Gravel Bike?

This picture speaks to me. It may scream hipster to most, but personally it reminds me of 90’s mountain biking, specifically John Tomac, my hero as a young mountain biker.

Drop bars, a rear tension disc wheel, this is my dream bike. Always was, still is! American rider John Tomac was my 90’s MTB superstar. Different. Rebellious AF. He inspired me to try strange things to my bikes.

I made this post back in 2019. Interesting looking back as every bike I posted is a gravel bike.

A few years back I was visiting Nanami and her boyfriend at the time was crazy obsessed with road riding. He had a top spec Canyon aero thing, but also bought a matching (all stealth black) gravel bike. I remember laughing at it at the time. Why would you take a carbon road bike out on a trail? Even the smoothest trails I ride (Loftus Oval) has technical sections and lots of loose rock fire trails. That carbon frame would surely get damaged on the loose rock stuff and I think one stack on any technical section would be game over (and hey if you’re not stacking you’re not trying!).

Mountain Bikes are my thing, but I’ve always loved the weird and wonderful vs. pure efficiency. I’ve secretly wanted to put drop bars onto a mountain bike for ages. I think more and more these gravel bikes are becoming 90’s mountain bikes. Gravel bikes now come with disc brakes, dropper seatposts (my fave mod on my old Giant Reign) and front suspension (some now even have rear suspension!). I find it both hilarious in a “I told you so” kinda way, but ultimately I think more choice, more bikes, and getting road cyclists to get out of traffic and out riding in nature is ultimately a good thing.

You know what you’re into when you log in to YouTube. The algorithm is spitting out nothing but bike content on my front page and lots of it has been gravel bike related. I’ve really enjoyed spending countless hours researching gravel bikes over the past few weeks.

I’ve build up a titanium hardtail mountain bike before and I really struggled with it out on the trails, but it was full rigid, and I was comparing it to my dual suspended Giant Reign. I thought it felt way too sketchy out there, but I was riding with some pretty aggressive riders at the time, and in retrospect, trying to keep up with them on their suspended bikes with my hardtail was a mistake.

For the past week I’ve been excited about the idea of solo riding a retro 90’s mountain bike with a mix of modern components (front suspension, dropper seatpost and disc brakes) and drop bars out on the trails. I tracked down the bike in the image up the top. It’s a Velo Orange from the US and there’s one in my size in the country. There’s also the Surly Grappler, which is quite literally a mountain bike with drop bars. I researched the fuck out of these 2 options but in the end I think I’d rather pick up an old 90’s mountain bike off eBay Marketplace, strip it down, paint the frame and build up something on my own.

When I moved in to my new apartment I let go of so much stuff. I needed to at the time but now I’m kicking myself that I got rid of all my bike tools and spare parts (I don’t even own a set of tyre levers anymore!). There’s something really nice about supporting local business and paying the guys at the LBS to help me get my old 80’s road bike back on the road, but I personally get so much more pleasure from doing it myself.

So much time on my hands, and this obsessive compulsive side of me is out in full force once more. I’m excited about bikes again, and I laugh at how undecided I am from one day to another.

When I was planning to get back on the bike again to do social/fitness laps around Centennial Park with Nick I was so undecided between buying a “that’ll do bike” vs a dream road bike. When I showed Nick a $6K carbon aero bike I was looking at he laughed at me and suggested that’s not what I need in order to do easy laps around the park! He’s right, but want vs. need is a thing (funny enough I did have a giggle at some guys doing easy laps around Centennial Park with their full aero bikes).

I’ve gone and done something though. I’ve bought a proper trainer, and despite spending hours on eBay and Facebook Market place I’ve gone and bought a new bike. Not a new modern road bike. Not a mountain bike with drop bars, but a new gravel bike. The wildest part is, it’s not black!

It’s coming from the other side of the world so it’s going to be a while before it gets here, but I’m excited. I figure my old 80’s road bike can go on the trainer. This new gravel bike will be my fitness/social bike and my old faithful Giant Reign is begging me to take it out on the trails again (that 90’s John Tomac inspired MTB resto mod with drop bars can wait!).

This entry was posted in Bike. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>