Video: Greg Callaghan Tries Gravel Biking his Favourite MTB Loop

Feb 3, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

bigquotesI was curious to see if it was possible to ride mountain bike trails on my new gravel bike so I took it on one of my favourite MTB loops.Greg Callaghan



90 Comments

  • 57 2
 hmmmmm......maybe throw some flat bars on that, add a bit wider tires, maybe a short travel suspension fork on it. yeaaaaaah......there we go! brand new genre! we will call it Gravelcountry! just like a mountain bike, but also just like a mountain bike!
  • 2 0
 and flatter head angle.
  • 6 9
 Makes me wonder how gravel biking is a training tool? Its a lighter bike than normal, so not muscle building. Drop bars, so no practicing handling skills. Rigid bike, so a severely handicapped ability for jank drops or jumps.

Still, its oddly fascinating to see it.
  • 12 1
 @thustlewhumber: way easier to get base miles in. Different riding experience also makes it interesting enough to avoid burnout.
  • 14 0
 @Ironchefjon: Completely agree. I use it as a road bike that can take dirt path and trail shortcuts to avoid city traffic. 1% overlap in the riding routes of what I would do on a mountain bike. Adds variety, another excuse to buy bike parts and is possible through most of the winter when trails are icy and sketchy here.
  • 6 0
 @thustlewhumber: thats not how "muscle building" works
  • 1 1
 @n00bmtbr: Why would one choose a gravel bike over a cyclocross bike? I assume CX bikes are more aggressive and nimble right?
  • 6 0
 @agul29: a gravel bike is longer and slacker and with a more comfortable riding position (generally) and space for bigger tyres. Nimble is a euphemism for nervous and unstable at speed. No reason whatsoever to choose a CX unless you are racing CX. Zero advantages.
  • 3 0
 @thustlewhumber: sorry but you are wrong. i ve been ridign gravel for a year now on mixed surfaces (road and easy singletrack) next to my all mountain rig, and both my fitness and skills-balance improved.
-there are lot of trails around that would be very-boring on mtb but a challenge on the gravel
-drop bars mean you re in a very forward -low position, so a slight gradient downhill feels like a steep trail on the mtb, activates your core muscles, improves your need for balance (bike is not helping)
-no suspension means you have to work with your body and use it as "suspension" on every small bump, rock, etc., also make smarter line choices to ride smoothly
-skinny tires mean you have less grip so you have to focus more on braking points and line choice. Also on loose climbs you need to focus more how to put weight on the rear tire.
-i have less gear ratio also, so have to work harder on climbs
-it s easy to cover a lot of miles, that s helps fitness as well

if you ride only on road or wide gravel roads, this doesn t apply entirely but if you mix it up with road-dirt road-singletrack it s really great training I think.
  • 1 0
 @Ironchefjon: yep. the upper body workout on rocky stuff is way more fun than going to the gym too..
  • 1 0
 @agul29: CX bikes have to conform to UCI rules too, which includes a max tire size. Limited clearance if you want something bigger. Don't think my 40mm tires would fit on many/any cx bikes. Also, CX bikes are indeed more aggressive... which means steep HT angles for racing tight courses, as @Ido83 pointed out.

Video of my 5 year-old building my gravel bike in case you want to kill a few min: youtu.be/_GTsqR6jv_4
  • 2 0
 Right or wrong or indifferent, doesn't really matter.....but, I have a Giant TCX as a "road bike" gor off season training. And I also enjoy base miles without the mountain bike fatigue.

It came with CX wheels and tires, I bought a cheapest set of road wheels and tires and also a set of gravel wheels and tires.

I love racing CX and also road riding. I'm not going to win races in any discipline but the enjoyment of riding a bike in any format is second to none.

The cx setup is also more enjoyable on my local XC loops ad opposed to my slash.
  • 22 1
 The year is 2021. Mountain bikes have finally recovered from their road-bike-induced geometry handicaps (slack seat angles, steep head angles, narrow bars, long stems).

...when suddenly, out of nowhere...

ROAD BIKES: I'M BACK BITCHES!
  • 14 0
 My commute to work is 9 miles, 6 off road on a canal path. My old cyclocross bike is perfect for that. Anything smoother, road bike. Anything rougher, mountain bike. But I don't hate on gravel. More people on bikes is a good thing.
  • 15 1
 I bought a gravel bike last year to ride with my wife and I wasn't planning on enjoying it, but hot damn gravel bikes freaking fly on smooth singletrack. Seriously faster than my hardtail, which is now sitting collecting dust unloved. It's tons of fun pushing it on stuff it's not designed for like jumps and drops. I never thought I'd be on a drop bar bike, but I can shred all types of terrain straight from my house. The beginner trails closest to my neighborhood are tame, slow, and boring on a real mtb, but are fast and fun on a gravel bike. It's efficient enough I can take it on a 15 mile road ride to get to real mountain trails and I can stop off at the pump track, urban jumps, or neighborhood singletrack along the route. I dare say it's one of the funnest bikes I've owned.
  • 15 1
 Gravel bikes put me in mind of resuscitated mountain bikes from the 90s. Won’t be long before they have elastomer stems and suspension seat posts I reckon
  • 1 0
 Redshift already does!
  • 1 0
 @fullmetaljacky: BMC Urs!
  • 1 0
 Specialized FutureShock, Trek IsoSpeed
  • 5 0
 I have a Genesis steel gravel bike and I love it, it's a great tool for keeping fit. I know it's just an experiment and something to vlog but there's nowhere on those trails that wouldn't be a heap more fun on a modern hardtail !
  • 4 0
 Just reminds me of the Ben Cathro Aberfoyle slip and slide a few years back, they’re all riding their enduro bikes down these steep, rooty and rocky greasy trails, then you just have Rab Wardell. f*cking sending it on his gravel bike with the skinny wee bars, funniest thing is he was actually quite fast down those trails too lol.

youtu.be/V8cQycIBQDA
  • 1 0
 Hadn't seen this vid before. Good shout! Imagine meeting that group of riders on the trails, you'd just go back to the car lol
  • 2 0
 Most gravel bikes are within +/-5mm dimensions, and have the same ha and sa as my 18 yo Devinci touring frame. Can I ride mtb trails on it with my tubeless wheels set up with cx tires? Sure, if I need to. Gravel bikes to me are the Subaru ofoff road vehicles; good, but not always the right tool for the job, especially if it gets rough.
  • 2 0
 Gravel bikes are a blast, but can be dangerous on single track. Like Greg says, the drop bars put you in a vulnerable position. Last summer my rear tire slipped off of a skinny that I had done a million times before on my mountain bike. I did a superman into a bank on the other side of the bridge and broke my neck. Spent three months in a brace and feel very lucky to be walking. From now on, I will be sticking to my mountain bike on single track.
  • 1 0
 Yikes. Glad you are walking and can keep riding!
  • 1 0
 + one for a dropper on a gravel bike. I sourced one for my Orbea Terra.. an indestructible ride. Had it 24 months, set up similar.. tubeless is a must. Ride your local easy trails on a gravel bike = massive fun and a great upper body workout.
  • 3 2
 Gave up having 4 different bikes one for nearly each condition... i am simply lacking time to move them... now I have my one enduro rig and I do not have think what to ride when
  • 4 2
 big oof making a enduro rig your only bike...
  • 2 0
 @gorideyourbikeman: well can live with itSmile
  • 1 0
 @ferenooo: Fair enough.
  • 2 0
 Was just thinking about doing the same on my new gravel bike - tubeless is a must though I think!!! Do they do cushcore that skinny?
  • 1 0
 You can get Vittoria airliners for gravel
  • 1 0
 Yeah, they make a gravel/cx cushcore.
  • 1 0
 I couldn't help but marvel at how he didn't puncture! That'd be the only thing going through my mind riding 40C tires with paper sidewalls on trails like that.
  • 6 6
 I've had some really close calls with gravel riders almost crashing into me head-on on trails. They were going far too fast to make the corner, and they couldn't slow down, running me off the trail. I realize these are a few standalone cases, but it's downright dangerous to have someone hurling straight at you out of control. If they can share the trail respectfully, anticipate other riders, bring their bike to a stop if necessary and ride without damaging the trail, I'm all for it. Unfortunately, I've had far more negative encounters than positive with gravel riders on mtb trails.
  • 24 1
 @hardtailparty , you should just replace "gravel riders" with "riders". That'll cover more than just your "few standalone cases", because "mtb riders" do not have 100% compliance on 100% trail etiquette.
  • 2 1
 With the amount you ride Steve, your real world experience means a lot. And thinking about it, 2pot cable or hydraulic brakes, with 160 rotors or even v-brakes, totally means a lack of stopping power!
  • 2 0
 I LITTERALLY had this exact same thing happen to me on a desolate frozen snow covered hidden away trail this weekend. I was climbing up and had to guys on gravel bikes come hurling down yelling and made me dismount and jump out of the way as they yelled LOOK OUT!!!! kinda rude.
  • 1 1
 @iammarkstewart: I've had more close calls with gravel riders on singletrack than mtbers. I don't know if it's because of the limitations of their equipment, the racing mentality, or their lack of experience on singletrack around other riders. No doubt riders of all walks of life and genres can create problems, but I have had more bear head-ons with gravel riders than any other genre.
  • 1 0
 @hardtailparty: I’m pretty sure I know who your talking about. 2 riders, gray gravel bikes . .. lol ...
agree it’s the rider and not so much the bike

Great video Greg and really nice to see some of your local trails.
  • 5 0
 @hardtailparty: Your description of a rider "hurling straight at you out of control" sorta reminds me of many new riders on trails, even myself when I was new to mtb and 12 or 13 years old. I'm not saying it's the right way to learn, but biking is awesome, and it's easy to get carried away when you don't know any better. I never ran into anyone, I had to dodge off trail a few times tho.
  • 4 2
 Well here's a solution for you. Stop riding trails on your MTB that people can ride on gravel bikes. Problem solved!
  • 2 0
 @rideonjon: Where do I take new riders to have a good first experience? Besides, if gravel riders are running people off the trails because they don't have the traction or technique to avoid crashes, I'd argue that they can't rode the trails.
  • 1 2
 @hardtailparty: It was a joke,relax.
  • 1 0
 @hardtailparty: For the record i've NEVER come across a gravel rider on any of the trails i ride.So there you go.
  • 2 1
 @hardtailparty: You could argue that new riders lack the skills to brake and corner effectively and maybe they can't ride the trails...can't have it both ways.
  • 2 0
 I rode my gravel bike back in Michigan at the mt bike trails. Best part was the looks ya get. Make me want to buy another one, thanks
  • 3 1
 I can summarize my experience with gravel riders in one sentence. "these cable actuated TRP disc brakes are just as strong as hydraulic brakes".
  • 4 1
 They're saying this upside down from the bottom of a ravine, right?
  • 3 0
 105/GRX. problem solved. Totally agree with you o the cable actuated junk though.
  • 3 0
 If that’s what you like riding, then go for it..
  • 1 1
 got my deposit back on my gravel bike after a sat there and really thunk about riding it not on pavement. had to give my mountain bike a hug and appoligize.
  • 2 1
 shoutout to the wrist and ankles ;D
why shouldnt two wheels be able to roll down, it depends on how much fun you get. And that looks like work, not fun ..
  • 2 0
 Woaw.???? The man is fu.... Fast...

How does he do without punctures at this speed ?
  • 4 5
 i had a nice Gravel Bike back in the eighties , when they used to be called No Suspension Mountain bikes . then as the years went by they ruined those bikes by putting on drop bars and skinnier tires . after a few years of that , the trend is moving back to flat bars and wider tires . Hmm?
Industry Hype is a dangerous thing gents , it will twist your head up , increase adrenaline and drain your wallet .
  • 1 0
 Me too I've done that, and when you go out with newbs in green / bleu trails, it is so much more fun then with the enduro rig... Good arm exercise !
  • 2 0
 Well if I tried that I'd end up burying the hatchet in the next jump. Great vid Greg.
  • 1 0
 Very cool!

Surprised the spec on the DeVinci was with a separate dropper lever vs using the purpose built GRX hood/lever for the dropper on the left hand side
  • 1 0
 is it ever dry there? ive rode it pretty much every year in the summer and its always soaked! the black line is scary and worth it though!
  • 1 0
 Throw some 750mm wide Walmer bars by Curve on there and get after it, love them on my Fargo
  • 2 0
 Savage, love to know where that last trail is
  • 2 0
 I reckon it’s along the banks of the Glencullen river. It’s only a few minutes from GAP.
  • 1 0
 @ODubhslaine: gotta check that out, sound
  • 2 0
 I ride trails like the last one on my gravel bike often, it is a blast!
  • 2 4
 Seems like every time I see this "I rode a downhill track/dirt jumps on a gravel/road bike!" kind of video, the rider is intentionally making ti more difficult for himself by refusing to put his hands anywhere near the hoods.
  • 7 0
 When it's really rough, you go into the drop to keep your hands from getting knocked off the hoods.
  • 3 0
 @pmhobson: Totally. I much prefer the riding position on the hoods when it goes downhill or gets rough but it's flat out terrifying feeling like you're about to slip a hand off so drops it is.
  • 1 0
 @sourmix: I wonder if the new GRX hoods are better in this regard (but not curious enough to buy them and find out)
  • 2 0
 @pmhobson: also so the hoods don't move on you. And you can do proper 1 finger braking much better from the drops when the situation calls for it.

That being said I'll ride the hoods most of the time off road until I need to manage the brakes properly
  • 1 0
 @Artikay13: yeah I stay in the hoods as long as I can. But once I really need to do precise braking (1-finger as you said), into the drops I go
  • 1 0
 @pmhobson: I have GRX but I've never had anything else to compare to - first time drop bar rider - I can say they work well up to a point but you definitely need to use the drops when it gets rough, otherwise it's impossible to gaurantee getting consistent braking when it matters and there is always the feeling that one bump will bounce a hand off.
  • 1 0
 www.bikemag.com/blog/tomac_db10_preview

The GOAT was rocking drop bars and winning pro races
  • 2 0
 The DAH FUC look on the guys face @6:20ish mark LOL .
  • 2 0
 Excellent!
  • 1 0
 Looks horrible on the hands / wrists. Flat bars at least!
  • 1 0
 If I rode that trail, on that bike, I’d taco at least one wheel.
  • 1 1
 Same here in Austria

www.pinkbike.com/video/531261
  • 4 5
 Of course you can, but it's no fun and kills the material.
  • 3 4
 wow this is a new idea for a video
  • 1 4
 ...and?
We've all been doing this for years here in The Pisgah.
It's the most exciting way to ride the go anywhere, ride anything bikes.
  • 10 13
 Plenty of gravel heads at my local forest loops, can't corner won't corner........ They straight line every thing they can
  • 6 12
flag nojzilla (Feb 3, 2021 at 4:07) (Below Threshold)
 You Cannot downvote the TRUTH!!
  • 9 0
 Nothing like the feeling of railing a tall wooden berm on the 700x38s! What you're talking about are roadies lost on a trail...
  • 5 5
 @Will1848: Yeah thas wha I said... gravel heads Wink
  • 1 4
 Been there, done that

www.pinkbike.com/video/516632
  • 1 4
 You can do a lot of stupid shit no one cares about... yet here we are
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