Gravel’s Future

10 years from now?

Over-specialization to the point of market saturation and then a return to form.

High-trail/high-flop gravel bikes that are great for descending in a straight line aren’t much good for other things, especially with narrower tires. I don’t think gravel has the pull to get big groups of riders to drive to ride and massive portions of the US population do not have ride-accessible gravel loops.

Outside of enormous regional events, local events are much more weather dependent. A 50%+ chance of rain may see 30% of a road race field DNS, but the same for gravel is easily 60%+. Big Sugar sold out in 13 minutes, DK has a lottery. However, local legacy gravel events have less riders than 2-3 years ago and new events are not generating the attendance levels that can be self-sustaining.

Many riders are also finding that wider tires are slower than the hype, especially at and above 45mm. E-bike marketing and share are increasing, with a focus on road and MTB.

I think these and other factors conspire to limit the growth of gravel, which in turn limits the development of gravel specific technology. The GRX group and the Niner MCR are big developments but may signal the apex of popularity/R&D, instead of the rumblings of a groundswell.

I think 10 years from now has us see a highly compressed version of the first 35 years of MTB development. Big growth, big development, big attendance and then a big retraction to a norm.

Bike List

K2 Zed 1.0
Schwinn Crossfit
Fuji Touring
Schwinn Super Sport
Nashbar Track Frame
GT GTR 4.0
GT Tequesta
Motobecane 450 HT
Breezer Thunder Comp
State Warhawk
Dolan Pre Cursa
Scattante DX 350
Soma Double Cross Disc
Charge Hi29er
Schwinn Le Tour
Diamondback Haanjo Comp
Raleigh Tekoa
Masi Speciale Randonneur
Soma Fog Cutter