Of all the things we can properly boast about at Road Bike Action it’s that no one else rides and reviews as many road and gravel bikes as we do. From the odd birds to the team replicas, the number and variety of drop bar bikes that pass through the RBA office is at times overwhelming…but oh so awesome!
As such, each year for the last decade we’ve rolled through each year by heralding the best bikes we test throughout the year. Below you’ll find the gravel bike contenders that ranked highest with RBA editors and test riders.
In addition to the True Grit model, which features their unique suspension fork, Lauf has also designed a five-model line of non-suspended bikes that uses their Smoothie handlebar for added compliance. The Anywhere ranges in price from $2890 to the $5140 Race AXS.
The carbon Boundary is equipped with mounts for up to three bottle cages, as well as front and rear bags, and is available in five sizes and three component builds from $2,450 to $3,950.
The all-new Grade is the revised version of GT’s original gravel bike, but now features a new frame design and geometry that offers more compliance with performance. There are two alloy versions starting at $1,000 and three carbon versions that range between $2,000 to $3,900.
KONA ROVE NRB DL
The $2299 NRB DL tops the six-bike Rove family of gravel bikes. The aluminum frame is built with a Shimano GRX drivetrain and hydraulic brakes, and rolls on 650b WTB wheels mounted with hefty 47mm WTB rubber.
TOMMASINI FIRE GRAVEL
Hand-built in Grosseto, Italy, with Columbus Spirit tubing in proprietary Tommasini tube shapes with tire clearance for up to 42mm tires. Choose either a sloping or horizontal top tube with custom geometry and paint available at no extra charge. The frame and fork sell for $3495.
Originally, their cyclocross entry, the $5199 Vault, has evolved with the times and is now more purpose-built as a gravel-friendly rig. The new design brings double-drop, asymmetrical chainstays and tire clearance for up to 47mm tires. Integrated compliance is found with the new Iso Flex seatpost.
CHAPTER TWO AO
Hailing from New Zealand, the Chapter Two is available in five sizes and is designed to roll on either 650b or 700c wheels with maximum tire sizes at 47mm (650b) to 42mm (700c). Three bottle mounts and asymmetrical chainstays bring the dirt gravitas.
While company founder Alcide Basso didn’t think there was reason to evolve from his brand’s road-specific legacy, his son Alessandro thought otherwise. With room for up to 42mm tires, the Italian-made carbon Palta has become one of their best-selling models. Available in five sizes and a range of colors with a 1x or 2x option.
SAGE STORM KING
Here’s an American-made titanium frame available in seven sizes or custom for the same price of $3,500. The Storm King is dropper-post-friendly, with room for up to 50mm rubber and three bottle mounts.
OTSO WARAKIN TI
Unique with the Warakin Ti is the Tuning Chip rear dropout, which can lengthen or shorten the wheelbase by up to 20mm and raise or lower the bottom bracket by up to 4mm. Complete builds with Shimano GRX start at $3,950 with the frame/fork going for $2,800.
Handmade at Calfee’s NorCal factory, the suspended rear end of the $5700 Manta stands out in the crowd by offering up to 12mm of travel. Calfee specializes in custom builds, but offers 12 standard sizes with a plethora of colors.
Everybody who rode it raved about it. Funny thing, even with the big 2.3 knobby meats, these same people all said the Open still performed as a good road bike! Yes, we’ve seen fat tire road bikes before, but by surprisingly weighing just a skooch more than the Pinarello F12; from group road rides to the Leadville 100 to the Rim Trail in Moab, Utah, the WI.DE simply proved to be a revelation. Just as a million and one other gravel bikes have borrowed the dropped driveside chainstay design used on the original Open UP (that blew up the burgeoning category) a few years ago, expect to see dozens more now borrow the WI.DE’s double-dropped chainstay yoke design which is what allows the big meats to fit in the rear triangle. The level of off-road control afforded by the big tires is amazing.