Which Gravel Bike is Right For Me?

Which Gravel Bike is Right For Me?

Written by April Drage 


Curve's range of titanium and steel gravel bikes, is as vast as it is innovative and aesthetically pleasing. Whether you’re looking online or in person at Curve HQ, becoming overwhelmed by choice in the presence of so many beautiful machines is an understandable response. So how do you choose which bike is going to be the best match for your riding needs and terrain? Let's explore our popular options more below:

Belgie ULTRA
Curve's endurance road bike, but also works well as a light duty gravel bike. If you love long days in the saddle on the road but also want to head out on some champagne gravel, our Belgie ULTRA can accommodate 700 x 33 off-road tyres. This would make for a fast friend on the gravel indeed. Curve squad member, Jesse Carlsson took our ULTRA on The Border Run recently. According to Jesse, it was the perfect choice for his style of riding and the fast rolling, hard pack conditions  enjoyed throughout the day. Read more about how this performs on gravel HERE.

GXR aka Kevin (titanium or steel)
Perhaps you already have a road bike and you’re keen to extend your repertoire beyond the champagne. Sharing the same geometry, our Kevin of Steel and titanium GXR are made twice as fun, by the option of running two wheel sizes; 700c (with 32-45 mm) or 650b (1.8- 2.2 inch). Kevin is my choice for most gravel events I have attended, set up with 45 mm tyres. Kevin excels at mixed terrain riding and can hold his own as an endurance roadie when called upon as well. Kevin’s main triangle is surprisingly large (even on an XS frame) and the wide range of mounting points means that Kevin works well for bikepacking, light touring and overnighters.
When you’re looking to expand the off road terrain a little more, that’s where the 650b wheelset comes into play; 2.2 inch mountain bike tyres make for a grippy and comfy ‘party mode’ Kevin experience indeed. It's two bikes in one.

If Kevin can do it all, then it’s fair to ask; what on earth does anyone need a Big Kev for?! I have to admit, I asked myself this very same question at first. I don’t come from a mountain biking background and as a smaller rider, so initially it was tough for me to appreciate the value of a bike designed around a 29 inch wheel platform. Over time I learned that a larger diameter wheel with a tyre width of 2.1 inches offers more comfort on rough terrain. 29 x 2.1 holds speed and rolls over rocks and ruts more easily than a 650b x 2.1. In sizes medium and above, Big Kev can take wider tyres still; 2.35 in the rear and 2.4 up front. Confidence and comfort, with a small sacrifice of a little speed on faster rolling surfaces (relative to a 700 x 40 for example), as you’d expect if you’re rocking mountain bike tyres on the road. Big Kev maintains the same number of mounting points as the Kevin and as a complete build, it’s ready to tackle BIG adventures.

GMX+ (titanium and steel)
Want to ride the rough stuff with even more comfort and carrying options galore? The GMX+ was designed around what Curve's Jesse Carlsson wanted to ride for Race to the RockThe GMX+ is described as a cross between a gravel bike and a drop bar mountain bike. I tend to think of my GMX+ (affectionately referred to as Xena2) as part overlander, part armchair and a friendly, confidence inspiring pack horse. The GMX+ doesn’t beg me to ride it like a gravel bike; I’m more inclined to sit and spin up the climbs than I am to jump up on the pedals and push.  The GMX+ accommodates 2.35 to 3 inch tyres, this adds grip and comfort; a forgiving and fun ride. The combination of tyre size and long wheelbase makes short work of more rough terrain, such as corrugations, rocks and sand. My GMX+ is designed to accommodate  a variety of flat bars and groupsets, and I've tried most of them! Initially Curve designed the GMX+ to work with the Walmer Bar; the width, sweep and flare of the bars seem to complete the build. Finally the GMX+ comes with a dynamo hub (a means for generating electricity and powering lights) making it 'adventure ready'. The GMX+ is designed to be loaded up thanks to even more mounting points than our Kevin, and with the Seek 430 FM fork the weight allowance is even higher. 

With all of this in mind, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide which of these lovingly designed freedom machines is the best match for current and future excursions. My formula resolving this dilemma seems to be consistent with that used by many other Curve customers, it is (obviously) N+1, where N is the number of bikes already owned. 





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