8 great gravel bikes from NAHBS 2018

Trend-setting gravel and adventure bikes from the world's largest handmade bicycle show

It seems that there’s one breed of bicycle that stands out each year at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS). In years past, fixies, fat bikes, disc road, and 27.5+ mountain bikes have all stolen the spotlight.

This year, the depth of interest in gravel riding was evident not only by the sheer number of bikes on display but also the range of materials used — steel, titanium and carbon builders were all showcasing their latest interpretations of this broad category.

Here’s a look at eight of the most interesting gravel bikes on display at this year’s show.

Mosaic GT-2

Have packs, will travel. Mosaic's GT-2 looks ready for anything
Have packs, will travel. Mosaic's GT-2 looks ready for anything

Mosaic’s GT-2 is the second-tier gravel bike in the company’s arsenal. Unlike the top-end GT-1, which is constructed from double-butted 3/2.5 titanium tubing, the GT-2 is assembled from a straight-gauge 3/2.5 tubes.

Depending on the build, the GT-2 is a bit heavier, but also more affordable.

Colorado-based JPaks completes the build with a top tube, partial frame pack and seat pack
Colorado-based JPaks completes the build with a top tube, partial frame pack and seat pack

This Boulder, Colorado-based builder built this particular GT-2 with a bikepacking theme, complete with custom J-Pak frame bags and knobby Compass Pumpkin Ridge tires.

This build features a White Industries 1x crankset
This build features a White Industries 1x crankset

Mosaic builds road, cyclocross, mountain and gravel bikes in steel as well as Ti
Mosaic builds road, cyclocross, mountain and gravel bikes in steel as well as Ti

The Compass Pumpkin Ridge looks like a good choice for bikepacking
The Compass Pumpkin Ridge looks like a good choice for bikepacking

Moots endurance gravel prototype

Moots' latest gravel project is designed for ultra-endurance events
Moots' latest gravel project is designed for ultra-endurance events

Moots Routt series of gravel bikes has been a hit with riders (and BikeRadar staffers). They are currently the best selling bikes in the company’s line.

The YBB rear end has been modified for gravel use. Different elastomers can be used to adjust for rider weight
The YBB rear end has been modified for gravel use. Different elastomers can be used to adjust for rider weight

The Steamboat, Colorado-based brand is developing a new model that adapts the company’s YBB softtail system to road use.

This version of the YBB does away with the spring/elastomer system in favor of a simple elastomer that provides approximately 20mm of rear travel.

Fox introduced the 40mm-travel AX fork to the world at NAHBS in 2017
Fox introduced the 40mm-travel AX fork to the world at NAHBS in 2017

So what is this bike for?

According to Moots marketing director Jon Cariveau, this yet-to-be-named prototype is designed for ultra-endurance gravel events.

If self-supported 300–350 mile events such as Trans Iowa or the new Dirty Kanza XL sound like a good way to spend a day (or more) on a bike, then this might be a bike for you.

The etched Moots logos have an appealing understated look
The etched Moots logos have an appealing understated look

Full-sized bike tires on gravel bikes? We're seeing a lot of it this year
Full-sized bike tires on gravel bikes? We're seeing a lot of it this year

Parlee Chebacco

If there was an award for
If there was an award for

The Chebacco is based on Parlee’s Z series and Altum road bikes with gravel-centric features such as longer chainstays with more tire clearance and a slacker head angle.

The build has a painted to match stem and seatpost
The build has a painted to match stem and seatpost

This particular Chebacco was covered in an elaborate custom paint scheme that made it resemble a circuit board complete with microchips.

Naturally, this bike was outfitted with a Shimano Di2 drivetrain.

Circuit board logos are a nice touch
Circuit board logos are a nice touch

The Chebacco has ample tire clearance
The Chebacco has ample tire clearance

T-LAB Bikes X3

T-LABS X3 titanium gravel bike
T-LABS X3 titanium gravel bike

T-LAB Bikes is a new brand that draws from a wealth of knowledge from former employees of Guru Cycles. The Quebec-based company plans to stay small and fast, with the ability to produce custom frames in as little as four weeks.

That's quite a slender top tube
That's quite a slender top tube

The X3 stands out from other titanium bikes thanks to its heavy use of tube shaping. The top tube is slender for compliance, the down tube is ovalized to increase stiffness, and the seat tube is shaped for improved tire clearance with short chainstays.

More shaping along the seat tube
More shaping along the seat tube

T-LAB uses a modular bolt-on dropout system. According to the company, this improves stiffness. It also allows for future-proofing against whatever brake and axle standards the cycling industry may cook up.

T-LAB's modular dropouts allow for future-proofing
T-LAB's modular dropouts allow for future-proofing

The cables are routed internally through the X3's down tube
The cables are routed internally through the X3's down tube

McGovern Cycles

Chris McGovern's gravel bike was hard to miss
Chris McGovern's gravel bike was hard to miss

Former professional road and cyclocross racer Chris McGovern has shifted gears and now builds custom carbon bikes.

Like many one-off carbon builders, McGovern uses tube-to-tube construction, which allows for a wide range of custom geometry possibilities.  

This desert paint scheme was created by Land Shark's John Slawta
This desert paint scheme was created by Land Shark's John Slawta

This year, McGovern brought a single bike to NAHBS, a fast and light gravel bike shod in 27.5x2.1in tires.

John Slawta of Land Shark Bicycles paints many of McGovern’s frames, including this desert-inspired paint job.

Direct-mount brakes on the back of this gravel bike
Direct-mount brakes on the back of this gravel bike

Clean internal routing through the top of the down tube
Clean internal routing through the top of the down tube

A bit of sense of place on the down tube. Chris McGovern lives and builds in Nevada City, California
A bit of sense of place on the down tube. Chris McGovern lives and builds in Nevada City, California

Appleman FR-213

Appleman's FR-213 was designed for the Tour Divide Race
Appleman's FR-213 was designed for the Tour Divide Race

Matt Appleman isn’t afraid to push the envelope with his carbon creations (as demonstrated by the ‘doughnut bike’ he displayed at NAHBS in 2017.)

His FR-213 was designed for a customer who plans to do the 2,745-mile / 4,419 km Tour Divide Race.

Lauf Carbonara fat bike fork clears 29x3in tires and has 60mm of travel
Lauf Carbonara fat bike fork clears 29x3in tires and has 60mm of travel

This drop bar adventure bike checks off nearly all the things that could be included in an ultra-endurance bike designed for mixed surface expeditions.

The carbon frame has S&S couplers for portability, a belt-driven Rohloff hub for low maintenance, and a Lauf fork to absorb impacts that the 29+ tires don’t soak up.

The belt-driven drivetrain is durable and requires very little maintenance
The belt-driven drivetrain is durable and requires very little maintenance

The Cedaero frame bag is strapless for a clean look
The Cedaero frame bag is strapless for a clean look

S&S couplers make this 29+ drop bar bike easier to travel with
S&S couplers make this 29+ drop bar bike easier to travel with

Northern Frameworks

Gravel bike, adventure bike, dropbar 29? However you slice it, this Northern Frameworks was designed for loaded touring
Gravel bike, adventure bike, dropbar 29? However you slice it, this Northern Frameworks was designed for loaded touring

Minnesota-based Northern Frameworks was also showing off a drop bar adventure bike. 

Northern Frameworks is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Northern Frameworks is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota

This build features Son dynamo front up and a Sinewave Cycles Revolution USB to keep your devices charging and the Salsa Firestarter carbon fork is a painted to match the frame.

A Sol dynamo front hub powers the front light
A Sol dynamo front hub powers the front light

The build also features rocker dropouts that allow for adjustments to chainstay length and singlespeed compatibility.

Rockered dropouts give this frame some versatility
Rockered dropouts give this frame some versatility

Sinewave's USB top cap charger lets you keep your Instafeeds updated to give your friends FOMO from deep in the woods
Sinewave's USB top cap charger lets you keep your Instafeeds updated to give your friends FOMO from deep in the woods

No. 22 Bicycle Company Drifter

The No. 22 Drifter is a stunning Ti bike
The No. 22 Drifter is a stunning Ti bike

In case you didn’t commit the periodic table to memory in chemistry class, 22 is the atomic number of titanium. It’s also the name of this custom company founded by former Serotta employees.

No. 22 was founded in 2012. The company offers full custom and stock builds
No. 22 was founded in 2012. The company offers full custom and stock builds

The Drifter is a performance-oriented gravel bike with clearance for 40mm wide 700c tires.

No. 22 doesn’t skimp on the details. This Drifter is decked out with an anodized frame fade with a matching stem, seatpost and fork. Even the titanium bottle cages feature matching finishes.

Anodized fade with a matching titanium Silca pump! That's going to cost you...
Anodized fade with a matching titanium Silca pump! That's going to cost you...

The Drifter is loaded with details...
The Drifter is loaded with details...

such as matching Ti water bottle cages
such as matching Ti water bottle cages

Did any of these bikes strike your fancy? Let us know in the comments section.

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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