Riding off-road is extremely popular thanks to the ability of being able to ride your bike away from the roads and the traffic that inevitably festoons the roads. They offer everyone a safe environment to get out and explore the world. The benefits of off-road cycling are numerous, the opportunity to just immerse yourself in the world around you and forget about any everyday concerns. The ability to take in the scenery around us, the wildlife you could never experience from inside a car and the fresh air that we take for granted. There is also a huge choice of types of riding available to choose from to suit any type of rider. From the simplest bridleways and tow paths for a family ride out to the more adventurous adrenaline junkies who love nothing more than to hurtle along singletrack or hurtle down mountainsides. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored, so why wait?
There are 3 main groups for off-road bikes; CX / Gravel bikes – These can be hard to differentiate when viewed alongside a standard road bike. Where they differ is in their versatility, a CX or gravel bike will have an increased tyre clearance. This allows much larger tyres to be fitted for better off-road performance. However, if fitted with tarmac specific tyres they are also extremely capable road bikes too. Mountain bikes – There is a huge selection of mountain bikes available which have various features to better enable them to offer improved performance over your chosen terrain of choice. The main features consist of suspension to allow them to cope with tougher terrain and a choice of wheel sizes. Adventure bikes – Adventure bikes are also known as bike trekkers or bike packers and this effectively describes their intended purpose. They have a mammoth tyre clearance and huge luggage carrying capacity. These features result in a go anywhere epic bike tourer.
Due to the fact that there are so many variations to an off-road bike the cost of these bike can vary greatly. The material that the frame is constructed of plays a large part t the overall cost of the bike. Low cost frames tend to be manufactured from aluminium which is the cheapest material to produce. At the other end of the cost scale are Titanium or high-grade Carbon which are more expensive to produce. The general rule of thumb is the more you pay the higher grade the componentry will be. Higher grade components are constructed from better materials which offer better performance, are lighter and more durable. If you had a £1000 to spend this would obtain a decent entry level bike with an aluminium or steel frame and with durable componentry. Top end off-road bikes can cost as much as anything up to and beyond the £10,000 mark.
Tyre clearance – the bike must have clearance for wide tyres that offer better traction and mud shedding abilities when ridden over loose surfaces. Gravel bikes will normally offer somewhere in the region of 47mm with 700c road wheels or 2” with MTB wheels fitted. Mountain and Adventure bikes will often have mammoth clearance for tyres up to 3” in width. Disc brakes – Disc brakes are essential for off-road riding. Whether speeding along singletrack or simply soaking up the enjoyment of being out and about on your bike the additional confidence of the stopping power of disc brakes is always welcome. Their powerful modulation makes them the most powerful braking system available. Suspension – Gravel bikes do not really utilise suspension as this would affect their all-round versatility. Suspension is however much more common on mountain bikes which tend to travel over more extreme terrains. Dependent upon the terrain the bike will have only front suspension (hardtail) or front and rear suspension (full susser).