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The Best Gravel Bikes
(2021 Guide)

What is a Gravel Bike?

What's the big picture?

A gravel bike is a bike with drop bars that excels on and off road; it's like the offspring of an endurance road bike (more upright riding position) and a cyclocross bike (the versatility to venture off pavement for some truly epic rides on cinder trails, single track and more).

What are some notable features?

Gravel bikes typically have great clearance for wider tires, lower bottom brackets, more upright positions, powerful disc brakes, and longer wheelbases than typical road bikes and cyclocross bikes. They also have slightly taller head tubes and slacker head tube angles.

What kinds of gravel bikes are there?

Depending on the style of gravel bike, they will lean towards lighter race inspired designs or for the bikepacking set, they will lean towards stability and massive carrying capacity.

Here's a shortlist of of favorite gravel bikes right now.

OPEN WI.DE. Frame

$3,200

OPEN U.P.P.E.R. gravel bike black

OPEN Upper Frame

$4,500

evil the chamois hagar gravel bike

Evil Chamois Hagar

from $2799

santa cruz stigmata gravel bike

Santa Cruz Stigmata

Price: $5,899

Checkpoint SL 5 WSD

Checkpoint SL 5

$2,899.99

 Shop Now

Explore The U.P.

The OPEN U.P. is your dream Gravel Bike Frame.  An amazing carbon fiber gravel bike frame with the lightest carbon fork (OPEN U-Turn Fork) that accepts Gravel + tires. Flat mount disc brake mounts, asymmetrical chainstays that have incredible stiffness around the bottom bracket shell, and the ability to use 700c and 650B mountain tires for incredible versatility. 

$3200.00

santa cruz stigmata on gravel road

Explore the Stigmata

The gravel bike born from a mountain bike company, the Santa Cruz Stigmata is the dirt lover's drop bar bike. 

Killer Carbon Fiber frame, high end components (available with SRAM Rival or Shimano Ultegra) and a more aggressive cyclocross inspired geometry make this your perfect companion for fast one day assaults on and off-road.

Tailored gravel technology

Carbon Frame: 

Santa Cruz decided early on that carbon was one of the best materials to make high performance bikes with. The Stigmata is only available in Santa Cruz's top level CC Carbon, and with it you'll benefit from incredible stiffness-to-weight ratios as well as critical compliance where it's needed most on long, rough rides.

Big Tire Clearance:

One of the first things people look at when scouting gravel bikes is the tire clearance. With so many ways to ride and race and adventure on dirt and gravel roads, it helps when your bike has the versatility to keep up with your goals. The Stigmata now accepts up to 700 x 45mm or 650 x 2.1" tires. With that kind of range, there isn't much you can't do on the Stigmata.

Gravel + Endurance Geometry:

The Stigmata is built for long days over rougher roads and dirt trails, so this bike is designed with the objective of minimizing fatigue and maximizing power. One notable design feature is the seat stays that join the seat tube below the top tube junction in order to minimize road vibration so you can ride longer without discomfort. Santa Cruz has also tweaked the 52/54cm frames so that riders 5'3" and up can fit comfortably, with shorter riders still able to manage. 

More Features:

  • 3 bottle cage mounts
  • fender mounts
  • 12mm front thru axle
  • 3 bottle cage mounts
  • flat mount disc brakes
Trek Checkpoint gravel bike with bags

Explore the Checkpoint Lineup

Trek's all-new, complete line of gravel bikes promises capability, versatility, and serious fun.

Checkpoint is the most dedicated gravel platform that Trek manufactures, and it's built with quality parts that will hold up for long, rugged miles on pavement, dirt, and even the most treacherous gravel roads.

So, what sets this bike apart from the pack? 

It comes ready to roll with a wealth of adventure-ready features aimed at the rapidly-growing gravel scene, like adjustable Stranglehold dropouts, massive tire clearance, and extra mounts that make it super versatile and easy to customize for your next bikepacking adventure.

The Checkpoint is Fast and Super fun

Checkpoint is available in 8 different carbon (SL) and aluminum (ALR) models to match the needs of every rider:

  • SL 7 - SRAM Force/XX1 eTap AXS
  • SL 6 - Shimano Ultegra RX800
  • SL 5 - Shimano 105
  • SL 5 Women's - Shimano 105
  • ALR 5 - Shimano 105
  • ALR 5 Women's - Shimano 105
  • ALR 4 - Shimano Tiagra 4700
  • ALR 3 - Shimano Sora

Checkpoint Details

Tires + Brakes

All models come equipped with 700 x 35 Schwalbe gravel tires, tubeless-ready Bontrager wheels, and flat-mount disc brakes. The most performance-oriented riders will be pleased to hear that SL 7 comes stock with Bontrager's Aeolus Pro 3V OCLV Carbon wheels paired with Tektro C550 Spyre, dual-piston mechanical disc brakes and160mm rotors for lightweight durability and extra stopping power.

Geometry

The Checkpoint's Geometry is comfortable for the long haul and rough roads, but aggressive enough to provide the speed and ride-feel most gravel riders are looking for. Compared to Boone, Checkpoint features a nearly identical reach, slightly taller headtube stack, and lower bottom bracket height. Chainstay length and wheelbase are the same. The lower bottom bracket provides the additional stability riders look for on long grinds, while maintaining a tight wheelbase, long reach, and relatively low stack height keeps Checkpoint fast and maneuverable.

Frame Materials

Checkpoint's frame materials and construction also contribute to its uber-quick ride feel. SL models are built from 500 Series OCLV Carbon, and ALR models feature Trek's lightweight 300 Series Alpha Aluminum.


Dirt exploration on Checkpoints

Capable, trustworthy tech

Carbon (SL) models feature the same Rear IsoSpeed decoupler found on Domane for additional comfort, along with Control Freak internal cable routing, which allows for easy conversion to 1x or electronic shifting and keeps everything protected from the inevitable mud-and-dirt. 

SL models also include a carbon seatmast cap, Carbon Armor to protect the frame against debris, and 12mm front and rear thru axles.

Easy customization

Stranglehold dropouts allow the rider to adjust the bike's geometry and gearing based on the requirements of the day's ride. 

For example, the longest setting makes the bike more stable for longer rides and bikepacking. The dropouts also allow for quick, easy conversion to singlespeed.

The stock 35mm tires hit the sweet-spot for a lot of riders, but running other widths quickly changes Checkpoint's identity. The rider hitting crushed limestone trails to link pavement will love firm and fast-rolling 28mm slicks, while the dedicated dirt road explorer can go up to 45mm to tackle the ruttiest, rockiest routes.

Checkpoint is covered in mounts.

Mounts on the seat tube and down tube allow riders to fit 3 bottles in the main triangle, or position two bottles low while leaving room for a frame bag. There's also room for one more bottle under the down tube. Lowrider fork mounts will take a rack & bags. Rear rack mounts give more room for cargo, and hidden fender mounts keep the ride clean in even the worst weather. SL models include a top tube mount to easily attach an easy-to-reach bag for ride essentials.

Boone in Cyclocross race

Explore The Trek Boone

Trek has unveiled all-new Boone models that are sure to dominate the cyclocross circuit this season. 

Debuted by Telenet-Fidea and Katie Compton in the 2016/2017 Cyclocross World Cup race season, new Boone models were built with input from pro racers to ensure the strongest, fastest, and lightest ride possible. 

BOONE 7

Boone 7

$4,999.99
Shop Now

BOONE 5

Boone 5

$3,099.99
Shop Now

More Trek Boone Details

Boone also boasts an all-new cross-specific CrossLock Removable Water Bottle Cage that allows riders to remove the cage when they line up to race, and use the cage for easy-to-access hydration when they train or warm up. The cage is also available separately and will work with any standard water bottle mounts.

made for cyclocross

The all-new Boone is smoother and more balanced than ever before, with Front and Rear IsoSpeed decouplers that smooth out the course and double vertical compliance for stronger and longer rides. Riders further benefit from Boone’s ultra-lightweight OCLV Carbon frame with built-in Carbon Armor that protects against even the roughest courses. Boone’s proven Pro CX race geometry brings it all together for a powerful, fast, and smooth ride.

All Boone models also come stock with flat mount disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles for superior braking and handling, even on the muddiest, rockiest, and rootiest courses. Boone’s cyclocross capabilities are furthered with a 1x drivetrain and newly designed 3S chainkeeper that keep riders rolling toward the podium, and a specially designed top tube makes shouldering easier when the course gets rougher. Boone models adopt Trek’s Control Freak cable routing as well, for the lightest, quietest, and most versatile cable management system that allows any combination of shift and brake cable setups.

2020 trek crockett gravel bike riding through puddle on dirt road

Explore The Crockett

The Trek Crockett is an affordable, incredibly versatile bike that's great for gravel expeditions, cyclocross races, and every day rides. 

The 300 Series Alpha Aluminum frame is lightweight and durable for all kinds of adventures. The Invisible Weld Technology looks and performs similar to carbon, giving you style and capability that punches well above its price tag.

A simple 1x11 drivetrain is perfect for almost every cycling endeavor and powerful flat mount disc brakes give you plenty of stopping power for races and city commutes.

More features:

  • Clearance for up to 38c tires
  • IsoSpeed fork design
  • Control Freak internal cable routing
  • 12mm thru axles

Check out some of our favorite tires for gravel riding.

WTB Nano

Super Fast 40c tires that you will love to ride at top speed

Schwalbe G-One

This is our favorite smooth rolling Gravel Bike Tire that we love to put on our own bikes.