Best gravel bikes 2022: our pick of the top models

We pick out some of the best gravel bikes and adventure road bikes on the market, and explain what defines the genre and what to look for

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The best gravel bike for you will depend on the type of riding you want to do. 

The best gravel bikes for fast riding now often include aero features, snappier handling geometry, and lighter weight gravel bike wheels. On the other hand, a racy frame may lack the clearance for really wide gravel bike tyres and may not have a comprehensive set of mounting points for gear. 

At the other extreme are gravel bikes designed for bikepacking. They'll have plenty of mounting points to carry bikepacking bags along with really wide tyre clearance so that you can fit tyres to give you traction and comfort on long off-road rides. They tend to be a little heavier and not quite as responsive in the corners – but if you're laden down by a suite of bags, you're not really going to miss or notice that much.

We’ll take you through all the best gravel bikes we’ve reviewed, explaining exactly what type of riding they’re best suited for so you can narrow down your search to those that best meet your needs. 

With the demand for new bikes still being so high, the availability of certain models is pretty sparse and there aren't as many discounts as we'd normally see.

Best gravel bikes

Specialized S-Works Crux

(Image credit: Future)
Best for racing speed

Specifications

Frame: S-Works Crux FACT 12r Carbon
Fork: S-Works FACT Carbon
Groupset: SRAM Red eTap AXS // 40x10–44t
Wheels: Roval Terra CLX
Tyres: Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready 700c x 38mm (Max clearance: 700x47c or 650b x 2.1in)
Weight: 6.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally lightweight fully built
+
Race ready - for luggage free gravel or cyclocross
+
Power meter as standard
+
Stable yet nimble geometry

Reasons to avoid

-
Need gravel on a grand scale to truly do it justice
-
Obviously very expensive

For many years, the Crux has had its feet firmly planted in the muddy fields of cyclocross. But for 2022, the range has had a refresh and a rebrand – now top level gravel racing has been added to the résumé.

Testing the Crux in its top level spec, it was astonishingly fast with a particular aptitude for the climbs. In a size 52cm and without pedals or bottle cages, the bike tipped the scales at a feathery 6.9kg – which is frankly absurd. For context, the UCI’s weight limit for road bikes in its races is 6.8kg.

Beyond just making hills melt away, that extreme light weight made the Crux unbelievably nimble. Sudden switches of line and hopping over obstacles happened almost at the speed of thought, rather than requiring any manhandling to elicit.

With everything about this bike geared towards speed, it’s not something we’d be inclined to take bikepacking or on multiday tours. Lugging this up with a handlebar and frame bag feels almost like using a Ferrari to tow a caravan – and with a frame that weighs just 725g in a size 56cm, we’d imagine that the thin carbon walls wouldn’t take too happily to any rubbing and chafing.

But for flat-out race performance and flatteringly high speeds, it’s a truly great option – if you can afford the eye-watering price.  

Read more: Specialized S-Works Crux full review (opens in new tab)

Vitus Substance CRS-2 eTap AXS Rival gravel bike

(Image credit: Future)
Best for value

Specifications

Frame: Vitus Substance UD Carbon
Fork: Vitus Substance UD Carbon
Groupset: SRAM Rival eTap AXS // 43/30t x 10–36t
Wheels: Prime Kanza 650b Aluminium Disc wheelset
Tyres: WTB Venture TCS Road Plus 650b x 47 tyres (Max: 650b x 47mm or 700x42c)
Weight: 9.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent 2x12 SRAM AXS Rival groupset
+
Good range of mounting points
+
Confident and stable handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Internal rim width is a little narrow by today’s standards
-
Not best suited for tight and twisty riding

Vitus has a built a strong reputation for delivering excellent bikes at an incredible price – and the Substance CRS-2 very much follows in that vein. Coming with a 2x12 electronic groupset and a full carbon frame, to get a similar spec from some of the bigger bike brands would set you back nearly twice as much.

But while those extra gears and reasonably light weight certainly add to the experience, it’s the frame design that’s fundamentally of the most importance, but Vitus has done a good job there too.

The Substance leans towards the more rugged and long distance end of the gravel spectrum. It comes with 650b tyres, bottle mounts on the fork legs and the underside of the downtube, as well as attachment points for a rack and a set of panniers. For tours measured in months rather than days, you’d want tubes made from metal rather than carbon, but for week long trips, the Vitus Substance is a lightweight and efficient rig.

The rated maximum tyre clearance at 650b x 47mm or 700c x 42mm sells this bike rather short. We felt there was ample clearance at the front for 650b x 2.1in tyres as well as going wider at the rear. Sticking to the suggested tyre widths does close off riding this bike on some terrain – or at least makes it slower going than with a fully fat Canyon Grizl, for instance. 

This model isn't currently available, but there are plenty of others being sold at Wiggle (opens in new tab), with prices ranging from one grand to well over three.

Read more: Vitus Substance CRS-2 eTap AXS Rival full review (opens in new tab)

BMC URS One Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for blending trail-readiness with speed

Specifications

Frame : URS Premium Carbon with Micro Travel Technology
Fork: URS 01 Premium Carbon
Groupset: SRAM APEX 1 HRD // 40x11-42t
Wheels: DT Swiss C1850 Spline
Tyres : WTB Raddler, 40mm (Max clearance: 700x45c)
Weight: 9.58kg

Reasons to buy

+
Sorted geometry is a blast on the trails
+
Still efficient for longer distance rides

Reasons to avoid

-
Stock gearing is a little steep for bikepacking
-
Lack of mounts on fork for extra carrying capacity

The BMC URS One impressed with its brilliant balance between being fun and capable off-road, whilst remaining efficient enough to easily handle long distance epics. 

Several cues are taken from BMC’s mountain bike range, such as a slacker head angle and stubbier stem. At 70 degrees and 70mm, these numbers are quite far off what you’d get on a modern MTB, but for gravel it’s really quite progressive.

This, combined with the short 425mm chainstays, adds up to a bike which can be popped around the corners, but still doesn’t feel skittish on the descents. 

Yet for all that, this isn’t a kind of monster-cross, essentially MTB with drop bars. It still retains the efficiency you’d expect from a gravel bike – it successfully completed the South Downs Way, a challenging one-hundred-mile gravel trail in the South East of England.

It’s not totally bedecked in mounts – we wouldn’t choose it for bikepacking trips measured in weeks rather than days – but for those shorter, local rides which make up the majority of the time spent on our bikes, it’s a complete blast and a pleasure to ride.

Availability is a little restricted in the US for this exact model right now, but there are builds with other groupsets available from Mike's Bikes (opens in new tab) and The Pro's Closet (opens in new tab)

Read more: BMC URS ONE Apex full review (opens in new tab)

Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for bikepacking on rough terrain

Specifications

Frame : Canyon Grizl CF SL
Fork: Canyon FK0087 CF Disc
Groupset: Shimano GRX RX800
Wheels: DT Swiss G1800 Spline db
Tyres : Schwalbe G-One Bite 700x45c (Max clearance: 700x50c)
Weight: 9.77kg

Reasons to buy

+
Large tyre clearances
+
Good range of bikepacking mounts
+
Quality wheels and groupset
+
Front suspension ready 

Reasons to avoid

-
Gearing is a little steep for carrying loads
-
Long chainstays are at odds with its burly build

Coming specced with the same Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres in 45mm as I’ve been using as my control tyre, the Grizl was pretty well suited to my local riding from the off. There was a good balance between being fast enough rolling on the road and tame trails, while still providing enough traction and cushion on more technical terrain.

Extra comfort was provided courtesy of Canyon’s catchily named S15 VCLS 2.0 CF suspension seatpost. The minimalist design doesn’t add much weight over a standard seatpost, but the 20mm of travel does serve to take the edge off some of the bumps. 

However, for all its capability off-road, I did feel that there was a bit of a tension between certain elements of the design.

Yes, those burly tyres offer a lot of promise for hitting the trails hard, but the long chainstays at 435mm do hold it back a bit on tight and chattery singletrack. It’s not really an ideal pairing – if you’re primarily going to be razzing about the trails, you’d likely have a better time on a bike with chainstays around the 425mm mark, or even shorter.

On the other hand the range of mounts gives great potential for bikepacking adventures, but in this 1x configuration, there just isn’t the range you really need for carting luggage about off-road. You’d be much better off with the 2x versions for that – or going up a price bracket or two for the new build featuring SRAM’s XPLR 10-44t cassette paired with a 40t chainring.

But at least the gearing is something you can change – unlike the length of the chainstays. So that’s what I’d have to say this bike is really best suited for off-road cycle touring and bumpy but open trails. 

Of course, you can take it down tight and twisty trails, I certainly did. It’s more that if that is the type of riding you’re planning on doing most of, then there are other bikes better suited.

Read more: Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by full review (opens in new tab)

Cervélo Aspero-5 Force eTap AXS 1

(Image credit: Future)
Best for high speed riding and racing

Specifications

Frame: Cervélo Áspero Carbon
Fork: Cervélo All-carbon, Tapered Áspero Fork
Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS // 36x10–36t
Wheels: Reserve 32mm DT370
Tyres : Panaracer Gravel King SK Sport 700c x 38mm (Max clearance: 700c x 42mm or 650b x 49mm)
Weight: 8.3kg

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous looks and eye-catching paint job
+
High-end spec
+
Fast and nimble ride - 420mm chainstays
+
Lightweight for gravel bikes at just over 8kg

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff for long off road days
-
Better suited to wide open gravel than techy singletrack

Similar to the Specialized Crux, the Cervélo Áspero is part of that new breed of gravel bikes geared towards racing and high performance, contrasting with the more do-it-all, go-anywhere attitude of the Canyon Grizl.

Typically Cervélo, the new Áspero comes with claims of improved aerodynamics as well as a lower weight. Coming in as it does at 8.3kg in a size 56cm, it’s not quite as feathery as the superlative Specialized Crux, but that is still a weight which would be respectable for a mid tier road bike – and so very impressive for gravel.

Exactly to what extent those aerodynamic tweaks have boosted the Áspero’s speed on the flat, that’s something we can’t really say. But what is for sure is that the bike does feel truly rapid when tapping along on open, fire-road tracks. 

With a relatively steep head angle at 72 degrees and very short 420mm chainstays, it’s extremely fast in reacting to rider input and darts around the corners. The consequence of this is that it’s a little less stable on highly technical descents, but with tyre clearance limited to 42mm in 700c and 49mm in 650b, that’s not exactly the terrain this bike is designed for.

If rough trails and week-long bikepacking trips is the kind of gravel riding you’re looking to do, you’d be best off with a different bike. But if you’re looking to ride fast on adventures that start and finish on the same day, then Cervélo’s performance gravel bike could be the one for you. 

Read more:  Cervélo Áspero-5 Force eTap AXS 1 full review (opens in new tab)

Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Specialized)
Best gravel bike for do-it-all

Specifications

Frame : FACT 9r Carbon
Fork: Specialized's Future Shock 2.0
Groupset: Shimano GRX 2x11 // 48/31 x 11–34t
Wheels: DT Swiss G540
Tyres: Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss 38mm (Max clearance: 700x47c or 650b x 53 (2.1”))
Weight: TBC

Reasons to buy

+
Carbon frame blends stiffness with comfort
+
Great handling
+
Perfect mix of on road performance and off road capability

Reasons to avoid

-
Tyres compromise off-road capability

We found the frame super fast, which was an easy pedal. Even when fully loaded with bags, the 48/31 crankset rarely felt undergeared on any climb.

The wheelbase length made descending with heavy bags a stable joy. Taking the bike off road was a similar predictable and controlled handling experience.

Overall it offers a great balance between the on- and off-road worlds. However, the off-road performance is compromised a little by the stock tyre choice and we'd certainly swap them out for something with a bit more volume if we were tackling more serious terrain.

There's a variety of Specialized Diverge bikes on offer, with the Carbon Comp sitting in the middle spec and price wise. Expect to pick up the entry level aluminium frame Diverge Base E5 for just over £1k, or the range topping S-Works Diverge for closer to £11,000.

Read more: Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon full review (opens in new tab)

Scott Addict Gravel 10 Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Future)
Best gravel bike for performance

Specifications

Frame: HMF Carbon
Fork : Addict Gravel Disc HMF Flatmount
Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD // 46/33 x 10–36t
Wheels: Syncros Capital 1.0 X40 Disc
Tyres: Schwalbe G-ONE Evolution 35mm (Max clearance: 700x45c)
Weight: TBC

Reasons to buy

+
Responsiveness ideal for steep off-road climbs
+
Nice ride position on the tops
+
Bullet proof rims

Reasons to avoid

-
It is expensive

As much as we loved riding this bike around local bridleways, a full carbon Addict frame with deep section carbon rims is just begging to be raced.

Where the frame really comes into its own is climbing. The best comparisons here are with mountain bikes. Anyone who’s done some MTBing will be familiar with those loose, uneven, steep climbs where you’re twiddling a tiny gear and going nowhere. 

On this bike on those climbs you do feel like you’re getting somewhere. And on those occasions when you have to accelerate to regain momentum or get over a root or step, the reaction is instant, surging you forwards and on up the climb. On smooth tarmac climbs it feels like just like a road bike. 

In fact, put some slick 28 or 32mm tyres on and it would perform as well as most race bikes. This for me was the frame's real strength. It was surprising just how well a lightweight bike, with a good position responded on those climbs and made me hate them a whole lot less. Full marks.

The SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset specced has fast become popular among gravel riders. A two-by set up might not be your initial first choice, but the electronic shifting is so smooth that it still works under load, although having the 46/33 chainset meant there were more gears at the top end than were really necessary.

With a full carbon frameset, hydraulic disc brakes, carbon Syncros Creston 1.0 Flare handlebars, Syncros Capital 1.0 Syncros RWS wheels and Schwalbe G-One Evolution tyres, this is a bike ready for the start line.

Read more: Scott Addict Gravel 10 full review (opens in new tab)

Tifosi Cavazzo Ekar Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for high-value components

Specifications

Frame : UD Toray T500 and T700 Carbon
Fork: Carbon UD 1
Groupset: Campagnolo Ekar // 40x9–42t
Wheels: Miche Graff SP DX AXY wheels 700c
Tyres : Schwalbe G-One Ultra Bite 700x42c (Max clearance: 700x45c or 650b x 2.1”)
Weight: 9.50kg

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent Ekar 1x13 groupset
+
Lots of mounting points, modern and traditional
+
Good tyre clearance - max. 700 x 45c or 650b x 54mm

Reasons to avoid

-
Wheels have a relatively narrow internal width
-
Handlebar reach is quite long

Tifosi’s Cavazzo platform is very much a jack of all trades. Put on some fat tyres and, together with its reasonably slack head angle and simple 1x drivetrain, it’s a blast around the local trails and bridleways. 

Going in quite the other direction, the Cavazzo is also well suited for long distance bikepacking jaunts, with those 13 gears and wide variety of mounting options. This isn’t a bike that railroads you into one small, particular niche - many doors have been left wide open.

I was quite impressed with the feel of the Cavazzo. Whether or not the open-mould frame damped vibrations less adroitly than other frames designed in-house, I couldn’t really tell – the tyres of gravel bikes are so much larger and more cushioned than road bikes that that level of refinement isn’t really noticeable.

As expected, the rear end did get a little more hung up on roots and wasn’t quite as snappy as gravel bikes with shorter chainstays. But if that kind of riding isn’t so much your bag, preferring longer distance jaunts on mellower trails, then this won’t really present itself as so much of an issue.

The Miche Graff DX wheels felt pretty respectable, feeling reasonably lightweight and being quick to accelerate. Part of that is likely down to the narrow 19mm internal rim width not requiring so much material for its construction.

On the flip side, this does mean that there’s a little less sidewall support when running wider tyres at low pressures (around 24psi). I would rather have the lighter and narrower rims of the Miche wheels than the heavier and wider rims of the Rondo wheels, but that doesn’t stop this rolling stock from still being a bit of a step down from the DT Swiss G1800 Spline wheels of the Canyon Grizl, which manage to be both reasonably lightweight and have a wide 24mm internal width.

Of course, the main selling point of this bike is Campagnolo’s Ekar groupset, which was excellent. On road sections, there were no awkward occurrences of being stuck between two gears, one too hard and the other too easy, as you do get a little bit on most gravel bikes. There’s also the shifting simplicity of 1x, which really does make a difference to lowering cognitive load.

Read more: Tifosi Cavazzo Ekar full review (opens in new tab)

Rondo Ruut CF2 2x Best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for fun on the trails

Specifications

Frame : Rondo Ruut Flex Design EPS carbon
Fork: Rondo TwinTip 2.0 carbon
Groupset: Shimano GRX 2x10 // 46/30 x 11–36t
Wheels: Rondo aluminium 622-23, tubeless-ready, 700c
Tyres : WTB Riddler 700x37c (Max clearance: 700x45 or 650b x 57 (2.2”))
Weight: 10.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Huge tyre clearances - 700 x 45mm or 650b x 2.2"
+
Great handling on twisty trails
+
Variable geometry fork increases stability

Reasons to avoid

-
Wheelset is quite heavy
-
2x10 GRX groupset is a lower tier than you’d expect at this price point

Asking a bike to handle confidently and accurately on technical off-road terrain, while also expecting speed and efficiency on tamer gravel and back roads, presents quite a challenge for any bike. But the Ruut took it all in its stride.

With the fork in the high position and rolling on those 37mm Riddler tyres with their file centre tread, I was able to motor along at a respectable pace, with my position on the bike feeling reasonably low and efficient. 

The tyres were too narrow for the larger rocks on the South Downs Way or the roots of my local woods, but on the smoother hardpack surfaces you get on converted disused railway lines, the Riddlers were a pretty good match – although on that kind of non-technical terrain you don’t really get to know the character of a bike.

Once I swapped in the 45mm Schwalbe G-One Bites and flipped the fork for a slacker angle, that became much more apparent. With the right rubber I was able to properly attack the trails – the sort which are a little boring on a mountain bike, but come alive once you ditch the suspension and flat bars.

In terms of value, the Ruut isn’t the best. The 2x10 GRX groupset (which is equivalent to Shimano’s fourth tier Tiagra road groupset) and a relatively heavy OEM wheelset are all a step below what you’d expect at this price point.

Other bikes on test come with groupsets around the second tier mark, while both the Canyon Grizl and BMC URS are treated to quality DT Swiss wheelsets.

The Ruut is still super fun to ride, with its sorted geometry and the ability to go between fast 700c wheels and huge MTB style 650b wheels. But with the poor value for money, and the lack of bottle bosses on the underside of the downtube, it’s harder to recommend it against the competition.

Read more: Rondo Ruut CF2 2x full review

Liv Devote Advanced Pro best gravel bikes

(Image credit: Liv)
Best gravel bike with women's specific geometry

Specifications

Frame : Advanced-Grade Carbon Composite
Fork : Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer
Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS // 43/30 x 10–36t
Wheels: Giant CXR-2 Carbon Disc WheelSystem
Tyres: Maxxis Velocita Tubeless 40mm (Max clearance: 700x40c or 650b x 50 (2.0”))
Weight: 8.1kg / 17.85 (size small)

Reasons to buy

+
Confidence inspiring geometry
+
Range of luggage mounts
+
Versatile for tarmac speed and off-road capability 

Reasons to avoid

-
Seatpost clamp cover doesn't stay in place
-
Bars could do with a greater flare
-
Tyres aren't well suited to off-road conditions

The Liv Devote Advanced Pro is a very capable bike, it's got all the mounts you'd need for bikepacking, rides like a super endurance bike on the road and - with spec changes - could be a trail slayer.

Keen to really push the Devote through its paces, we spent an afternoon circling the manmade trails of Swinley Forest. Now, Swinley's Blue and Red trails are fairly tame, but the bike handled the berms and rollers well considering it's not exactly the intended use. That said, a set of 45mm tyres and a more strongly flared handlebar would have instilled a bit of extra confidence.

For many riders, the pull towards the gravel trend is the ability to stitch together sections of road, gravel, trail, fire road and cycle path, so we also took the Devote out for several mixed bag jaunts and it was these where the Devote felt most at home. It might not be the absolute perfect tool for tarmacked roads, unpaved doubletrack and forest trails – but unlike bikes with a greater specificity, it still is a blast to ride on each of them.

Although this build of the Devote is quite expensive, it still represents reasonably good value for money. You get SRAM’s second tier Force groupset, with its powerful hydraulic disc brakes and 2x12 gearing – providing both an excellent range and small jumps between the gears.

There are also carbon wheels – which match the frame and fork – and these are shod with a pair of speed oriented Velocita tyres. If you’re planning on spending time riding in looser conditions, be it on mud or small shingely rocks, you’d likely want to swap these out for something with a bit more tread.

Read more: Liv Devote Advanced Pro full review (opens in new tab)

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra best gravel bikes

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra

Best gravel bike for all day adventures

Specifications

Frame: BallisTec carbon
Fork: BallisTec carbon
Groupset : Shimano R8000 Ultegra / Cannondale
Wheels: Cannondale HG22 Hollowtech
Tyres: WTB Riddler TCS Light 37mm
Weight: 8.46kg / 18.65lbs (size large)

Reasons to buy

+
The ride feel
+
Comfortable with relaxed geometry and rear suspension
+
Good value spec inc. Ultegra groupset

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing

When we tested this bike, we awarded it a very coveted 10/10, which shows just how much we liked it.

The Topstone could be anything from an off-road bike to a winter road bike, but with 'Kingpin' rear suspension coupled with the lightweight carbon frame, we see it fitting best in the gravel category, although the range now has a full suspension, 'Lefty' fork, 650b wheels and even an electronic version (opens in new tab) in the mix (see below), so it could fit in a number of different pigeon holes.

The chainstays, seat tube and top tube have ‘flex zones’ designed to deflect bigger impacts than in a traditional fixed-stay frame setup, creating a comfortable ride with a relaxed geometry which inspires confidence.

At this price point, you'll enjoy a Shimano Ultegra groupset, paired with Cannondale's own HG22 Hollowtech carbon rims and WTB Riddler TCS Light 37c tires.