WHAT IS GRAVEL BIKE, The Answer is in Salsa Warbird

WHAT IS GRAVEL BIKE, The Answer is in Salsa Warbird

What is gravel bike? As the name implies, this is a bicycle that can be taken quickly through gravel roads, aka gravel / soil. The shape is typical of a road bike, but can accept tires with widths of up to 40 mm or less and use disc brakes like off-road bicycles.


Let us flashback on Cyclocross, so do a little research and come up with this interesting history. Cyclocross bikes are the forerunner of gravel bikes.

Cyclocross began in France in 1902, when a French soldier named Daniel Gousseau was entrusted with creating or organizing the first French National Championship Cyclocross race.

After the championship in France finally appeared Many other National Championship Cyclocross races began to be made similar races in other European countries soon after in places such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, and Italy.

In 1950 the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) finally approved the first Cyclocross World Championship, 48 years after the first French Championship. To this day Cyclocross races are growing all over the world.


Cyclo-cross bikes are similar to road racing bikes: light weight, with small tire width and drop handlebars.

compared to road bikes, these bikes have greater tire clearance, lower gears, stronger frame, cantilever or disc brakes, and a more upright riding position.

Cyclocross bikes share a common feature with mountain bikes in that they use protruding tread tires for traction and, increasingly, disc brakes.


After participating in a gravel race on a Cyclocross bike, Sean Mailen said, “I think we can make a better bike for this experience.”

“At the 2009 Trans Iowa, I rode a one-off titanium frame we had made to test geometry,” said Meiser. “It had a lower bottom bracket and better tire clearance, but what really shined was the compliance it delivered. I won the race, but perhaps more importantly, I could stand up after completing the 300-plus miles of Iowa gravel and B-roads. That compliance made a real difference and resulted in the Warbird Ti, which we consider to be the Warbird v2.”


A small group of Salsa product design engineers grew frustrated with the limitations of using a ‘cross bike on long exploratory gravel rides and races. They knew there was a better way:

The first-generation Gravel bike Warbird was the result of early thinking about what gravel racing was all about.

Gravel racing and cyclocross are quite different beasts, and anyone telling the truth will admit that one bike cannot be made to do both tasks well.

Our early aluminum-only Warbird models proved the benefits of our first take on gravel-specific geometry (long and low for increased stability on rough roads and fast descents), improved mud clearance and disc brakes. It also points to opportunities for continuous improvement, particularly about improving rider comfort.

In fact, it was only a few years ago when the first gravel bike came into existence. The first company to design a gravel bike was the Minnesota-based Salsa Cycles. Their team created the ‘Warbird bike’ in 2013 as response to their realization that cyclocross bikes and road bikes just were not enough for gravel racing.

They wanted to put a bike on the market that truly did it all and could encompass all the features that gravel racing necessitates.

And so, with the creation of the Warbird bike, bikes were born and have since gone on to become a fiercely popular subtype of bike across the cycling community and the fastest growing in popularity for years. 1

Since their invention in 2013, gravel bikes have carved a unique niche in the biking marketplace. 2, As already covered, gravel bikes are a relatively new bike compared to their more traditional counterparts.

While this style of bicycle has not seen a measurable difference in design since its inception, gravel bike manufacturers continue to grow and adapt, offering more tire and gear options all the time.


  1. https://www.bikelockwiki.com/what-is-a-gravel-bike/
  2. https://salsacycles.com/culture/warbird_gravel_since_the_beginning#:~:text=We%20created%20the%20original%20Warbird,of%20the%20gravel%20riding%20scene
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