Buying guide: Electric Gravel
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Posted on January 24, 2022
Ah, the Gravel Riding ... So much fun, is not it?
If you have spent some time "out of the macadam" this year, you know what a pleasure I'm talking about. The Gravel Riding combines the speed of the road with the mountain bike adventure, creating a perfect ground for maximum pleasure.
The Gravel category itself is developing at no giant, technology progressing quickly. New wheels, new tires, new handlebars and other components are on the market almost every day, holding the promise to improve our driving experience.
Okay, it sounds great on paper, right? So...
Does electrical assistance worth the Gravel?
Engines and Gravel: Is it a combination that works? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: also yes, most of the time. This is what we learned about electric gravel bikes.
"Use the biggest tires you can mount."
The engines make you go faster. Engines (and batteries) are also heavy.
Going faster on the trails, you increase your chances of falling and / or hitting obstacles. A heavier bike renders the avoidance of the bumps and hollows more difficult, especially if you are not used to driving gravel bikes on this type of terrain.
Wider tires will greatly simplify the task.
Just like ordinary gravel bicycles, Gravel Electric Support bicycles fit into somewhat fluid space between mountain bikes (ATV) and road bikes. Do you have an engine, so why not just buy a more efficient, more stable and more safe off-road bike?
The answer is about the same as for non-motorized gravel bikes. Yes, you could buy a mountain bike. But many cyclists who opt for the Gravel do not intend to tackle very technical trails - they want the extra hand positions offered by the handlebars of road bikes and they want a lighter bike, And simpler than a mountain bike.
What legislation for an electric gravel?
In recent years, Europe has legified (VAE 2002/24 / EC) about electric gravel and more commonly electric assistance bicycles (VAE). It follows - among other things - that electrical assistance can not exceed 25km / h and this, only in the pedaling phase.
Beyond this speed, electrical assistance must give way to the usual mechanical movement linked to the muscle strength of the cyclist.
"You can make sure that an e-Gravel bike behaves about as a normal bike."
It is an essential point because it means you can continue to ride with your friends on ordinary bikes (although an e-Gravel team is more fun - we will come back to it later).
The e-Gravel has three modes. Finally, four, in fact, if you count the "off" mode. "OFF" is not the most fun mode: the weight of an electric gravel is not to neglect. Even if it feels little once the bike is thrown, you will quickly feel slow motion once the engine is cut.
The "low" mode adds almost enough power to compensate for the weight and the extra strength of the engine, so that the bike behaves pretty much as a normal mechanical bike. Maybe a little faster, but very close. Then come the average / high modes that offer between 100 and 200% force in addition to your pedaling.
One of the most interesting features of today's Gravel Bikes is the ability to go in bike-packing.
Of course, the disadvantage of all the equipment is the weight. With all the food, the kitchen and sleeping equipment, your bike sometimes wears double your weight! This is where the average / high mode of electrical assistance makes all the difference in the world. We advise you, of course, to check the maximum weight supported by the wheels in order to stay in the limit weight of the bike + weight of the cyclist + weight of the luggage.
Then think what place (s) you want to add your bags to distribute the weight as best as possible to the engine. Engine at the rear wheel? In this case, it is better to distribute the weight on the middle and the front of the bike.
Finally, as for a mechanical gravel, we will try to opt for a model with many fixing points.
Electric bikes are more fun when they are in groups with other electric bikes.
It's pretty obvious, but it must be repeated.
Although it is possible to roll an electric bike just about the same speed as a normal bike, there is no doubt that it is more fun to use its electrical assistance as it should.
The exception to this rule is the capacity of the e-Gravel bike to act as an equalizer. If you tend to ride with faster people, or better than you, a little boost opens up full of possibilities for longer, faster and more adventurous walks. No more level groups!
What budget for an electric gravel?
While we see all prices for a VAE, the situation is slightly different about the electric gravel because the offer is more restricted. Nevertheless, do not expect to have a reliable and durable Gravel with less than € 2,000.
Between 2,000 and 3,500, you will find most of the models. For this price you can expect an excellent electric gravel with a Shimano Grx 10 or 11 speed and a motor around the 250W.
Beyond this price range, you arrive in the high end and you can expect a more powerful engine and a high-end transmission.
Let's not forget the main reason why we all do a bike: to go out, explore, exercise, have fun. The Gravel Riding perfectly fulfills this goal and combining it with electrical assistance guarantees a decuplicated driving pleasure.
Remember that sometimes it is better to ignore the skeptical or negative comments that can be heard on electric bicycles and make it clear that a little assistance can provide maximum pleasure.
This does not mean that electric bikes are suitable for everyone, all the time; If you think you will spend time on a variety of non-technical surfaces, and you want to go further or faster, follow someone or just have the opportunity to go home with an unexpected opposite wind, maybe that an e-Gravel bike is for you.