Of all the component options that you can put on a gravel bike, tires are the thing that causes the most stress and the most debate. What size, tread pattern, and pressure you choose can completely change how your bike handles in different conditions, and your tire choice can definitely make or break a given ride.
Stickers! Look Fast, Ride Slow is an ethos. How slow should you ride? It’s relative, and it’s entirely up to you. Can you ride fast sometimes? Yeah! It’s fun. But stop trying to race everybody all the time.
I want it all. I want the ability to ride miles of pavement at road speed, and then climb an 18% forest road while carrying all of the necessary supplies for an overnight trip. And I want to do all of this on the same bike.
Get rad! 90’s rigid mountain bikes tend to make the best party bikes. They typically have massive tire clearance, they can be built with basically any components you want, and they’re pretty much indestructible. Plus, they’re cheap, easy to find, and usually come in some fun color schemes. 26 isn’t dead.
Riding on gravel can take a serious toll on your body. You have to work harder to pedal through it, and your bike is probably heavier than a dedicated go-fast road bike. Even on flat-ish rail trails, you can’t really stop pedaling because you will almost immediately come to a stop.
There just aren’t that many nice vintage bikes left out there. Thousands of them were turned into single speeds and fixies between 2005 and 2010. Braze-ons were ground off, frames were spray-painted, and many were crashed and destroyed. Finding a nice one nowadays is rare, and the odds of finding one that’s barely been ridden is even more rare.