Do Gravel Bikes Have A Suspension: How It Affects Performance

The gravel bike is one of the most versatile bikes on the market today. They can be used for different terrains and cover all kinds of different grounds. With a drop-bar design, these bikes can be taken virtually anywhere. However, many of you are wondering do gravel bikes have a suspension system.

Do Gravel Bikes Have A Suspension?

If you look at the wide array of gravel bikes on the market today, you will find that they do not have a suspension. One of the main reasons for the lack of suspension is to reduce the weight of the bike. It will make the bike heavier, which means you won’t have the drive or acceleration on these difficult terrains.

To help you better understand the gravel bikes and why they don’t have a suspension, we have done some in-depth research to understand what this means. We will look at some main reasons that they don’t have a suspension. However, there are also a few gravel bikes you can find that do have a suspension we will look at.

Do Gravel Bikes Have A Suspension

6 Main Reasons Gravel Bikes Don’t Have A Suspension

Since we know that most gravel bikes do not have a suspension system, the reason for why is often not revealed. With our research, we have found a few common reasons that gravel bikes do not implement the suspension system. Here are a few of the top reasons your gravel bike does not have a suspension to assist you:

  1. Weight Reduction

If you have ever removed a suspension from a mountain bike, you will notice just how big it truly is. When we compared this to the overall weight of the bike, we could find that it is one of the heaviest components.

Since gravel bikes don’t have easy gears, you won’t have the luxury of carrying your suspension uphill. This means that vigorous pedaling is your only driving force. By removing the suspension, the manufacturer can reduce the weight and improve the overall performance of the bike.

  1. Repairs & Maintenance

Another reason you do not want to deal with a suspension is the maintenance factor. No matter which bike you have, you always need to be on top of the maintenance and this will be time-consuming and expensive to do.

One of the best things about not having a suspension is that you won’t have different nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned and oiled after each session. Additionally, you don’t run the risk of a broken suspension, which could be very expensive to fix and replace.

Cannondale Gravel Bikes
  1. Better Terrain Performance

Aside from the weight holding you down, a full suspension bike can be tedious to drag up and down certain terrains. The rear suspension will sag when you ride specific terrains and this could be frustrating when you are driven for speed and performance. Your bike could be held back due to the conditions of the terrain.

Without a suspension, the bike will act like a hardtail bike and you ought to see equal performance on different terrains. You will not only be accelerating more consistently on flat terrains, but the same would apply to uphill terrains. Unfortunately, downhill terrains might be a bit more bumpy and painful to ride.

  1. Damage Due To Surface Roughness

While we have briefly touched on the maintenance aspects, the roughness of certain surfaces could hinder your performance and increase the likelihood of damage to certain components. If the surface is extremely bumpy, it could place significant stress on the suspension, which might cause damage to the components.

A full-suspension gravel bike might sound like an interesting idea, but in practice, it might not have the same functionality as one that does not have a suspension. The versatility might be significantly different, but the increase in maintenance costs would certainly be felt by many people who choose it.

  1. Extra Tire Wear

Believe it or not, more weight on your bike could lead to an increase in tire wear. The more tire wears you will face, the more daunting it will be to get your bike to operate correctly. You also want to avoid replacing the tires on your bike every few months as this could be expensive.

Without a suspension, you would notice that the bike is lighter. Aside from having significantly more performance, you will also not be placing as much strain on the tires. Eventually, it all comes back to less money spent on overall maintenance.

  1. Reduces Surface Versatility

While the gravel bike is designed to take on any surface, when you add a suspension, you limit the performance on the road. While the bike could excel in the mountains, you will be left with frustration when you ride on flat roads.

As mentioned, the suspension sags downwards and this hinders acceleration. You will take much longer to get to your top speed and this could be very frustrating for the most competitive of riders to deal with.

Do Some Gravel Bikes Have A Suspension?

If you are looking for a gravel bike that does have a suspension, the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty is probably one of the best options that come to mind. The bike is one of the most expensive options on the market, but even with the suspension, it will operate at peak performance.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3

Cannondale has introduced a one-sided suspension fork, which removes some of the weight of the traditional suspension that uses a double fork. It still operates in the same way by reducing the stiffness of the bike, but this does not add too much weight. You can still get an effective drive when you are accelerating forward.

One of the reasons that many other bike manufacturers have not implemented this is due to the price. Unless you are one of the top brands in the world of cycling, you have no reason to charge exorbitant prices. Many bike manufacturers try to keep the price low, which means less carbon fiber. Unfortunately, this is not a DIY project you can do at home and you are better off avoiding a suspension.

Should I Buy A Gravel Bike With A Suspension Fork?

If you want to use your gravel bike on hills and climbing mountains, you might want to consider one that features a suspension. However, the suspension is not the best option for those taking on flat terrains. The bike might feel saggy on flat terrains and your acceleration will not be as powerful as you need it to be. 

If you want a full suspension gravel bike, you are better off buying one of the more expensive options with a carbon fiber frame and suspension fork. It will give you the same functionality as the full-suspension bike, but the weight is reduced. Carbon fiber is one of the lightest materials for your bike.

Frequently Asked Questions

The gravel bike suspension has been a long-debated topic, but it is not something you should add to your bike unless mountain biking plays an important role. With that said, there are a few questions we found from people wondering about suspension on their mountain bikes. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Can I Put Suspension Forks On A Gravel Bike?

It is possible to put a suspension fork on a gravel bike, but it is not something you should consider. While it could help make it easier for riding on certain terrains, the downside is that it will add more weight to the bike. If you don’t feel like doing maintenance, you will also want to avoid an additional fork to ensure better performance. 

Is A Carbon Fork Good For Gravel Bikes?

If you want to add a suspension to your mountain bike, the carbon fiber fork will be the best option. Even though we would discourage people from doing this, the carbon fork is the lesser of the two evils. The fork should work like a normal suspension, but due to being lighter, it should be much easier for you to operate.

The biggest downside to having a carbon fork on your gravel bike is the price. Most carbon fiber components are very expensive. You will also be spending more on maintenance.

Should I Get A Suspension On My Gravel Bike?

No, the answer is pretty simple. However, many people have different ambitions and means they have certain performance goals. Depending on your performance goals, you might want to add a suspension to your gravel bike. However, we would strongly discourage the average rider to do so. You will be having far better performance without it.

Do Gravel Bikes Have A Suspension Summary

A gravel bike is the most versatile of all the bikes on the market today. These bikes offer good value for the money and allow you to take on different terrains. We would not recommend adding a suspension fork to the gravel bike. However, if you must add one, we would encourage you to choose the carbon fiber options.

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