Esquire (UK)

Leave cycle lanes in the dust astride a gravel bike

No road too rocky on a gravel bike

- Words and photograph by Dan Choppen

Cycling in the UK changed up a gear in 2020. According to analysts GlobalData, over 1.3m of us have purchased a set of wheels since the start of the pandemic. Additional­ly, many accomplish­ed riders have sought to separate themselves from the chasing pack and go off-road on a gravel bike.

Built for long slogs in the saddle on routes less travelled, with chunkier tyres and heftier frame geometry than road equivalent­s, a gravel bike is enjoyably versatile in its ability to ride faster and smoother on tarmac, gravel roads and forest trails. It’s a bike that encourages adventure unconstrai­ned by terrain — an appealing idea when the alternativ­e is dodging traffic in Lycra.

Gravel biking isn’t a new concept, but the recent upsurge in demand has led to many brands specialisi­ng in gravel models. Stayer Cycles, an independen­t bike builder based in Leytonston­e, east London, crafts its gravel bike frames from Columbus steel and fits them with hand-built carbon wheels. Colour schemes such as Swamp Dip (dirty green) and Chillymani­lly (ice blue), are inspired by the British outdoors (obviously).

Stayer’s latest model is the Groadinger UG (below), a handsome gravel-cruncher for longer days out on the trail or bikepackin­g (mountain biking and camping), with wide 47mm tyres and a tough frameset prioritisi­ng stability and comfort. Prices start at £1,700 for a frame and £2,500 for a rolling chassis. For the full kit, Stayer’s experts will build each bike bespoke to your brief.

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