hard to reach otherwise.
Get to these places can often mean a long day on the bike far from civilisation... or cell service. To avoid turning an amazing day into a shoe destroying walk of shame, better be prepared!
The absolute must for a ride should include:
Plenty of water and food
Tools to fix basic mechanical problems, mostly flats
A route and extra clothes
Here’s our checklist essentials to enjoy a day on your bike away from cars and gaz station!
If you must bring only 1 thing, bring water. On a secluded road, it can be hard to refill since there’s not necessarily a store to stop. Plan water stop on your route and bring extra water using an oversized water bottle, an extra bottle cage or an hydration bladder!
With extra volume (620ml), an isolation layer and a dust cap protecting the nozzle, our favourite option is the Camelbak Podium Dirt Series Chill.
Same goes for your food. Avoid a visit to Bonktown by feeding properly and bringing extra snacks.
You can read our article about what to eat for a bike race to get some tips from the fastest road cyclists if you're having trouble finding the right diet.
If you have ridden a bike for more than a few days, chances are, you are already used to flats. Cyclists’ kryptonite is even more probable where you’re riding on roads made of little rocks all pack together.
Even with the best tubeless-puncture-protection-cushcore-equipped tire, you might end up on the side of the road miles from the nearest bike shop.
A good way to avoid flats is to have your tire inflated properly. Read our guide how to pump bike tire and choose pressue to get out top tips on the subject!
If road cycling kits are tight and fast, they don’t offer much for imagination. When riding in remote places, we prefer to be a little more covered up.
Bring extra layers! Surprise can arrive quickly off the beaten road and the car might still be a long descent away. We suggest stuffing a Pedal Mafia vest in your back pocket or your bag to stay cozy if the ride is chillier than expected!
As you can see, getting out on a gravel epic ride means you’ll carry tons of stuff. Since there’s so much stretch to those jersey back pockets, a bag of some kind can be a life saver!
With tons of options on the market from the classic saddle bag to the novelty handlebar bag, there’s a cool way to carry most of your necessities.
For an epic day off the beaten roads, our favorite option is a small frame bag like the Blackburn Outpost! Nicely tuck inside the front triangle of the frame, these bags can fit most bikes and offer plenty of space to carry what you need. Ideally located for on-the-bike access and aerodynamics, you might end up leaving this bag permanently on your ride!
For a more lightweight option, look for a classic saddle bag. The Blackburn Grid fits well under the saddle and don’t move when it’s time to stand on the pedals!
To make the most of your day on the dirt, a clear route is a must!
Prepare your day by creating an itinerary on your mapping tool of choice and share it with the people you’ll ride with. Be sure to import the .gpx files to your head unit so you can follow along easily. Choose a bike computer with a map option like the Garmin Edge 1030 so you can see in real time where you are along the route and avoid the dreaded detour over a 5km climb.
If you’re not interested in a head unit (this is gravel bike after all), the Topeak Ridecase phone support offers a nice way to keep your phone handy while on the bike!
Sometimes, even with a clear route and a map, a challenging ride can be way longer than expected. Mechanicals, unplanned detour and other unpredictable events can keep you from completing your day by sunset.
Riding in the dark, especially on quiet roads where drivers might not expect a cyclist, can be dangerous. A good set of lights ensures you can see and be seen!
Our motto for bike lights is: “brighter is better!” That’s why we like the Blackburn Dayblazer 1000 Combo. It comes as a combo with a front and rear lights, is rechargeable and can blast 1000 lumens beam. That’s basically like having a car illuminating the road for you.
If you avoid riding in the dark and don’t want to invest in a bicycle light set, consider applying Glint reflective stickers to your frame and wheels. These reflective strips help ensure you’re visible in low light conditions.
Unless you like a dirty car and a squeaky chain, cleaning your bike after a long gravel ride is essential!
The grit from the dirt roads, mixed with moisture from... well probably your sweat, can accelerate the wear and tear on your equipment. Make sure your drivetrain is clean and lubed before the ride using a good quality oil.
Our go to is the Oxford Wet Weather Lube design for wet weather performance. Bring a rag and some water to wipe off the dirt from your bike after the ride and consider a good clean when you get home.
Our favorite cleaning products for a sparkling ride is the Finish Line Super Bike Wash, mainly because it is strong enough to remove surface grime off the drivetrain and safe enough to remove all the grime that builds upon the frame, saddle, brakes, and handlebar tape.
If you’re not use to cleaning your bicycle, check our article about how to wash your bike and give some love to your ride!
Here you have it! All the essentials for a successful day out on exploring quiet dirt roads on your bike. It’s time to call your friend and start planning for that big week-end ride!
If you’re still looking for a bike of your own, check our pre-loved gravel bikes!
Big Red Gravel Run is a race almost entirely on private gravel roads and country lanes. This makes the event attractive because these roads are normally inaccessible and fenced off. This 130-kilometre race with 1,750 metres of positive elevation gain is an event not to be missed.