We’re fans of “run what you brung” but there really are just two choices to make sure you have a great time:
a gravel bike or a mountain bike. And each will be a compromise at some point on the ride. You don’t need a full suspension, but if that’s all you have, ride it. Front suspension is nice for some sections but not mandatory.
A “gravel” bike is any 700c wheel bike that can take wider tires. You’ll want to use at least 38c and we recommend 40c if your bike can fit it.
Whether you’re riding a gravel or mountain bike, there are some recommendations:
- Use disc brakes if you can. They just make everything better and if you’re doing the Steamboat edition, your hands will thank you.
- For gearing, bring a lower gear than you think you’ll need. On a gravel bike, I ride a 34/32 and sometimes wish for more.
- But, gearing is up to you. Folks ride single speeds (even single speed/coaster brakes) and everything in between. Just know what you are getting into.
- Have a good seat.
The bikes on the Ramble are as varied as the folks you’ll meet and become friends with.
Bags for your bike are another consideration. I like frame bags so don’t require racks for my bike. You can travel light on the Ramble by not needing cooking gear so no need to over do it. A seat bag, frame bag and handlebar bag is more than enough. But, some folks prefer panniers and racks and you’ll see both on the Ramble. I’ve used both and if the Ramble is your first adventure bike packing, the bag route is the way to go. I’ll use my frame bags on all sorts of rides throughout the year and don’t have to mess with taking racks on or off. The good news is if you’re signing up for the Ramble, Blackburn is offering a pretty sweet discount for you. Head over to their site to check out the different options you have.
Most important is the Ramble, even though low key, isn’t a ride to test out a new piece of gear. Make sure whatever bike you want to use is one you have spent some time with and understand it’s capabilities.