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Gravel bikes growing in popularity; experts expect many at RAGBRAI 2021

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gravel bike web

(KWWL) - From road, hybrid, to touring bikes, a lot of people will be coming in hot on all types of bicycles for RAGBRAI 2021. However, one type of bicycle the ride is expecting to see more of is gravel bikes!

According to NPD Group, a website that measures consumer sales and trends, worldwide gravel bike sales increased 100% from 2019 to 2021.

With the Iowa DOT measuring nearly 70,000 miles of gravel roads in the state, local bike shops have noticed this increase, making it hard to keep bikes in stock.

Brent Johnson, owner of Bike Tech in Cedar Falls, said the appeal of gravel bikes comes from the build of the bikes.

"Gravel bikes typically have a wider tire, and they're a little more relaxed in their geometry, so what that means is that you're riding position on the bike is more comfortable over a longer distance of riding," Johnson said.

With RAGBRAI's route being more than 450 miles and 55 of those being gravel, Johnson also believes people want gravel bikes for their durability. However, he added riders need more than the bike to ride gravel roads.

"We do need to have the right equipment to ride that route, the last thing we want is to have riders who don't have equipment that's not robust enough to go out and venture gravel and have a bad experience," Johnson said.

If you're planning to take on RAGBRAI's gravel day, Johnson wants riders to make sure their gravel bikes have:

  • The right tires and tire pressure for the route
  • Wearing gravel our mountain biking shoes
  • Acquiring pedals with a small surface area to prevent getting covered in mud
  • Recommends appropriate bike apparel for long rides

RAGBRAI'S gravel day is Tuesday, July 27th, and cyclists will ride from Fort Dodge to Iowa Falls.

Watch KWWL on-air and online for full coverage of RAGBRAI 2021.