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Gravel Touring and Velo Orange Bikes

Category: Bike Trends

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Many have heard of touring bikes, but few have heard of gravel touring. It’s not quite road touring; it’s not quite mountain biking; it’s not quite cyclocross; so then, what is it exactly?

Gravel touring has a long heritage, stretching back to prewar Europe. In those days, off-road riding was necessary as road networks weren’t as developed as they now are today – a straight road bike would soon run into problems. Bikes developed by some of the best-known French constructeurs such as Alex Singer and Rene Hersé were the original do-anything bikes, kitted out with many features to facilitate long-distance riding and enjoyment of the cycling experience while still being light, capable, high-performance machines.

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Vintage gravel touring bike

Modern gravel bikes such as the Velo Orange Polyvalent draw directly from this rich heritage, while updating them with modern materials and conveniences. A recent build that we did for a customer features Velo Orange Grand Cru Drillium cranks – these feature many small drilled holes, which was a technique often used to lighten bike components and to add character.

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Velo Orange Grand Cru Drillium cranks

This bike also has a 1″ threaded stem and curved front fork blades for added classic bike chic. Like many multipurpose bikes, it is capable of fitting wide tires – in combination with the smaller 650b wheelsize, halfway between a 700c road bike wheel and a 26″ mountain bike wheel, these wide tires offer better performance on rough surfaces and off-road with stronger, faster-rolling wheels than an equivalent 700c wheel, while being faster than a mountain bike wheel. In addition, higher-volume tires can decrease flats, about which more will be said in a future in-depth blog post on wheel size and tires.

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The Velo Orange Polyvalent’s curved fork blades and 1″ quill stem

All these classic features are enhanced by the addition of modern bicycle technology. A 10sp rear indexed rear derailleur with road-style shifters makes shifting easy, predictable, and fast; modern polycarbonate fenders are light, durable, and corrosion-proof; an rear pannier rack made from modern aluminum alloys is light and strong; disc brakes provide powerful, predictable performance in all types of weather; clipless pedals provide a better connection to the road while their dual-sided design allows their use with regular shoes; and a modern Abus lock protects this beautiful and high-performance bike from theft.

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So, what’s gravel touring? It’s biking, but more – more fun, more versatile, more go-anywhere. The sky – or the horizon is the limit.