The appeal of Gravel

Gravel bikes and gravel tours with racing bikes have been absolute mainstream since last year at the latest. However, it took me a little longer to understand what Gravel actually means. Or rather, how I interpreted Gravel for me.

Gravel bikes in Hamburg can now be seen on every corner, not only in the forest or on bikepacking tours. That Gravel bike in Hamburg the ultimate commuting bike become. Many of you have certainly found a different way to gravel biking than I have and that's the nice thing. One comes more from road cycling, another more from mountain biking and maybe others from hiking.

How I got into Gravel Biking

The loyal readers of my blog know me and know that I come more from pure racing cycling. Shoot, shoot, shoot and get faster at all costs. At some point, however, the distances became longer. Vätternrundan, MSR300 and Burning Road were driven on and I was always nice and brisk in the matter. Somehow I always wanted more and then the general one came to me bikepacking trend

From bikepacking to gravel

Last year it was time. I put my carbon aero racer in the garage and my old one cyclo crossers with 25mm road bike tyres was made afloat because I wanted one simple racing bike take with you on the trip. No electronic shifting, no fear of carbon and also no fear of overloading the racing bike.

My old Crosser from Centurion is simply furnished. All aluminium, mechanical disc brakes and a Tiagra gearshift from Shimano. In the end I had a total weight (rider, racing bike and luggage) of 115kg, although my aero could easily have swallowed it, but I didn't have to worry about it. My travelogue to mine Bikepacking tour from Hamburg to Riva del Garda, could you read here or listen to my podcast (iTunes / Spotify).

Departure in the most beautiful bikepacking weather
Departure in the most beautiful bikepacking weather

On my bikepacking tour I definitely learned to love cycling again. At first I was still quite rushed on the road. Many kilometers and only roads. After my Komoot route on the third day sent me back onto roads that were simply too big for me, I replanned my route during the stage and simply switched from planning for a racing bike to planning for a normal bike. From then on I had about 60% gravel on my stages. I felt freer and no longer under so much pressure to cover as many kilometers as quickly as possible in a day.


That's why so many love Gravel

I'm leaning a bit out of the window, but I think that's exactly the reason for the many new Gravel fans. It's more of a hike through the countryside than that. hunts. Of course, I'm also sporty when gravelling, but far beyond that 30s cut. Better air and peace on quiet forest paths do the rest and as a cyclist you can quickly get out of everyday life.

Enjoy the landscape instead of worrying about cars

I'm sure you know that, actually you get annoyed with at least one driver on every exit. But there are no cars in the forest. On my tour through the Alps, a cow used to stand on the path and I had to wait a few minutes. But you don't get angry about that, you do. is happy about this nice situation for big city dwellers.

These are the moments when I fell in love with gravel!

Gravel travel

This resulted in a subcategory, so to speak, namely Gravel travel. So bikepacking is limited to gravel routes. In the meantime, I plan many of my tours on as much gravel surface as possible to bring variety to my everyday training and I was really surprised at the beginning how quickly you can get on gravel and do nice laps even in a big city like Hamburg.

There are now films and lecture series about gravel tours and there are already commercial providers Gravel trips offer. For me, the appeal of bikepacking and gravel is actually not planning anything, except the direction, but there are also more insecure contemporaries who need some guidance first. At the latest on the second planned trip, however, everyone will definitely be driving alone.

In autumn 2020 - in the last weeks of October - I started my next journey. This time I took the train to Lake Constance and from there only the Lake Konigsee Cycle Path and then Corona Freestyle northbound. At the end of October the days were shorter and, above all, it was significantly colder, so I only stayed in guesthouses. Was great fun!

Bikepacking in times of Corona
Bikepacking in times of Corona

Gravel bike

As you probably all know, there is now a separate Gravel Bike genre. To this day, I still don't understand exactly where the difference to the cyclocrosser lies, except for the wider tires on one Gravel bike are classically installed. In 2020 there was hardly a Gravel Bike available from dealers in Hamburg.

  • Gravel kept breaking up like crazy
  • Everyone wants to ride a bike through Corona
  • Gravel bikes are so versatile that it's a good investment

Typical features of a gravel bike

  • Disc brakes
  • Mount for wide tires (mountain bike tires are often mounted)
  • A more relaxed ergonomics
  • Material with good spring properties
  • Drop handlebars wider at the ends than at the top

And that's pretty much it, until the wider tires were actually like a cyclocrosser, right? Mountain bike tires would be too wide for me personally, even on a gravel bike, you don't just ride gravel.

My gravel setup

As already mentioned, my cyclocrosser currently has a 25mm Continental GP5000. But it shouldn't stay that way. In the long run I would like to put a 30mm tire on it when traveling to get a little more comfort and safety. I have now ordered an everyday bike that I would also like to use for Gravel trips: A Canyon Roadlite AL 7.0. I'm still waiting, but my new piece has to come within the next week.

I ordered a simple model.

  • Aluminum frame
  • 105 Shimano equipment
  • 30mm Schwalbe G-One tires

I'm really excited to see how cycling will turn out. It's actually a racing bike with straight handlebars and slightly wider tires. I also plan to ride a few gravel tours by bike, just for a change and a little more comfortable. I'll do a few parts of the route Hans Gravel target and do not expect that I will be slower with the Roadlite than with the road bike. The road bike only has advantages on the road.


I can't answer whether it's worth buying a Gravel capable bike for you. Would you like to try bikepacking / gravel trips? DEFINITELY! Keep in mind that you won't be able to cover as many kilometers on gravel as on the road. But that's not the point! Enjoy the landscape, enjoy the peace, just enjoy your life! Because that's exactly what gravel or bikepacking is for me. Pure enjoyment and freedom await you if you dare. But always be careful, you might get addicted 😉

If you have any questions, ideas or tips, you can always send me a message to info[at], I look forward to hearing from you.