By Robbie Ferri
Personal Trainer & Cycling Instructor
Robbie from “Riding with Robbie” is a Personal Trainer living in in Norfolk, UK. He has bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. He has worked closely with industry leaders such as Shimano.
I love gravel bikes. They recently have become trendy and quite rightly so. I firmly believe a gravel
What makes a good Gravel
When it comes to gravel bikes and what makes them unique, they can be used for so many different cycling disciplines, and that’s personally what I think makes them epic. A jack of all trades and a master of Gravel is how I described gravel bikes when I was working in a
- Good tire Clearance 40c a minimum
- Robust Frame that can handle the rough stuff
- Suitable geometry to handle off-road riding
- Flared handlebars for control
- Disk brakes
How good can a gravel
bike be in this price range?
Well, gravel bikes are not about high money and big technology. They are about just going out and having fun. Many gravel bikes you will find have 1x groupsets and don’t often come with weight-saving equipment, which drives the price down quite a substantial amount. You can get an excellent gravel
How Did We Rate the Bikes?
Rating a gravel
- Frame Material
- Wheels and Tyres
- Anything unique
The bikes you need to know about
It’s basic, but it will take you anywhere with ease and reliability.
- Cromo Steel Frame Internal routing
- Microshift 1×9 Groupset
- 650B Wheelset 47c Tyres
- Lots of mounting points and rack eyelets
The Marin Nicasio is a beautifully simple
Cannondale Topstone 4
It’s fast and will suit the roadie who wants the odd trail.
- Aluminum Frame Internal Routing
- Microshift 1×10 Groupset
- 700c with 37c tires
- Carbon Forks
I personally like the Topstone a lot, and it is the opposite side of gravel bikes compared to the Marin Nicasio+. It sports an aluminum frame which is going to be stiff and light. The
Giant Revolt 2
Not only is this bike going to be fast it’s going to handle great.
- Aluminum Frame Internal Routing
- Sora 2×9 Groupset
- 700c with 38c tires
- Carbon Forks
When the original Revolt was first released, I couldn’t get over how cool a
Trek Checkpoint AR4
Top-quality bike with top-quality components.
- Aluminum Internal routing
- Shimano GRX RX400 2×10
- 700c 40c tires
- Rack and light mounts
Coming in from Trek is the Checkpoint AR4. This is a very striking
State Bicycle Co x National Park Foundation 4130 All Road Joshua
I love that State offers all the options to build the gravel bike you want, unlike other companies who choose what they recommend. That is such a lovely touch. I wish more bike companies did this.
- Cromo Steel Frame
- State Bicycle 1×11 Drivetrain
- 700c or 650b
- Very customizable
I love what State has done with this bicycle. They offer a perfect basic
I love that State offers all the options to build the gravel
Tommaso Sterrata Shimano Claris R2000
This bike is the cheapest. It’s very good but spending a bit more will get you something much better in my opinion.
- Aluminum Frame
- Shimano 3 x 8 Speed Groupset
- 700c with 40c Tyres
- Triple Crank
The Tommaso Sterrata is very different from other bikes on this list. The Frame is lightweight Aluminum and sports carbon forks. The Groupset is a triple front crank. This offers a much more gearing range than the other bikes, but it’s pretty old technology now but is still sort after in the industry. The brakes are basic cable that will work, but you will find it not as efficient as other bikes’ hydraulic brakes. The wheelset is 700c and comes with 40c tires, so it will get you off-road and have some fun off-road.
Specialized Diverge E5
Excellent beginner bike to upgrade on as you advance as a rider.
- Aluminum Frame
- Shimano Claris R2000 Groupset
- 700c with 35mm Tyres
- Carbon Fork
The Specialized Diverge is an excellent value-for-money
What’s the best frame material for Gravel Riding?
When it comes to frame material, each one has its advantages compared to the other, and they all will benefit you in one way or another.
Aluminum frames are lightweight and very stiff. These make a quick and robust
The next material is Steel. Steel, like Aluminum, is a metal compound but has very different properties compared to it. Steel is heavier than Aluminum, but it is much more forgiving. So when you’re flying over rocks, it’s going to handle it better. It’s the cheapest material to produce and can even be very easily repaired. They say nothing rides like a steel
Carbon Fibre is what many people go for, and it is a fantastic material. It is incredibly lightweight and stiff. This makes the
Gravel Bikes vs. other types of bikes
Gravel Bikes vs. Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes are excellent in the fact they can do a lot and pretty much go anywhere. Though a gravel
- Most gravel bikes don’t have suspension.
- Gravel bikes have drop bars, and mountain bikes have flat bars.
- Gravel bikes have smoother tires than mountain bikes.
- Gravel bikes are not made for very rocky terrain.
- Mountain bikes are much smoother off-road than gravel bikes.
Gravel Bikes vs. Hybrid bikes
Hybrid bikes are generally for people that look for a very comfortable ride. They come in as a less aggressive mountain
- Hybrid bikes have flay bars gravel bikes have drop bars.
- Hybrid bikes typically have smoother smaller tires.
- Hybrid bikes geometry is very different and much more relaxed compared to gravel bikes.
Gravel bikes vs. Road bikes
Many cyclists use a gravel
- Road Bikes have much smaller tires.
- Road bikes typically are more aggressive.
- Road bikes won’t go off-road as Gravel bikes will.
- Gravel bikes usually have a more comprehensive range of gearing.
What to look for when buying a Gravel
When I’m looking for a Gravel
If you are looking for a
Wheelset and Tyres
When it comes to wheels and tires, I find for the road. The 700c wheelsets will be much more suited. They usually have smaller tires and roll with much less resistance compared to smaller wheels with bigger tires. 650B wheels are smaller and usually have bigger tires on them. These are much better off-road and will be suited to someone who likes a technical trail as they are much more efficient for grip and control.
You also need to look at accessories. Handlebars, when it comes to gravel bikes, usually are flared. This means they are wider at the bottom of the drops and give you more control while riding. If you are off-road a lot id go for a
Are Gravel Bikes the Same as Hybrid Bikes?
They are not. Gravel bikes typically have drop bars and are similar to road bikes with bigger tires. Hybrid bikes are more like less aggressive mountain bikes. They have flat bars and sometimes even suspension.
Can you use a Gravel bike touring?
Yes, I believe it’s perfect for touring. I take my Gravel bike bikepacking all the time. Most come with mounts for racks, and they are light and comfortable to ride.
How fast do Gravel bikes go?
On Gravel faster than any other bikes. On-road, a little slower than road bikes as the tires lag more and they are heavier. On mountain bike trails that are technical, probably a fair amount slower than a mountain bike but depends on the rider.
Why are some Gravel bikes so Expensive?
These Gravel bikes will have unique features, such as electronic gearing and suspension stems and dropper posts. They will also be much lighter. They will cost more, but they will be more efficient when being ridden.
Gravel bikes, I think, are fantastic. They offer the user so many options, and when I get people to come to me personally asking what