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The 19 Best Gravel Bikes of 2021

Gravel bike riding has exploded in popularity over the past few years, particularly in central US states with long stretches of dirt tracks.

Recently, more and more commuters are moving towards using gravel bikes as an alternative to hybrids or road bikes due to the versatility they offer. The main advantage of gravel bike riding is being able to ride fast in areas with less vehicle traffic and more natural beauty. Many gravel enthusiasts find it more fun than MTB riding due to the bikes being lighter and quicker.

gravel bike on logs stack

Image courtesy: Unsplash.com


What is a Gravel Bike?

Gravel riding comprises anything from smooth single-track to rocky jeep tracks, hardpack dirt, or forest paths. These days many bike manufacturers make gravel-specific bikes that are tailored to operate best on dirt and single-track. Gravel bikes combine elements of road bike racing with mountain biking and involve race-style drop-bar bikes with thicker-treaded tires to handle off-road conditions.

  • Drop-bar
  • Slack geometry
  • Comfortable stance
  • Increased tire clearance
  • Multi-surface performance
gravel bike essential features

List of essential features

Gravel bike must-have components.

Many gravel bikes have internal cable routing and components that are designed to better resist dirt and grime. Usually, the frames will come with extra mount points for water bottles, racks, or other bikepacking-related gear.

Gravel Bike = Gravel Grinder = Gravel Bicycle = All Road Bike

Great for everyday commuting?

Gravel bikes make excellent everyday commuters and touring bikes, particularly for cyclists who need to cross varied terrain and have a fair bit of cycling background. They are quicker on tarmac than mountain bikes but can handle dirt track far better than traditional road bikes. For this reason, they make good all-rounders but are not ideal for specific tasks like road racing or downhill mountain biking.

Gravel vs Cyclocross

See the comparison down below.


 

Table of Contents

Best Gravel Bikes of 2021

Under $2,000

Under $1,500

Under $1,000

Qs & AsExtended!

Let us introduce you to the recommended gravel bikes of 2021


 

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Top Picks

Best Gravel Bikes of 2021

1. Niner – MCR 9 RDO
2. Alchemy Bicycles – Ronin TI
3. Niner – RLT 9 3-star
4. Trek – Checkpoint ALR 5 2021′
5. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Stigmata Carbon CC GRX
6. Cannondale – Synapse NEO SE
7. Specialized – Diverge E5 Series
8. Cervelo – Aspero


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1. Niner – MCR 9 RDO

Full-Suspension gravel bike

niner full-suspension gravel bike

MSRP $4,700 JensonUSA

The MCR 9 RDO by Niner bikes is a gravel bike with a Shimano GRX groupset and a full-suspension frame. As most gravel bikes in this list feature a rigid fork for the fastest riding experience, the MCR 9 RDO-series is among the most innovative of them all.

MCR stands for Magic Carpet Ride, suggesting a ride so smooth it feels like a magic carpet.

This is due to the inclusion of both front and rear suspension, laying the claim for the “first-ever full-suspension gravel bike“. It’s an interesting concept and probably the first drop-bar bike we’ve seen with rear suspension.

So isn’t it just an MTB with drop bars? Not exactly. Just from looking at it, you can see this Niner full suspension gravel bike is a different beast altogether. It has dedicated gravel-specific frame geometry designed to handle well at speed, with the suspension tuned to swallow vibrations rather than high-gravity drops. This means you get a far more rigid ride with full power-transference out of each stroke of the pedals. Clearly, a simple gravel bike with front suspension is no longer enough – full suspension gravel bikes are the future.

Rather than the wave-like bounce of a mountain bike, the Niner MCR simply glides over rough surfaces like a hoverboard, reducing fatigue on the rider and allowing for faster speeds. Unlike a standard gravel bike with front suspension, the Niner doesn’t need to rely solely on frame flex to absorb high-pressure cornering or sketchy descents. This allows you to ride more aggressively with the knowledge that you’ll stay on track.

MCR 9 RDO Builds
The MCR 9 RDO is available in two different SRAM builds, the Rival 22 and SRAM Force ETAP AXS which are $5,400 and $8,200 respectively. There are also five Shimano builds including the GRX 400 for $4,200 and variations of GRX 800 with 1x and 2x gearing from $5,900 to $7,000. All builds come with Niner’s patented CVA full-suspension system, Fox 32 SC Float front suspension, Stands NoTubes Grail S1 wheels, and Schwalbe G-One Evo tires.

Shimano GRX800 – Shifters, Rear Derailleur & Brakes / Carbon frame / X-Fusion 50mm rear shock & Fox 32 SC 40mm front fork

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

2. Alchemy Bicycles – Ronin TI

Best Titanium Gravel Bike

alchemy bicycles titanium gravel bike

 

MSRP from $6,499 Alchemy Bicycles

Titanium-framed bikes are something of a niche market due to the high cost of the material. However, for those dedicated to the cause, Alchemy has created a titanium gravel bike, the Ronin TI. Handcrafted in Colorado, the Ronin TI has increased tire clearance up to 2.1″ / 45mm and specially welded and tapered frame tubes for extra rider comfort.

This beast of a bike comes in several different builds, including Shimano GRX, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace groupsets plus SRAM Force and Red Etap. Riders can also choose from mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes, depending on the budget. The bikes all use Teravail Cannonball 700×42 tires and either HED Ardennes or ENVE rims.

Alchemy Bicycles is one of the best bike brands in the USA gravel bikes league and they also produce the most expensive gravel bike quite likely.

Availability

AlchemyBicycles.com


 

3. Niner – RLT 9 3-star

One of the best gravel bikes under $3,000

Niner 3-Star Rival 650b Gravel Bike

MSRP $2,900 Competitive Cyclist

This impressive Niner gravel bike doesn’t come cheap but does it live up to its price tag? The SRAM Rival drivetrain combined with a Shimano Ultegra HG800 cassette is certainly a good start, especially with the integrated SRAM flat mount hydraulic disc brakes.

Keeping our interest piqued, the Stan’s NoTubes tubeless rims with the ever-popular Maxxis Rambler TLR EXO tires are a clear winner. The choice of aluminum over carbon for the frame is questionable but Niner has included both a Niner RDO carbon fork, stem, AND Seatpost. These, combined with the well-formed RLT 9 endurance geometry, make for a surprisingly smooth ride.

SRAM Rival Derailleurs & Brakes / 650 x 47mm Maxxis Rambler TLR EXO / 6061 Aluminum frame & Niner RDO carbon fork

Availability

CompetitiveCyclist.com


 

4. Trek – Checkpoint ALR 5 2021′

Best-value mens gravel bike out of the Trek Checkpoint-series

Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 teal gravel bike

MSRP $2,100 Trek bikes – Available in-store only

The Checkpoint ALR 5 is a mid-level aluminum Trek gravel bike that offers some impressive features for the price. Notably, the lightweight frame with a carbon fork, front and rear rack, and fender mounts plus internal cable routing and horizontal sliding dropouts.

The drivetrain uses a combination of an excellent 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette with Shimano GRX shifters and derailleurs plus a 2-cog front crank to provide 22 gears. The grouping works well together and integrates perfectly with flat-mount Shimano RX400 hydraulic disc brakes.

The wheelset utilizes standard Bontrager tubeless-ready rims and GR1 Comp 700x40c tires, which are decent but nothing to write home about. Overall, this Trek Checkpoint gravel bike offers great value-for-money from a well-trusted and established brand. Not available online.

  • Shimano RS500 PressFit 92mm bottom bracket
  • Shimano 105 Cassette & Chain
  • Bontrager Montrose Comp Saddle
  • Shimano RX400 Hydraulic Disc brakes w/ 160mm rotors

11-speed Shimano GRX600 drivetrain / 700c x 40c Bontrager GR1 Comp / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

Trekbikes.com


 

5. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Stigmata Carbon CC GRX

Best Carbon Gravel Bike

Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon CC GRX Gravel Bike

MSRP $5,499 Jenson USA

Santa Cruz is already well known for its excellent trail and MTB bikes and is now making waves in the gravel bike scene. The 2021 Stigmata CC Force 1X is a full carbon bike with a top-quality SRAM Force groupset, 12-speed SRAM XG cassette, and Force hydraulic disc brakes.

It’s built in the traditional XC style with no suspension but provides a surprisingly smooth ride due to the tough but highly absorbent Carbon CC frame. Naturally, Santa Cruz didn’t scrimp on the wheelset, giving us impressive Race Face ARC rims and the ever-popular Maxxis Ranger 27.5×2.0 tires.

This is a professional-level Santa Cruz gravel bike so unfortunately, it comes with the price tag to match but, hey – that’s what you pay for quality!

Shimano Force & X01 eTap AXS / 650×2.0 Maxxis Ranger / Carbon frame & fork

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

6. Cannondale – Synapse NEO SE

Best Electric Gravel Bike!

cannondale electric gravel bike

MSRP $4,500 REI

As gravel bikes gain in popularity, we are seeing more and more gravel eBikes on the market. This new e-bike from the 2020 Cannondale gravel bikes range is one of the best we’ve seen yet. 

The Synapse Neo is based on Cannondale’s popular Synapse range, with the addition of a powerful 250W Bosch Active Line motor. The 500W long-range battery will keep the motor running for up to 93 miles (150km) with pedal assistance!

With an 11-speed SRAM Apex groupset, 47mm WTB Byway tires, and STi23 tubeless-ready rims, this bike is focused on maintaining the challenge and sport of cycling. As a Class 1 eBike, most cyclists will only use the motor assistance for long or steep inclines. However, if you’re looking for something with more speed than you can pedal, you’ll want a Class 2 or Class 3.

The design and geometry of the Synapse NEO closely resemble Cannondale Women’s Topstone AL gravel bike.

  • Pedal-assist range: 93miles
  • Max speed: 20mp/h
  • Batter capacity: 500wH
  • Torque: 50Nm
  • Charge time: 4.5h

11-speed SRAM Apex / 650b x 47mm WTB Byway TCS TLR / SRAM Apex hydro disc / Alloy frame

Availability

REI.com


 

7. Specialized – Diverge E5 Series

Widest variety of gravel bikes for men & women

specialized Diverge Comp E5 EVO gravel bike

The Specialized Diverge series gravel bikes are among the most popular on the whole range. There’s a wide variety of set-ups and designs, starting from $1,600 for Diverge Comp E5 Evo up to Diverge Expert E5 Evo. It wasn’t too long ago when the Diverge bikes were starting along from $1,100 for men and women, while the higher-end Diverge gravel bikes can cost up to $10,000.

See the full range from Specialized


 

8. Cervelo – Aspero

Best Gravel Bike For The Money

Cervelo - Aspero Apex 1x Gravel Bike - Black/Gold

MSRP $2,800 Backcountry

With a steep head tube and moderate head tube for increased balance, comfort, and speed, the Aspero can run both 700c and 650b wheels. Internal cable routing allows for an additional dropper post. Size-corrected geometry for each rider, this is truly a beast of a machine if you are looking for a performance-based gravel machine.

Powered by the SRAM Apex 1 groupset, full carbon frame and fork make up a deal at this price point. Hydraulic disc brakes, 700x40c tires, and Alexrims Boondocks 7-D rims, the bike is decorated like a Christmas tree, while hiding all its features behind this subtle glossy black frame.

Is there anything to add or remove about the bike? Most likely not as Cervelo has proved to be one of the top names in the game.

Availability

Backcountry.com


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $2,000

9. Priority Bicycles – Apollo Gravel
10. Bombtrack – Audax AL
11. MASI – Speciale Randonneur Elite 650B

 


 

9. Priority Bicycles – Apollo Gravel

Best belt-drive gravel bike! 🏆

priority gravel belt drive bike

 

MSRP $1,699 Priority Bicycles

Priority Cycles‘ Apollo Gravel is a unique dirt and singletrack bike with an internal hub and belt-driven drivetrain. This makes it far easier to keep clean and reduces the overall maintenance and upkeep costs. Although its main function is as a gravel bike, it’s a highly versatile bike with multiple uses, including commuting, touring, and bikepacking. The best thing about the belt-drive is that the belts’ expected lifespan is around 19,000 miles!

Featured in: Best Belt-Drive Bicycles in 2021

The Apollo Gravel is designed to take both the 700c and the 650b wheels, so there’s no fuzz there!

Silent – Clean – Maintenance free

What about the downsides? While internally geared hubs do offer a much cleaner system with lower maintenance, they can be difficult to fix on the rare occasions that they do break. Most hubs can’t be opened with simple tools and need to be returned to the manufacturer for repairs. This means if you break down far from a city with a dedicated bike shop or mechanic you could struggle to get your hub repaired.

11-speed 400% gear range / 700c x 40mm WTB ByWay / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

PriorityBicycles.com


 

10. Bombtrack – Audax AL

Best 1x drivetrain gravel bike

MSRP $1,999 Aventuron

As the name suggests, the Bombtrack Audax is built to travel long distances and to do so, it must be able to tackle any terrain. With this in mind, the Audax AL is a powerful road bike that combines a strong aluminum frame with a lightweight carbon fork and small, thick wheels. These comprise ultra-fat 47mm WTB Horizon tires wrapped around 650B WTB STi21 tubeless-ready rims, making for an excellent, high-quality wheelset.

The smaller wheel size means there’s still ample space in the Audax’s compact frame to accommodate mudguards – a necessity for long rides through fields and forests. You also get an optimized frame bag and bottle cage mount positions, making this an excellent bikepacking or long-distance gravel touring bike.

The inclusion of a Microshift drivetrain was probably a cost-saving choice that isn’t great but will get the job done. I would’ve liked to see one of Shimano’s or SRAMs mid-range gravel drivetrains on this bike to really finish it off in style. Furthermore, the disc brakes are TRP Spyre – decent enough but another budget choice. However, at under $2,000 you can’t complain and the vast majority of cyclists will find this set up more than adequate for their needs.

Microshift XLE – Derailleur with clutch / 650b x 47c WTB Horizon / 11-speed / Aluminum Frame

Availability

Aventuron.com


 

11. MASI – Speciale Randonneur Elite 650B

Gravel-style commuter with Integrated fenders and a headlamp

Alternate ImageMSRP $1,850 JensonUSA

Anyone coming from a mountain bike background will find this as a superb gravel bike at an affordable rate. Yes, it will be a smoother transition than getting a cyclocross bike, as this 650b wheel bike is a true gravel warrior on its own league. This is a great bike for those who are looking for a more capable and faster roundabout bicycle than you’d get from a standard hybrid bike.

Designed for touring, this Haro Masi bike is equipped with parts that are equal to mid-range component durability level that is focused on comfort and long-lasting performance, rather than performance. Rated ideal for Gravel, Adventure, Touring, and as a commuter bike – the steel frame and gravel-rated components provide a smooth and enjoyable ride for sure!

22-speed Shimano 105 Groupset / Mechanical Disc brakes / Integrated front fork and fenders / Steel frame & fork

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500

12. Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.2
13. Fuji – Jari 1.5
14. Marin – Gestalt 2
15. Devinci Bikes – Hatchet Sora 700C ‘2021
16. Tommaso Bikes – Illimitate Disc 40C
17. Salsa Cycles – Stormchaser

 


 

12. Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.2

Best Value Gravel Bike series!

co-op cycles white adventure gravel bike

Most Co-op Cycles bikes have unisex frame geometry which means that they can offer the best gravel bikes for women!

MSRP $1,499 REI

REI Gravel bike selection is best-suited for those who are looking at the best value bicycles on the market without losing on quality components. They offer a fine selection of well-known gravel bikes by known brands such as Salsa and Cannondale, plus they have their own line of bikes known as the Co-op Cycles. Most other Co-op Bikes selection has been selling out really well, and the ADV series is no different from that! The ADV-series gravel bikes are equipped with essential components you’d expect from bikes with a slightly higher price tag.

Co-op Cycles ADV Series – Comparison Chart

Co-op Cycles MSRP Wheels Frame Gears Group Brakes – Disc
ADV 1.1 $1,399 700c Steel 3×10 Deore Hydraulic
ADV 2.1 $1,099 700c Aluminum 2×8 Claris Mechanical 
ADV 2.2 $1,499 700c Aluminum 2×10 GRX Mechanical
ADV 2.3 $2,199 700c Aluminum  1×11 GRX Hydraulic
ADV 3.1 $1,399 650b Steel 2×10 Deore Mechanical
ADV 3.2 $1,799 650b Aluminum 2×10 Deore XT Hydraulic
ADV 4.2 $2,099 27.5″ Aluminum 2×11 SLX Hydraulic

Read our full ADV-series review

The ADV-, also known as the Adventure series has a great variation of set-ups and designs to choose from, and the ADV 2.2 has the best feedback on the list. Co-op Cycles is also well known for its production of bike frames for men, women, kids and a large number of unisex frames which makes it most likely the best selection of gravel bikes for women in this list.

Shimano GRX Drivetrain & Crankset / 700c x 40mm WTB Nano Comp / Tektro MD-C550 cable mechanical Disc brakes / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

REI.com


 

13. Fuji – Jari 1.5

fuji jari gravel travel bike

20-Speed Shimano Tiagra / 700c x 38mm / Alloy frame & carbon fork

MSRP $1,400 Fuji

The Jari 1.5 is a versatile, mid-level Fuji gravel bike aimed at recreational weekend riders, bikepackers, and light tourers. Its durable, lightweight alloy frame is complemented by a carbon monocoque fork with rack and water bottle mounts for touring or bikepacking.

Despite the attractively low price, the Jari 1.5 has several above-average components, including a Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain, WTB wheels, and 700x38c Panaracer Gravelking tires. A full groupset with Tiagra hydraulic disc brakes would have been a welcome addition over the Tektro mechanical disc brakes, but they still provide excellent stopping power in any conditions.

Availability

Fujibikes.com


 

14. Marin – Gestalt 2

marin gestalt2 gravel bike

MSRP $1,359 JensonUSA

This aluminum & carbon mixture Marin gravel bike will appeal to traditionalists looking for a strong, dedicated touring or bikepacking bike. It features lightweight materials or aggressive race geometry of some top gravel bikes but makes up for this in strength and durability at a decent price tag.

A generous smattering of mount points makes it easy to turn this into a full-scale, long-distance expedition bike. It also offers a more comfortable upright seating position and the 20-speed Shimano drivetrain will ensure you never struggle up steep ascents.

Some components like the Tektro mechanical disc brakes and alloy rims could be better but overall, everything fits well in the price bracket.

20-speed Shimano Tiagra / 700x32c / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

15. Devinci Bikes – Hatchet Sora 700C ‘2021

Devinci - Hatchet A G Sora 18s Complete Bike 2021

MSRP $1,299 evo

Devinci is a small bike brand out of Canada that makes bespoke adventure bicycles. The Hatchet Sora is a mid-range aluminum-framed bike with an 18-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain and Shimano Sora hydraulic disc brakes. It has no suspension but the carbon fork helps to reduce vibration and overall weight.

Shipped with 700x45c tires, it seems the Hatchet is more aimed at fast single track riding but has clearance for up to 700x45c or 650B x 2.1″ tires. Most components aren’t top-quality but it makes a good entry-level gravel bike. Plus, with both front and rear rack and fender mounts, the Hatchet could make a decent light-tourer.

Shimano Sora derailleurs & shifters / Hydro brakes / 700x45c Kenda Piedmont / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

evo.com


 

16. Tommaso Bikes – Illimitate Disc 40C

Best Gravel Bike Under $1,500

Tommaso Illimitate Disc - 40c black gravel bike

MSRP $1,175 Giantnerd

If you want a quality budget gravel bike with a carbon fork and decent gears, you’ll struggle to beat the Tommaso Illimitate. It offers excellent value for money, considering it hosts a full Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain along with Avid BB5 disc brakes.

Admittedly, the 6061 aluminum frame is fairly stock standard and Tommaso uses their own brand for the wheelset as well as many other small parts. However, it rolls very nicely on the fat CST Tirent 700x40c tires, and at only 25 lbs (11.3kg) is comparatively lightweight for a bike in its price range.

Shimano Tiagra Derailleurs / 700x40c CST Tirent All-terrain / Avid BB5 Mechanical Disc Brakes / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

Giantnerd.com


 

17. Salsa Cycles – Stormchaser

Single-speed gravel bike

2020 golden Salsa Stormchaser Single Speed gravel bike

Salsa gravel bikes are a popular among both men and women!

TRP Spyrce Flat Mount disc brakes / 700c x 42mm Teravail Rutland / Aluminum frame & carbon fork

MSRP $1,499 Salsa

The Salsa Stormchaser is a single speed gravel bike designed specifically to handle extreme weather conditions. It’s aluminum frame and carbon fork benefit from Salsa’s own ‘Vibration Reduction System’ (VRS) and include internal cable routing to protect from wear. 

With no derailleurs or cassettes to gather mud, the Stormchaser is ideal for those muddy conditions. It has TRP Spyre disc brakes and two rear cogs (17t, and 18t) with an Alternator Flat Mount dropout to allow easy changing depending on conditions. With WTB ST i23 rims and Teravail Rutland 42mm tires, this is clearly a bike aimed at some serious off-road exploring. Of course, with only one speed, you had best avoid any steep hill climbs.

Availability

SalsaCycles.com


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,000

18. Pure Cycles – Adventure Bike
19. Tommaso – Sterrata Disc

 


 

18. Pure Cycles – Adventure Bike

Best Budget Gravel Bike

pure cycles gravel bike

MSRP $899 REI

It’s hard to believe that you can get such a good-value gravel bike at this kind of price level. Believe it or not but it is true, and it is up for grabs! Best for beginners, the new Pure Cycles Adventure bike will definitely be a bike for many recreational cyclists who are looking for a bicycle to be used as a fast everyday commuter or get into mild gravel riding. Mechanical disc brakes and 38mm tires are a great choice to be used as an all-rounder bike, and the Shimano Claris drivetrain will definitely satisfy the needs of a recreational cyclist for sure.

Steel gravel bikes are preferred due to their vibration-reducing qualities and also the affordable price is something that can’t be overlooked!

2×8 speed Shimano Claris / 700x38c tires / Steel frame & steel fork

Availability

REI.com


 

19. Tommaso – Sterrata Disc

Best Cheap Gravel Bike

Tommaso Sterrata Disc 40c gravel bike

MSRP $975 Giantnerd

Another Tommaso on the more affordable price range – this time under $1,000 for the Sterrata Disc (Sterrata=Gravel in Italian). This model is built on an alloy frame, runs 700x40c CST Tirent All-Terrain tires, its got the Shimano Claris 3x8speed drivetrain. The overall weight of the bike is just 25.4 lb! You’ll also find the Avis BB5 mechanical disc brakes and a carbon fork on the frame. The saddle is the one most riders can’t go wrong with – the WTB Volt. At this date and time it’s unlikely to get such a good deal for this amount of money.

3×8 speed Shimano Claris / Alloy frame & Carbon fork

Availability

Giantnerd.com


 

CONCLUSIONS – Best Gravel Bicycles

Best of 2021
1. Niner – MCR 9 RDO
2. Alchemy Bicycles – Ronin TI
3. Niner – RLT 9 3-star
4. Trek – Checkpoint ALR 5 2021′
5. Santa Cruz Bicycles – Stigmata Carbon CC GRX
6. Cannondale – Synapse NEO SE
7. Specialized – Diverge E5 Series
8. Cervelo – Aspero

UNDER $2,000
9. Priority Bicycles – Apollo Gravel
10. Bombtrack – Audax AL
11. MASI – Speciale Randonneur Elite 650B

UNDER $1,500
12. Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.2
13. Fuji – Jari 1.5
14. Marin – Gestalt 2
15. Devinci Bikes – Hatchet Sora 700C ‘2021
16. Tommaso Bikes – Illimitate Disc 40C
17. Salsa Cycles – Stormchaser

UNDER $1,000
18. Pure Cycles – Adventure Bike
19. Tommaso – Sterrata Disc

 

Best Gravel Bike With SuspensionNiner MCR 9 RDO
Best Titanium Gravel Bike – Alchemy Ronin TI
Best Value Gravel bike series – Co-op Cycles ADV
Best Gravel Racer bike – Salsa Warbird GRX
Best Gravel Bike DealTommaso Illimitate
Best Beginner Gravel Bike – Devinci Hatchet Sora

Best gravel Adventure bike – Co-op Cycles ADV series
Best Women’s gravel bikes – Co-op Cycles ADV


 

Gravel Bike Q & A

↓    ?    ↓

How did we choose? We went through several new and old best-rated gravel bike reviews and looked up the best deals you can purschase online.


Are Gravel Bikes suitable for bike touring?

Adventure, touring and gravel bikes are all very similar in their geometry.

While adventure and touring bicycles are basically the same – built for long-distance touring with panniers and racks, a gravel bike in its essence is more performance-driven, while not as rigid as a cyclocross bike. Many cyclists use gravel bikes also as touring bikes while having the capacity to use it for training only.

  • Touring bicycle – 2x or 3x front cogs for a large variety of gears, generally $1,000 – $1,500 on average.
  • Gravel bicycle – 1x or 2x front cogs, slightly pricier due to ‘heavy-duty’ purposed use. from $1,500 to $3,000 on average

Related: Best Touring Bikes 2021


Is a gravel bike worth it?

Any bike is worth it if you are going to use it often and for its intended purpose. If you enjoy spending a lot of time riding fast on gravel, dirt, or singletrack, you will appreciate the subtle differences that gravel bikes offer. They are not simply road bikes with thicker tires.


Are gravel bikes a fad?

Gravel bikes are certainly a niche that fits somewhere between off and on-road cycling. However, their practicality and varied range of uses mean they are likely here to stay. Many people thought mountain bikes were a fad when they first came out in the 70s and now they dominate the cycling landscape.

 


What are the best gravel bike brands?

Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Kona, Scott, Salsa, Surly, Niner, Bianchi, Santa Cruz, Fuji, Marin, Orbea, Co-op, Evil, Jamis, Norco, Ibis, Pivot, Look, All-City


How much does a gravel bike cost?

Cheap gravel bikes start from around $1,000, while mid-entry gravel bicycles cost around $1,500. The variety of bikes, designs, and components start to get better at around the $2,000 to $2,500 price range.

Don’t forget, that a Gravel bike is an above-average bicycle type since it has to perform well on different terrains and hold up on rather demanding trails where you simply can not use weak components!

Shortcomings


Where to shop for the best gravel bike deals?

You can buy gravel bikes nowadays in most well-equipped bike shops or from online bike retailers.

REI – Cannondale, Co-op Cycles, Salsa Cycles

Aventuron – Salsa, All-City

JensonUSA – Argon 18, Bjorn, Devinci, Evil, GT, Ibis, Look, Marin, Masi, Niner, Norco, Orbea, Rocky Mountain, Sage Bicycles, Santa Cruz Bicycles, VAAST

evo.com – Evil, Giant, Juliana, Marin, Santa Cruz

Trekbikes.com – Trek Gravel Bikes (Very few models can be ordered online)

Specialized – Official Specialized Gravel bikes

Giant-Bicycles – Giant gravel bikes

Canyon – Canyon gravel bikes are one of the most popular


Gravel vs Road Bike

However, many road bikes can be converted to adequate gravel bikes with the simple addition of thicker, treaded tires. However, dedicated gravel bikes do have certain additions and frame adjustments that make them far more comfortable on the dirt. Most notably, they fit wider tires and have hydraulic disc brakes for better braking and control on loose gravel.

Gravel road bikes are the models which can be used as road bikes when changing out the wheels to 700c wheels.


Gravel Bike vs Mountain Bike

Due to the thinner tires and lack of suspension, gravel bikes can’t handle sand and mud or steep rocky descents as well as mountain bikes. Gravel bikes generally do


Gravel Bike vs Hybrid Bike

Since their introduction a few years ago, gravel bikes have often been compared to hybrids but there are several important distinctions. Most notably, hybrids usually use flat handlebars whereas gravel bikes are almost exclusively designed with drop-bar handlebars. Similarities are commonly made between the road-style frames and thicker tires, two characteristics that both hybrids and gravel bikes share.

However, beyond these obvious similarities, dedicated gravel bikes incorporate several features that make them distinct from hybrids. They are usually built from higher quality materials and have lighter frames with more expensive components designed to reduce wear-and-tear from offroad riding. However, with a few minor tweaks, a high-quality hybrid or road bike could be converted into a decent gravel bike.


Gravel vs Cyclocross

Cyclocross and gravel bikes both look the same while having a ‘slightly’ different approach towards their field of use

  • Cyclocross bike (CX) = A more performance-driven for fast, tight, and twisty courses. Stiffer geometry with steeper head angle.
    – No braze-ons for the lightest set-up
    – Generally Quick-Release axles for fast repairs (not a rule of thumb though!)
    – Knobby, thicker tires
  • Gravel bike = Best for long rides on gravel roads or marathons. Slacker head angle with more comfort-orientated geometry.
    – Braze-ons for racks, fenders
    – Smoother tire pattern, wider tires

difference between cyclocross vs gravel bike

Yes, you can race cyclocross on a gravel bike and you can use a cyclocross bike on gravel, but in order to maximize comfort on gravel roads or speed on cyclocross races, there’s a reason why these bikes have a subtle difference.


650b vs 700c wheels

650b (27.5″) =  Stronger, best for off-road touring. Slightly smaller than 700c which gives a better acceleration
700c = Fast-rolling, ideal for on-road commutes. Slightly larger than 650b
29” – Salsa Cutthroat is a gravel bike with 29-inch wheels


Gravel bike tire sizes:

700c x 32mm
700c x 35mm
700c x 40mm
700c x 42mm

650b x 47mm = 27.5″ x 1.9″
27.5″ x 2.1″ = 650b x 53mm

29″ x 2.2″

Top 3 Best Gravel Bike Tires:

gravel bikes tires

1. Vittoria Terreno Dry
2. WTB Resolute TCS
3. Maxxis Rambler EXO TR


Gravel Bike Size Chart

It is recommended to look up each manufacturer’s size chart to find the best-suited model for you. Some brands recommend going for the height only, while others recommend choosing the right size bike by the length of your inseam.


Steel, Aluminum, Titanium, or Carbon Gravel bike frame?

Stiffness – Weight – Strength

Steel is known to be somewhat bulletproof while adding little extra weight. Aluminum frames are lighter. When it comes to touring bikes, chasing the grams is not much of a deal.

  • Steel frames = One of the strongest. Inexpensive, but also the heaviest.
  • Carbon frames = Super lightweight, good vibration reduction qualities. Expensive.
  • Aluminum frames = Lightweight. Great stiffness & flexibility. Not as durable as steel frames. Affordable.
  • Titanium frames = Super tough, best vibration reduction qualities. Titanium won’t rust or corrode! Rides smooth & comfortable like a steel frame. Expensive.

Related: Bike frame materials

metal tubes

Image source: Pexels.com


1x / 2x / 3x drivetrains

x1 drivetrain – Often seen on high-end mountain bikes, or cyclocross bikes. No derailleur on the front = less maintenance and weight
x2 drivetrain – Popular section among mid-range bikes
x3 drivetrain – Mainly used on entry-level, or long-distance touring bikes.


Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc brakes on gravel bikes

Although hydraulic brakes have become a standard for even the cheapest bikes, it doesn’t play such a big role in cyclocross or gravel bike riding. You see many mid-range bikes with cable-actuated mechanical disc brakes as you don’t actually want to entirely block your wheel on softer surfaces with a touch of a finger. It’s also common for cyclocross bikes to use 160mm rotors in the front and a 140mm rotor in the rear to prevent locking the wheel.

disc brakes and thru-axle wheel


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One thought on “The 19 Best Gravel Bikes of 2021

  1. Raphael says:

    Curious as to why Giant isn’t listed as one of the best gravel bike manufacturer. Their Revolt Advanced series are top notch.

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