Choose your Dirty Boar weapon
Back in 2017 we wrote a small article about the best bike-setup for our Gravel Ride. With the experiences from our first edition, we have now updated this article. So here is the new and improved "choose your Dirty Boar weapon".
Because it's a pretty long ride, you need to be properly trained. And you also need to be strong mentally (especially if the weather is bad like it was in 2017). But if you're bike isn't suitable you are going to suffer more. So here are some top tips about the best bike-setup:
What kind of bike?
Our Gravel Ride is open to all kinds of bikes, as long as they are suited to go off-road. So you can ride a gravel bike, cross bike, mountainbike (with suspension or hardtail), adventure bike, trekking bike.... During our first edition we have seen all these kinds of bikes at the start line. Most riders used the gravel & cross bike. This is also our preferred choice because the route mostly consists of fast rolling gravel roads.
If you are looking for a (new) bike: take a look at Bombtrack because they have a lot of bikes that are ready for some gravel/ adventure.
And these tips also apply for our bikepacker. You just have to make sure you have enough room to put your bags/bidons.
The most important part(s) of the bike are the tyres. Most of the ride will be on hard-packed dirt or gravel roads (and they DON'T turn into mud when it rains).
We recommend AT LEAST 32-33mm cyclocross tyres. If you are able to fit bigger tyres (36-43mm) you will have a more comfortable ride - which will save energy that you might need towards the end of the ride.
For our bikepacker we recommend you fit at least 40mm tyres because of the extra weight of your bags (and the track might also be a bit rougher at certain places).
Because it's hard-packed gravel, the tyre profile doesn't need to be rough. Most of the roads will be hard-packed so, even when it rains a lot (like in 2017), you don't need mud-profile. A diamond-shape or small knobble profile should be enough (some people even used semi-slick tyres in 2017). If possible some extra knobs at the edge of the profile will help you if the corners should be slippery.
Some of the Ritchey adventure tyres
If your rims are tubeless (or tubeless-compatible), then we recommend to go tubeless. But if you don't have tubeless wheels, then just ride what you have. You won't find a lot of sections with big rocks, so you should also be fine with regular clinchers and the right pressure. If you are looking for a (new) tubeless wheelset we can recommend the Zeta Disc wheelset
What about those flared dropbars ?
Ritchey makes some specific (flared) dropbars for gravelbikes. In our opinion these flared dropbars gives you 2 advantages:
Rim or disc breaks?
Disc breaks are the preferred choice. We know people who rode it with rim brakes BUT they need to be in PERFECT working condition!
In 2017, due to the rainy condition, a lot of people rode the last 20-30km without a front or rear (disc) brake due to the rainy conditions. Therefore we strongly recommend you bring a spare set of brake pads (doesn't matter if you use disc or rim brakes).
For our bikepacker we hghly recommend you have disc brakes because of the extra weight.
How many gears do I need to bring?
Bring anything you want: 1x11; 2x10/11; 3x10/11; and even singlespeed (most singlespeed riders used a gear between 39-18 and 39-20)! There will be some climbing, but you should be fine with a standard set-up for off-road/cross. For our bikepacker you will need to keep in mind the extra weight of your bags.
What about suspension?
If set to the right pressure, the tyres will already give some suspension. And the wider the tyre, the more suspenion (even more when tubeless). But if you want the best comfort, then we can highly recommend the Lauf forks. They give great comfort with minimal extra weight (and they are maintenance free).
We have been testing them ourselves the last year and we just love them. Your body/arms/hands doens't get beaten up that much. BUT what we find the most important: the front tyre stays in contact with the ground so you always have control of your bike, also in those rocky descends.
Should I be able to carry a lot of supplies (food, drinks, spares) on my bike?
Not more than you usually do when you go for a long (>70km) off-road ride by yourself. But be sure to check our recommendations about what to bring at the bottom of the event page. Check out Lezyne if you are in need of a tool, pump....
You probably won't be able to stuff everything in your jersey pockets, so a frame/saddle bag or a light backpack is a good thing to have.
Because we start early in the morning, you might be starting with some extra layers which you probably want to take off if the temperature rises during the day. Then this saddle/frame bag or backpack will come in handy. Vaude Store Leuven has a great set.
A feedbag next to your handlebar is also very usefull for those snacks (or a battery to charge your gps) while riding.
Want to test man/woman and machine?
Click here for some training rides..
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