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Gravel Gear

Best gravel bikes of the year

Gravel bikes help you spice up road rides with dirt roads, trails, and even a little singletrack. Here are our four favorite bikes from 2016.

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Gravel bikes are do-anything, go-anywhere adventure machines that can help kick your boring road rides up a notch. They often look like cyclocross bikes but typically have lower bottom brackets and longer wheelbases for added stability on loose and chunky terrain. Gravel-specific rigs should have at least enough room to fit 35mm tires, but we prefer bigger clearance for 40mm rubber, just in case the roads get muddy. These are our favorite gravel bikes from the 2016 crop of test rigs.

Watch a video about the gravel bike category >>

Norco Search Carbon

Photo: Norco
Photo: Norco

Price: $3,450
Overall Score: 88.4/100

The Norco Search Carbon defines what a great gravel bike should be. It feels like a race bike — stiff and responsive — but it’s incredibly comfortable even after long hours on bumpy gravel roads. It utilizes endurance road bike geometry for a more upright position and for added stability. This makes for a comfortable ride over rough terrain or for very long events like the Dirty Kanza 200.

Read the full review >> 

Appleman Gravel

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Price: $11,500 ($6,000 frame and fork)
Overall Score: 86.3/100

Matt Appleman makes all sorts bikes, all from carbon. They’re all custom, too, so there’s no use pretending that our particular Appleman would be exactly like your particular Appleman. But our bike’s geometry is somewhere between a road bike and a cyclocross bike and you can ride it just about anywhere short of a road race or true singletrack. Though it would operable in either extreme realm, it would not excel.

Read the full review >> 

Pivot Vault

Photo: Pivot
Photo: Pivot

Price: $3,899
Overall Score: 85.0/100

Pivot has created a light, full-carbon, thru-axle dirt-road machine that could double as a cyclocross bike. Throw some CX tires on and toe the line at the Saturday race. It even looks like a racer, with a curved top tube and elegant seat stays. 425-millimeter chain stays make for a spry feel: Rip through tight corners and take full advantage of the Vault’s balanced geometry.

Read the full review >> 

Salsa Warbird Carbon Rival

Photo: Salsa
Photo: Salsa

Price: $3,499
Overall Score: 83.1/100

Salsa was one of the first companies to embrace gravel riding, and the Warbird only bolsters its dedication to this relatively new category. Aside from totally nailing the name, the Warbird excels in action, with a stiff carbon frame for maximum power transfer and shaped

Salsa was one of the first companies to embrace gravel riding, and the Warbird only bolsters its dedication to this relatively new category. Aside from totally nailing the name, the Warbird excels in action, with a stiff carbon frame for maximum power transfer and shaped seat stays that flex just enough to take the sting out.

Read the full review >>