How To Choose A Gravel Bike In 2019

What Is Gravel Biking?

The world of gravel cycling has moved on in massive leaps and bounds in 2019 thanks to the many professionals and amateurs who have joined the ranks of gravel cyclists, and to those in the USA who have found a new type of cycling that does not involve roads.

Gravel biking has taken off big style and has already seen many big name race wins and quite a lot of big and small companies improve and build gravel bikes purely for gravel roads and gravel riding.

The biggest names in gravel bikes are no longer the usual suspects seen in road bikes. There are many unfamiliar names that have come to light recently, and a few of those bikes have been ridden to 1st place recently in gravel bike races.

We pick out some of the best gravel bikes and cyclo-cross bikes on the market and give our thoughts.

What Is A Gravel Bike?

A gravel bike gives you the best of all worlds. It is a combination of a road bike for going out with your road riding friends, or a sportive bike, for those who want to enter and compete in any of the sportive competitions are now throughout the year.

Should you have a wad load of cash you can buy a top of the market gravel bike that will be designed for both gravel riding and road riding, giving you the absolute best of both worlds.

You will probably have a choice of 700 or 650b wheels to match your bike, with different tyres fitted for either off-road riding on the gravel, or road riding on the tarmac. If you are combining both, then you can use your gravel wheels.

A top of the line gravel bike will allow you to go out on the road with your friends on the same bike, but with either a different set of wheels, or just different thinner road tires fitted.

This is great for having one bike that allows you to enjoy the off-road feeling of riding through the trees and across the farm tracks and forest roads and also allows you to enjoy the road rides with your club and mates on a Sunday.

Top of the range bikes do not come cheap (actually some do), but if you think about what you are paying for you are actually getting two bikes in one, so can really look at them both costing 50% of what two bikes would have cost you.

A gravel bike is not a mountain bike. It is great for fire roads and rough single track trails, but it is not designed to do any kind of jumps. If you want to hit the rocks then stick to mountain bikes for this.

What Is A Gravel Bike For?

A gravel bike gives you the best of all worlds. It is a combination of a road bike for going out with your road riding friends, or a sportive bike, for those who want to enter and compete in any of the sportive competitions are now throughout the year.

It is the same almost in detail to the cyclo-cross bike and designed for those (like me) who want to ride on the fire tracks in the hills or the canal tracks along the river, or if you are feeling strong, enter a cyclo-cross competition famous in Belgium with their own UCI Competitions, and now available in the UK.

It is a bike that can be fitted with quality and mile crunching 30mm road tyres for a smooth and enjoyable ride with friends from the bike club on their 6k road bikes, or up to 42 mm gravel riding tyres for a super-smooth feeling when travelling on dirt tracks or forest roads, my preferred riding these days.

Much quicker than a mountain bike and more enjoyable unless you try to do single tracks that are not designed for bikes without suspension. If your type of riding is single tracks and gnarly tree feet, then you should stick to mountain bikes.

Gravel riding is also a great way to get out into the fresh air and exercise to burn some fat. You can go flat out if you like or just ride through the hills, forests or on the road and get the benefits of being outside in the fresh air and losing weight at the same time.

I was always a roady, up and down the silky smooth roads in Switzerland all day long, covering around 100 km each time I went out. I now do around 70 km on my gravel bike, but mainly through the forest tracks and paths designed for tires that are around 30 mm or more. The difference it makes to your ride is amazing and not to be missed.

My gravel bike has a fairly smooth tire fitted of 34mm. I know this size is great for the tracks I use through the forests, but also gives me the capability of hammering along on the road at around 30kph on the flat.

I still ride on the road, but nowhere near as often as I used to. The UK where I am from has many road riders. I feel sorry for them as the conditions for road cycling in the UK are poor, really poor. The roads are dangerous with hundreds of potholes, and the manner of driving in many areas is negative towards cyclists.

The UK does not have that many great off-road routes designed for gravel bikes, which is a shame considering the number of cyclists there. If you know of any that allow you 50 km of quality cycling, I would be happy to list them on this website.

Is A Gravel Bike The Same As A Cyclocross Bike

In many respects it is, and you could ride a pure cyclo-cross bike on the road, no problem, and use it with your mates on that Sunday ride. The Canyon Inflite Is a prime example of a gravel come cyclo-cross bike that won the 2020 World Cyclocross Championships but with a unique set of tyres could easily be used as your road bike.

Cyclocross is a sport mainly seen in Belgium where a road bike style with bigger, wider tires and drop style road handlebars are used to compete in serious competitions to win real cash prizes and world championships..

The courses are normally short off-road dirt and gravel tracks through forest paths as they are fast and furious courses where the rider is at 100% max from the moment the bell goes until they reach the finish line. Normally under 2 hours long but unbelievably competitive.

If you have ever entered an off-road competition, you will know exactly what I mean about competitive. As soon as the bell goes for the start, you seem to hit max RPM on your heart rate monitor and do not seem to slow down until you cross the line for the finish.

Gravel riding is also a great way to get out into the fresh air and exercise to burn some fat. You can go flat out if you like or just ride through the hills, forests or on the road and get the benefits of being outside in the fresh air and losing weight at the same time.

Choosing The Right Bike For Gravel And Road

In 2018 and 2019, my dream bike was always The MEGA BUCKS Specialized S-works Diverge. This was what I used to look at and wish I could own. At a price of around £8000, there was no way I was ever going to see one in my house. At the age of 60, I could not justify owning a bike like this as it would never repay me.

Fortunately, I never bought one and spent so much money on a bike that does not quite live up to its name. They sell mainly it to those who have a shed load of cash to buy one. The S-works Diverge is not actually a bike designed purely for gravel AND off-road,

It is a very expensive frame combined with a top of the range wheel set and a top of the range group set.

Fortunately, few more gravel bikes have now shown the light AND overtaken the S-works as the most wanted bike to buy for gravel riding and road use.

So move on down the ladder Mr really expensive Specialized S-works Diverge and make way for a few more exciting options for a much smaller price.

Expensive Bikes Means Real Frame Warranties

It is amazing how many people still buy a gravel bike, or a road bike for that matter, for all the wrong reasons:

  • My mate has the same bike and says it is the dogs’ bollocks.
  • It is a top of the range bike. It has won races here, there and everywhere.
  • It has been given 5 stars in all the top magazines.
  • It is fully loaded and looks the mutz nutz.
  • It has all the top SRAM electronic kit fitted
  • It has all the top Shimano electronic kit fitted
  • It has the best wheels ever

These are great and something I always looked at when drooling over my next bike. Sadly for me it was nearly always a 2nd hand bike or a ride to work scheme in the UK.

I could never justify 8-10k on a bike.

What you should really look at if you are a gravel rider is the FRAME WARRANTY. You will more than likely be buying a new bike, which means the frame warranty counts as the number one priority.

A frame warranty is normally ONLY FOR THE ORIGINAL OWNER. No use to you when you buy it 2 months down the road from Tom and Jerry, as the warranty will be invalid. A 6k 2nd hand bike will more than likely have NO WARRANTY and no comeback should it crack on your first ride through the forest.

Now, when a lot of these bike testers are doing their bit for the company they are looking at and their magazine, look at how many of them actually list the warranty of the frame and wheels.

These are the two most expensive items on the bike, and in all fairness, the two most likely to fail. A warranty on these two items would be a great start.

Sadly, wheels warranties are normally none existent, and frame warranties vary from 2 years ( yes 2 measly years) to UNLIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY OF THE ORIGINAL OWNER.

HOWEVER: Some companies are really CRAP as they have a catch within the warranty, and not everyone sees the catch. With some of them you have to register your new bike WITHIN 30 DAYS of buying it, or the warranty is ONLY FOR A LIMITED PERIOD. SHITTTTT

In our reviews of gravel bikes, we list what we think is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS. The frame warranties. If there is a warranty for the wheels, it will also be there.

We have a separate list of bike companies and their warranties for frames and wheels.

Our List of Gravel Bikes

We do not go into details about the bikes and how it rides and handles. What we do is list the warranties, components, prices, and places to buy, plus a couple of reviews from cycling magazines. You will have to decide the other facts on frame size and choice.

THE BIKES WE LIKE THE MOST WITH GREAT WARRANTIES WILL BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST

With those with lower quality warranties lower down the pecking order. Those with abysmal warranties will be at the bottom of the list. It is your choice.

Our gravel bikes will include steel, titanium, aluminum, and carbon frames from any frame maker who builds a gravel bike. If the bike you are looking for is not here, then please drop us an email and we will add it.

The components will be from SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo and wheels will be mentioned if we find a warranty for them.

We only list the primary name of the group set that the bike is using and rate that group set on what others have said about it in the past, or on our experience. With that in mind, I am not currently a big fan of SRAM having had issues with my current group set in the middle of my gearset on my current gravel bike.

In all the years I have used shimano (road, mtb and gravel) I have never had any issues like the current one with SRAM that I could not sort out.

Plus SRAM is not an easy group set to mix parts around, unlike shimano where you can mix Road with Offraod parts quite easily.

For my own problems, I have just reverted to an old system of days gone by. A 10 speed group set of Dura Ace levers with an XTR reverse rear mech. Climbing mountains with gears in reverse has always been the easiest setup I have had, and one I have just gone back too.

I am still not a big fan of electronic, even though it has come a long way in recent times. I like to have full control of my bike and be able to make adjustments on the move if I need too, and that is not always possible with electronic parts.

Best Gravel Bikes of 2019

THE 2019 GRAVEL BIKES ARE PROBABLY VERY GOOD VALUE IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO PURCHASE A SECOND HAND GRAVEL BIKE. TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR LOCAL PAPERS OR EBAY, FACEBOOK ETC TO FIND THOSE GRAVEL BIKE BARGAINS

2019 Gravel Bikes here…

Pivot Vault

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

The Pivot Vault is my favorite looking gravel bike (2019) and one of the best looking gravel bikes out there today. What a stunner this is. They design this bike with everyone in mind. Sportive challenges, road racing with your mates, any sort of gravel path or track you want to throw at it, and cyclo-cross events with extra large tires needed.

It fits the bill for all of them and looks stunning as well. It also comes in at around 9 kilos, which is a very light and capable bike considering they fit it with gravel specific tires.

Fitted with Shimano ultegra gears, which for me are not ideal in winter conditions when I will use my own gravel bike a lot, and feel it should be decked out in Sram eTap as an option. This is one of the best looking bikes available for 2018 and would be at the top of my list of wanted if it was available with a SRAM option.

The only thing I note about this bike is the fact the chainset lower arm is the same as a normal road bike. This tells me that Pivot have not made this as a dedicated gravel bike, rather copied it over direct. Most dedicated gravel frames have a sloping bottom chainset rube for better clearance.

Full Specifications & Components

PRICE : $4,599

WEIGHT : 9 kgs or 19.2 lbs

WARRANTY : 10 years frame and fork original owner

FRAME : Carbon

FORK : Pivot Vault Carbon Disc

HEADSET : Pivot Precision Sealed Integrated Cartridge

STEM : 3T ARX II

FRONT WHEEL : Stan’s Grail MK3 w/ Stan’s Neo hub, 20mm – 700c

REAR WHEEL : Stan’s Grail MK3 w/ Stan’s Neo hub, 20mm – 700c

FRONT HUB :

REAR HUB :

INNER TUBES :

FRONT TYRE : Maxxis Rambler 700c x 38mm TR w/ Stan’s Sealant

REAR TYRE : Maxxis Rambler 700c x 38mm TR w/ Stan’s Sealant

CRANKSET : Praxis Zayante M30 48/32t – 172.5mm

CHAINRINGS :

BOTTOM BRACKET :

SHIFT FRONT :

SHIFT REAR : Shimano Ultegra R8020 11-Speed

FRONT DERAILLEUR :

REAR DERAILLEUR : Shimano Ultegra R8000 GS 11-Speed

CASSETTE : Shimano Ultegra HG-6000 11-32t

CHAIN : Shimano CN-HG600 11-Speed

FRONT BRAKE : Shimano Ultegra R8020 Disc

REAR BRAKE : Shimano Ultegra R8020 Disc

BRAKE LEVERS :

HANDLEBARS : 3T Ergosum Pro – 44cm

TAPE :

SADDLE : Phoenix WTB Pro Volt

SEATPOST : Phoenix Pro Carbon 31.6mm

SEAT CLAMP :

PEDALS : Not Included

TYRE CLEARANCE :

WHEEL SIZE : 700C

COLOURS : Blue

SIZES:

Specialized S-Works Diverge

Best Gravel Bikes - Sworks Di2 Diverge Gravel Bike 2018

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

S-Works Diverge 2019 – We Can All Dream

The Specialized S-Works Diverge machine is probably “the” most sought-after gravel bike on the planet – this is the ultimate gravel/road bike combo.

It is beyond means to most of us as it is around the 10k price mark, which is beyond extreme. But that said they do not come any better than this.

The new 2018 Specialized diverge now has space for 42mm tires, 1×11 Shimano Di2 gears fitted disc brakes, a dropper seat post and the future suspension shock absorber.

This is a lot of changes on an already very good bike, but changes that make this bike something very special.It is now a sophisticated bike that can challenge any gravel course you throw at it, and with a decent tire change is capable of producing stunning results in any sportive you wish to make, or join road bike friends for any day out on the road without having to think you will be outgunned.

Perhaps the only change I would consider is a 2×12 SRAM electronic groupset as for me it is the best groupset out there.

This is a big step up from the original Diverge that was launched back in 2014. This was the time when gravel had taken off in the USA and was still a baby in the rest of the world.

Specialized was one of the first mainstream brands to see the future of this sport and as usual, has thrown the full weight of what they have to offer in a bike that is capable of doing all sports on a bike with just one frame.

NOTE: After watching the 2019 Giro and Baulka Molema pull no punches about the issues he was having with his SRAM set up I am not to sure I would yet recommend SRAM. It seems he was not the only one with mechanical issues with SRAM gears.

Full Specifications & Components

Price : Around $10,000

Weight : 8.3 kgs for a 54 cms

FRAME : S-Works FACT 11r carbon, Open Road Geometry, 12x142mm thru-axle, Future Shock Progressive suspension, 20mm of travel, flat-mount disc

FORK : S-Works FACT carbon, flat-mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axle

FRONT WHEEL : Roval CLX 32 Disc, Win Tunnel Engineered, carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD hub, CeramicSpeed bearings, 21h

REAR WHEEL : Roval CLX 32 Disc, Win Tunnel Engineered, carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD hub, CeramicSpeed bearings, 24h

INNER TUBES : Presta valve, 48mm

FRONT TYRE : Sawtooth 2Bliss Ready, 700x38mm

REAR TYRE : Sawtooth 2Bliss Ready, 700x38mm

CRANKSET : Easton EC90 SL Carbon

CHAINRINGS : 40T

BOTTOM BRACKET : CeramicSpeed 386 EVO

SHIFT LEVERS : Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 ST-R9150 shift levers

REAR DERAILLEUR : Shimano XTR M9050 Di2, Shadow Plus, GS cage, 11-speed

CASSETTE : Shimano XTR, 11-speed, 11-40t

CHAIN : Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-speed

FRONT BRAKE : Shimano Dura-Ace, hydraulic disc

REAR BRAKE : Shimano Dura-Ace, hydraulic disc

HANDLEBARS : Easton EC70 AX Carbon Adventure Bar, 16-degree flare

TAPE : S-Wrap Roubaix w/ sticky gel

STEM : S-Works SL, alloy, titanium bolts, 6-degree rise

SADDLE : Body Geometry S-Works Phenom, carbon rails, 143mm

SEATPOST : Command Post XCP, 27.2mm, 35mm of travel

SEAT BINDER : Diverge collar for carbon frames

PEDALS : Not Included

WEIGHT : 8.5 kilos size 56 frame

3 Things We Love About The Specialized S-Works Diverge

Shimano Di2

Simano Di2 Gearing has come along nicely over the last few years and is now very clean and reliable for all types of terrain.

Build Quality

A stunning frame and components to match making the Specialized S-works diverge a dream bike for those who can afford one.

Internal Cable Routing

Internal cable routing keeps the aesthetic of the bike clean and prolongs cable life.

Check out two good reviews here…

Road CC

Cyclist UK

2020 GT Grade Carbon Pro

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

The New 2020 GT Grade Carbon Pro

The new 2020 GT Grade gets a totally new take on the old Triple Triangle tech to improve all-day comfort, a new flip chip fork to maintain control when loaded down, more adventure-ready mounting points, and more.

In updating the Grade the company hasn’t stepped too far away from the design of the original bike. Instead of a radical redesign, it has kept the same formula and underlying design but made numerous changes aimed at increasing its capability, comfort and versatility.

The iconic Triple Triangle, a key feature of GT mountain bikes since it was first used on the Zaskar in 1992, remains but in a clear move to increase the seated comfort, the pencil thin seatstays have now been separated (or decoupled if you like, but don’t tell Trek) from the seat tube, which itself has been shaped to allow it to flex more throughout its length.

  • GT Grade carbon Pro : $3,900
  • GT Grade Carbon Expert : $2,500
  • GT Grade Carbon Elite $2,000

Full Specifications & Components

PRICE : $3,900 or £3,500

WEIGHT :

WARRANTY :

FRAME : Carbon

FORK : Flip-chip carbon

GROUPSET : Shimano Ultegra Di2, with RX (clutch) mech

HEADSET :

STEM :

FRONT WHEEL : WTB KOM Light i23

REAR WHEEL : WTB KOM Light i23

FRONT HUB :

REAR HUB :

INNER TUBES :

FRONT TYRE : Riddler 37c

REAR TYRE : Riddler 37c

SIZES: S, M, L, XL

CRANKSET : FSA Gossamer, 50/34

CHAINRINGS :

BOTTOM BRACKET : FSA MegaExo

SHIFT FRONT :

SHIFT REAR :

FRONT DERAILLEUR :

REAR DERAILLEUR :

CASSETTE :

CHAIN : KMC X10, 10-speed

FRONT BRAKE : Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic Disc Brakes

REAR BRAKE :

BRAKE LEVERS :

HANDLEBARS : GT Droptune bar 16 flare

TAPE :

SADDLE : Fabric Scoop

SEATPOST : GT Carbon post

SEAT CLAMP :

PEDALS : Not Included

TYRE CLEARANCE : 42C

WHEEL SIZE : Dual 700 and 650

COLOURS :

Scott Addict CX RC Gravel Bike 2018

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

Top 25 Best Gravel Bikes 2019

Scott Addict CX RC – A Stunning Gravel Bike UNDER 8 KGS

Probably the best for value Gravel Bike on the Planet

The Addict CX RC is Scott’s only true, dedicated, cyclocross race bike, and it’s built for hardcore ’crossers and new racers alike. The SRAM Force 1 drivetrain offers precision shifting on a budget, and the simplicity of the 1x drivetrain is ideal for cyclocross.

The full-carbon fork has plenty of mud clearance and a tapered steerer, so it’s ready to tackle the sloppiest courses you can find and will chew up frozen ruts typical of winter racing. Replaceable dropouts are a welcome addition, and the thru-axle system makes changing wheels quick and easy—without the need for tools.

Syncros RP 2.0 Disc aluminum clinchers are great for training or as entry-level race wheels, and at just over 18 pounds, this bike is light, stiff, and ready for action.

The Addict FamilyWhile the Addict CX RC may be Scott’s only true, dedicated cyclocross race bike, the Addict family crosses over into the world of gravel.

The Addict Gravel 20 ($3,700) has the same carbon frame as the CX RC, but with an Ultegra 8000 2x drivetrain and a modified, full-carbon fork (with less mud clearance than the CX RC fork).

The Addict Gravel 30 ($3,100) has the same frame and fork as the Gravel 20 and features Shimano 105 11-speed components.

Full Specifications & Components

PRICE : $3,800

WEIGHT : 8 kgs or 17.6 lbs

WARRANTY :

FRAME : Addict CX Disc HMF Carbon Frame

FORK : Addict CX HMF Carbon Fork

HEADSET : Syncros Integrated RR 2.0 1 1/8″ / four Bolt 31.8mm

STEM : 1 1/8″ / four Bolt 31.8mm

FRONT WHEEL : Syncros RP2.0 Disc Wheels

REAR WHEEL : Syncros RP2.0 Disc Wheels

FRONT HUB :

REAR HUB :

INNER TUBES :

FRONT TYRE :

REAR TYRE :

CRANKSET : SRAM Force 1 42T

CHAINRINGS :

BOTTOM BRACKET : SRAM PF86 GXP

SHIFT FRONT : SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic Disc 11 Speed

SHIFT REAR :

FRONT DERAILLEUR :

REAR DERAILLEUR : SRAM Force 1 11 Speed Mid cage

CASSETTE : SRAM PC-1170 11-36

CHAIN : SRAM PC-1170

FRONT BRAKE : SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic Disc – 160/F and 160/R mm Centerline Rotor

REAR BRAKE : SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic Disc – 160/F and 160/R mm Centerline Rotor

BRAKE LEVERS : SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic Disc

HANDLEBARS : Syncros Creston 2.0 Compact

Alloy 31.8mm

TAPE :

SADDLE :

SEATPOST : Syncros Carbon FL1.0 27.2/350mm

SEAT CLAMP :

PEDALS : Not Included

TYRE CLEARANCE : 40 mm

WHEEL SIZE : 700C

COLOURS :

SIZES: 49 to 58 cms

Good Reviews For The Scott

Bicycling – Nice Review

BikeRadar

Velo-Schwarz

Cycling Tips

BikeMag

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