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Best of the Best Gravel Bikes 2022: Cyclist's favourite gravel and adventure bikes

Joseph Delves
20 Jan 2022

Our pick from the latest gravel bikes as reviewed by the Cyclist team

Capable both on and off-road, gravel bikes are incredibly versatile. They're able to carry you across a variety of terrain types, they're robust, they're fun to ride, and they generally employ a lot of the best in modern technology including disc brakes and beginner-friendly wide-ratio gearing.

Most gravel bikes are still light enough and quick enough for use on the tarmac despite their broad capabilities, making them a great all-round choice, and arguably the best option if you're only going to own one bike.

A quick skim through our reviews over the past few seasons reveals just how quickly the gravel market has exploded. From the occasional inclusion to becoming a mainstay of our testing, gravel bikes are everywhere.

With almost every manufacturer now offering at least one of these incredibly capable mixed-terrain bikes in their ranges, we've been hard at work riding as many of them as possible.

Every gravel bike featured here has been put to the test on a variety of terrain by our team of expert reviewers. 

New to cycling? Read our beginner's guide to gravel bikes for a complete introduction to the discipline and, if you think gravel might be for you, don't miss our detailed advice on how to buy a gravel bike.

Below are some of the highest-scoring gravel bikes aggregated from our recent reviews, grouped by their frame material.

The best aluminium gravel bikes (plus bonus magnesium)

Cannondale Topstone 1

While Cannondale's alloy Topstone is a bit less radical than the suspension-equipped carbon versions, it's still a very practical and versatile machine, and our pick of the bunch would be the Topstone 1 with its mix of Shimano 105, Ultegra and Tiagra-equivalent GRX components.

With plenty of mounting points for racks and mudguards, you could almost mistake it for a touring bike. At the same time, generous gearing (a subcompact 46/30 crank and 11-34 cassette on this model) mean it's happy to spin yourself and any kit you're carrying up any off-road ascent.

While the alloy frame adds a bit of weight versus carbon, the bike is well specced, plus the WTB Nano tyres run quickly on and off-road, thanks to their reasonably continuous central tread.

Canyon Grail 7

This superb value bike from direct-to-consumer firm Canyon scored a rare five-out-of-five. Based around a capable aluminium frame, its 40mm tyres provide plenty of versatility, while a double chainring Shimano GRX gravel groupset is an excellent find at this price.

With DT Swiss supplying the lightweight wheelset, which arrives tubeless as standard, we couldn't find any weak links in the Grail's armour.

Adding up to a machine weighing the same as you'd expect for a similarly priced road model, space for mudguards (Canyon's own – there's no seatstay bridge) mean it's all the drop bar bike many riders will ever need.

Felt Breed 20

The Felt Breed possesses an aluminium frame so nicely constructed you're unlikely to wish you'd saved a bit more and got something made of carbon. With plenty of hydroforming and machining, it provides well-mannered handling, along with generous 45mm tyre clearance and space for a durable threaded T47 bottom bracket shell.

With a single-chainring SRAM Force drivetrain, the Breed’s wide, flared handlebars provide plenty of leverage. Employing 40mm Vittoria Terreno tyres fitted to Devox wheels, the bike's overall weight is acceptable too. It's a quality that helps the Breed make a decent fist of everything you could reasonably expect a drop-bar bike to attempt.

Giant Revolt 0

Keenly priced, the Giant Revolt provides a perfect introduction to riding off-piste. With a low-slung frame and 38mm tyres, it's capable on the rough stuff.

However, a largest 48t chainring and 11-speed 11-34 cassette mean it's pacy enough to be happy on the road too. Still, just because it's versatile doesn't mean the Revolt hedges its bets. With space for tyres up to 45mm, its already significant off-road capabilities can easily be pushed further.

Benefiting from Giant's massive buying power, the kit list is excellent, one result being the inclusion of Shimano's outstanding hydraulic 105 brakes and gearing.

We reviewed the 2021 model, but the 2022 Giant Revolt promises similarly appealing qualities and adds in flip-chips at the axles for adjustable geometry.

Vaast A/1

With radically dropped chainstays, clever internal cable routing, and a bright red metallic paint job, the Vaast makes no secret of its metal frame. Made of magnesium rather than aluminium, this leaves it both lighter and more compliant than bikes created from more traditional alloys.

With a spring in its step, it left our reviewer reckoning it also provides excellent value. Apparent in both the frameset and the parts hanging off it, this is a remarkable achievement for a comparatively small firm. Our test model came with Stan's excellent Grail S1 wheels. However, Vaast offers multiple builds, including one based around diminutive and nimble 650b wheels.

The best carbon gravel bikes

Basso Palta II


The gravel renaissance has largely been propped up by people rediscovering their suspensionless mountain bike-oriented youth, but it's also become a breath of fresh air for those with road fatigue, having spent ten years since the 2012 boom riding the same country lanes.

Basso's Palta II appeals to the road cyclist who wants to get in on the action with a racier feel that will still take on rough surfaces with ease and helps build confidence on unfamiliar territory while still performing well on tarmac.

Since its first edition the Italian brand has made some alterations to further enhance comfort through features that better damp bumps and vibrations including a gravel-specific carbon fibre handlebar as well as a more relaxed geometry.

Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1

A bike for the daring off-road rider, the Topstone features a single-sided suspension fork, plus a frame with radically dropped seat stays that lead that connect to the seat tube via a pivot, allowing the the rear triangle to act as a leaf spring.

Rolling on smaller 650b wheels and sporting a cassette wider than on some mountain bikes, it's a design that plonks itself squarely in the wilderness. However, it's far from being weird for the sake of weird. For starters, the 30mm suspension fork works exceptionally, plus looks way more pleasing than those found on many other bikes. The same goes for the frame's matching ability to gobble up bumps.

Of course, both add weight and cost limit the Topstone's appeal to some riders. However, if you want to get rowdy, this is a bike that's very happy to play along.

Canyon Grizl

A bike that shares more in appearance with Canyon's Endurace road range than the firm's more extreme Grail, the Grizl provides a perfect mid-point. Looking fairly conventional, its slim seatstays, massive 50mm tyre clearance and flexible VCLS carbon post all keep things comfy.

At the same time, a short and tall geometry, wide bars, and plentiful mounting points mean it's both capable and adaptable.

Not the most racy, but also far from being over-built, the Grizl provides supreme comfort and competency on most gravel trails. Capable of being pushed a little further in either direction, it's also excellent value.

Cervélo Áspero

Known for making fast road bikes, the off-road Cervélo Áspero is almost equally speedy. Marketed with the slogan 'haul ass, not cargo', it's unashamedly racy. Of course, this doesn't mean you couldn't strap bikepacking bags to it, and there's even a mount for a snack box on the top tube.

However, if you want to go out and win yourself some gravel races, this is the sort of bike that will help you do so. With a low frame weight and nippy handling, it's literally and figuratively head-down in its approach to riding.

This balance is kept stable whatever tyres you use thanks to something Cervélo calls the 'Trail Mixer'. Allowing the fork offset to be adjusted to maintain consistent handling, it permits the Áspero to work with 700c or 650b gravel wheelsets or slick road tyres.

BMC URS

With a suspension fork on the more rugged LT version, remote-activated dropper seatpost, and wide tyres, the URS is a fair few stops along with the trail to mountain bike town. And that's before you consider its radically slack carbon frame and its in-built rear damper.

Offering 30mm of suspension at the front (a rigid fork version is also available) matched to 10mm at the back, the bike's off-road abilities are further intensified by a super-wide cassette and single-ring drivetrain courtesy of SRAM's electronic ASX line. 

Superbly capable on the rough stuff, it's good on smoother surfaces too. Just don't expect it ever to be mistaken for a road bike.

FiftyOne Assassin

Variable geometry ensures the FiftyOne Assassin has an adaptable personality. Add in serious clearance, plus a ton of different mounting points, and this bike manages to do a lot of different things well.

This capability is boosted via flip-chips, alloy inserts in the dropouts that can be flipped – from a high to a low position at the fork or across three different fore-aft positions at the rear.

Radically changing the handling from cruiser-like to something far sportier, this allows the Assassin to manage everything from touring duties to mountain bike-style trails. Add in clearance for 47mm tyres, extensive carry capacity, plus wiring for a dynamo hub, and this is a bike you can make of what you want.

GT Grade Carbon Pro

Plush over the bumps, unyielding when stamping on the pedals, the Grade benefits from a wonderfully composed frame. Light and punchy to ride, it nonetheless has plenty of mounting points if you want to weigh it down.

Generally somewhere near the middle when it comes to striking a balance between gnar and far, it still benefits from adjustable geometry thanks to its flip-chip fork. Allowing for greater stability, this is particularly designed to benefit anyone choosing to carry bags on the bike.

It's available with single or double chainring drivetrains, with going for the latter increasing the Grade’s on-road abilities. However, the simplicity of the single ring system will likely appeal to more off-road-focussed riders.

Specialized S-Works Crux


The world's lightest gravel bike, the S-Works version of the Crux isn't far off being the world’s most expensive either. Inspired by Specialized's road-going Aethos, it's designed to be sharp handling, incredibly light and, perhaps surprisingly, exceptionally user friendly.

It manages this thanks to easy-to-access semi-internal cabling, a threaded bottom bracket, and a conventional stem and seatpost assembly. Beautiful looking, more than almost any other bike, there's no reason the Crux couldn't serve as your sole drop-bar ride.

At the same time, with space for tyres up to 47mm, it's hugely capable off-road. A refined and racy bicycle, the Crux sits at the fastest end of the gravel spectrum.

Vielo V+1 Alto

A refined gravel racer, the slender V+1 Alto is light and efficient. With blanched handling, it's a bike pleasingly free from gimmicks.

That's not to say it isn’t radical. Restricted to using only a single chainring, this design choice has been leveraged by Vielo to provide enormous clearance for tyres up to 50mm, along with uninterrupted seatstays to help improve ride comfort.

Stiff where you want it to be, compliant where that works better, and light all over, it's a racy gravel bike that will fare well with a number board pinned to it. Suited to riders more interested in speed and distance over competence on the most rugged terrain, we're big fans.

Pinarello Grevil


Pinarello is famous for its road bikes, and the Grevil takes a typically Pinarello-style approach to the gravel market. Transferring over the radical tube shapes from its road range results in a bike that's not only distinctive but is perfect for those seeking stiffness and speed on and off-road.

Premium in price, Pinarrelo jump onto the bandwagon wholesale with (optional) 650b wheels and an outrageously wide-ratio cassette. At the same time, a tight back end and sharp angles mean handling is definitely on the responsive side. With aero profiles and exotic carbon material, it's very much the Pinarello experience transferred to the dirt.

Ridley Kanzo Fast

The aggressive-looking Kanzo Fast could be the only bike you'll need both on and off-road. The fast in the name isn't there by chance.

Looking a lot like Ridley's Noah Fast aero road bike, this is indeed a bike designed to go very quickly regardless of the surface. With a slightly higher and shorter geometry than the brand's road bikes, the Kanzo is still pretty purposeful, a trait improved upon by its noticeable stiffness. Plus, you even get aerodynamic bars.

Unsurprisingly, there are smoother riding or more capable gravel bikes out there. However, there aren't many as purposeful, or that will also behave as well on the road.

Santa Cruz Stigmata CC

A gravel-influenced cyclocross bike. Alternatively, a cyclocross bike with a sun-baked Californian disposition. Perhaps the latest Stigmata is a bit of both.

More relaxed, with a lower bottom bracket, plus the option to fit fenders, this new version has been shaped by the requests riders made of its cyclocross-specific previous iteration.

Still light and stiff, plenty of the original bike's fighting spirit remains. Only marginally relaxed, its geometry is also still pretty flighty.

However, now backed by clearance for tyres up to 45mm, it's capable as a general gravel bike, a competitive cyclocross racer, and with a change of tyres and the right gearing, would be happy riding a sportive or audax.

Specialized S-Works Diverge

The first of Specialized's genre-defining gravel bikes, the Diverge benefits from a Future Shock system that incorporates a suspension cartridge in the top of the fork steerer, effectively suspending the cockpit.

Paired to a relaxed and steady geometry, this makes the Diverge a great place to spend an extended spell.

However, for anyone imagining this makes for a slouchy ride, it's worth remembering this is the bike that's repeatedly won the world's most prestigious gravel race, Unbound.

With broader gearing and increased clearance, it's no coincidence that it remains one of the best selling models on the market. And while the flagship S-Works model is seriously expensive, there are considerably more affordable options in the range that share many of the same qualities.

3T Exploro RaceMax

A product of the mad mind of Gerard Vroomen, there aren't many bikes that look like the Exploro RaceMax. One of the first of an increasing number of gravel bikes to take aerodynamics seriously, the Exploro's tight angles, dropped stays, and tucked rear wheel all echo 3T's racing bike designs.

At the same time, enormous tyres and the ability to run it with a single chainring and 650b wheels mean the Exploro is very capable. A great bike for a broad spectrum of gravel riders, it sits particularly well with all-road riders and competitive gravel racers.

From its profile to its paint job, it's also very handsome, which never hurts either.

The Best Steel Gravel Bikes

Genesis Fugio 30

Strong and forgiving, steel makes a solid choice for bikes destined to have a hard life. If you intend to load the aforementioned bicycle with bikepacking bags or panniers, this goes double.

However, despite being equipped to lug you and your gear to the ends of the earth, the Fugio is equally happy spending its days mucking about in the woods.

A fact suggested by our build's dropper seatpost and 650b wheels, the Fugio is a very modern bike made from a traditional material.

Accentuated by a vivid paint job and more mounting points than we knew what to do with, it understandably weighs a bit more than we might like. Still, we found it to be tons of fun.

Stayer Groadinger UG

A small batch production bike that offers as much fun as it's possible to have while hanging off of a set of drop bars.

The gnarlier of Stayer's two gravel models, the Groadinger UG possesses a trail-friendly geometry and comes as standard with nimble 650b wheels.

Almost like a road bike-inspired mountain bike, those after something only a tyre swap away from being at home on the tarmac might want to look elsewhere.

However, we think the Groadinger is a classic among its own small sub-genre. Custom made, there's also the option to spec practical touches like mudguard or rack mounts.

The Best Titanium Gravel Bikes

Kinesis Tripster ATR V3

Affordable (for titanium) and massively versatile, the Tripster benefits from a decade of evolution. This adventure tourer was early onto the scene, and has recently become even more capable with increased clearance, more load-carrying capacity, and an upgraded carbon fork.

As at home on a mixed surface touring weekend as it is taking on a competitive gravel race, this durable and forgiving titanium frame flatters in almost any situation. The ATR acronym stands for 'Adventure-Tour-Race', and it's truly capable of all three.

Built for riding, not fettling, simple standards including semi-internal cabling and a threaded bottom bracket keep it rolling with a minimum of maintenance hassle.

Moots Routt RSL

The Routt is pretty close to being the perfect single bike. It's a delight off-road yet gobbles up the tarmac with equal gusto.

This is managed thanks to its exquisite titanium construction and a geometry that transfers between genres without giving much away.

With clearance for tyres up to 45mm, swapping the treads redefines the bike, leaving the Routt as close to being a single bicycle for all occasions as we can think of.

Beautifully made and likely to outlive its owner, it justifies its rarified pricetag and gains an equally rare five-star review.

Moots Routt YBB

YBB stands for 'why be beat?', and the moniker is applied here to a titanium gravel bike with the addition of ultra-minimalist rear suspension.

Using a classic softail design, the Routt YBB integrates a simple damper into its seatstay bridge and uses the flexibility of its titanium chainstays to allow rear wheel travel. This bike aims to answer the question in its name without adding significant weight.

Resulting in a bike that's fabulously comfortable and composed on rough surfaces, it manages this without giving away much in terms of power transfer.

Assembled and finished with real skill and infinitely durable, its premium price comes with the option to customise the rest of the spec.

Passoni Cicloprato

The gorgeous Cicloprato is a handmade titanium gravel bike created to order in Milan. As such, it's both highly customisable and very expensive.

Latin scholars won't need us to remind them that 'prato' means meadow. And our tester found the Cicloprato more suited to riding through meandering fields than rattling down more rutted forest trails.

Blending road racing traits with off-road nous, it's stable yet flickable thanks to a short rear-end and slightly slacker front. It's appreciably stiff for road riding, but is probably most pleasing on better groomed unpaved surfaces.

Custom assembled, we can't see any reason not to opt for the excellent Campagnolo 13-speed Ekar groupset and Shamal wheels as fitted to our bike.

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