What is a Gravel Bike?

Bikes come in all shapes and flavours, finding the best bike for your riding style is key to enjoying the sport. Gravel bikes take bits from mountain, road and cyclocross designs to create a bike that is lightweight and versatile - ready for your next adventure.

Gravel bike popularity has shot up in recent years, due to their ability to be ridden fast on roads whilst being capable on dirt paths, gravel tracks and light trails. Dropped bars come from the road world, but with wider tyre clearances and slacker geometry you get a more relaxed ride that is comfortable across varied terrain.



Gravel bikes are designed to take on all sorts of terrain, and whilst their frames may look like many road bikes there are some key differences. Gravel frames usually have slacker angles for increased stability, and a longer wheelbase too. A more upright riding position is also common, with shorter reach and a longer headtube - this all contributes to a more comfortable position for most riders.

When it comes to the design of the frame, often they are designed to cushion the ride with specific shapes for the rear triangle, chainstays and seatstays to improve comfort.

It is worth checking the specific bike geometry and try to match it to your preferred riding location, as some are best suited to more off-road use, whereas others are a little closer to riding an endurance bike.



Like road and mountain bikes, you’ll find gravel bikes made from all the common materials – carbon, aluminium, steel and titanium. Each material will have its own unique properties, and each frame design and shape will be made to work with these. Carbon is excellent if you want a high performing gravel bike that is lightweight and quick, yet still dulls the buzz of gravel tracks – however the weight limits on frame bosses do mean they may not be the best choice for bike packing.

Aluminium frames tend to be cheaper and offer excellent durability and a lightweight build for a great price. Titanium tends to be quite expensive, but the properties of this material suit gravel riding well and most people will say a titanium frame is a bike for life. Steel is heavier, but easier to fix and offer a different ride quality over any of the above, being compliant and comfortable as well as strong.



Gears on gravel bikes often come down to personal preference, you have bikes equipped with road bike groupsets alongside newer gravel specific groupsets. A lot of the newer gravel groupsets come with a 1x system, doing away with a double front chainring for simplicity, durability and ease of maintenance. 2x gravel groupsets are perfect for those wanting more range and finer shifts, but for most riders a good 1x system is more than enough.

1x groupsets often feature a narrow-wide chainring, this alternating profile helps keep the chain locked in to the chainring when the trail gets bumpier; Paired with a clutched rear derailleur, you should have a lot fewer dropped chain incidents compared with a road specific 2x groupset.



Disc brakes come on all Orro bikes and are fitted to nearly all gravel bikes currently available. Disc brakes work more efficiently than rim brakes, especially when there is water or dirt involved – so they are the perfect choice when it comes to gravel riding. Hydraulic setups will give you plenty of power and modulation to slow you down when needed and the placement of the brakes also leave more space for tyre clearance.



Gravel bikes tend to have dropped bars, very similar to those found on road bikes, this gives them an advantage when riding on smoother roads and tracks over straight bars. What is different is that gravel bikes often feature flared handlebars that offer a wider stance in the drops for increased stability.


Racks and Mounts

Gravel bikes and bike packing go hand in hand, they are the most popular kind of bike for this kind of adventure. Gravel frames usually have more mounting points than other bikes, perfect for strapping on mudguards, bags, racks and accessories. Carbon frames do have limits on the weights they can carry, so a steel, titanium or aluminium frame may be more suited to your needs if you plan to strap a lot to your bike.

Another reason why people use gravel bikes for bike packing is the comfort aspect, the frames are designed to dull the buzz of rough roads and offer a more upright position with wide gearing for easy climbing - this means more time riding without fatigue.



Tyres are key to comfort and ride quality, for gravel riding you need grip along with low rolling resistance for those faster sections. 38-40mm tends to be the standard for most gravel bikes but if you do more off-road then you can fit slightly wider, more knobbly ones, whereas if you cycle more roads, you can fit narrower, smoother tyres. You could eventually have two wheelsets too, with different tyres for different rides.

Tubeless is quickly becoming the norm too, and for gravel riding it is a great choice, lower risk of punctures and the ability to run lower pressures helps with durability as well as comfort.


Choose Your Orro Gravel Bike

Hopefully this guide helped you understand what gravel bikes are, here at Orro we offer quite a few different models to suit different purposes.

Orro Terra C Gravel Bike 

The Orro Terra C is our performance model, with a full carbon frame and fork it is lightweight, with interwoven innegra fibres for added strength in key areas. The Terra C comes in a variety of groupsets to suit all needs, and it still has multiple mounting points for bottle cages and racks (however there is a weight limit of 5kg per frame boss).

Orro Terra S Gravel Bike

is our steel frame model, with classic steel handling characteristics along with modern geometry and features, it’s a real joy to ride – perfect for long leisure riding with mounts to suit all your bike packing needs.

Orro Terra X Gravel Bike

The Terra X is made of aluminium, the perfect entry into gravel riding or using as a commuter/winter bike. It has a carbon fork to reduce vibrations from the trail and comes with either the 2x10 GRX400 groupset, or the 1x11 GRX600 groupset. This bike is excellent value, sharing the same geometry as our ever-popular Terra C.

Orro Terra E Gravel Bike 

The Orro Terra E is our only electric gravel bike, using the FSA HM1 hub-drive system it keeps the weight down so you can ride it without any assist, yet the motor provides up to 50 miles of range for help on the climbs. Ideal for commuting as well, allowing you to get to work without all the effort associated with a normal bike.