All-Road: Versatile Bikes for Adventurous Riders
Combining the speed of a thoroughbred road bike with tyres wide enough to fly over rough surfaces, all-road bikes are designed to go anywhere and to get there fast.
From broken tarmac to rough gravel to packed dirt, the most scenic and car-free roads are often those that leave smooth asphalt far behind. But how do you get there? Fast and agile when riding through town, yet quick and stable once the terrain gets tough, all-road bikes open up a new world of riding.
What is an all-road bike?
Wide tyres on road bikes is nothing new. Even in the early 1900s, racers at Paris-Brest-Paris rode on 43mm tyres. What is new is a generation of bikes that bring together the most advanced road bike technology and components with wide tyre clearances and clever solutions to make switching from the roads to the dirt simple and seamless. All-road bikes are more than road bikes with wide tyres. They are lightweight, aerodynamic and have stable yet agile handling. An all-road bike is suitable for anything from 28mm to 50mm tyres so that you can choose the rubber you need for the ride you’re doing. They have geometries that are comfortable enough for long days on rough roads, but still aggressive enough to line up for a Gran Fondo. Disc brakes are used for superior stopping power and can be loaded with bikepacking bags for a few days out in the woods. Put simply, they can do a bit of everything and do all of it well.
What makes all-road bikes so special is how fast they ride on asphalt. Tyre technology has advanced to the point where running 30mm tyres on your bike won’t slow down most riders but makes a huge difference if you decide to ride up an old forest path. For example, our comfort-focussed Endurace inherits most of the performance features of the Grand Tour-winning Ultimate but has clearance for 30mm rubber and puts you in a more comfortable riding position. The result is a bike that is nippy on the tarmac but doesn’t hesitate to roll down dirt doubletrack.
While our Grail was specifically designed for off-road riding, it’s no slouch on the asphalt. With its special vibration-damping cockpit, long wheelbase and stock 40mm tyres, it’s most at home putting the power down on gravel roads. Take the bike out your doorstep and cruise on the pavement until you get to the forest and away from the traffic and you’ll find it will get you to gravel roads just as quickly as it can ride on them.
We’ve talked a lot about how wider tyres make all-road bikes better off road, but why is that? It comes down to comfort and traction. Tyres with higher volumes put more air between your rim and the road. This means they’re better at absorbing bumps and vibrations and make your riding experience more comfortable.
The increased contact with the ground means more rubber grips the road at any one moment. On smooth tarmac and rough gravel alike, increased contact lends itself to more traction so you can ride faster and safer no matter the terrain. Many gravel tyres also have unique tread profiles similar to mountain bike tyres that make them even better off-road.
Other useful features
Seatposts like our VCLS 2.0 also make a big difference on modern all-road bikes. The leaf-spring design and others like it further improve shock absorption making it easier to stay in the saddle longer. This allows you to pedal more efficiently and save energy which is important if you decide to have a go at gravel racing. Lastly, new cockpit designs like the much talked about Grail hover bar make a huge difference in performance on longer rides. The vibration-damping carbon design make rough roads easy on your hands and offers multiple grip placements to make you feel more in control on technical descents.
Whether you’re looking for a pure gravel bike like the Grail or want to occasionally take your road bike off the beaten path with one like the Endurace, all-road bikes are a great solution for adventurous riders looking for one bike that can do it all!