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Best Steel Gravel Bikes in 2023

By Rebecca Bland   /  Last updated - February 27, 2023   /  Gravel Bikes, Reviews, Touring
best steel gravel bikes

Image source: allcitycycles.com

Steel is most definitely real according to plenty of current bike manufacturers, which is why we’ve made a list of the best steel gravel bikes.

Known for its strength and durability, steel is one of the most desirable bike frame materials out there. Steel-framed bikes can absorb more damage and take more blows than aluminum or carbon fiber. Steel bikes can often produce better ride quality, with the absorption of bumps more noticeable, which is especially important on gravel bikes.

  • Strong
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Great vibration damping qualities
  • Been around for ages (since the very beginning)
  • Doesn’t rust, but does corrode

Steel gravel bikes are nothing new, but this article will help you understand why steel is a material of choice for many bike builders and manufacturers and give you a list of a few top ones to get you started.

One downside to steel as a bike frame material is its cost. Often it costs more than aluminum, and if it’s a bespoke bike it can cost even more as you pay for the labor of the bike being made specifically to your size. So although steel is a great material, let’s look at the alternatives and their cost in relation to steel.

Top Alternatives to Steel

Aluminum is the cheaper alternative to steel. Why? Because it’s generally mass-produced and lighter than steel. It’s a great budget option for gravel bikes (and other bikes), and it’s corrosion-proof. It may not have the superior ride quality that steel does, but it’s a great option for those on a budget.

Carbon fiber is one of two main options if you’re looking to spend more money. It’s stronger than aluminum and much lighter. The downside is, of course, the cost. A carbon fiber gravel bike will set you back a lot more than aluminum and more than a steel gravel bike. Carbon fiber frames are usually only mass-produced as it is difficult to make carbon molds in-house for bespoke models.

carbon gravel bike

Image source: cannondale.com

A further issue of carbon fiber is its durability. Although it’s strong, it needs to flex to absorb some of the energy from the road or gravel. If it is constantly hit by rocks or large impacts, it could fracture and you could easily weaken the carbon fiber structure.

If carbon fiber isn’t your thing, titanium is the next best upgrade from steel. Titanium might be among the most expensive frame materials you can buy, but it’s for good reason. It’s a sort of wonder material, in that it doesn’t require painting (so you can worry less about scratches and stripping the paint back).

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And it’s also corrosion-resistant and wear-resistant, so you don’t need to worry about hitting rocks or stray bits of gravel hitting your downtube as if it were a carbon frame.

Titanium gravel bikes are often things of beauty and are usually made by bespoke frame builders rather than mass-produced, off-the-shelf brands. Titanium bikes are incredibly durable and often outlive their owner’s riding interests. Scratches can be easily buffed out and it’s not rare to see decades-old titanium bikes still thriving.

1. Zize Bikes 29er Max 2.0

zize bikes 29er max 2.0

MSRP: $2,500

  • Shimano 8-speed internally geared hub
  • 29×2.1″
  • Weight: 48 lbs
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Sizes S/M

The Zize Bikes 29er Max 2.0 might be a steel urban bike, but it gets a place on our list due to its versatility. It’s definitely one of the best bikes for heavy people as well.

It’s perfect for commuting or bicycle touring on all-terrain thanks to the rack mounts and the bottle cages and fenders already installed on the bike. They allow you to pack plenty of bags suitable for your journey. In addition, the gear choices available allow you to ride diverse gradients and the internal gearing significantly boosts durability. 

Alhonga mechanical discs provide powerful braking on this gravel touring bike, and 2.1″ tires are suitable wide for both gravel and asphalt riding. It’s a versatile machine and one of the best gravel bikes around.

Buy on REI.com

2. Salsa Vaya

salsa vaya steel gravel bike


MSRP: $2,749

  • Shimano GRX 600/810 2×11-speed
  • Clearance for 50mm tires (45mm with fenders)
  • TRP Spyre-C Mechanical disc brakes
  • Weight: 25lbs

Another excellent steel gravel bike on our list is the Salsa Vaya. This model comes with a Shimano GRX 600/810 blend, including a 46/40t crankset and an 11-34t 11-speed cassette, giving your plenty of options for varied gradients. The major downside of this bike is the mechanical disc brakes. They should be hydraulic at this price.

The Vaya has a set of Teravail Cannonball 38mm tubeless-ready tires on WTB ST i19 TCS 2.0 rims. Tire clearance is enough for a 45mm tire with fenders or 50mm without, which is more than wide enough for even the roughest gravel.

Buy on REI

3. Marin Nicasio+

Marin Nicasio+ Bike

MSRP: $1,099
Jenson USA

  • Steel frame & fork
  • 650b x 47mm tires
  • 700c x 40mm clearance
  • MicroShift Advent 1×9 drivetrain

The Marin Nicasio+ combines super-fast road geometry, plenty of mounts for bikepacking, and off-road components and capability. 

It features Tektro mechanical disc brakes and WTB Horizon 47mm tires so that you can tackle anything from asphalt to singletrack.

This bike can tackle hills easily, thanks to a 1×9 MicroSHIFT Advent drivetrain with an 11-46T cassette. The Beyond Road geometry balances endurance road geometry with extra stability for off-roading.

It comes with 650b x 47mm tires as stock but can accommodate tires up to 40mm wide on 700c wheels. Don’t miss out on this durable and versatile gravel bike if you’re on a tight budget. 

Buy on Jenson USA

4. State Bicycle Co. 4130 All-Road

Awesome value

state bicycle co. 4130 All-Road

MSRP: $900
State Bicycle Co.

  • 4130 ChroMoly steel
  • 700x38c / 650b x 2.1″, thru-axle
  • State Bicycle Co. All-Road 1 Flat-Mount disc brakes, 160mm rotors
  • 1×11 State Bicycle Co. drivetrain, 11-42t cassette

The State Bicycle Co. 4130 All-Road is another steel-framed gravel bike ready for adventure. The steel frame helps to absorb trail chatter, making for a smoother ride. 

This bike has clearance for a 700x38c or a 650b x 2.1″ wheelset, giving you plenty of options for different terrains and seasons. The stock tires are Vittoria Terreno Zero 38c tubeless-ready or 2.1″ Vittoria Barzo. 

As with most SBC bikes, the 4130 All-Road uses stock components, including a simple 1×11-speed drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, and tubeless-ready double-wall rims. These are low-performance but durable components. 

Overall, this is a budget gravel bike that makes a great, cheap starter for riders with a tight budget who do a mix of paved and off-road riding. 

Buy from State Bicycle

5. All-City Cycles Gorilla Monsoon 

all-city gorilla monsoon

MSRP: $2,499
Jenson USA

  • 1×11 SRAM Apex
  • 700c & 650b options
  • Clearance for 2.4″ or 42mm tires
  • Mechanical disc brakes

Available in both 700c and 650b wheel configurations, the All-City Gorilla Monsoon is one of the best steel gravel bikes around.

Designed to be at home either on or off the tarmac, it comes with clearance for 2.4″ tires (or 700c x 42mm) and powerful Tektro disc brakes. Mounts for bags make the bike versatile enough for bikepacking, while this steel-framed gravel bike also comes with a one-by drivetrain with a wide range of gears, ideal for steep climbs.

Other notable features include the Tranz-X dropper post, tubeless-ready rims, and grippy WTB Riddler tires for a durable and controlled ride off-road. 

Buy on Jenson USA

6. Kona Rove DL

kona rove DL steel gravel bike MSRP: $1,999
Jenson USA

  • Chromoly steel frame and fork
  • 650b x 50mm tire clearance
  • SRAM Rival 1 11-Speed drivetrain
  • Kona Deluxe Thumb seatpost

Whether you’re after a backcountry adventure or a long bikepacking trip, the Kona Rove DL is a great steel-framed gravel bike option.

It comes with numerous mounting points so you can kit it out however you like – bar bags, frame bags, etc. The Chromoly steel material gives the bike a great ride quality in terms of comfort. It comes equipped with a SRAM Rival 11-speed drivetrain, which makes maintenance easier.

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The Rove comes with unusual cable-actuated disc brakes with hydraulic calipers, which provide good braking power but means they aren’t as durable as typical fully hydraulic systems. Finally, WTB Venture TCS DUAL or Maxxis Receptor EXO 47mm will allow you to tackle everything from asphalt to singletrack while rolling relatively fast on pavement.

Buy on Jenson USA

7. Rondo Ruut ST1

MSRP: $2,899
Mike’s bikes

  • 700c or 650b wheel options
  • 50mm or 2″ tire clearance
  • SRAM Rival 1×11 drivetrain
  • Flat mount hydraulic disc brakes

The Rondo Ruut ST1 is the steel frame gravel bike in the brand’s collection of adventure bikes.

Ideal for commuters looking for a smooth ride and a rugged bike, or for gravel riders and off-road adventurers looking for a versatile bike that’s capable of tackling the rough stuff. It comes with mounting points for various frame bags, and a wide gear ratio of 11-42 on the cassette. This is a decent ratio designed to be able to help you get up the steepest of inclines.

Rondo has made this gravel steel bike with custom-shaped heat-treated tubing. They have used a rounded top tube for more front-end compliance, and an S shape seat stay for extra comfort. The forks are incredibly wide and can take up to 50mm tires for a 700c wheel, and 2″ tires for a 650b.

Buy on Mike's Bikes

8. Marin Four Corners

marin four corners

MSRP $1,279
Jenson USA

  • 700c or 650b wheel options
  • 42 mm tires
  • CrMo steel frame and fork
  • Shimano Sora, 3×9-Speed

Marin Four Corners is a popular gravel bike with huge potential for touring and bikepacking. 

Marin has used their proprietary steel design for the frame, ensuring this is a super comfortable and long-lasting bike. The Four Corners has been used for bikepacking and touring across the globe with plenty of success and can be ridden with either 700c or 650b wheels. Either size comes with 42mm tires, but there’s clearance for even wider rubber in the frame and fork.

This bike is a tried and tested formula for Marin and they have refined it to create a bike that’s versatile and exciting to ride. It’s priced at only $1,280 and comes loaded with mounts for any accessories you want. 

It also boasts mechanical disc brakes and a 3×9 Shimano Sora drivetrain, so it’s definitely ready to climb as well!

Buy from Jenson USA Buy on GovVelo.com

9. Salsa Fargo

salsa fargo steel gravel bike

MSRP: $2,649
Jenson USA

  • 700c wheels
  • 27.5 x 3.0″ or 29 x 2.4 tire clearance
  • SRAM Apex 1, 11-Speed drivetrain
  • Triple-butted CroMoly steel
  • Carbon fork
  • Mounts for a rack and fenders

The Salsa Fargo is a great all-around steel gravel bike. It is designed for everything from asphalt to loose gravel and can tackle most terrain thanks to the wide tire clearance available on this bike. You can run up to 3″ tires on 650b wheels for comfortable controlled riding off-road. The bike comes with fenders and rack mounts to make it the perfect adventure-style bike.

Salsa has used its own triple-butted steel tubing to create a comfortable and durable ride featuring slack geometry suitable for both on and off-road applications. This version comes with a SRAM Rival 1 11-speed drivetrain and slightly disappointing TRP Spyre-C mechanical disc brakes and is priced at only $2,649.

Buy from Mike's Bikes Buy from Jenson USA

10. All-City Cosmic Stallion

all-city cosmic stallion rival

MSRP: $4,049
Jenson USA

  • 700c wheels
  • 700x42mm or 650b x 47mm tire clearance
  • 2×12-speed SRAM Rival AXS drivetrain
  • SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes
  • Weight: 22lbs

One of the best gravel bikes on the list, the All-City Cosmic Stallion is a great steel-framed do-it-all bike with a premium Whisky No.9 carbon fork.

The brand uses an A.C.E. steel frame combined with a carbon fork for the ultimate ride experience and to keep the weight of the frame low. The Cosmic Stallion comes with a 2×12-speed SRAM Rival AXS electronic groupset, with a 10-36t cassette and a 30/43t crankset, which is an excellent gear ratio for even the steepest climbs.

Ready to tackle anything you throw at it, the 23mm internal width of the wheels and wide fork clearance allows for tires up 47mm on 650b rims. Additionally, SRAM hydraulic disc brakes are included to help you stop on a dime. The Cosmic Stallion is priced at $4,049 and comes in a sleek frame finish, but unfortunately doesn’t have internal cable routing. 

Buy from Jenson USA

norco search xr s1 steel gravel bike

MSRP: $3,299

  •  700c x 45mm tire clearance (42mm with fenders)
  • Shimano GRX/105 2×11-Speed drivetrain
  • Shimano GRX hydraulic discs
  • Carbon fork 

The only Reynolds 725 steel frame on our best steel bikes for gravel list, the Norco Search XR S1 is an adaptable and versatile steel gravel bike.

Designed to be ridden wherever you want, the Search is happy as a commuter bike, a road bike, or a gravel bike. The high-quality Shimano 105/GRX drivetrain with an 11-34t cassette and 46/30t crankset allow you to tackle steep hills without getting out of the saddle. 

The Search XR S1 has GRX hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless-ready rims, and WTB Resolute TCS 700x42c tires. Finally, you have lightweight WTB ST Light i23 TCS rims to cap off an excellent spec. 


2 thoughts on “Best Steel Gravel Bikes in 2023

  1. Joshua says:

    What about Breezer Inversion?

    1. Editorial Team says:

      It’s a great bike, Joshua. It’s a good choice if you can find it in stock.

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