The Pros And (not so) Cons Of Owning A Gravel Bike

Adventure racing is taking SA by storm. Here's why you should own a gravel grinder, but also why there could be pitfall.

David Moseley |


One = two

Get your gravel grinder and a set of road wheels, and you solve storage problems. If you prefer off-road riding but also enjoy the odd road race, then it makes sense to have one bike that can transform into two – rather than having two, with one gathering dust for most of the year.

Steel yourself

Gravel riding is the perfect opportunity to purchase a steel frame. “The SOMA Wolverine is a steel-frame bike,” says David Malan. “These frames are more springy than carbon or aluminium, which is what you want on the gravel. Even though the bikes don’t have suspension, the frame acts as suspension for you, with no comfort sacrifice.”

No limits

“I see so many more gravel-type bikes on the mountain now,” says Stan Engelbrecht. “That tells me people are ‘getting’ it – which is to say, you really can ride anywhere on these bikes.”

Karmic calm

The gravel bike also lends itself to a more soulful experience. With no dropper post or dual suspension there’s less incentive, on your weekend jolly, to pretend you’re Greg Minnaar. Simply saddle up and head into the unknown (or to the nearest coffee shop) at a sedate and gentlemanly pace.


No shock services, no dropper-post malfunctions, no cracked carbon frame, no tube changes. To quote Freddy Mercury: get on your bike and ride (from Fat Bottomed Girls… not Bicycling Race!).


Choice assortment

Choosing a bike may be bewildering, as more and more options are starting to present themselves.

Opportunity cost

There’s no real gravel trail network to speak of yet (but then, that’s the beauty of exploring).

False diagnosis

Your riding buddies will think you’re mad – until they’ve experienced the joyful simplicity of gravel grinding for themselves.

Mistaken identity

There’s the potential for you to be seen as a fringe hipster lunatic, because there’s no race for you to win.

Closed door

It’ll be tough to sell the ‘I really need this bike’ line to the missus ever again, after she reads the above and learns that the gravel grinder is so very versatile.


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