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Gravel Touring and Velo Orange Bikes

Category: Bike Trends








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.


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.


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.


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.


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.