Get More From Your Gravel Bike | Upgrades For Your Ride


– We’ve covered how to
choose your gravel bike. We’ve even covered some
of the trickier choices, like should you run one-by or two-by? But what about upgrading your bike? In the last of this series,
with Shimano’s GRX groupset we’re going to be looking
at doing exactly that. Oh, and if you’re a traditionalist, you better watch out. (upbeat music) You see, I happen to think
that riding any bikes off road is a lot of fun. But I can’t help but wonder,
when I’m riding my gravel bike, if I could be having even more fun if the bike was just that
little bit more capable. So how do we keep the bike
light, fast, and agile as it currently is whilst adding more speed and
confidence on the rough stuff? I’ve got a few ideas and it
starts with the dropper post. If you are a traditionalist,
now is the time to look away. There’s a lot of crossover from
the world of mountain biking to the world of gravel. Take the rear mech on the
GRX groupset for a start, with its clutched mechanism
and capacity to run a mountain bike cassette. That’s not what I’m talking
about right now, though. I’m talking about the dropper post, one of the greatest inventions to come from the world of mountain
biking in recent years. It’s a simple concept. You press a lever on the handlebar and your seat post can
be raised or lowered at the click of a button. And you cannot argue that when your saddle’s
down and out of the way, you have a little bit more agility around the top of the bike, enabling you to tackle steeper
descents with greater ease. Yes okay, many people will
argue that it isn’t necessary and you can probably tackle
almost the same sort of terrain with the saddle there, but it just makes everything that little bit more comfortable, giving you that little
bit more confidence. Fitting a dropper post to a bike is actually relatively simple. I mean, to make it even easier, you can even have an
externally routed cable, although this one- and on gravel bikes these
days, especially with one-by- we’ve managed to run it internally all the way to the base
of the dropper post. And what’s even better than that is because of the GRX system, I don’t actually need to add
an extra lever to my bars because I can just use that
shifter to actuate the dropper. So it keeps it all looking
really sleek and really smart. You’ll probably notice that
you won’t be able to put any old dropper in your gravel bike. And that’s because the seat
tube diameter is not the same as in a mountain bike. This PRO Koryak one offers 70-milli drop and it come with a 27.2-millimeter clamp. And I think it’s actually
perfect for a gravel bike because it’s not the position of the bike that’s limiting what sort
of terrain you can ride. It’s actually the tires and the braking that you get from the tires. But, having a dropper
with just 70-milli drop will enable you to move around on the bike that little bit easier, so you could potentially
tackle something steeper. But I think the real advantage comes when you’re spending
a long, long day on the bike with a few technical trails. It just offers you a
little bit of movement, meaning that you can get the saddle out of the way of your bum and just relieve and it becomes
more comfortable that way. Let’s talk you through
really quickly how I did it. I exposed the internals on
the Durex lever over here, threaded my inner cable through. And at that point, I then
put the entire outer cable over the inner cable, inserted them both into the down tube. And at this point I pulled
the cranks out the bike but it turns out I didn’t need to do that because this bike has a
rubber kind of a bong, a port underneath it which gives me access to
everything underneath there. It then goes up the seat tube, attaches into the dropper post here, which is where it’s actuated, clamp the cable to the
actuator on the dropper post and then cut off the rest. Cranks back on and it’s now ready to go. And I’m really pleased with it. It’s taken less than 30 minutes and, as I said before, I
was really expecting that to be a tough job, but it wasn’t. It’s all very well being
able to move around on your bike with more ease, but if you are riding more aggressively, you’ll probably want to
consider a wider tire to increase your margin for error. And if you’re getting new tires, I absolutely recommend
setting them up tubelessly. And if you’re doing both of those things, you’ll need to consider
your rim compatibility. You’ll need a sealed rim
to run a tubeless setup and you’ll also need to
consider the type of hook- the interface between
the rim and the tire- is suitable for a tubeless setup. The Shimano RX570 over there
has both of those things and it’s also got a slightly
wider internal rim width, meaning it’ll increase
the volume of your tire. Even if you can’t run a really wide tire on your gravel bike, I still recommend going
for a wider rim bed as this will increase
the volume of your tire. For example, the tire over
there is a 38-millimeter but because it’s on a wider rim bed, it actually measures wider than these 40-millimeter tires over here. And quite a lot as well. And that’s only going to increase your confidence on the descent. Another design feature from the
world of mountain biking now and that’s a set of really wide bars. You’ve probably noticed that if you look at mountain bikes now, the bars look- some of
them look ridiculous. Over 800 millimeters wide. I’m not recommending you
put them on a gravel bike because you’ll simply
be really, really slow. You won’t be aero at all and you’ll really notice that
on the fast bits of road. Instead, go for a compromise. Something like the Discover Big Flare Bar which has a 30-degree flare
from the hood down to the drops, meaning I’m still relatively
aero up here in the hood for the fast bits, but when I want more control,
I want to go down a descent, I’ve got the big, wide grip on the drops and I still have access
to my brakes down here. Another feature about this bar is that, because of this flare, I’m not going to be hitting my
wrists on the top of the bars when the going gets
really rough and bumpy. And then because the bar is
just that little bit wider, I also have space for an
extra pair of brake levers up on the flats as well. If you are running a wider pair of bars, you may want to consider
running a shorter stem to keep your effective reach to the hood exactly the same as it was before. Or, another reason to run a shorter stem would be to increase the agility on the steeper, more technical descents. All of that said, if you’re doing a longer,
less technical event, you may want to keep
a slightly longer stem just to increase the
stability of your front end. Now, it may sound a little bit dull but if you’re upgrading your gravel bike and you want to make sure
it’s really up to the job, you should probably consider your gearing. If you have an older gravel
bike or a cyclocross bike, there’s a chance you’ve got a
standard road compact setup, with a 34 up front and
a 28 or a 30 out back. And that’s pretty good for most things but if you want to tackle some
really challenging terrain, you may want to consider
lowering your first gear. So going from something like
a 34, which we have here, up to something as big as a 40- you know, a mountain-bike-style cassette. That’s relatively inexpensive to do but only if you’ve got the right equipment in the first place. Otherwise, you may have to consider replacing your rear mech as well. Or, you could go for a super
compact front chainring setup. We’ve got a 31 up there
on the GRX group set although Shimano do say
that is only compatible with the GRX front derailleur. And that’s all to do with
the spacing from the frame. For me, riding a bike should
all be about ease of control and there’s no better way to gain more control over your
bike for less effort than going for some super
tacky bar tape or grips. That means you can put more
effort into controlling the bike and actually steering it, and less effort into grabbing hold tight and more effort into
modulating your brakes more effectively. I’ve used the bar tape that’s
already underneath here. I’ve wrapped a new layer over the top, which immediately makes the bike look that little bit fresher, and it also gains a little
bit of vibration damping through the double layer of bar tape. Now at this point, you might also notice that my dropper cable is quite long. And that’s because I’m not the
only person using this bike. Dan and Cy also make regular use of it and if you haven’t noticed, their legs are quite a
lot longer than mine, meaning the saddle will have to go up which will pull that cable through and make it look just right when it’s at their saddle height. If you are making all of these upgrades to make your bike that
little bit faster off road and riding it more aggressively, there’s one final upgrade which
I think you should consider. And that’s a little bit of
protection for your frame. Something on the down tube to protect against debris flying up and maybe just some see-through tape over the frame to protect your paintwork, help prevent the carbon from chipping, or the aluminum from denting. Let us know what gravel
upgrades you’ve ever made in the comments down below or let us know which one
you think is the best and the most worthwhile. If you enjoyed this video,
give it a big thumbs up and for more content right now, click just down there.

100 thoughts on “Get More From Your Gravel Bike | Upgrades For Your Ride

  1. Gravel bike updates:
    Straight handlebar for better stability.
    Wider tires for more grip and comfort.
    Suspension for better performance off road.
    Dropper post for easier descents.
    Wait…

  2. When I first saw a herd of mountainbikers with these extremely wide handlebars, I thought they were on a broomstick delivery. MTB seems to be like hip hop: looking like s**t is paramount!

  3. Wide Range 1x!!!!! I ended up with a 36t front ring, GRX rear mech, and a 9-46 e*thirteen 11-speed cassette with a 511% range. Now I can take my time, spin up those steep hills, ride longer and still have enough top end for road riding with slicks. LOVE IT!!!!

  4. Еее, гревел сила. Снято круто. Надо свой скилл тоже подтягивать 🙂

  5. Installed a small dropper on my gravel bike a year ago. Use it just about every ride. Confidence when the going gets chunky.

  6. And a gravel ride is always gonna be a bit more gnarly if you don't shave that morning. Best to look like you're riding all the way to Tucson before sunset.

  7. My upgrades for my do it all Cervelo Aspero RX:
    – Cervelo AB06 aero road bars (42cm)
    – Zipp 303 with 28 GP5000 for road
    – DA 11-30 cassette
    – Carbon seat post
    – Speci Power saddle
    – 52/36 chainrings
    I can race cat 2 road on this setup and then swap tires for gravel/CX or throw on the Easton’s with the 40mm X’plors tubeless.

  8. Whatever upgrade we do to our bikes is good as long as it encourages us to ride more. Don't mind what other people think. Do it and ride.

  9. My gravel upgrade was just buying a MTB… Because they're more capable… more affordable.. and a MTB doesn't put you in an awkward forward-lean with a top-tube that's parallel to the ground.

  10. Get some affordable/used 27.5 inch / 650b wheels, mount some off-road tyres and you'll have even more confidence off-road or on wet grass.
    Continental Mud King in 27.5×1.8 work well in wet conditions. Conti Race King in 27.5×2.0 works even well on tarmac (won't fit into every gravel bike). Panaracer Gravel King slicks in 650b / 48mm will smooth out the roughness of most gravel roads and they're perfect on tarmac.

  11. Be sure to check our old cross bike to see what kind of tire clearance it has. I have a 2010 Giant TCX and it was able to take 400mm WTB Nano tires. So now I have a cross bike, gravel bike and winter road bike all in one.

  12. Upgrades for my Canyon Gravel: two sets of wheels: road with 28 mm slick tubeless and 650B rims with WTB 47 mm all terrain tires, 11-40 MTB cassette on 650B wheels, absolute black oval chainrings. These different set ups let me enjoying both road and off road adventures.

  13. You guys need to upload More gravel bike videos, especially during the winter months. Let us in the awful weather dream a bit.

  14. Yeah on my Canyon Inflite AL SLX I got some scratches on the beautiful blue paint already >.< tsk tsk.. still in time to put some tape on the downtube before it gets worse. At least it means I'm using it. And I'm changing that 40 x 11-36 from cx to a 44 x 11-42 just to give it that little extra top speed on road and tiny bit of better low-end too (could go for a 42 x 11-42 but I like roads a lot :D)

  15. Frame protection from day one, 38mm tyres, and handle bar tape. I've been talking myself out of wanting a dropper post though ^_^

  16. Flat bars for me. I know most people will say that is not the point of a gravel bike, but it works for me. It doubles as a commute bike in winter and flat bars are much more comfortable in traffic.

  17. Trek checkpoint SL5 added pro discover 12degree flare, Pro stealth saddle, GRX 2×11 with a wolf tooth road link on the rear derailleur which allowed the addition of a 11×40 cassette.

  18. Absolutely agree with the dropper post. I don't know how many times I've been going down to descent and getting dumped in the arse. Nearly sends me flying over the bars. I want that dropper post like Uncle Rico wants to sell Tupperware.

  19. If you ride your gravel bike on the road, make sure to make use of the dropper during a fast descent. Your dropper post is now an aero-post.

    You can also use it at stop lights, so you no longer have to stand (like a peasant).

  20. Here's my list of upgrades that had the biggest impact on my speed and comfort. My bike is a Niner RLT 9 RDO.
    High volume, low rolling resistance, high grip tires: WTB Resolute 42's may be the best all around gravel tire. They're incredible versatile and can take anything from pavement to singletrack. They're also relatively light considering their size and durability.
    Light yet vertically compliant wheels: Stan's Grail CB7's are super light and offer enough compliance that they make a noticeable impact on hand/body fatigue on longer rides.
    A comfortable saddle: Subjective and personal, but I've found the Ergon SR to be exceptional. The shell has enough give that it helps to absorb vibration and impacts on rougher roads.
    Bar Tape: Fizik's adventure line of tape is grippy, durable and comfortable.
    Data and Safety: Edge 830 helps with being confidently adventurous on rides, knowing I can always find my way home is a huge plus when exploring gravel roads. Loading a course and using ClimbPro is a gamechanger when racing. I added a Garmin Varia RTL510 radar and it lets me confidently ride on gravel roads (since there's never a shoulder, you're nearly always in a tire path) without being surprised by traffic coming up from behind.

    Next on my list are more comfortable bars.

  21. As my gravel bike is also my daily commuter, so I can take on a couple of gravel paths along the way, so full length mudguards have been fitted, and I have put my Brooks saddle on it. (neither have helped with weight, but offer increased comfort and practicality)

  22. The first thing I upgraded was my tires to tubeless and a minimal tread as I tend to do gravel with single track. Second was a carbon seatpost to take a little bumpiness out that the Aluminum one had. I like the bar tape idea and think I'll give that a shot as well, my tape is cushioned now, but I can imagine doubled it would be that much nicer! Thanks for the video Chris, great ideas!

  23. It looks like Chris did a faceplant on a hedgehog and it died there. Which is so not aerodynamic!! Best leave them for Dan (and me) and uncover that handsome mug again.

  24. I run Ultegra D12 50/34 with an 11/42 casette on my gravel bike. Gives me the range i want for both road and very hilly terrain and the jump sizes are ok for me, although, I can see why people might not like like the last couple of jumps when going to the largest cogs.

  25. some years from now gravel bikes will become overcomplicated and kind of boring as some MTBs and a new trend will rise again… muahahahaha…

  26. I upgrade from a Sram Rival mid-cage rear derailleur with a rival compact road double to a Sram GX long cage with the compact road double. Can now run 38t in the back. Next upgrade for me is going to be getting a wolftooth roadlink(only like $21 so it's a budget upgrade) so I can get 42t in the back when it's time for a new cassette. I did upgrade to a 29er Raceface AR 25 internal width XC rims up from a 29er WTB 21i rims. It''s about the same weight for wider & strong XC rims but I feel like same 50mm tires run better on them.

  27. I have a Coast suspension dropper post from PNW Components and it is absolutely wonderful. It has 40 mils (suspension) of travel that absorbs those high impact bumps, saving your bum and other sensitive areas. The 27.2 version has 100 mils of travel while the other sizes have 120. A dropper post is kind of like proper cycling kit or cell phones. Before you have it, you don't know why you need it or understand the necessity, but after you have it, it's hard to imagine life without one. https://www.pnwcomponents.com/products/coast-suspension-dropper-post-external

  28. 28mm knobby tires, 38cm drop bars, aero bars, slammed stem. Then again, my "gravel bike" is a carbon fiber climbing bike (from 2011), and was the only bike I had that could actually fit the 28mm tires.

    It worked great. My gravel race was on typical American gravel roads, and the 28s were perfect. I showed up in a skinsuit and a TT helmet, and I looked like I was crazy. But I had all kinds of speed over everyone else!

  29. While using my dropper on a Santa Cruz about 3 years ago, I pondered the use of a dropper post on a CX or gravel bike and using the left drop bar shifter to actuate it. Bottom line, I should have taken that idea to the drawing board. Face meets palm.

  30. Nice vid. How fortunate are we today with manufacturers making so many options and possibilities? BTW, Salsa Cow Chipper bars are a great upgrade for a gravel ride.

  31. i upgraded my bars to a Spank vibrocore flare. Not as cushy as getting a Lauf fork but, I could really feel the difference on really fast bump descents. Also, WAYYYYY less expensive than a Lauf 😉

  32. This cross over road/MTB stuff is great on this channel….I've been riding off-road on drop bars for over 4 years but still use my 26 and 29ers along with my CX and gravel bikes……Around my area (radius 20 miles), I've only ever seem one bloke on a CX bike doing the same stuff as me as it's all roadies and the odd MTBer here……

    Saying that, I've upgraded my CX bike with a shorter stem. flared gravel bars, MTB saddle, straighter seatpost (non dropper) and 42mm tyres and it works way better than the original spec and still runs a compact crank 34t inner ring and a 32t cassette at the rear and it's fine apart from uphill grassy bridleways into a stiff headwind. My gravel bike (more relaxed geometry), however, is lower gearing with a 32t inner ring and 32t cassette and it feels way more like an old rigid MTB and that small difference in inner chainring is noticeable compared to the CX bike. I am though, considering going 1x on the gravel bike with a 36 or 38 up front and an 11-36 or 40 at the rear (10 speed) as I'm used to riding 1x on both my MTB's…..That's the joy of biking though…..those little changes that can improve a bike….Going 1x on the gravel bike might mean a new rear clutch mech but I haven't had a dropped chain yet on my 26er conversion…..One of those things.

    Best upgrades for a drop bar off-road bike is, as stated above, wide bars, short stem and the fattest tyres you can use……as for a dropper post….I haven't even got one on my MTB's but would add that on a secondary list even for the gravel bike…..

  33. I don’t need to upgrade my gravel bike. I ride everyday rain or shine. If it’s super cold I ride less miles and I started running too the best upgrade u can do is yourself, the rider. I like zooming pass people on $4k n higher bikes with my Shimano Sora drivetrain

  34. What about making the gravel bike more “road” capable. As a MTB rider and I’m looking to buy a gravel for my urban/road/gravel riding. And also because I will start to run triathlon on 2020. And a gravel seems like a really versatile bike for that use. Maybe with 2 sets of tyres or full wheels and clip on aero bars for the triathlon.

  35. Hi guys! Amazing show as always. What if I would like to rock a dropper post with a 2x drivetrain on a Shimano Di2? Another question, am I able to control the dropper post via a satelite/sprinter's shifter?

    #AskGCNTech

  36. usually enjoy your videos however I found this video poor and potentially very misleading as the advice given wasn't very good

  37. Probably not what you mean with this video but…… I've converted my Boardman CX Team gravel to my winter commuter with 32mm gatorskin tyres, mudguards and double bar tape. Quite simply perfect for winter commuting and riding. So much better than a MTB or roadie for this time of year

  38. I honestly should have knows about the protection bits before I started riding my gravel bike. 😉 Well, at least the battle scars now all tell a story. 😉

  39. Nice video. Recently moved my gravel to 1x system. And found out that my rear mech should be replaced… Clutch is an absolute must have. Question – is GRX 812 (40 teeth cassete) compatible with 105 7000 leavers? I know that 810 is, but what about 812? Currently I am running 34 cassette, but would be nice to have some room in case I will need a bigger one…

  40. The best upgrade for my gravel bike was 46/30 chainrings (from 50/34) and 3T gravel handlebars. Could not be happier.

    Dropper post is not an option since I use a CG-R post and love it so much I am not replacing it any time soon.

  41. Definitely consider an upgraded saddle for gravel riding as increased vibrations over time and distance can impactful on your perineal tissue.

  42. Absolutely flippin ridiculous. Oh, good grief. The power seatpost…one of the MULTITUDE of things I like about cycling is that bikes are not as mechanically complicated, and repair dependent,as cars. The wider handlebars being "less aero"…give me a break. That's second only to GCN saying the way you wrap your handlebar tape has an aero effect. Good grief. As Spock said on Star Trek, "A difference which makes no difference IS no difference." And graveling means going uphill. A 1X front chainring is absolutely stupid. The versatility given by three sizes of chainring GREATLY increases your efficiency and performance on uneven terrain.
    This is all modern, fad pandering. I'm unsuscribing from GCN.

  43. Hi guys, do you think that Shimano sub brake levers could be fit in a sram force 1 with hydraulic disk brakes. Looking up for some hints on people which did already try this setup.

  44. Chris, if you ever wear a checkered jersey with all this facial hair you will be utterly indistinguishable from American hipsters. Even in a GCN outfit you do look dangerously similar.

  45. I’ve been running the GRX 4831 crankset with an Ultegra front derailleur with no problems. I figured I’d try first before springing for the GRX. So far so good. Thought of a dropper post since I ride my checkpoint on a lot of trails I used to mountain bike, but no go with Trek’s silly seat mast.

  46. Does anyone remember the GCN episode of the road/cx bike that is more of an all in one. It fits 700c and 650b. GCN had a fun scene where they found new tires on an off-road trail and put them on. Thanks.

  47. What should I do 700c with 42mm tyres or 650b with 47mm tyres?

    I’ll be mainly using it on fire/ Land Rover tracks.

    Any advice appreciated.

  48. I upgraded my gravel bike’s original 10sp Shimano brifters to Gevenalle shifters, and run them in friction mode. I wouldn’t put them on any of my road bikes, but they are really nice when the road gets rough.

  49. 36t swapped for a 34t on the front, new bar tape and a GRX400 rear derailleur. Can tackle a fair amount of terrain and road with ease now

  50. Hello from the Basque Country, I've been a subscriber of yours for a many years now. I onw a gravel bike with 22mm inner width rims and clearance for up to 3''' for the front tyre and 2.25'' for the back one. A local mechanic has just told me he just put 3'' tyres on these rims, and that he is ok. Obviously it's not ideal. But I wonder if it's dangerous for relaxed riding on extremely deteriorated pavement.

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