Pro(moter) bike: Belgian Waffle Ride founder Michael Marckx’s Canyon Ultimate

We check out Michael Marcxk's Canyon Ultimate. You've probably never seen a gravel race bike with a 55t chain ring and Speedplay pedals.

One of the country’s biggest gravel races was never conceived as a gravel race. And to look at the bike of the founder (and many of the past winners), you wouldn’t know the 140-mile Belgian Waffle Ride included a number of rough and tricky gravel sectors.

What will you find on Michael Marckx’s bike? A 55-tooth (!) big ring? Check. Speedplay road pedals? Yep. And 28mm tires? Only after pre-riding the entire course on 25s, per his annual tradition.

“The dynamic is, we are on the spectrum of gravel,” Marckx said. “There is Dirty Kanza on one side, and I think we are on the other.

It’s a road race with all these challenging gravel sectors. The best riders can do it on a road bike with a 28mm tires of their choice. For other people, a 32, 34, even up to a 40mm gravel tire will be better.”

Here is the set-up Marckx will use should race-day logistics allow him to ride.