I got into a debate last summer with a fellow cyclist over this simple question: which is harder on your bike? Gravel or pavement? In truth, this debate was merely an off-shoot from our main debate: "Which is better over ALL?" Road biking, Mountain Biking or Cross. We all know the answer to THAT one, (everyone insert your choice here) but as far as some good hard PROOF, I had none. And we were debating at an outdoor music festival, so it was really hard to make a clear point. Thanks to the sage, Lennard Zinn now I'm armed with proof. Read on. You may be a little surprised.
From Velo News, Technical FAQ, January 15th, 2014.
Wear and tear in different riding conditions:
I always try to read your column on VeloNews and have your book on bicycle repair, so I am a big fan and always appreciate your viewpoint on aspects of the great machine called a bicycle. In and around Kansas City, we ride a lot of gravel, (I am a three-time finisher of the Dirty Kanza 200) and have been riding gravel for years … On a lot of rides, particularly with new riders, the subject of abuse, wear and tear on your frame, and wheels by riding gravel seems to come up. So, the question: What is harder (more abusive, creates more wear etc.) on a bicycle wheel (or frame): riding on gravel roads or on pavement?
To find out the answer, click here for the full article. Do you agree? Disagree?
[Editor's note: for the record, when the categories got switched around for 2013 cross, I was relieved to not have every one of my races cut short by the infamous Lennard Zinn as he and his category politely blew past me in mine. He knows his stuff, but feel free to give evidence if you have an opposing view...and you dare.]