Seen here, a unique Rotor crank optimized for gravel riding, but what I talk about in this post is how the market as a whole will respond to the need for better crank designs for gravel bikes.
Gravel-grinder, all-road, and adventure bike. Not without a certain controversy, these are all terms associated with a growing segment within the cycling industry. They’re selling a romance of riding long stretches of dirt paths that have yet to lose their frontier flavour….or perhaps its retracing the crumbling and forgotten roads of a previous century. If consumers want to write long, meandering love poems to crushed gravel, the cycling industry will sell them the quill.
In general, these gravel bikes tend to be frames with somewhat relaxed angles and rider position, as well as generous tyre clearance . Cyclocross bikes fit that description to an extent, and indeed the first wave of gravel bikes offered by the big brands were little more than their stock CX bikes with wide-ratio cassettes. Since then, designers have lowered the bottom bracket heights for additional stability and added clearance for tyres bigger than what is allowed by UCI rules for cyclocross. Tyre manufacturers are now fully exploiting those changes by introducing a selection of tyres with low-profile treads, bigger on volume than a cyclocross 700Cx33 but smaller than what could be considered a 29er tyre. The next major development will be in the drivetrain, specifically the crankset and chainrings.