Top 5 Gravel Bikes
Gravel is still a relatively young discipline when compared to road and mountain biking but it is a growing one. Gravel bikes were invented to give cyclists better access to the vast range of rideable terrain between smooth tarmac and trail centres. As such, with hundreds of gravel bikes now on offer, you’ll find they’ve been designed to fit a vast range of needs. To demystify the difference between your rowdiest adventure gravel bike and our most race-focused offerings we’ve picked out five of the best! Read on to discover our picks.
Specialized Diverge Sport Carbon Gravel Bike
The Specialized Diverge Sport Carbon Gravel Bike strikes a wonderful balance between rowdy and racy. It has modern slack geometry for confident handling, paired with big tyre clearance and innovative FutureShock suspension built into the headset. This Diverge really goes though! Designed to be smooth, because off-road smooth is fast, it’s still super stiff around the bottom bracket for great power transfer to the wheels and gently sculpted for aerodynamic gains through the air. Yet if it’s an adventure you’re after Specialized has you covered. You can get a rack on the fork and there are mounting points all over the rest of the frame.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon 3 Gravel Bike
The Topstone is Cannondale’s adventure bike. For more adventurous gravel riding, the big challenge is building just enough squish into the frame! You don’t want a heavy suspension shock, but you do want enough travel to keep you fresh and your back wheel planted. Cannondale’s ingenious Kingpin suspension system builds 30mm of travel at the saddle directly into the rear of the frame. That squish makes the bike incredibly capable but sacrifices none of the bike's stiffness and adds barely any weight. You are left with an ultra-capable adventure platform that keeps the characteristics of a great road bike.
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Specialized Crux Expert Disc Gravel Bike
The Crux is a genuine do-anything bike and the Specialized Crux Expert Disc model pushes the boundaries when it comes to a high specced without the high price tag. Based on Specialized’s uber-lightweight Aethos road platform, the Crux has been tailored for the rough stuff. That means subtly altered geometry and massively increased tyre clearance. The beauty of this bike is it is capable of delivering the pure pleasure of a light bike, on any surface. Fancy a road bike for the Alps? Whack some 28c skinny tyres on it and it will outclimb dedicated road platforms. Want to tackle some seriously gnarly rough stuff? It can fit 2.1” 650b mountain bike tyres and shred with the best of them. All at 8kg in weight.
Cervelo Aspero Rival eTap AXS Disc Gravel Bike
The Cervelo Aspero is built for speed, we’re trying to go fast here! This means full attention to aerodynamics, prioritising power transfer in the frame and racier geometry than some of the other models on this list. The Aspero Rival eTap AXS Gravel Bike is best suited to going fast on long gravel roads, bridleways and wide open tracks. However, comfort is not forgotten, gravel is a high-frequency impact environment and no matter how racy you want to be, ignore that at your peril. Cervelo has tuned the frame to damp vibrations and has room for some seriously big tyres to dampen things further.
Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Force Gravel Bike
Santa Cruz has long been regarded as mountain biking experts, so it is no surprise that their range of bikes built for off-road adventures is second to none. The Stigmata, as well as having an extremely metal name, is now in its fourth generation. It started life as an aggressive cyclocross bike and evolved with the times into the balanced gravel crusher of today. The Santa Cruz Stigmata Carbon CC Force Gravel Bike comes with a suspension fork, boasting 40mm of travel and a wireless dropper post for more gnarly riding, or in a rigid layout for racing. This year, the rigid version won Unbound Gravel, the biggest gravel race there is. The Stigmata is definitely a premium option, but it may also be the most adaptable racing platform in the world.