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43 best gravel bikes in 2023 | Top-rated carbon, aluminium, titanium and steel gravel bikes reviewed

The very best carbon, aluminium, titanium and steel gravel bikes tested and rated by our team

Three cyclists riding gravel bikes on a gravel road

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

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Boardman ADV 9.0 is one of our favourite bikes.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £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

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Canyon Grizl is handsome looking with all the mounts you could dream of for fenders, bottles and bags.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • £2,949 / $2,849 / AU$4,249 / €2,699 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Topstone Lefty looks different and performs superbly, a real winner from Cannondale.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
A gravel bike that can cut it on the road with the best.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Mk2 Hatchet from Devinci is a seriously accomplished gravel bike.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media
  • $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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0 features the brand’s new fork and frame.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £4,999 / $6,400 / AU$6,699 / €5,599 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Liv Devote Advanced Pro is the first women’s-specific gravel bike from Liv.
Phil Hall / Immediate Media
  • £4,699 / €5,000 / $5,500 / AU$7,299 as tested
  • Women’s-specific geometry
  • Dropper seatpost compatibility
  • 700×45mm / 650×50mm tyre clearance

Liv’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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Checkpoint does most gravel riding well.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £3,850 / $4,300 / AU$5,500 / €4,300 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Seigla is Icelandic brand Lauf’s latest gravel bike.
Snorri Tryggvason / Lauf
  • £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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR is a Bike of the Year 2022 contender.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £5,299
  • 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Vitus Energie might be a ‘cross bike, but it’s very capable at gravel too.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Exploro RaceMax is an exotic alternative to most gravel machines.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £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.

Bianchi Arcadex

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Ugly duckling or future classic? You decide.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Canyon Grail CF SL 7.0 is available only with Canyon’s controversial Hover bar.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cervélo Áspero Rival XPLR Etap AXS 1 Disc gravel bike
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £5,500 / €5,700 / $5,500 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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Cube Nuroad C:62 Pro is a do-it-all machine as happy on the road as off
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £2,499 / €2,199 / $2,400 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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
A beautiful-looking steed and the perfect crossover bike for the indecisive roadie/gravelista.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media
  • £3,699 / €3,899 / $3,699 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.

Lauf Anywhere

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Lauf Anywhere is a versatile gravel bike with a conventional fork.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • $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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
It’s near impossible to match the value of On-One’s Free Ranger.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Pinarello Grevil F combines road positioning and aerodynamics with 50mm tyre clearance and asymmetric design.
Ben Delaney / Our Media
  • £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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Crux has superbike weight, looks and price.
Russell Burton / Our Media
  • £11,300 / $12,250 / AU$18,000 / €12,500
  • 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

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Diverge Comp Carbon’s Future Shock 2.0 suspension system is a real highlight.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media
  • £4,000 / $3,900 / AU$6,000 / €4,499 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.

Vitus Substance CRX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Substance CRX is impressively light, thanks in part to its carbon wheelset.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £2,300 / $3,000 / AU$4,000 / €2,700 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Boardman ADV 8.9 remains startling value.
Dave Caudery / Our Media
  • £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

4.5 out of 5 star rating
While it’s a gravel bike, the Grail 6 feels completely at home on the road too.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media
  • £1,649 / $1,699 / AU$2,349 / €1,499 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

4.5 out of 5 star rating