I'd love a gravel bike, i think it would suit 70% of my riding down to a T. riding back lanes and branching off down interesting looking off road routes whilst out, something capable of riding through the mud and pot holes but not as slow as an MTB on the smoother stuff.
I work in a bike shop and have access to bikes at staff rates. i also get support of a number of companies and i love to help promote their products and way of doing things, companies such as Cube, mudhugger, beerbabe rad8 sunglasses, Wren forks, Smokestone etc. the guys and girls who run these companies have been awesome. I'm no racer, i'm no superstar, just an ordinary rider doing the things others do or may aspire to do. if i can inspire just one person to get out on a bike, no mater how short or long the ride then i feel it's been worthwhile.
Cube's gravel bike is so new and so popular i've not been able to get my hands on one the right size. I've sold loads of Nuroads though, they look like an awesome bit of kit "pro" reviews back this up too. so, as much as i'd like to try one it's just not possible so I've had to look elsewhere, bikes such as Trek's checkpoint, now Trek are a massive company sponsoring super athlete's so they don't really need my help to sell and develop their bikes. there is another company my shop deals with and they have have always, in my eyes been about the real rider. riders doing epic but attainable stuff and run by riders too. their frame has also had some great reviews too so i was hoping for a discussion with them about how i could help and of course how they could help me. now nothing is free in the bike industry, times are hard and i fully expect to have to pay for anything i receive. that's how these things work. all the above companies give me a discounted rate and communication has been excellent. i've approached hundreds of companies and usually there is a polite reply stating how they can't help or aren't in a position to send anything at that time, i've always replied thanking them for even considering me and wishing them well. I've sat in board rooms with chief executives, spoken to giant global company's GM's p.a (hi to the lovely lady at Tunnocks!) and not every time come away with anything but a warm feeling and the proof that these companies are not just about the money.
however, this is the first time i've not even gotten a "sorry we can't help you" reply, nothing, nada. maybe i'm disillusioned and the outward appearance of being a cyclist friendly company promoting this brand is all just clever marketing and I've fallen for it. i think you can tell i'm disappointed, the bike doesn't matter in the end, just the politeness of a "i'm sorry" reply would have been enough and i'd have moved on, fully supporting the brand to our customers regardless of whether they had been positive or negative in their reply. now though i'm not sure i can have the confidence in them to suggest their products as an option.
I know this will make zero difference to he company in question, i'm a very very tiny fish in an ocean but if they treat all their prospective customers like this it does make you think. I won't name the company as for one i don't write this lightly and it's not in my nature to slag people off and for two i don't want to promote them indirectly with a google hit.
so i've been using my 28mm slick tyred road bike as a gravel bike and learning the bike handling skills that only come with using very inappropriate tyres and brakes in the sort of conditions we have at the moment
i still want a gravel bike though :-)