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The Gravel Bike Test - Your new dream bike?

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Gravel bikes: They are considered the perfect combination of dynamic road bikes and rugged mountain bikes and have been an integral part of the cycling world for years. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the trendy bike and present some models!

The Gravel Bike - all-roader and all-rounder: 
It is sporty but comfortable, agile but stable, light and off-road at the same time, masters asphalt, gravel and forest paths. At the same time, you can cover similar high speeds on it as on a road bike, even if the two types differ considerably in terms of construction. 

Components and features: 
Gravel bike tires are wider and their coarser tread allows for better grip even on wet and uneven terrain. In such conditions, the handlebars and braking system of a Gravel also come in handy: The outwardly angled lower link absorbs shocks, while the wide handlebar gives you more control over your bike. In addition, some grip rubbers are provided with a special anti-slip surface for better grip.
The now common disc brakes are particularly reliable in changing weather conditions and are also an important safety factor in wet conditions. In terms of shift groups, you can find both single and double drive. While the first is easier to use, the latter grants you more leeway, especially for long distances and greater differences in altitude.
Compared to the road bike, the frame geometry of the gravel bike is more designed for comfort, with the longer wheelbase helping you to run more smoothly. Thus, they are ideal for long tours and bikepacking. Most models have special mounting options for bike bags and extra bottle cages.

Gravel speed dating: We present the test winners:

BMC URS:

This bike has a suspended head tube as well as rear and a stiff frame. It weighs about 9.5 kg and is ideal for hill climbs and trail descents thanks to MTB-inspired frame geometry. It is bikepacking-ready and the available tire clearance allows tires up to 45 mm wide to be retrofitted.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 5:

The Topstone is designed for brisk riding at a weight of 9.5kg. The carbon frame provides a good combination of stiffness and compliance, which together with the so-called KingPin suspension allows the rear up to 30mm of travel. It is bikepacking-ready, mudguard-compatible and impresses with a clean look. 

Canyon Grizl:

The carbon seatpost, which runs through the entire Grizl family, absorbs vibrations and dampens shocks. The frame geometry is designed for a more upright riding position, making it ideal for comfortable riding. Depending on the model, the weight varies between nine and ten kilograms. If you want to master more challenging trails or cover further distances, you'll find the perfect bikepacking and touring companion here. 

Cervélo Áspero:

With a weight of approx. 8.5 kg, this Areo-Gravel is a real lightweight and a real racer, which is convincing both on gravel and in easy terrain. A special feature is the so-called Trail Mixer, which allows the adjustment of the track in two positions. The Áspero is suitable for bikepacking, only trail descents can be mastered less well due to the very sporty frame geometry.

Cube Nuroad:

The frame geometry of this gravel and trail hero favors a more upright, comfortable riding position. Long chainstays and wheelbase feel a bit sluggish in corners, but favor the bike's stability. In addition, the Nuroad offers a large tire clearance with possible tire width up to 45 mm. The total weight is 10 kg and this model is also bikepacking capable.

Giant Revolt:

Despite a rather upright riding position, the Revolt models are agile and smooth-running, convincing on straight stretches and also on downhill rides. Especially the standard version stands for a good price-performance ratio. This model ranges around 10.4 kg, the Advanced variants with carbon frame are lighter, but also more expensive. Wider tires can be retrofitted if necessary.

Rose Backroad:

This bikepacking-ready Gravel Bike with a carbon fork offers above-average flexibility with tire clearance for up to 50 mm wide. Depending on the material (only the "AL" models are equipped with aluminum instead of carbon frames), the total weight varies around 9kg. The Rose Backroad performs on asphalt as on dirt roads and shines with excellent value for money. 

Is a gravel bike worth it for you?
A gravel bike guarantees riding comfort and is still sporty and fast. The special features in the design increase comfort and allow you a wide range of use so that you should be well prepared for any surface and any weather. So if you are looking for a faithful companion for bikepacking, competitions, trips or just the way to work, a gravel bike could be just the right choice for you.

If the gravel bike is your new dream bike now, you might find one for you on our website today. You can find more information on our YouTube channel and our experienced buycycle team is always ready to help you with words and deeds. Happy browsing, happy cycling!

picture credit: Alessio Soggetti

Still looking for more info? Check out our detailed appendix:

 

A road bike can be a curse and a blessing. Rides over endless serpentines bring the absolute feeling of freedom, but due to the narrow tires there is nothing you can do with your racing bike off the asphalt or on gravel roads. Bike manufacturers have recognized this problem and brought a solution to the market - about 10 years ago, the first gravel bikes appeared in the US. They are considered the perfect combination of speed-oriented racers and off-road mountain bikes. Here you can find out everything you need to know about this trendy bike. We also present some popular models in detail.

What is a Gravel Bike?
The Gravel is a real all-round and all-road talent. Sporty and comfortable at the same time, it lets you cross asphalt, forest or gravel paths, and many models are also suitable for trail descents. The Gravel Bike is agile, light, comfortable and yet off-road. Wide tires with tread expand the range of use that you know from road bike rides, without bringing reductions in the speed with it. More grip also makes weather changes less risky, because tires with tread provide more grip on slippery trails. 

Is a Gravel Bike worth it?
While road bikes can be challenging for the inexperienced, gravel bikes lend themselves to beginner cyclists due to their special frame geometry. A Gravel guarantees riding comfort while still being sporty and fast. The outwardly curved shape of the lower link increases driving safety and stability, while thanks to the profiled tires all-weather use is possible and an unpaved road can be ridden without any problems. Routes can thus be planned flexibly and spontaneous path changes can be accepted. A Gravel Bike is also worthwhile for competitions such as triathlons, especially if the bike course contains gravel or off-road elements. When riding on asphalt, only competitive athletes and racing bike pros will notice a difference between road and gravel bikes, a good riding experience is delivered by both types. 
So if you are looking for a true all-round bike, suitable for bikepacking, competitions, family outings or commuting in wind and weather, a gravel bike could be the right choice for you.

What are the differences between a gravel bike and a road bike?

Wheels and tires: The most obvious difference between the road bike and the gravel bike is in the tires. Tires on a Gravel Bike are wider and treaded, providing a stable grip even in wet and unpaved conditions. On a Gravel Racer it is also possible to ride with tubeless tires. The tire manufacturer Schwalbe, for example, has created a tire collection with its G-One series, which is designed to meet the versatile demands of a gravel bike.

Grips and handlebars: The handlebars of the Gravel Bike are also special. In contrast to the treadless handlebar tapes on road bikes, the grips of Gravel Bikes have a kind of ribbing. This gives a better grip even when wet or dirty, which is particularly advantageous for off-road excursions. In addition, the handlebars of the gravel bike is wider. The bike can thus be controlled better, and the comfort is also increased by the outwardly angled lower link, which pleasantly absorbs shocks or vibrations occurring in the terrain.

Brakes: Disc brakes are common on gravel bikes. They are particularly reliable when riding through dirt, puddles or changing weather conditions. Brake discs are mounted on the hubs of the wheels, and when the brake lever is pulled, two brake pads press on them from both sides, slowing the bike down. Meanwhile, all modern performance bikes make use of this braking system.

Pedals: There are no classic Gravel pedals, because to keep up with the versatile applications of the Gravel bike, the pedals must also be real all-rounders. It is a matter of taste whether you use clipless pedals, which provide for improved use of the entire leg muscles, or flat pedals. In any case, however, it is recommended to wear MTB shoes, because with the Gravel Bike you tend to explore off-road trails where it becomes necessary to dismount or push sections of the trail.

Frame geometry: Gravel bikes have a longer wheelbase than road bikes, resulting in a smoother ride. The frame set of the gravel bike is designed more for comfort, for example, through a longer head tube, while the road bike favors more of a sporty riding position. How the own seating position ultimately turns out and whether you have chosen the right frame size for you, but also depends on the handlebars including stem or the height of the saddle.

Mounting options for panniers: On the road bike there are usually no holes that act as mounting options for panniers. However, storage space is especially important if you want to travel by bike or go on a bikepacking adventure. Ideally, you attach many small bags with little weight directly to the bike frame itself so that neither maneuverability nor speed or freedom of movement is lost. Common mounting options for gravel bikes include top tube, down tube, fork, seatstays and seat tube. Many models also offer the option of retrofitting a luggage rack.

What is the best shifting group for a gravel bike?
The term shifting group refers to all the parts that are responsible for the drive and braking: The shift and brake levers on the handlebars, the rear derailleur, the brake caliper, the cassette, the crank, the chain and, if applicable, the front derailleur. Gravel groupsets (e.g. sram rival, sram force, grx rx810 etc) are commonly available with 1- or 2-speed drivetrains, i.e. with one or two chainrings at the bottom bracket. The single drive is easier to operate, which is particularly useful in the terrain. The two-speed drive provides more gears, ideal for long distances and elevation changes. 
If you want to learn more about groupsets on gravel bikes, you can find detailed information about different models and their respective advantages and disadvantages on the buycycle YouTube channel.

 

What should I look for when buying a gravel bike?
To find a gravel bike that fits your individual needs and requirements, you should make some considerations before buying.

  • Which gear group do I prefer?
  • What material should the frame have?
    • The choice between carbon or aluminum frame is primarily a question of price. While the aluminum frame is inexpensive and robust, carbon makes the gravel bike a lightweight, but if you fall awkwardly, the frame can be a total loss.
  • How much money am I willing to pay? 
    • In the bicycle market, prices have skyrocketed in recent years, especially in the area of test winners. A higher willingness to pay is rewarded with high-quality components and a low overall weight, but even cheaper models can be just right for you.
  • Where do I buy the Gravel Bike?
    • buycycle offers a wide selection of used bikes, including some Gravel bikes. Feel free to browse our website and contact our Customer Support if you have any questions. 

The best gravel bikes in the test: Which models have proven themselves?

BMC URS: URS stands for unrestricted, so an unrestricted riding life, which this model does pretty well. The bike has a suspension in the head tube and at the rear triangle and a stiff frame from, which converts the power invested by the driver well into drive. Overall, the bike weighs about 9.5 kg and is ideal for hill climbs and trail descents thanks to the special frame geometry, reminiscent of those of MTBs. Through mounting options and the option to retrofit a rack, the BMC URS is also bikepacking capable. Thanks to the existing tire clearance, tires with up to 45 mm width can be retrofitted.

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 5: The carbon frame of the Carbon 5 provides a good combination of strength and compliance, which together with the so-called KingPin suspension allows the rear up to 30mm of travel. The road bike thus also achieves off-road comfort, control and traction without sacrificing power transmission when going uphill or accelerating on the straight. As components, parts from the Shimano GRX and 105 group are installed.
The bike frame offers many mounting options: on the top tube, seat tube, down tube, suspension fork and seat stays, making the Cannondale Topstone very suitable for bikepacking. The Carbon 5 is also mudguard compatible, which can be worthwhile for frequent use in the rain or on muddy dirt roads. It convinces thanks to the internal cable routing and the elegantly integrated seatpost clamp with a clean look, also the bike geometry provides an upright seating position. Weighing in at 9.5kg, the Topstone is designed for speed-oriented riding and is a great choice for your bikepacking adventures.

Canyon Grizl: All models in this range are equipped with a carbon seatpost that absorbs vibrations and allows for comfortable riding on dirt trails. Depending on the model, the weight varies between 9 or 10 kg and the price also varies depending on the choice of components. However, even the cheapest version of the Canyon Grizl still offers a high level of performance in terms of precision and operation. The geometry provides an upright riding position and thus stability and comfort. Luggage can be attached to the fork, down tube, top tube and makes these models the perfect bikepacking and touring companion.
Who wants to cover more extreme trails or further distances, is right here. Who is rather looking for an all-rounder, is certainly better off with the Canyon Trail. 

Cervélo Áspero: The Cervélo Áspero is considered the manufacturer's aero gravel bike. With a weight of about 8.5 kg, it is a real lightweight. Four pairs of holders for wheel bags allow bikepacking, but there are no mounting options for mudguards and racks. Tires up to 45 mm wide can be retrofitted. 
A special feature on this bike is the so-called trail mixer: this allows the trail to be adjusted in two positions. This is to compensate for the wide range of possible tire sizes that can be ridden on the Áspero. The Cervelo Aspero is a true racer, but gravel roads and mountain climbs are no problem. Only trail descents can be mastered less well with this model thanks to its sporty frame geometry.

Cube Nuroad: The frame geometry of the Cube Nuroad favors a rather upright, comfortable riding position. During the ride, this leads to more stability, especially when it comes to unpaved roads or trail descents. Long chainstays and wheelbase, on the other hand, feel a bit sluggish when cornering. In general, the geometry of the Nuroad resembles that of an endurance road bike. The bike has mounts on the seat tube, down tube, fork and seat stays. Thus, it is suitable for bikepacking trips and is also compatible with mudguards, bike racks and luggage racks. Depending on the model, the Nuroad offers great tire clearance with possible tire widths between 40 and 45 mm. The wider the tires, the more comfort and grip the bike brings on uneven terrain, but at the expense of slight speed losses. The total weight varies, but hovers around 10 kg. 
Although it holds up well on paved roads, the Cube Nuroad is most worthwhile if you want to spend more time on gravel roads and trails. 

Giant Revolt: Giant offers three models: the Revolt, Revolt Advanced and Revolt Advanced Pro. The Advanced variants feature a carbon frame. The frame geometry is kept rather compact, which allows for a more upright and comfortable riding position, and a high tire clearance allows for wider tires to be retrofitted. 
The Giant Revolt is agile and smooth, convincing on straight stretches and also on downhill rides and thus stands for a good price-performance ratio, especially in the standard version. This model ranges around 10.4 kg, lighter but also more expensive versions can be found in the Advanced variants.

Rose Backroad: First of all, it is good to know that models from this series with the additional designation AL have an aluminum frame, while all the rest are equipped with carbon. Depending on the material, the total weight also varies here, even if it is basically convincing with an average value of 9kg. The fork is made of carbon in all models. At the same time, the frame offers more flexibility than most other Gravels with tire clearance for up to 50mm wide. The Rose Backroad offers the possibility of attaching bottle cages and bags to the frame. It performs on asphalt as well as dirt roads and shines with excellent value for money.

On our website you will find beyond the models presented here a variety of gravel bikes from different bike manufacturers and also our YouTube channel offers a lot of additional information and tips on the subject of gravel bikes. Feel free to look around, maybe you will find your dream bike at an excellent price. If you have any questions about gravel bikes, feel free to contact the buycycle team. We are here to help you with words and deeds.

 

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