Lately, so many brands have introduced gravel bikes that we might need for our next commuting. But, do we know which of the gravel bikes out there have been able to push the commuter envelope to a whole new level?
Before we have an extended discussion on this, let me give everyone a little backstory about myself. For those who don’t know, I have done long commuter between on gravels and roads for the most part of my adult life. At the time of this writing, I am 44-years old.
By no means, I am a pro-level guy. Frankly speaking, I have willingly spent more hours on a bike as same as a professional athlete. The cyclocross bikes helped me a lot in the past. But now, I have road-tested dozens of gravel/adventure bikes over the times. Therefore, I can be the voice of the masses.
Hey all, I’m Alan, Horney’s friend. And today we are going to take a tour of the best gravel/adventure bikes available in the market these days. Given my passion and experience, I know which bikes can win the ultimate “all-around” showdown, and take into account your budget at the same time.
Frankly speaking, I am yet to regret test these bikes. However, I almost regretted considering other high-end alternatives over these budget-friendly gravel/adventure bikes. The point here is that you can choose any of those bikes and run with it.
How Much Should I Spend on a Gravel Bike?
Fog? Let’s address this million-dollar question. Well, the cost really depends on the material quality and components fitted on the bike. Of course, the brand name matters as well.
The limited budget will drop first in the bike frame, then groupset(drivetrain), wheels and contact point. If you have an enviable salary, a carbon fiber frame is sweet. But you are a prince of Saudi Arabia, a wood or plastic frame for novelty.
In other words, if your budget is under 1000, the groupset’s hierarchy sets the best gravel bike apart from a cheap one where used in the making of the bike drivetrain. Because your bike frame material is based on aluminum alloy and steel either.
- steel vs aluminum: steel is heavier than aluminum as you perceive, but it can absorb buzz. So some bicycles are equipped with a steel fork to offset the sound from the front wheel. An aluminum fork can create a little aerodynamic benefit.
- groupset level: the higher hierarchy has better quality expectations, smoother shifting, longer service life, but less maintenance. Don’t neglect this brief summary. When the shifters do not work, the chain falls off or other issue and you will flip out if you are in the suburbs.
You can go to a department store and buy a new bicycle for under 300 dollars, but if you plan to ride it several times a week, you will be disappointed with the shifting of the bicycle, because cheaper models tend to be less durable and more fault.
Consumer reports show that a good road(gravel) bike from 600 to 1000 finds that long-term riders tend to consider investing in bicycles that belong to this mid-range price to give you a comfortable ride, smoother, and fewer breakdowns.
Well-known bicycle brands are usually an annual model, which means you have a chance to steal one from last year at under 500 prices. But there is usually a lack of complete sizes.
Ride Purpose: Why should I buy a Gravel bike?
A lot of folks out there might be wondering about my strange romance with gravel bikes. I often get asked about this why you should choose a gravel bike over others.
To be point-blank over here, it’s much faster than a conventional mountain bike and more manipulated than a conventional road bike. Be it roads or mountains; it can handle just about anything.
In fact, according to the definition, gravel belongs to the hybrid bike, but have not a front suspension. It’s a road bike build for mountains. Pave and unpaved, it all beat.
Simply put, it’s an all-around product that can offer us the best of both the worlds. It’s suitable for all commuting types not just for roads, be it fun, sludge adventure, casual, or even fitness rides, but hard for speed glory.
Gravel vs. Traditional road bike: the biggest difference what gravels not built for events. If you want to test mileage on roads, go a performance bike or an endurance road. Want to get applause on the cross? Cyclocross bike.
Truthfully speaking, bicycles are becoming more and more subdivided. For those who haven’t guessed it yet, ‘gravel’ and ‘adventure’ bikes come under the same hood. A gravel bike is often termed as an adventure bike and vice versa.
Also, a bike labeled as an ‘adventure’ or a ‘gravel’ bike is very similar to a cyclocross bike. We can look at a cyclocross bike as a competitive version of adventure or gravel bike. A cyclocross bike is designed in such a manner that it can go fast even on demanding terrains.
On the other hand, gravel or adventure bikes are built for the long haul. Meaning that these bikes are non-race specific, designed for long rides on a mixture of different surfaces. Some of them are equipped to accommodate even our luggage for multi-day trips.
OK, let’s proceed with the product review now. I undoubtedly have driven close to 400 miles on those bikes before writing this review. And, I have a clear sense and knowledge of what I am going to pen down. So, please don’t assume that this review is just one more curse on the biking industry.
As advertised by the makers, Tommaso Sentier is an outstanding gravel bike which is great for commuters riding in general. For those who are not aware, 32c wide tires and rubber are proficient handle all kinds of terrains — asphalt, fire roads, gravel, dirt, or anything else we can think about.
At a mere 24 lbs, the Tommaso Sentiero has a lightweight aluminum frame to it. The overall frame is strong that enough to take a beating and still ride smoothly in next day. Thanks the saddle on this bike is well-padded to offer good support on bumpiness terrains. Of course, take is directly proportional to your weight.
The drivetrain carries complete groupset components. That means shifters, derailleurs, and gears. What does for you? Reliable and crisp for shifting. This is the overflow of most road riders’ pursuit. Most competitors want to maximize profits and cut costs where mix parts. Tommaso Sentiero is affordable but making your riding even rarer.
For incredible stopping power, it’s also fitted with Tektro disc brakes. The brakes have never failed me even in variable weather conditions. A triple crankset along with 8-speed cassette always helps me keep my strength, not a shave my legs when I climbing a 25% slope hill.
At the top of my list is a little-known brand. You won’t find it in WalMart. Few local bicycle shops can carry them. By selling online, Tommaso can save more administrative costs. But the bicycle offers an unfair advantage.
Marin Gestalt good for trail exploration and adventure, which I have been using for the past two months. Thus far, this gravel bike has taken me places where a conventional bike can only dream about.
For starter’s knowledge, the Marin Gestalt Gravel Bike has an aluminum frame with plenty of gears for a robust and buttery smooth ride. Better yet, The bicycle has internal cable routing to make it look neat and generous.
Marin Gestalt shows excellent performance in mountaineering and cross-country activities. There is no defect with the crankset, FSA has also supplied for Shimano. That tubeless wheels can run under lower pressure but improving traction, comfort, and control.
For a rider who loves Shimano parts, it is difficult to accept the replacement of the rear wheel Pyramid gears. SunRace is a brand from Taiwan. Its popularity is not as good as Shimano’s. But the 11-34t cassette can assist you to climb a mountain with a gradient larger than 30. I don’t live in such steep hills, but I believe you real very laborious.
This is a new model and has just been listed. I guess the price tag is not nice enough for someone. For the rider who doesn’t stick to on-roads but wants to long-distance regardless of the weather and unmake a detour on their way home. Marin Gestalt is a full-fledged exploration machine.
Fuji Jari 2.5
The Fuji Jari 2.5 Gravel Bike is a perfect traveling partner. About July last year, Fuji Jari 2.5 made me fall in love with bike packing. Before that, I had little knowledge of other cities. Now, as soon as Friday, I became active and began planning for the weekend trip.
Fuji Jari 2.5 is designed for those who want to explore the surrounding world with browse different landscapes. It is meant for people like me what dig a new hobby to smoothly tackle a variety of riding surfaces on a regular basis.
Steel has come back. Fuji Jari 2.5 used the Chromoly material. That is a type of low alloy steel, but stronger, lighter than Hi-steel. A heavier friend said that aluminum frame gave him a demanding ride. The Chromoly/steel bike absorption bump get a degree of comfort and provides a lively ride to you.
One characteristic of every bicycle is how much vibration it provides. Fuji Jari 2.5 tires wide up to 38mm, I deeply impressed every time I hopped on. It is very good to handles the slightly larger gravels.
Thanks to its tapered steerer, this gives me more control when I turn left and right. Especially when the front wheel strikes rocks, I can adjust the direction very well instead of falling down.
The 46/30t is indeed more convenient to shifting than a 50/39/30t crankset when climbing. But it is also effort to get a higher speed on a flat road than a 50/34. I wonder if I should replace this.
With 3 water bottle mounts is helpful with work that keeps my humidity. I always enjoyed the comfort of having food and drinks at my arm’s reach during long touring. It’s not a rigorous touring bike but is a solid performer for its intended purpose.
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 1
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 1 is a flat-bar road bike with gears and tires that can handle rider for fitness over the weekend. I am not holding a major grudge against this bike. Everything considered I would say that it’s a pleasure riding a bike of this quality.
That flat bar handlebar is ideal for crossing the city. This is for me to provide a more upright position to see the dangers ahead. The broad rubber helps me get out of the wet dirt.
Be meticulous like you may find the bike just only equipped with 9 speed. You right, there is single chainring near the pedal only. The Shimano Acera is a mountain groupset.
Haanjo 1 follows the trend from mountain biking of having a single chainring, which can minimize potential mechanical problems and simplify the shifting to the back gears. Without the front derailleur, the fewer times of adjustment, fewer the probability to issue.
But it did reduce efficiency, especially if you live in a steep place and no longer have low enough gear to spin up those climbs. That’s why I play it as a fitness bike. It did assist me to clip my weight when I am laborious of pedaling to up at one point.
Now it belongs to my daughter(Okay, I sometimes feel inefficient). This is the way of transportation for her college life in the next few years. Lucky, the frame size is also suitable to her (half of my genes), with only a slight adjustment of the handle, and replacement saddle to a silicone(she’s a little fat). If necessary, I will try to replace to a double chainring crankset, but she must pay.
Raleigh Bikes Willard 1
This is the third Raleigh bike that I have owned over the years. I am not trying to be the brand ambassador or anything of that sort for this brand. But, the bikes from this brand have never failed to please me.
In my opinion, Willard 1 is a premium version of Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 1. Because its setting is always higher than Haanjo 1’s. For example, they are with a 9-speed cassette same, but Willard 1 has a double crankset. So you don’t anymore have to worry about any problems in conquering the hills. Another reason is that they are now under the banner of the same company.
Raleigh saddle is famous for its comfort. It has saved my ass time and again. To be united in wedlock a better shock absorption ability comes from carbon fiber fork. It is one of the most comfortable bikes I have ever ridden, even if I ride it until I’m exhausted.
The bike around 23lbs and offers 18 gears to choose from. The benefits of tapered steerer have been mentioned above. With 32mm tires(you can change to 35c like me) and more gear ratios, it can take on a variety of surfaces without any second thoughts.
The TRP brakes are at par with other high-end bikes. I also received quite a lot of compliments on the looks of the bike. Keep in mind that the paint on this bike does fade over time. But, the bike is truly durable.
It’s time to wrap up things. I tried my best to tap into my inner Alan to help everyone out there avoid the usual knee-jerk involved in the process of bike shopping. The lucky person will rarely end up with buying remorse!
Gravel road bike commonly eyelets for mudguards. There are also come with disc brakes. This is commonplace in the world of mountain bike, but the technology is still a controversial place on road biking.
One of the key advantages from disc brakes is that they allow greater modulation during braking. This is especially convenient in wet weather or downhills. Tektro in the braking market is a leader.
Maybe you want to know if those bicycles can support your weight who over 250 pounds or even up to 300 lbs. Yes, sure. (Traditional bicycles are limited to 220~250 pounds.)
Gravel bicycles use wider tires from 32mm, even up to 48mm, to improve comfort, grip, and stability. Larger tires can acceptance more pressure, outside add to spokes amount that increases the load capacity of bicycles. So, they can hold on with you.
If your ideal multi-terrain for commute you will surely find that the bicycles listed here are more likely to make you smile. If your commuters are bigger bumpy(medium cobble), a hybrid bike with front suspension is the best right for you. So, which one is yours? Is Raleigh Bikes Willard 1?