If you’re looking for an objective assessment of the best gravel bikes on sale in 2023 then you’ve come to the right place. All of the bikes in this article have been ridden and rated by BikeRadar’s expert testers.
Gravel and all-road are terms used for this rapidly growing segment of the drop-bar bike market. These bikes have generous tyre clearances and gravel-specific geometry that is typically more stable and forgiving than traditional road bike geometry.
Modern gravel bikes were born out of the American Midwest, where gravel racing took hold a decade ago and has gained popularity steadily.
In the early days, riders tackled these endurance events on cyclocross bikes with the largest tyres that would fit.
Today, there are numerous purpose-built machines that gravel-curious riders can choose from, with options ranging from versatile all-road bikes that rival the very best road bikes, to progressive gravel bikes that resemble drop-bar mountain bikes.
The best gravel bike frames come in the same variety of frame materials as other bike types, with carbon, aluminium, titanium and steel options commonly available.
All of these materials have their advantages and disadvantages, and different riders will find that a certain one might make particular sense for them – whether that’s the low weight of carbon, the reliability and affordability of aluminium, the classic feel of steel or the desirability of titanium.
We have split our list of top-performing gravel bikes into each different frame material, so you can skip to each section here:
Not found what you need? You can find even more gravel bikes in our extensive archive of gravel bike reviews.
If you have a particular budget in mind, head to our round-up of the best budget gravel bikes under £1,000 or the best gravel bikes under £2,000.
We’ve also got a list of the best women’s road and gravel bikes tested by BikeRadar, and the best electric gravel bikes.
If you need new pedals, check out our list of the best gravel bike pedals.
Need to kit up? There are also many ‘gravel-specific’ versions of common cycling accessories and clothes, including shoes for gravel riding.
Best carbon gravel bikes
Carbon fibre bikes are lightweight, stiff and can be designed to effectively absorb vibrations. This has made it the go-to material for many road cyclists but also makes it a good choice for performance gravel bikes.
Its pliancy will do a lot of work to minimise any chatter from the surface beneath while still letting you put a lot of power through the cranks.
Boardman ADV 9.0
- £1,800 as tested
- Excellent value
- Great ride quality
- Low weight is impressive for the price
- 700×38mm tyre clearance
The Boardman ADV 9.0 was the winner of BikeRadar’s Bike of the Year Best Value award in 2021. That’s because this gravel bike is an impressively light machine for the price and really is a go-anywhere machine. It achieves its low weight through the use of a C10 carbon fibre frame, which is also stiff and highly responsive.
Our testers found it gave the bike a thrilling feel off-road and fast acceleration on the tarmac.
Boardman has specced the bike with a clever mix of Shimano GRX components and a generous range from the 46/30 crankset and 11-32t getting you up the toughest climbs.
Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres provide grip off-road but are fast-rolling too.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by
- £2,949 / $2,849 / €2,699 / AU$4,249 as tested
- Versatile carbon frameset
- Great spec
- Well thought out geometry
- 700×50mm (S-XL), 650×50mm (2XS-XS) tyre clearance
The Canyon Grizl is a burlier version of the Canyon Grail, which is also one of the best gravel bikes. The Grizl has clearance for 50mm tyres, mounts for fenders and bags, and long geometry – all working together to make it an ultra-versatile bike.
The bike is well specced with a Shimano GRX groupset, DT Swiss wheels, a Canyon VCLS leaf-spring seatpost and a Fizik Terra Argo saddle.
What makes this bike so good is that the price for this spec is really competitive – a rarity these days in the bike market. The Grizl is happy on tarmac, but really shines off-road, on the kind of mixed dirt and gravel singletrack that make up a lot of gravel riding in the UK.
The 1x gear setup might not be the desired choice for all, but there are 2x Grizls in Canyon’s range, and the 1x setup faired very well for general riding.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1
- £7,500 / $8,500 / €8,399 as tested
- Handling, control and speed are top-notch
- Comfortable on terrain suited to mountain bikes
- 700×45mm / 650×47mm tyre clearance
The Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 gravel bike will help you tackle terrain that is beyond the reach of many gravel bikes and let you fly along more conventional gravel trails much faster than many competitors too.
It has class-leading control across different surfaces thanks to the Lefty front fork, which provides 30mm of travel to help smooth out any bumps, and geometry that leads to a quick but stable ride.
The wheels have carbon rims and the front wheel has a sensor developed in conjunction with Garmin that will measure speed, time and distance.
Combine all of that with wireless SRAM gears and you begin to get an idea of what sort of bike this is.
Overall, this Topstone is one of the most capable gravel bikes BikeRadar has ever tested. It does, however, cost a small fortune.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX
- £3,500 / $4,200 / €3,799 as tested
- Fast and racy machine with great wheels
- Effective rear suspension
- 700×40mm tyre clearance
The Topstone is a racy gravel bike with a firm, fast-handling front end and a clever rear suspension unit that provides up to 30mm of travel.
You also get a nice smart set of Cannondale’s own Hollowgram carbon wheels, which are tubeless-ready and weigh around 1.5kg, which helps keep the overall weight of the bike down to 9kg in a size large.
With stack and reach figures similar to Cannondale’s Synapse endurance road bike, the Topstone makes a compelling option as a do-it-all bike (if you’re looking to break the n+1 cycle).
A simple swap of tyres is all it takes to make this a bike that shines both off-road and on.
The updated version of this bike is now called the Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 and has a Shimano GRX800 groupset.
Devinci Hatchet Carbon GRX LTD
- $3,299 / CAD$3,999 / €3,499 as tested
- Superbly stable yet fun handling
- Something a little different
- 700×50mm / 650×53mm tyre clearance
Devinci’s Hatchet is a fun, fast and versatile gravel bike. There’s clearance for 700c × 45mm tyres with mudguards, but 700c × 50mm tyres fit too, and officially it’ll take 650b wheels with tyres up to 53mm wide.
We loved the ride of the Hatchet and found the factory-fit dropper post really helped us exploit the impressive stability from its long, slack geometry. Whether you’re passing through technical singletrack, rocks, gravel and tarmac, deep sand or slick mud, the Hatchet has immense composure.
For a headline bike, the spec is pretty modest, but the value it represents is competitive.
The Devinci Hatchet Carbon is now available with the higher-spec Shimano GRX810 groupset.
Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0
- £4,999 / $6,400 / €5,599 / AU$6,699 as tested
- Thrilling and plush ride
- Great groupset
- Fast wheels
The Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0 is our Bike of the Year for 2022, the first time a gravel bike has won overall. Equipped with Shimano’s GRX Di2 2x groupset, the Revolt’s shifting and braking is pretty much flawless.
The build weight of 8.3kg doesn’t suggest sprightliness, but Giant’s lightweight CRX wheels and sharper geometry make the Revolt spry on- and off-road.
The new fork permits the Revolt to run tyres up to 53mm wide to boost the bike’s already comfortable ride on rough terrain.
The Revolt also has plenty of mounts and bosses to carry luggage on bikepacking trips.
Liv Devote Advanced Pro
- £4,699 / $5,500 / €5,000 / AU$7,299 as tested
- Women’s-specific geometry
- Dropper seatpost compatibility
- 700×45mm / 650×50mm tyre clearance
The Liv Devote Advanced Pro is the brand’s first gravel bike is a true do-it-all bike for women seeking on- and off-road adventures.
As with the rest of the Liv range, the frame’s geometry/sizing and carbon layup have been chosen specifically with female riders in mind. Giant’s shock-absorbing seatpost is very effective at reducing trail buzz, although the 30.9mm hole it sits in will willingly accept a dropper post should you want to maximise the bike’s handling on descents.
It’s a bike that is supremely comfortable over long distances and has mounts for mudguards, luggage, bottles and accessories, so it’s ready for as much adventure as you can take on.
We thoroughly enjoyed the huge gear range, slick shifts and easy setup of SRAM’s eTap AXS groupset, and its AXS brakes were not short of power or feel.
This flagship Devote model is big bucks, but there are two cheaper carbon bikes and an aluminium frame starting from £1,400 / $1,150 / €1,100 / AU$1,699.
Trek Checkpoint SL6 eTap
- £3,850 / $4,300 / €4,300 / AU$5,500 as tested
- Comfy and fairly fast
- Mounting options
- Excellent handlebars
The Trek Checkpoint SL6 is a multifaceted gravel bike adept pretty much anywhere off-road. While no featherweight, it’s not sluggish on tarmac or faster fire roads.
Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler, which allows the frame to flex a touch, absorbs the worst of bumps. The Checkpoint’s maximum tyre clearance of 700c x 45mm or 650b x 2.1 allows you to run wide tyres for added comfort and traction.
SRAM’s Rival AXS XPLR 1x groupset forms part of a fair-value spec. Stacks of fittings make the Checkpoint a practical steed for bikepacking.
Lauf Seigla Weekend Warrior
- £3,890 as tested
- Inspired geometry
- Grit fork smooths surfaces
- Wide tyre clearance up to 29 x 2.25 in
Lauf’s Seigla has taken all of the best aspects from its True Grit gravel race bike and improved it, with increased tyre clearance and frame compliance. The frame has seen updated tube profiles, particularly to the seatstays, which are dropped lower down the seat tube, and the top tube thins as it approaches the seat tube, to promote flex.
The third-generation Grit leaf-sprung fork offers class-leading damping and our test bike came specced with SRAM Rival XPLR eTap AXS. We found setting the bike up simple and although you can feel a little bob from the fork, it’s a fairly efficient climber. Heading down the other side of the mountain, the Seigla is a composed descender and takes the sting out of the worst bumps.
There are some quirks in the frame’s design, which although aren’t a negative, are certainly something to consider for your style of riding. The Seigla isn’t compatible with front derailleurs and it uses a wider BSA73 bottom bracket shell which limits crankset options.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR
- Lovely aesthetics and construction
- Boutique gravel racer
- Saddle clamp slips
The Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR is a gravel speed machine with a 1,000g carbon frame and near-road bike geometry that provides nippy handling.
The V+1 doesn’t forgo comfort because it fits up to 50mm tyres in 700c or 650b. Although there’s no suspension, the V+1 can handle jarring surfaces. Designing the frame around a 1x drivetrain allowed Vielo to stiffen the bottom bracket while increasing compliance from seat and chainstays, according to the brand.
The drivetrain is a quality assortment of SRAM Rival, Force and Vielo parts. Shifting is smooth despite gaps between gears on the wide 10-44t cassette, which, in tandem with the 44t chainring, is an ideal range for off-roading.
Vitus Energie EVO CRS eTap Force
- £3,499 / €3,999 / $4,299 as tested
- Wildcard choice due to cyclocross race origins
- Supremely versatile
- Great value for money
- 700×40mm tyre clearance
The Energie is Vitus’s cyclocross race bike, but don’t discard it as just that. Providing you aren’t discouraged by geometry that’s on the racier side, this makes a top gravel or even winter road bike thanks to heaps of clearance, well-chosen components and mudguard mounts.
Vitus’s big-name buying power (its parent company is Chain Reaction Cycles/Wiggle) means the spec is great for the money and includes a full SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset, a Prime Black Edition 38 Disc carbon wheelset and mostly carbon finishing kit, again from Prime.
We loved the subtle yet classy finish, including those lovely tan-wall tyres.
3T Exploro RaceMax
- £3,849 as tested
- Tons of versatility
- Aero design
- Clever all-rounder
- 700×35mm / 650×47mm tyre clearance
The Exploro Max builds on what 3T’s original Exploro gravel bike offered, yet does so in a package that is more versatile thanks to bigger tyre clearances and an aerodynamic design.
Our tester praised the Exploro RaceMax for its superbly balanced handling and supreme versatility. Different builds provide either 700c wheels with 35mm tyres or a 650b wheelset with 57mm tyres, plus the choice of either a 1x or 2x drivetrain.
The out and out stiffness of its chassis means it can’t match a dedicated gravel bike off-road, but what it loses here it more than makes up for in road credentials.
It doesn’t offer the greatest value out there, but many will be prepared to pay a premium for its exclusivity.
- £3,250 as tested
- A unique-looking bike
- Road bike feel with gravel capabilities
- Firmer ride than some gravel bikes
- 700×42mm / 650×47mm tyre clearance
Bianchi’s first gravel offering, the Arcadex, is an unconventional-looking bike that has a comfortable armchair-like riding position. It’s angled more towards the road end of the gravel spectrum rather than pure off-road performance, lending it a ride quality that’s more akin to a tall endurance bike on tarmac.
Off-road, it retains its road bike feel but the geometry and flared bar help navigate rougher terrain.
The Arcadex has a Shimano GRX 1x drivetrain and aluminium wheels.
For the price, it would be nice to see a carbon seatpost – which would also improve comfort on rough terrain – but this doesn’t get in the way of the Arcadex being thoroughly enjoyable to ride.
Canyon Grail CF SL 7.0
- £2,649 / $2,699 as tested
- A real head turner
- Superb kit for the cash
- Unique cockpit
- 700×40mm tyre clearance
Despite being the most affordable carbon fibre Canyon Grail, this model still arrives with a great spec. It’s a composed off-roader that manages to feel fast and relatively uncompromised on the road too.
The distinctive double deck ‘Hover bar’ is the bike’s most defining feature, though it’s one that brings its own fit and compatibility complications.
Shimano’s GRX groupset has a huge range of gearing, a secure, clutch-equipped rear derailleur and hydraulic disc braking.
If the fit works for you and the handlebar is to your preference, then this is a great choice for those riding on mixed terrain.
If you can’t live with the compromises of this bike’s divisive cockpit then we’d encourage you to try out the cheaper aluminium version of the Grail (shown below in this list), which foregoes the biplane setup.
This GRX-equipped version is the cheapest way to get your hands on a carbon Grail, but if you’ve got a bit more money to spend we also got on very well with the SRAM Force eTap build.
Cervélo Áspero Rival XPLR eTap AXS 1 Disc
- £5,500 / $5,500 / €5,700 as tested
- Lightweight, agile and fast
- Flippable fork leads to consistent handling on 700c and 650b wheels
- Quality spec includes Reserve carbon wheels
- 700×42mm/650x49mm tyre clearance
Designed for fast gravel racing, the Áspero was one of the first gravel bikes of its kind. The newer top spec Áspero 5 bikes have an integrated bar and stem and a D-shaped seatpost, but we tested the lower spec, older Áspero with separate bar and stem and external cabling from the bars to the frame.
There’s the same fork with adjustable dropout on both frames, that lets you keep the same geometry with 650b wheels as with 700c for consistent handling. Our spec comes with Reserve carbon wheels that run on DT Swiss hubs along with the Rival AXS groupset.
The ride is lively, with the stiffness of the frame making the Áspero fast on road as well as off. The wheels feel responsive and the 8.66kg bike weight helps on both long and short climbs.
Cube Nuroad C:62 Pro
- £2,499 / $2,400 €2,199 as tested
- Versatile geometry works well on road and off
- Mixed Shimano GRX spec works well together
- Comfortable saddle offset by harsh, stiff bars
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
The Cube Nuroad majors on versatility with a carbon frame that’s equipped to add mudguards and front and rear racks if you’re looking for a rugged commuter/tourer. There’s even a mount for a kickstand. There’s plenty of gear range from the mixed Shimano GRX groupset 11-speed and 11-42t cassette.
You don’t get the full gravel set of bottle cages and mounts, only the set usually found on road bikes, so if you’re into bikepacking this might not be the bike fo you.
Geometry-wise the Nuroad falls somewhere between a road bike and the usual gravel bike angles, supporting the all-rounder niche it’s aimed at and feeling more like an endurance bike to ride on the road. Saddle comfort is great. The handlebar feels like a bit of a compromise, however – not quite comfortable and compliant enough for rougher surfaces.
Juliana Quincy CC Rival
- £3,699 / $3,699 / €3,899 as tested
- Multi-discipline capability
- Heaps of tyre clearance and mudguard mounts
- Stunning looks
- 700×45mm / 650×53mm tyre clearance
The Juliana Quincy is the women’s version of the Santa Cruz Stigmata. Like the Stigmata, it started out as a cyclocross bike but naturally makes a great gravel or adventure option.
Whether you like long road miles, bikepacking, gravel grinding or tame off-roading, the Quincy can take on all of those – meaning some riders could feasibly consolidate their bike collection into just one.
The carbon frame and fork are particularly comfortable and sport mudguard mounts as well as room for three bottles.
There’s a huge amount of clearance, with room for 45mm tyres if you’re on 700c wheels or a full 2.1in with 650b wheels in place.
- $2,690+ as tested
- Same great race-ready frame as the True Grit
- Regular fork opens up options for mounting luggage
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
When you think of Lauf, the first thing that comes to mind is its wild-looking leaf spring fork, which allows for 30mm of front travel. However, the brand’s Anywhere gravel grinder doesn’t get one and instead comes with what Lauf calls a JAF or ‘Just a Fork’.
The frame features its Long-4-Speed geometry, which entails a short head tube, lengthy top tube and short chainstays, paired with a short stem and a slack (for a road bike) head angle. The idea is that it’s stable at speed but lets you get tucked up in an aero position when the need arises.
Lauf has also opted for a threaded bottom bracket shell, full-length internal cable guides and mounts galore, but the bike has no provision for mudguards/fenders.
As the name implies, the Anywhere rides well on both tarmac and ‘F-Roads’ as they’re known in Iceland (gravel roads) as well as smooth singletrack, but is somewhat limited by the 40mm slick tyres that come stock.
If you want bulkier rubber, there’s also the Lauf True Grit, with 30mm of front suspension through the Grit SL fork and clearance for 45mm tyres, as well as the Lauf Seigla, which increases clearance to a huge 57mm with 700c wheels.
On-One Free Ranger SRAM Force 1
- £1,800 / $2,556 / €2,178 as tested
- Great value for money
- Tidy handling
- Rack and mudguard mounts
- 700×43mm tyre clearance
With a carbon frame and fork, and SRAM Force hydraulic disc groupset, the £1,800 On-One Free Ranger is in a league of its own when it comes to value.
Compared to many of the other best gravel bikes, its geometry is on the racier side, making it perfect for singletrack blasts. It’s impressively light too, with our extra-large test bike weighing just 9.87kg / 21.76lbs. All the fittings are present for full-length mudguards and a pannier rack, too.
Pinarello Grevil F
- £5,300 / $6,500 / €6,100 as tested
- Race-specific geometry and spec
- Stable at speed but still manoeuvrable
- Low spec wheels for the bike’s price
- 700×50mm tyre clearance
The Grevil F is a bike designed for the gravel racer, not the pootler or bikepacker, both in terms of its road-like geometry and stiff chassis.
It has a lot in common with its road cousin, the Pinarello Dogma F, just with clearance for super-wide 50mm tyres and handling that keeps things relatively stable for a race-ready gravel machine.
Built up with Campagnolo Ekar on our test bike, the Grevil F has plenty of gear range and we continue to be impressed by the groupset’s braking. There’s a MOST integrated bar and stem with internal cable routing for a tidy cockpit, emphasising the Grevil F’s racy intentions.
It’s a shame Pinarello hasn’t matched the quality of the frame and gearing with a better wheelset than the Fulcrum Rapid Red 500s though – you’re going to have to shell out for a carbon gravel bike wheelset to match the bike.
Specialized S-Works Crux
- £11,300 / $12,250 / €12,500 / AU$18,000 as tested
- Top-tier ride experience
- Among the lightest gravel framesets
- Big tyre clearance (up to 2.1in with 650b wheels)
The Specialized S-Works Crux is incredibly fun to ride. As you’d imagine from a bike with a 750g frameset, the Crux flies up climbs and is fast to react on the flat. You can weave through the woods on singletrack, but the Crux’s stiffness and aggressive geometry (for a gravel bike) deal less well with bumpy stuff and technical descents.
The Crux largely dispenses with practical features seen on other gravel bikes, such as mudguard and bag mounts.
But if money’s little or no object and you want a featherweight gravel speedster, the Crux might be for you.
Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon
- £4,000 / $3,900 / €4,499 / AU$6,000 as tested
- Future Shock 2.0 suspension
- SWAT storage box
- Fun yet composed ride character
- 700×47mm / 650×54mm tyre clearance
The Diverge is a supremely versatile bike that can do everything from fully loaded touring to ultra-light gravel racing.
The Diverge Comp Carbon, with its Shimano GRX 810-level groupset, sensible alloy wheels and decent finishing kit represents the best balance of performance and value from the 2021 Diverge range. Its party piece is the Future Shock 2.0 suspension system, which is remarkably effective yet delightfully simple.
This bike is a real hoot to ride on rough terrain, with a notably composed ride manner at high speeds and on steep trails.
It’s so good out of the box that there’s little beyond the tyres that we’d look to change in the future.
Specialized Diverge STR Expert
- £7,500 / $7,500 / €7,550 as tested
- Plush riding in the saddle
- All-round capability
- Mixed spec
The Specialized Diverge STR Expert brought in Future Shock Rear suspension. This is supposed to suspend the rider’s behind and reduce discomfort off-road. The set-up process is complicated, but effectively dampens vibrations, enabling you to remain in the saddle more, when you get it right.
Another positive is that the Diverge STR Expert’s geometry is suitable for a broad spectrum of gravel riding, from bridleway bashing to pacy gravel racing.
However, the middle-of-the-range SRAM Rival and GX Eagle components are discordant on a £7,500 / $7,500 bike. The frame’s complexity does offer some mitigation for these cost-cutting choices. An abundance of proprietary kit may cause concern to some riders.
The Specialized Diverge STR Expert will please fans of fancy tech and out-there looks, provided they have lots of cash to spend.
Vitus Substance CRX
- £2,300 / $3,000 / €2,700 / AU$4,000 as tested
- Lightweight carbon wheelset
- True mountain bike character
- Exceptional value
- 650×47mm tyre clearance
The Substance CRX may have been Vitus’s first foray into the world of gravel bikes but you’d never know it. Make no mistake, this is a bike that has been specced to really excel at gravel riding with geometry, gearing and component choices that work best in the rough.
Vitus really makes this bike’s retail price stretch a long way. There’s a SRAM Rival groupset, lightweight 650b carbon fibre wheels from Prime with a relatively generous 24.5mm internal width and WTB’s Venture 650bx47mm TCS tubeless tyres.
Our sub-9kg XL test bike is impressive for a gravel bike at this price, particularly when you consider the aforementioned 47mm tyres. It’s a real hoot off-road with true mountain-bike character, while mudguard bosses, fork-mounted bags and a third bottle boss at the down tube make it a viable option for adventuring, or even tough commutes.
Best alloy gravel bikes
Aluminium alloy frames are light, robust and have a relatively low manufacturing cost. This makes aluminium gravel bikes a great choice if you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of gravel because they deliver big performance for their relatively low price.
Many of the best gravel bikes have aluminium frames and can compete with carbon or titanium bikes, so it’s not to be overlooked even for the more performance-orientated.
Boardman ADV 8.9
- £1,150 as tested
- Good spec for the money
- Energetic ride
- Proper all-rounder
The Boardman ADV 8.9 is our Budget Bike of the Year for the second year rolling, having increased only slightly in price in 2022.
The ADV 8.9 has the cheapest Shimano GRX RX400 groupset, which shifts and stops well. The 48/32T chainrings and 10-speed 11-36T cassette is highly versatile. Much of the ADV 8.9’s kit is from Boardman, including the fast-rolling wheels shod with Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres. Converting these to tubeless would enhance off-road performance.
Handlebar tape could also be upgraded to dull vibrations from harsh surfaces transferring through the bars.
Canyon Grail 6
- £1,649 / $1,699 / €1,499 / AU$2,349 as tested
- Top components for the cash
- Amazing performance for the money
- Gravel-specific gear ratios
- 700×40mm tyre clearance
The Canyon Grail 6 is a versatile aluminium gravel bike that’s a direct replacement for the hugely successful Grail AL. Despite being the cheapest aluminium frame Canyon Grail build, it’s still a very well-equipped bike with no obvious holes in its spec sheet.
The Shimano GRX 2×10 transmission and matching hydraulic disc brakes can be thought of as Tiagra equivalents, while the RX600 crank is nominally Shimano’s 105-level.
Trusty DT Swiss C 1850 db alloy wheels are another spec highlight, particularly when shod in 40mm Schwalbe G-One Bite tubeless-ready tyres.
The Grail is a confidence-inspiring bike to ride, and one that beats its predecessor off-road thanks to gravel-specific gearing. It’s a comfortable enough bike as is, but run the tyres tubeless and you can further take the edge off. It’s also a competent ride on the road, but a tyre swap would really get the most from this bike on the tarmac.
It’s a real shame that Canyon dropped the rack mounts for 2021, but thankfully mudguard mounts are still present.
The bike is also available in a women’s-specific version, the Canyon Grail 6 WMN.
Focus Atlas 6.8
- £1,899 / €1,999 / AU$3,099 as tested
- Touring and bikepacking-friendly
- Progressive geometry
- Excellent-value package
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
The Atlas 6.8 is a very capable bike straight out of the box. It’s a particularly talented off-roader thanks to progressive geometry that keeps things notably calm even when the going gets steep or rough. The entertaining ride of the Atlas means it’s a fun way to scale singletrack, cruise along bike paths or even take on a mixed commute.
It’s great to see a mix of Shimano’s excellent GRX RX600 and RX800 groupset components at this price.
The stock wheels are tough and form a great foundation for WTB’s 45mm wide Riddler tyres, though the Boost axle spacing could make potential upgrades more complicated.
Focus has included plenty of mounts and provisions for luggage and accessories, making the Atlas ideal for bikepackers.
Kinesis Tripster AT
- £1,850 (mudguards extra £60) as tested
- Wonderfully thought-out frame
- Great handling and lots of fun
- Good mudguards
- 700×45mm / 650×52 tyre clearance
The Kinesis Tripster AT is a winter-cum-gravel bike that has practicality and comfort at its core, but this doesn’t mean it’s boring by any means. In fact, it is incredibly fun to ride.
The great-value frame is well-considered with mounts and room for huge 52mm tyres, but its stiffness is also confidence-inspiring and responsive to full-on sprints.
The 1x drivetrain and brakes are made by SRAM. The 40-tooth front chainring and 11-42 cassette mean you can get up most climbs and spin along at a decent speed too. The brakes are powerful and make the bike easy to control.
The mudguards are an extra £60, but are completely worth it, providing excellent coverage, and the rest of the build is solid thanks to alloy components.
- £650 as tested
- Cheap and cheerful
- Well kitted out
The Voodoo Nakisi is a great bike for varied-surface riding. Wide tyre clearance and mounts for a rack and mudguards mean the Nakisi can double as a commuter.
The inclusion of Shimano’s nine-speed Sora groupset is impressive at this price, bringing good shifting and range of gears. This helps to drag the Nakisi’s bulk up steep climbs.
On tricky terrain, the Nakisi feels stable and WTB Riddler Comp tyres provide grip on the dry, stony trails they’re designed for.
Ribble Gravel AL Enthusiast SRAM Rival 1x
- £1,999 / $1,967 / €1,964 / AU$2,853 as tested
- Great on technical terrain
- A fairly lightweight build
- Well-specced for the price
Ribble’s Gravel AL represents a high-quality aluminium option, with the welds fantastically smooth. Its geometry is fairly typical and it offers a decent level of tyre clearance, up to 700 x 45mm or 650b x 47mm.
Our test bike came with SRAM’s Rival 1x mechanical groupset, but you can also pick options from Shimano’s GRX range. There are carbon fibre and titanium frames on offer, too.
The mechanical Rival shifted without fuss and we were impressed by its powerful hydraulic disc brakes. The rest of the build comes courtesy of Ribble’s in-house component brand, Level, although you’re treated to Mavic’s Allroad 650b wheels with WTB Sendero tyres.
We felt the wheel and tyre choice unlocked an exciting level of capability over rougher terrain.
Cannondale Topstone Alloy 2
- £1,800 / $1,925 / €2,199 / AU$3,199 as tested
- Plentiful accessory mounts boosts versatility
- Great tyres for light gravel and road riding
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
The Cannondale Topstone Alloy gravel bike was updated in mid-2022 with dropped seatstays, additional accessory mounts and new builds.
We tested the mid-range Cannondale Topstone Alloy 2, which is built around a Shimano GRX 400 groupset.
With loads of accessory-fitting options and ample tyre clearance (45mm), this is a bike that could quite reasonably be turned to nearly all riding duties, including doubling as a winter road bike or commuter bike.
However, the stock tyres are on the narrow side if you want to explore more technical gravel/off-road trails, though that’s nothing an upgrade to wider rubber can’t sort.
Merida Silex 400
- £1,400 / €1,499 / AU$2,199 as tested
- Unusual MTB-inspired geometry
- Quality hydraulic disc groupset
- Good overall value
- 700×42mm / 650×42mm tyre clearance
There’s a lot of mountain bike influence in Merida’s Silex 400 and that’s a very good thing. By combining a long reach figure with a short stem, the Silex 400 positions its rider perfectly to make the most of its brilliant off-road handling.
The frame features mudguard mounts, rack mounts, two cages and double bosses on the fork legs, meaning getting accessorised for touring, bikepacking or adventure riding will not be an issue.
Shimano’s GRX transmission and braking components are mixed with a lot of own-brand parts for a spec sheet that amounts to decent value.
To get even more from the Silex chassis, we think this bike could do with tyres a little wider than the 38mm Maxxis Rambler parts that come as standard. Unfortunately, the narrow internal width of Merida’s Comp SL wheelset means you’d benefit from plumping for a wheel upgrade at the same time.
Vitus Substance VRS-1 HT Apex
- £1,999 / $2,800 / €2,700 / AU$3,800 as tested
- The Rudy fork is a highlight
- Plenty of mounting points
- Comfortable geometry with decent reach measurement
The Substance VRS-1 HT Apex features a double-butted aluminium frame with plenty of mounting options. The RockShox Rudy XPLR suspension fork offers 30mm of travel and there’s a dropper seatpost specced, too, in the form of Brand-X’s Ascend CX.
The bike is specced with a SRAM’s entry-level Apex 1x groupset and DT Swiss’ gravel-specific G1800 Spline wheelset. Vitus’ own-branded finishing kit completes the build, which is functional but unremarkable.
You’d normally expect to see SRAM Rival or Shimano 105 at the £2,000 price point, but the RockShox fork eats into the price. That said, a Rival-equipped version is available for another £500.
On the trail, the Substance offers a smooth ride, the fork taming bigger hits, in combination with the wide WTB Venture tyres. The bike was even at home on blue-rated mountain bike trails.
Pinnacle Arkose D2
- £1,205 as tested
- Fabulously capable off-road
- Decent componentry
- Commuter versatility
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
Evans’ own-brand Pinnacle refers to its Arkose as being an adventure road bike rather than an out and out gravel machine. For the price, you get a lot of equipment, including 2×10 shifting and hydraulic braking components that are mostly from Shimano’s latest Tiagra line.
It’s only really a flared handlebar away from being a proper gravel bike, but it’s a perfectly usable drop-handlebar road bike too. There are mounts for mudguards and racks for those who want this bike as a rugged commuter.
The standard 45mm tan-wall WTB tyres excel off-road with huge amounts of comfort and grip but you’ll likely want to swap them if you’re using this bike mostly for commuting. Similarly, you’d be best going for skinnier rubber should you want to make the most of the mudguard mounts.
Best titanium gravel bikes
Titanium has become a popular material amongst the best gravel bikes thanks to its inherent properties.
The metal is more resistant to fatigue than aluminium alloy, roughly half the weight of steel and more flexible than carbon fibre, making it a good choice for riders who value performance but want a sleek-looking forever bike that can stand up to the demands of riding off-road.
- £3,888 / $5,063 / €4,666 as tested
- Seriously versatile
- Timeless looks
- On- and off-road versatility
- 700×45mm / 650×50mm tyre clearance
If versatility and practicality are what you’re after and you’ve got a taste for titanium, then this is a fine option. We love the timeless look of this bike and its ride delivers a pleasantly damped feel that’s devoid of fatiguing buzz. The Escape’s versatility means it can competently serve as everything from a posh commuter to a long-distance adventure bike.
Some will find the fact it commands a significant premium over comparable steel bikes hard to swallow, and it’s heavier than similarly priced carbon options too.
Mason Bokeh Ti GRX Di2
- £6,195 as tested
- Sublime frame with lovely ride quality and great kit
- The chunky tyres make it a little pedestrian on the road and it’s pretty expensive
- 700×45mm tyre clearance
We’ve long been big fans of Mason’s aluminium gravel bike, the Bokeh, so we were pleased to see much of what we loved about that bike has translated across to the titanium version.
There are smart details galore, from the numerous mounts for bottles, racks and mudguards, to the MultiPort cabling system that ensures compatibility with all kinds of drivetrains.
As you’d expect, the ride quality is also excellent. The frameset, custom Mason/Hunt wheels and chunky tyres make for a wonderfully composed ride off-road.
The only issue is that it comes at a relatively high price, but if you’re willing to part with this much cash, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
- £3,249 as tested
- Well priced for titanium
- Clever build kit
- Comfortable and quick
- 700×43mm tyre clearance
The titanium Reilly Gradient frame is not only a thing of beauty, the ride it delivers also manages to hit the sweet spot between comfort and speed.
The well-considered build puts Hunt’s 1,629g 4Season tubeless-ready alloy gravel wheelset at either axle and it’s driven and stopped by Shimano’s excellent gravel-specific GRX groupset.
It all adds up to a ride that feels road-bike precise on tarmac, yet controllable off it. It’s reasonably priced too, particularly for a titanium bike that’s built in the UK.
Ribble CGR Ti 650b
- £2,099 as tested
- Great value-for-money build
- Classic ti looks are hard to beat
- 700×47mm tyre clearance
Ribble’s CGR Ti presents exceptional value for money and buckets of versatility, but it’s the classic brushed titanium finish that really got us excited.
The frame isn’t just a pretty face, though. At 1,700g it’s not too heavy for a non-carbon frame and, with generous clearances alongside mudguard mounts, it’s super-versatile to boot.
The CGR Ti has recently been updated with dropped seatstays, a stouter head tube and more road-friendly gearing, but we’ve not had a chance to test whether any of those changes make a significant difference to the ride quality.
Moots Routt 45
- £5,600 / $4,999 (frameset only) as tested
- Super-smooth ride and stunning finish
- Huge tyre clearance
- That price tag
- 700×50mm tyre clearance
Straight away, you can tell the Moots Routt 45 is a cut above mass-market titanium frames. Handmade in America, the welds are super-neat and the finish looks expensive. Subtle logos and a Moots head badge complete the frame.
We’re talking about the frame because, despite being available as complete builds in the USA, in the UK Moots bikes are currently only available as framesets. And yes, the £5,600 price tag is only for the frameset.
Riding the Routt 45 with SRAM Force eTap AXS, a Chris King headset and an Enve bar, this bike was everything you’d hope one of the best gravel bikes would be, proving super-smooth to ride on- and off-road with plenty of stiffness when pedalling.
The price puts it in the territory of the very best carbon road bikes, and while the Moots is light, it is not the lightest. But a bike like this will often be heart over head, and with the right finishing kit, it won’t leave you disappointed.
Best steel gravel bikes
Steel is strong and relatively flexible, making it a good choice for gravel bikes because it will do a lot of work to absorb the vibrations of the surface beneath you.
Paired with wide gravel tyres, it creates a smooth and comfortable ride. It isn’t the lightest material, but when comfort and durability are the most important factors you can’t go far wrong with steel.
Marin Nicasio +
- £845 / $899 / €899 as tested
- Amazing value
- Ideal for bikepacking
- Seriously fun to ride
- 700×35mm / 650x47mm tyre clearance
The Nicasio + proves that simplicity is key when you’re working on a budget. It would be easy to discard this bike based on its simple steel frame and fork, and relatively high weight, but that would be a real mistake. Yes, you’ll feel the weight on steeper climbs, but the cleverly chosen spec and excellent geometry make this bike a treat as soon as the going gets rough.
This is one of the most fun bikes to ride of its kind and yet it retails for less than the frameset of many of the best gravel bikes.
BiVi Bunker Malvern
- £1,399 as tested
- Charming retro appeal
- Mountain bike-derived drivetrain
- Something a little different
This one’s a bit of a wildcard – you can either see it as an on-trend flat-bar gravel adventure bike or a retro mountain bike with a few modern touches. Either way, the Bunker is an appealing, versatile choice and something a little different to the rest of the best gravel bikes.
We really enjoyed the way this bike combines a retro ride experience with some modern niceties. The 1×11 SRAM GX drivetrain is a good example of this, offering dependable and smooth shifts that are endlessly more appealing than the loose triple setup a nineties MTB would wear.
Cinelli Nemo Gravel Disc Ekar Mendini
- £5,149 / $6,936 / €6,000 as tested
- Fantastic ride on road and lighter gravel, although it struggles on more technical terrain
- Quite narrow clearance can lead to mud build-up
- Low spec wheels for the bike’s price
- 700×40mm tyre clearance
Cinelli’s steel gravel bike combines great looks and ride quality, thanks to its top-spec Columbus Spirit HSS triple butted tubing.
It’s built to be fast with angles close to those of a road bike, but still enough fork trail for off-road terrain, although it’s not quite capable enough for the most technical trails.
The Campagnolo Ekar groupset works great – both its shifting and braking – but the Fulcrum wheels feel sub-par on a bike at this price.
Tyre clearance is stated at 40mm, but that doesn’t leave room for mud and we got some clogging in typical UK spring conditions.
All that adds up to a gravel bike well-suited to fast trails, but not best-suited to the more aggressive end of the gravel spectrum.
- £1,700 as tested
- Great handling
- Shimano GRX drivetrain
- 650b wheels
- 700x40mm / 650x47mm tyre clearance
The Ragley Trig is a low-slung steel gravel bike built around 650b wheels and with 2.1 inches of tyre clearance. This adds up to create a bike that promises loads of potential for British gravel riding.
The geometry takes inspiration from classic mountain bike geometry with a slack head-tube angle and long wheelbase, giving plenty of stability on rough terrain. This does mean that when it comes to riding on the road, the Trig isn’t the fastest, but the low, long position lets you push the pace and the chromoly frame is full of springy life.
Ragley has kitted the bike out with a mix of Shimano GRX 400 and 600 parts, with aluminium wheels and WTB Sendero tyres – a good choice for the kind of riding the Trig is suited to.
This steel gravel bike has all the braze-ons you need for bikepacking or commuting.
Ribble CGR 725 Steel
- £1,199 / $1,257 / AU$1,965 as tested
- Immensely versatile
- A touch on the heavy side
- Classy steel frame
- 47mm tyre clearance
The CGR 725 Steel gets its name from the slender Reynolds 725 steel tubes it’s constructed with. The frame offers not only a classy look but a cossetting ride that is more about comfort than smashing personal bests.
You can fit 700c, 29er or 650b wheels, making this a chassis you can really tailor to your preferences. Rear rack mounts, clearance for up to 47mm tyres and bosses at the top tube add further versatility. The CGR could happily clock commuting, fitness, adventure or even training miles.
At a smidge over 11kg, it’s a little weighty though, and the TRP mechanical discs are good rather than great.
You may also want to consider…
These bikes didn’t score highly enough to be featured in the list above, but are still worth considering.
What is a gravel bike?
A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to be ridden on a wide variety of surfaces and not just gravel – even if this is where gravel riding did originate.
The best gravel bikes look a lot like traditional road bikes, but there are four key features that usually distinguish them.
First and foremost, gravel bikes have wider tyres. Since these bicycles are designed to traverse miles of unpaved roads, their tyres are substantially larger. Likewise, mud clearance is also a concern in these conditions.
Tyre widths range anywhere from 30mm to 48mm. In addition to 700c wheels, it is also common to see smaller-diameter 650b wheels used with higher-volume tyres. Many of the best gravel bike tyres feature a fast-rolling centre tread with knurling or side knobs to improve cornering ability on mixed surfaces.
Tubeless tyres are also commonly found on gravel bikes because the latex tubeless sealant provides a degree of insurance against punctures.
In addition to wider tyres, gravel bikes have geometry that favours stability and comfort.
The best gravel bikes have a longer wheelbase than most road bikes thanks to longer chainstays and slacker head-tube angles.
Head tubes are generally taller as well, placing the rider in a more relaxed, upright position. Bottom brackets are often lower, which gives the rider the sensation of riding in, rather than on the bicycle.
The end result of these geometry differences is a more comfortable, confidence-inspiring and forgiving ride than you would find in a typical road bike.
Another thing you’ll usually find on gravel bikes that road bikes don’t have is extra mounting points for luggage. That allows them to be used for bikepacking or just lets you add a third water bottle for long rides in the outback where water sources may be scarce. Likewise, there are often mounts on the top tube for a feed bag.
Gravel bikes also usually have mounts for a rack and mudguards/fenders, so they can do double duty as poor weather road bikes.
There’s a newer category of gravel race bikes though, like the Pinarello Grevil F and the Cervélo Áspero, which abandon their bikepacking pretensions and just have a fairly standard set of road-type mounts, maybe with extra bottle cage bosses under the down tube. They’ll have a more racy geometry, more like a road bike, and often include aero features and tube profiles.
Handlebars and stem
Gravel bikes typically have a shorter stem and wider handlebars than road-going drop bar bikes. That mirrors mountain bike geometry and leads to a bike that’s more easily manoeuvred over variable terrain.
The handlebars usually have a flare to them, where they widen out from the tops to the drops. That gives you more control when descending in the drops. It also means that if you decide to fit a bar bag, there’s more space to grab the drops without the bag getting in the way.
Gearing is another area where gravel bikes diverge from the pack.
The rise of gravel bikes has, in turn, been accompanied by the arrival of gravel-specific groupsets. While early gravel bikes might have featured road bike groupsets with compact cranksets, the latest gravel groupsets – including Shimano GRX, Campagnolo Ekar and SRAM XPLR – provide a more suitable and forgiving selection of gears.
Given the terrain, many gravel bikes feature sub-compact cranksets and wide-range cassettes, to give a spread of gearing that remains fast on the road, while providing a low enough bottom gear for off-road climbing.
Double cranksets with 48/32t chainrings are common. Likewise, many gravel bikes come with 1x gearing and super-wide cassettes, keeping the drivetrain simple by removing the front derailleur.
You can read our guide to gravel bike setup for more on gearing choices.
In addition to wide tyres, relaxed geometry and low gearing, many of the latest machines have active or passive gravel bike suspension systems built into them.
Much like bikes in the endurance road category, these features could take the form of slender chainstays, a bowed top tube or a skinny seatpost, all of which are designed to flex in order to absorb road chatter.
Some of the best gravel bikes take things one step further by using short-travel suspension forks, such as the Lefty Oliver or aesthetically odd but very effective Lauf Grit fork.
We’ve also seen the arrival of the RockShox Rudy XPLR gravel fork and the Fox 32 Taper-Cast Gravel.
How much do I have to spend on a gravel bike?
Well, that depends on what you define as a gravel bike. A used cyclocross bike, for example, could work perfectly well as a gravel bike and cost you a fraction of the cost of even the most basic ‘true’ gravel machine.
If you’re looking at a purpose-built gravel / all-road bike, expect to pay around £800 / $1,200 for an alloy frame with entry-level components.
A mid-range build from a major brand will likely cost in excess of £2,000 / $2,800. Aluminium frames still dominate here but they’ll sport more up-to-date designs in terms of tubing, geometry, tyre clearance and mounting points.
Spend more and you’ll start to step into the world of carbon frames, with upscale components to match.
As is normally the case in the cycling world, it’s possible to spend a small (or not so small) fortune on a custom-built bike should you wish to.