"Gravel bikes are just 90s MTBs"

“Also, I don’t know anyone who rides a flat bar gravel bike.”

Oh yes you do.

It is just that we used to call those bikes hybrid, trekking or touring depending if they come with a rigid or suspended fork rack/fenders and/or lights and what is the main purpose, exercising, commuting or touring. On big brands they tend to differ a bit in geometry but some small brands go to the point of using the same frame for all these bikes.

But in the end they have more or less the same intended use anywhere from smooth road to non technical unpaved path and it is often more budget, aesthetics and expectations of comfort that will make one choose one or the other. And the gravel bike with flat bar is just another iteration, with slight geometry change to justify the modern adventure themed marketing/romance. Same way that people buy and wear hiking boots to walk less than 2h in the country, it makes them worthy of saying they went for a hike.


You didn’t say a single thing about riding on gravel :man_shrugging:

“Fancier bikes” replace cars? Until cell phones are banned in cars, um, not going to happen. Cycling on roads will continue to plummet. Plus, more and more of US society is looking like a scene from Wall-E.

I agree that current Gravel bikes and the link to suspension is a valid theory. You have it backwards however, MTN grew out of BMX not out of Road.

fitness, hybrid and touring bikes hace always been about being able to ride on road or unpaved paths…which is another way to say gravel.

So have tricycles and running shoes. That doesn’t make them gravel bikes, and going skating on a walking path isn’t going on a gravel ride. You can’t just make stuff up and pretend it has anything to do with the conversation.

Ehhhh, not really….they were originally designed as a compromise between a MTB and a road bike because product managers realized that most MTB’s were being bought for the upright position and flat bars, not to go off road. (Dirty secret - they were the original “comfort bike”, but the industry was too stuck on “performance” and racing to understand that).

Yes, they gave the “illusion” of being able to go on light dirt trails, but just like MTB’s, 90+% of them never got the tires dirty.

IN car terms, if road bikes are roughly equivalent to cars and MTB’s to SUV’s, hybrids are Crossover SUV’s.

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They have similar tire size clearance and gear range and there is nothing significantly different except the handlebars. Which is a difference that is erased with flat bar gravel bikes.

[quote=“Henri_Desgrange, post:26, topic:3893”]
Yes, they gave the “illusion” of being able to go on light dirt trails, but just like MTB’s, [/quote]

Yes, they gave the “illusion” of being able to go on light dirt trails, but just like MTB’s, 90+% of them never got the tires dirty.

Like most gravel bikes. So many of them are just used as city commuters like … hybrids bikes and 90’s MTB have always been.

Hybrid/trekking bikes didn’t really exists when MTB’s were all rigid. They really took off to fill the gap when MTB’s started being more burly and capable. Exactly the same gap that gravel bikes, and especially flat bar gravel bikes intend to fill now.

Not sure I agree with that. This is from the 1984 Trek catalog and appears to meet the definition of a hybrid bike:


I’m sorry, but that is just incorrect. Hybrids came out when the vast majority of MTB’s still lacked suspension.

They were developed because they were more efficient for the riding that most people were doing. I converted thousands of consumer over the hybrids when they came in looking to buy a MTB.

They came in looking for MTB’s because they were “upright” and “comfortable”. As soon as you asked them to test ride both a hybrid and a MTB, many quickly bought hybrids because they were more efficient, others stuck with MTB because that was what they had in their heads. Some, not many, actually needed a MTB, of course.


My point was not there were existing comparable bikes, but that they didn’t took off until the MTB got burlier.

Besides the example above is to old mtbs what some touring bikes are to hybrid bikes right now so the point stands, modern gravel bikes follow the same traditions with a modern twist.

Im not going to argue with someone who clearly doesn’t ride gravel or know anyone who does and thinks most gravel bikes are being used to noodle around neighborhoods. You just make things up as you go. I’m done.

This entire thread is absurd… anyone who’s actually ridden 90’s mountain bikes and modern gravel bikes knows they’re vastly different things. This is the cycling equivalent of a boomer whining about ‘back in my day we had gravel bikes, they were called mountain bikes’ and really isn’t even worth discussing.


You are funny. My main bike is a gravel bike. I was one of those guys riding dirt roads with our road and cyclocross bikes before anyone came up with the “gravel bike” denomination, I was hacking out hydro disc brake out of mtb braked, drilled road levers, pulleys and sawed spinacis before the industry announced the first cables to hydro adapters and hydro integrated shifers. During that time you were probably patiently waiting for a marketing departement to tell you you were allowed to ride off the pavement with road handlebars.

I too dismissed the hybrid/cross/trekking bikes at the time, mostly out of misplaced snobbery because they were usually cheap bikes. Fact is they would have probably served me very well had I tried out one earlier, upgraded some components and mounted some aero extensions. And they were true gravel bikes, as were the french randonneur bikes of decades earlier.

The current gravel bikes are nicer, geometries have evolved a bit, we have much nicer brakes and thanks to the gravel riding trend tires manufacturers are now offering much better options. I don’t deny that, quite the contrary and I wouldn’t swap my gravel bike for a vintage MTB or an hybrid bike from 10y ago. But you guys are just lagging, dismissing facts out of snobbery like I did 15y ago.

But gravel bikes existed way before they appeared under that name on the catalogs.

And yes, get out of your hut and go to any big city and you will see tons of gravel bikes that barely see any dirt at all.

So suddenly, after tons of saying gravel bikes are no different than 90s mtb’s, or hybrid bikes, or tricycles, or I’m not sure because you kept changing your point, you agree that modern gravel bikes aren’t 90s mtb’s and they are awesome. Glad you came around.

Well I never said that for a start. I said that hybrid bikes and 90mtb were already gravel bikes. The rest is your own translation.

The fact is technology, geometry, braking, tires all evolved. And that is great. Road bikes too feel way different than they were in late 80’s.

So… they’re not different, but they’re different in a number of ways, and manufacturers are offering options they didn’t offer back then…

But we’re snobs.

Good stuff… really solid work. :roll_eyes:

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Look, there are as more differences between a Trek checkpoint, a Niner MCR 9 RDO, a 3T exploro and an Evil Chamois than there are between a Specialized Diverge and the Specialized Sirrus (labeled as fitness bike).


Just stop my guy… you’re just digging deeper now.

Gravel bikes are a joke.

Drop handlebars on a road bike, the handling is a joke, you ride on a gravel bike on a flat surface, an mtb a proper mtb with flat bars 26" wheels a proper range of gears can do inclines with stability, drop bars, yes great for CX whizz round a park for an hour otherwise, the above!

What next, someone redesigns the ‘mtb’ lmao… Gary Fisher most be hedging his bets as we speak