Gravel riding has come a long way. Just as the bikes have grown more comfortable for longer rides, event organizers have caught on, and an entire class of exploration-focused “Fondos” have proliferated across the country. No matter where you live, you can join up with strangers and hop aboard. But whether you’re riding a Fondo or just going deep on training rides, you’ll need a GPS that lets you follow-turn-by-turn mapping, shoes that are stiff enough to efficiently transfer pedaling force (but with a grippy sole, in case you’re forced to walk some terrain), and a second layer to battle the weather — but one that truly breathes. Lastly, it’s critical to have a flat-fixing tool, because gravel, by definition, chews tires. Here are the best gravel bike accessories for every rider.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS Bike Computer
An ordinary GPS can track your way, but the ELMNT Roam makes it easy to load a turn-by-turn course from other apps and follow the course of any organized ride. Get dropped? No worries, just heed the colored lights and loud blips to alert you to the highlighted map. It has call/text alerts and integrates with apps like Strava and RidewithGPS.
Adidas Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOA TLD Mountain Bike Shoe
Five Ten, of rock climbing fame, also makes superb trail/city cycling shoes with that same sticky rubber. We dig the Kestrel Pro Boa TLD for that reason, and because they still take an SPD cleat. The single-turn closure lets you tighten or loosen them mid-pedal, and they run roomier than racing models.
GIRO Empire VR90
For racing, you need a stiff, light, shoe, like the carbon Giro Empire VR90. Note that it’s laced, rather than getting Velcro or toggle closures, for somewhat more top foot comfort. It’s also SPD-cleat-compatible, and a Vibram rubber tread makes it somewhat walkable (though note the toe box won’t flex like the Five Tens).
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket
What you need for Fondos, grinders, and events is windproofing to fend off the chill of descents, but even more important is breathability—you don’t want sweat buildup that will freeze you later. The water-repellant (but not waterproof) Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow fends off showers, stiff-arms wind, is featherlight, and stuffs easily into a jersey pocket. It even breathes well enough to wear beneath another layer, and its soft hand means it doesn’t create a racket in the breeze like other shells.
Blackburn Plugger Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
You will flat. It’s going to happen. But you’re running tubeless, correct? In that case, the rescue isn’t wrestling the tire off the rim, but using Blackburn’s Tire Plugger kit. You stuff the strip of unvulcanized rubber into the hole and it seals right up. It’s dead simple to use. Plus, with several plugs and the tool all fitting in a cylinder the size of a pen, it’s far lighter and easier to carry than a bunch of spare tubes.