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The Most Badass Gravel Bikes for Riding Your Heart Out

Let’s simplify the booming gravel market to help you find the right bike.

men riding gravel bikes on a dirt road

Just like a trip down the cereal aisle at Safeway, searching for the right gravel bike can be overwhelmingly complex. It’s a true paradox of choice — so many options to choose from that you’re liable to give up not long after you start.

As gear testers, we get more notifications about new gravel bikes than skis or puffy jackets, even in the dead of winter. Poke around the interwebs and you’ll see what we mean. But for the uninitiated, the category can be both exciting and a little head-scratching: What exactly is a gravel bike?

Put simply, a gravel bike is a drop-bar style bike that has been engineered to allow you to ride over a variety of surfaces. Gravel bikes are a curious mix between road and off-road and the category runs the gamut from rugged rigs — essentially mountain bikes with drop bars — to modified road bikes with slightly more clearance and tubeless tires.

To help you invest your hard-earned dollars in the right gravel steed, we put together this simplified guide. Below we focus on the important differences and similarities, so you can prioritize and ride away smoothly — even if you do get a little (blissfully) muddy in the process.

Additional contributions by John Zientek and Emily Schaldach.

How We Tested

gravel bikes
Testing gravel bikes in Patagonia, Arizona.
Hayley Helms

The beauty of riding gravel is just how accessible it is. Our team combined trails and bike lanes, road and dirt to form their own unique paths. We tested gravel bikes in races like Unbound Gravel and SBT GRVL, in trail systems across the country, around small towns with tons of gravel and with groups like The Gravel House. Along the way, we tracked geometry, comfort, components, materials and more to determine which exactly are the best gravel bikes on the market. After extensive testing, we landed on our top picks.

Editor's note: Gravel bikes can easily get very pricey, so we made sure to include a few more approachable picks in this guide. One is well under $1,000, two others cost roughly $2,000, and two more cost around $4,000.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

Best Overall Gravel Bike: Diverge STR Expert


Specialized Diverge STR Expert


  • Smooth ride but still efficient
  • Great range with 12-speed, 11-50t cassette
  • Tracer Pro 2BR tires can handle a wide range of terrain
  • Lightweight

  • Brakes are underwhelming
  • Bottle cage is designed for bumps, not ease of access
  • Can't completely lock out suspension
  • Weight: 21 pounds, 12 ounces
  • Frame: Specialized Diverge FACT 11r carbon frameset with Future Shock 2.0 suspension
  • Wheels and Tires: Roval Terra C wheelset, Tracer Pro 2Bliss Ready tires

    STR stands for Suspend the Rider and the Future Shock 2.0 front and rear suspension, paired with the lightweight Diverge FACT 11r carbon frameset, does just that. The technology — initially designed for smooth rides on cobblestones — features 20mm of travel above the head tube in the front and 30mm of travel in the rear. You can't completely lock out the suspension, but the damping does allow the rider to nearly eliminate bobbing in strenuous sections of rides.

    The Tracer Pro 2Bliss Ready tires mounted on a Roval Terra C wheelset aren't overly aggressive on-road and offer a surprising amount of stability off-road. Along with the tires, the 12-speed, 11-50t SRAM NX Eagle PG-1230 cassette gives all the range you need for the most intense hills. The SRAM ED RIV ETAP shifters are fun, fast and smooth. Sure, there are drawbacks for those coming from road or mountain riding, but in terms of pure versatility, this Swiss Army bike is hard to fault.

    Read our full review of the Diverge STR Expert here.

    Most Versatile Gravel Bike: Enve MOG


    Enve MOG


    • Equipped for afternoon rambles, long days in the saddle and even races

    • Very limited colorways
    • Weight: 17 pounds, 10 ounces
    • Frame: ENVE M.O.D Carbon frame
    • Wheels and Tires: Fits up to a 700c x 50 mm tire

      We’ve never ridden a gravel bike that is so wonderfully optimized for completely different activities. Wanna race the MOG? The 18-pound carbon-fiber package won’t slow you down, an integrated bike computer mount protruding from the stem is perfect for training, tracking and navigating, and the unique shifting system of the Campagnolo Ekar AG25 1x13 groupset lets you trigger the fastest gear with your thumb, even in a full tuck. Wanna bikepack with the MOG? It’s loaded with mounting options, including a top tube bag mount, fork accessory mounts and a mount for a third bottle cage under the downtube.

      Meanwhile, what ENVE calls the Cargo Bay, located within the downtube itself, offers 36 cubic inches of storage for tools, snacks, extra layers and more. Throw in enough clearance for beefy 50mm tires, and the “Mother of Gravel” really is your go-anywhere, do-anything offroad-crushing machine.

      gravel bike detail shots enve mog santa cruz stigmata bmc kaius cervelo rouvida
      Multiple braze-ons along the MOG’s fork let you load up for extended trips, while an integrated bike computer mount is a racer’s best friend.
      Steve Mazzucchi

      Read our full review of the Enve MOG here.

      Best Budget Gravel Bike: State Bicycle Co. 4130 All-Road


      State Bicycle Co. 4130 All-Road


      • Easy on the wallet, with performance to boot

      • Lacks premium components of more expensive bikes
      • Weight: 28 pounds
      • Frame: 4130 Chromoly Steel frame
      • Wheels and Tires: 650b: Tubeless Capable Wheel Set w/ Vittoria Barzo Tires, 2.1 inch

        If you’re a devotee of the less-is-more philosophy, this bike is for you. Simple, affordable and durable, the All-Road is an easy pick for the best bang-for-your-buck bike. A steel frame (the only one on this list), plenty of mounting options, multiple tire size options, and standard disc brakes make it a perfect choice for long tours where there is no rush, a year-round commuter, or just a solid, entry-level bike to get into gravel riding.

        Best Gravel Bike for Long Adventures: Canyon Grizl 7 Suspension

        Canyon Grizl 7 Suspension


        • Low price point + a quality build

        • A little on the heavy side
        • Weight: 25 pounds
        • Frame: Aluminum
        • Wheels and Tires: DT Swiss LN aluminium gravel wheels; Schwalbe 45 mm G-One Bite tires

          Employing the new RockShox Rudy front fork with 30mm of travel, the Grizl is one of the few gravel bikes that can tackle an all-terrain bikepacking trip without feeling like your teeth are going to fall out. From the ground up this bike is designed for long-haul functionality, highlighted by a large cockpit, comfortable seat, ample mounting points and large tires to smooth out rough roads. At a relatively affordable price point, this bike is excellent for anyone going the distance.

          Most Feature-Rich Gravel Bike: Santa Cruz Stigmata Force AXS 1x

          Santa Cruz Bicycles

          Santa Cruz Stigmata Force AXS 1x


          • Impressively stable
          • Glovebox comes up clutch every time

          • Not as speedy as the suspension-free editions
          • Weight: 20 pounds, 15 ounces
          • Frame: CC Carbon frame
          • Wheels and Tires: 700c wheels with 45c Maxxis Rambler tires

            The priciest trim level of the five stock Stigmatas is absolutely loaded. Standout elements include SRAM Force XPLR AXS 1x12 electronic shifting, a RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR suspension fork with 40mm of travel, a RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR electronic dropper post, 700x45c Maxxis Rambler tires and a downtube storage space called the Glovebox. It all adds up to an impressively stable, user-friendly platform that shifts smoothly, climbs capably and crushes technical descents like a champ. When you take a break to celebrate your utter gnarliness, pop open that Glovebox to pull out tools to make repairs, snacks to share and/or a warm-ifying extra layer.

            While the vast array of features may be more than some need, the Stigmata won’t weigh you down — without pedals or other accessories, our review unit was just under 21 pounds — making it the perfect party bike for shredding gravel and leaving pesky worries in your rockstrewn wake.

            santa cruz stigmata force axs 1x
            The Stigmata’s spacious Glovebox lets you safely stash tools, tubes, snacks — even an extra layer.
            Steve Mazzucchi

            Read our full review of the Santa Cruz Stigmata Force AXS 1x here.

            Lowest-Maintenance Gravel Bike: Priority Apollo


            Priority Apollo Gravel


            • Carbon belt drive minimizes maintenance needs

            • Bikes are often sold out
            • Weight: 24 pounds
            • Frame: Ultralight 6061 T6 Aluminum
            • Wheels and Tires: WTB i23 ST Tubeless Ready; Tubeless-ready WTB or Goodyear 40mm gravel tires

              From the moment we started pedaling this bike, it inspired confidence. The frame feels incredibly well-built and stable, with a geometry that feels comfortable when cruising on the road but simultaneously hungry for rocks and dirt, thanks to 440mm drop bars with a 12-degree flare and 90mm reach. Once we reached that sort of terrain, we were impressed by how smooth the shifting was. Just a little tap of the levers on the right handlebar enabled seamless transitions thanks to the internally hubbed Alfine 11 system.

              For the price you get a hell of a lot here, and that’s before we get to the big reason it claims the lowest-maintenance superlative. Like all Priority bikes, the Apollo boasts a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, which spares you the pain of ever having to lube a chain or adjust a derailleur or worry about rain or mud or dust or rocks interfering with your drive train. That means more time riding your bike, less time fixing it — or hiking out of the woods when your chain breaks.

              Read our full review of the Priority Apollo here.

              Smoothest Downhilling Gravel Bike: Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty


              Cannondale Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty


              • Front and back suspension elevates ride

              • Not as comfortable on-road
              • Weight: 23.31 pounds
              • Frame: BallisTec carbon frame with Kingpin suspension
              • Wheels and Tires: WTB ST i23 TCS, 28h, tubeless ready; WTB Venture TCS Light, 650 x 47c

                We all knew that gravel bikes would have dual suspension eventually. It just makes sense if you want to ride more trails more aggressively. The Topstone was the first to solve this riddle and in my opinion, remains the smoothest downhill gravel bike out there. Sure, it sacrifices speed and weight, but 30mm of travel in the rear Kingpin suspension and 30mm in the Lefty Oliver front fork enable an entirely different ride from the rest of the bikes on this list.

                In testing this bike, we ripped up big road climbs, hopped over logs, rode through creeks and rallied down sketchy dirt roads, jumping on little lips and maintaining unprecedented traction in the bumpy corners. The engineers grinned as we told them again, “Damn, this thing really does absolutely rip.” For riders looking for a hidden gem in the world of gravel that can match their stoke on every ride, the Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty could be the answer.

                two people mountain biking
                The Topstone cruises singletrack with ease.
                Whitton Feer

                Read our full review of the Topstone Carbon 2 Lefty here.

                Best Made-in-USA Gravel Bike: Allied Able Force AXS


                Allied Able Force AXS


                • Nimble and aggressive

                • Base price is high, without add-ons

                • Weight: ~18 pounds
                • Build: ABLE - SRAM Force AXS 1x12 Build Group
                • Wheels and Tires: Industry Nine UL250 CX 700 Wheelset - XDR; WTB Resolute 700x42 TCS 120tpi SG2

                  Thanks to an innovative drive-side chainstay design, the Able offers something that few other gravel brands can: an aggressive geometry with large tires. The Able is a nimble, agile and incredibly fast bike that still allows a variety of tire sizes for various roads and conditions. Want proof? The bike made its debut in 2019 at one of the world's gnarliest races — Unbound Gravel in Emporia, Kansas — as the ride of choice for both the male and female winners. One downside of the design is that it can only accommodate a one-by drivetrain (a set-up we favor anyway). The upside is a responsive and snappy ride, great on hardpack, fire roads and rough gravel adventures.

                  Best-Looking Gravel Bike: BMC Kaius 01 TWO


                  BMC Kaius 01 TWO


                  • Fun to look at and to ride

                  • If you're on the fence, the price tag is high
                  • Weight: 18 pounds, 2 ounces
                  • Frame: Kaius 01 Premium Carbon with Aerocore Design
                  • Wheels and Tires: ZIPP 303 S Wheelset, Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H - 40mm

                    Look, there is no doubt that this Swiss-built beauty could make a helluva case for “best racing gravel bike.” That is the Kaius line’s stated intent, and with precise SRAM FORCE eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting, a lively 2x12 drivetrain, race-inspired geometry and a weight barely over 18 pounds, the TWO will get you to the finish line fast. But the Bicycle Manufacturing Company also happened to make sure you’ll look good doing so.

                    This particular trim level, with a bold turquoise main hue complemented by a pop of white and orange, first scored points when we realized how much easier it is to photograph in the woods than a lot of other gravel bikes we’ve tested. But it really won us over when people started asking if it had been custom-painted. Considering the price tag, it might as well be.

                    gravel bike detail shots enve mog santa cruz stigmata bmc kaius cervelo rouvida
                    As beautifully designed as the Kaius is, that splash of creamsicle on the fork might be our favorite feature.
                    Steve Mazzucchi

                    Read our full review of the BMC Kauis 01 TWO here.

                    Best Dirt/Tarmac Split: Scott Addict Gravel

                    Scott Addict Gravel 30


                    • Great on streets as well as trails

                    • Not available for purchase online/ have to find a dealer
                    • Weight: 20.28 pounds
                    • Frame: Addict Gravel Disc HMF Carbon
                    • Wheels and Tires: Syncros RP2.0 Disc; Schwalbe G-ONE Bite Performance

                      Part of the road bike lineage at Scott, the Addict Gravel is based on a road frame intended for riders who spend as much time on pavement as they do on gravel. The burly carbon build boasts a number of clever features that make the Addict at home off-road, including more mounting points, clearance for 45mm tires, larger brake rotors and the option for a one-by or two-by drivetrain. And yet, the bike leans into its aero frame, internal cable routing and tighter cockpit to help maintain its performance when you hit the streets.

                      Best E-Gravel Bike: Cervélo Rouvida Force XPLR AXS 1


                      Cervélo Rouvida Force XPLR AXS 1


                      • Climbing ability is super impressive

                      • Pricey
                      • Weight: ~31 pounds
                      • Frame: Rouvida Carbon
                      • Wheels and Tires: Fulcrum Racing 600 DB, Corsa N.EXT TLR G2.0 700x30c

                        Cervélo took its sweet time entering the e-bike space. But when the racing-renowned Canadian brand finally did launch the Rouvida earlier this month … wow. We got a chance to rip around on the pricier of the two gravel editions (there are also two roadies) and were blown away. The streamlined carbon frame houses a Fazua Ride60 motor with a 432wH battery that promises 60nM of torque and assists up to 28 miles per hour. But what really makes it sing are Cervélo’s performance-driven touches — vertically orienting the battery to save 25g in the wind tunnel, clever controls and silky-smooth electronic shifting.

                        As fast as we flew on NYC streets, flat stretches of gravel and epic downhills, what most impressed was the Rouvida’s climbing ability. With pedals, our tester weighed just under 31 pounds, and with three pedal-assist levels, we were able to ascend 4,500 feet in an afternoon while barely breaking a sweat. While we’ve been known to relish the satisfaction of surmounting a punishing hill, that was pretty damn fun — and would make this bike perfect if your riding partner is significantly younger, fitter or crazier than you are.

                        Read our full review of the Cervélo Rouvida Force XPLR AXS 1 here.

                        gravel bike detail shots enve mog santa cruz stigmata bmc kaius cervelo rouvida
                        Hiding inside the drop bars, the Rouvida’s pedal-assist buttons are the most discreet we’ve ever seen.
                        Steve Mazzucchi

                        Most Conversation-Starting Gravel Bike: Evil Chamois Hagar Force AXS

                        Evil Chamois Hagar Force AXS

                        $4,479.20 (24% off)

                        • Incredibly versatile, reliable and tough
                        • Murdered-out colorway heightens the badassery

                        • Hardcore road cyclists find its very existence… upsetting
                        • Not the fastest dog in the pack
                        • Weight: 20 pounds
                        • Frame: Evil Chamois Hagar UD Carbon Frame with Internal Routing
                        • Wheels and Tires: WTB Proterra Light i23 Tubeless

                          What exactly is this thing, and why does it exist? Shake off such questions from hard-core roadies while pedaling this semi-controversial set of wheels. All that matters is that the hilariously named Chamois Hagar is an absolute blast. With a geometry that’s clearly reverse engineered from a mountain bike — true to Evil’s pedigree as an MTB brand — it can really shred, both on and off-road.

                          On actual gravel, the lightweight carbon frame, giant 42-tooth granny gear, fat 50c tires and stock dropper post take the pain out of technical climbs and makes gnarly descents more manageable. But this bike also kicks ass on the streets of NYC — hopping curbs and crushing potholes with reckless abandon. We even rolled 300 miles from New York to DC and somehow finished with both high spirits and fully functional quads. Bottom line: forget the controversy and enjoy the ride.

                          Best Racing Gravel Bike: Pinarello Grevil F Ekar

                          Pinarello Grevil F Ekar


                          • Wavy frame is an instant conversation piece
                          • Just so goddamn… fast

                          • Not exactly a daily driver
                          • Like with an Italian car, repairs can add up
                          • Weight: 19 pounds, 8 ounces
                          • Frame: Toray T700 UD carbon
                          • Wheels and Tires: Fulcrum Rapid Red wheels; Maxxis Rambler tires

                            Part sport ute, part sports car, the Grevil boasts aero geometry, an ultralight carbon frame, fully integrated cables, a 13-speed Campagnolo Ekar groupset and a unique shifting mechanism, all of which presage its penchant for promptitude. That figures: Pinarello riders have won a record 16 Tours de France, and the brand’s premiere road racing bike, the Dogma, is the basis for its premiere gravel racing bike.

                            Once you get a feel for its aggressive posture, the Grevil delivers. We know from experience, as it’s the bike we rode, much more smoothly than expected, in last year’s SBT GRVL. Yes, it can be a little high maintenance — we had to take it to the shop more than once with brake issues — but if you have a little patience with this Italian off-road machine, it will quickly become your new favorite race bike.

                            Read our full review of the Pinarello Grevil F Ekar here.

                            Once you get used to the aggressive posture of the Pinarello, you’ll find yourself finishing races faster than ever.

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