Summer Gravel Riding Gear

Shoes, shades, tech and more for long days on remote roads

Occupying a gray area between mountain biking and road cycling, gravel riding is all about mixing up different surfaces on the same ride. As such, the gear for gravel riding pulls from both disciplines of cycling and breaks down some of the hardened norms that exist around bike gear. While the activity is an amalgam of styles, all the apparel and accessories still needs to keep cyclists safe, comfortable and ideally looking stylish on those long, winding summer gravel rides.

Rapha Brevet Jersey + Shorts

The Brevet collection from famed London-based brand Rapha is designed with long rides in mind. Packed with pockets (and pockets within pockets), the Brevet Jersey ($190) and Brevet Bib Shorts ($290) each feature high-visibility reflective details. A side cargo pocket on the shorts comes in handy for stashing a phone for quick camera access and there are expanding mesh pockets on the lower back for snacks and extra layers.

Karoo 2

A bar-mounted GPS computer might seem like a nice-to-have rather than a need-to-have but when tackling complex routes it becomes an essential. The Hammerhead Karoo 2 ($399) features an intuitive user interface that’s reminiscent of the iPhone. You can quickly download routes from various apps and get easy-to-follow detailed directions on the brilliant 3.2-inch touch display. The Karoo 2 automatically shows speed and easily pairs with additional sensors so you can track every data point on your ride.

Gran Tourer II

Despite the sport’s obsession with aesthetics, cycling shoes are often the sartorial weak point in one’s kit. That’s not the case with the QUOC Gran Tourer II ($265). In addition to a fresh look, these clip-less SPD-compatible shoes offer the weather resistance and rugged outsole that gravel riding demands. On a recent ride outside Vancouver, BC we found ourselves faced with a rock scramble and no shortage of mud. The Gran Tourer II handled both with ease. In addition to all-day comfort, one-handed fit adjustments on the bike are a breeze with the Gran Tourer II’s Boa closure system.

Ventral Air MIPS

If there’s one piece of gear one should never hesitate to upgrade it’s their helmet. They should be replaced immediately if you’ve crashed or there are obvious signs of material erosion in the EPS foam. Even if you haven’t crashed and don’t see visible signs of wear, some experts recommend replacing your helmet as frequently as every three years. For a sleek, warm-weather option try the Ventral Air MIPS ($260) from Stockholm-based POC. The innovation-centric brand took special care to design the ventilation to channel airflow at both low and high speeds.

Pro Team Full Frame Glasses

Rapha’s Pro Team Full Frame Glasses ($180) are composed of ultra-strong and lightweight Grilamid (the same material used in high-performance ski boots) and are the type of glasses you’ll throw on and forget you’re wearing after a few pedal strokes. The contrasting lenses provide a high-definition view even in variable light, so when you’re passing in and out of heavy tree coverage there’s no need to swap lenses.

Commute Top Tube Bag

A bit of extra storage is always welcome on long rides, and because gravel routes generally push into more remote terrain far from shops, it’s a good idea to carry extra food, layers and maintenance items. The waterproof Commute Top Tube Bag ($49) from Vancouver-based Two Wheel Gear securely mounts to the frame in seconds. With one liter of storage capacity, you can even fit in a point-and-shoot camera to document your epic ride.

Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image by Hans Aschim