HomeBuying GuideBikesBest​ ​Gravel​ ​Bikes​ ​for​ ​up​ ​to​ ​£2,000

Best​ ​Gravel​ ​Bikes​ ​for​ ​up​ ​to​ ​£2,000

Gravel​ ​riding​ ​is​ ​an​ ​exciting​ ​discipline​ ​of​ ​off-road​ ​cycling​ ​– it’s​ ​about​ ​fun​ ​and​ ​freedom,​ ​adventure​ ​and  even​ ​racing.​ ​Gravel​ ​originates​ ​from​ ​the​ ​USA,​ ​where​ ​rugged​ ​drop-handlebarred​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​specified​ ​for  the​ ​tough​ ​challenges​ ​of​ ​touring​ ​and​ ​exploring​ ​bumpy,​ ​dusty,​ ​unsurfaced​ ​roads​ ​developed​ ​a​ ​great  following​ ​and​ ​spawned​ ​its​ ​own​ ​unique​ ​race​ ​scene.​ ​British​ ​bikers​ ​are​ ​more​ ​than​ ​ready​ ​for​ ​gravel’s​ ​fat,  treaded​ ​road​ ​tyres,​ ​low,​ ​close​ ​gears,​ ​weatherproof​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​and​ ​bulletproof​ ​builds.

Like​ ​its​ ​cousin​ ​cyclocross,​ ​gravel​ ​has​ ​caught​ ​on​ ​fast​ ​here​ ​in​ ​the​ ​UK,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​British​ ​race​ ​series  emerging​ ​–​ ​from​ ​the​ ​north,​ ​Dirty​ ​Reiver​ ​in​ ​Northumberland​ ​and​ ​Grinduro’s​ ​amazing​ ​loop​ ​round​ ​the​ ​Isle  of​ ​Arran,​ ​way​ ​down​ ​south​ ​to​ ​the​ ​CW​ ​Century​ ​on​ ​the​ ​South​ ​Downs​ ​Way,​ ​with​ ​many​ ​in​ ​between.

But​ ​gravel’s​ ​far​ ​more​ ​than​ ​racing;​ ​the​ ​sheer​ ​versatility​ ​of​ ​these​ ​all-year-round​ ​bikes​ ​mean​ ​they’ll​ ​tackle  muddy​ ​off-road​ ​trails​ ​yet​ ​will​ ​also​ ​serve​ ​you​ ​well​ ​on​ ​the​ ​weekend​ ​club​ ​run.​ ​Most​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​boast  mounts​ ​for​ ​racks​ ​and​ ​mudguards​ ​equipping​ ​them​ ​for​ ​commuting,​ ​while​ ​multiple​ ​bottle​ ​mount​ ​lugs​ ​lend  themselves​ ​to​ ​adventure​ ​set-ups,​ ​endurance​ ​events​ ​and​ ​bike​ ​packing​ ​machines.​ ​A​ ​gravel​ ​bike​ ​can​ ​truly  do​ ​it​ ​all,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​£2k,​ ​you​ ​get​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​gravel​ ​bike​ ​at​ ​Hargroves​ ​Cycles.​ ​Here’s​ ​what​ ​to​ ​look​ ​out​ ​for…

GEOMETRY,​ ​TYRES​ ​&​ ​CLEARANCE
Tyre​ ​clearance​ ​is​ ​an​ ​important​ ​consideration.​ ​Most​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​run​ ​the​ ​same​ ​700c​ ​diameter​ ​as​ ​their  road​ ​bike​ ​cousins,​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​specified​ ​with​ ​more​ ​robust,​ ​wider-rimmed​ ​wheelsets​ ​to​ ​accommodate  much​ ​wider​ ​rubber.

While​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​generally​ ​run​ ​25​ ​or​ ​28mm,​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​could​ ​go​ ​from​ ​32​ ​to​ ​46mm.​ ​Wider​ ​tyres​ ​with​ ​a  deeper​ ​tread​ ​pattern​ ​are​ ​crucial​ ​for​ ​control​ ​on​ ​mud​ ​or​ ​gravel,​ ​and​ ​fuss-free​ ​tubeless​ ​tyre​ ​systems​ ​are  becoming​ ​more​ ​commonplace.

Room​ ​for​ ​mud​ ​clearance​ ​between​ ​the​ ​tyre​ ​and​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​is​ ​also​ ​important,​ ​so​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​get​ ​clogged​ ​in  the​ ​worst​ ​of​ ​Britain’s​ ​winter​ ​quagmires!

Off-road​ ​demands​ ​mean​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​need​ ​slightly​ ​different​ ​frame​ ​geometries​ ​to​ ​traditional​ ​road​ ​bikes.  Their​ ​relatively​ ​long​ ​wheelbase​ ​and​ ​more​ ​relaxed​ ​headtube​ ​angle​ ​ensure​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​steadier,​ ​more  assured​ ​steering.​ ​Gravel​ ​bikes​ ​have​ ​a​ ​taller​ ​headtube​ ​for​ ​‘sit-up’​ ​comfort​ ​over​ ​long​ ​days​ ​in​ ​the​ ​saddle​ ​–  referencing​ ​the​ ​controlled​ ​poise​ ​of​ ​MTB​ ​position​ ​–​ ​while​ ​a​ ​low​ ​bottom​ ​bracket​ ​is​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​‘strong​ ​and  stable’​ ​package.

MATERIALS​ ​&​ ​COMPONENTS

As​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​intended​ ​to​ ​take​ ​on​ ​many​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​riding,​ ​manufacturers​ ​approach​ ​their​ ​designs​ ​in  different​ ​ways,​ ​so​ ​when​ ​considering​ ​the​ ​material​ ​its​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​fork​ ​are​ ​made​ ​from,​ ​think​ ​about​ ​what  exactly​ ​you’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​get​ ​from​ ​your​ ​bike.

If​ ​you​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​load​ ​up​ ​with​ ​luggage​ ​for​ ​long​ ​bike​ ​packing​ ​trips,​ ​look​ ​to​ ​the​ ​capability​ ​of​ ​steel.​ ​If​ ​you  prefer​ ​a​ ​lightweight​ ​whip​ ​round​ ​your​ ​local​ ​trails,​ ​then​ ​consider​ ​a​ ​CX-style​ ​carbon​ ​build.​ ​For​ ​something  in​ ​between,​ ​aluminium​ ​is​ ​your​ ​likely​ ​choice.​ ​As​ ​with​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​//LINK​ ​feature​ ​10//​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​unusual​ ​for​ ​an  alloy​ ​frame​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​‘best​ ​of​ ​both​ ​worlds’​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​a​ ​carbon​ ​fork.    It’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​the​ ​components​ ​that​ ​best​ ​suit​ ​your​ ​riding.​ ​First​ ​select​ ​the​ ​right​ ​types,​ ​then  match​ ​their​ ​level​ ​of​ ​specification​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​your​ ​budget.

While​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​available​ ​with​ ​cantilever​ ​brakes​ ​born​ ​from​ ​’cross,​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​are​ ​de​ ​rigeur  – and​ ​hydraulic​ ​systems,​ ​more​ ​powerful​ ​than​ ​lighter,​ ​cheaper​ ​mechanical​ ​disc​ ​brake​ ​systems,​ ​are  becoming​ ​more​ ​prevalent.

Gravel​ ​bikes​ ​have​ ​lower​ ​gearing​ ​than​ ​road​ ​bikes,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​varies,​ ​so​ ​match​ ​to​ ​your​ ​intended​ ​use​ ​and  preference.​ ​MTB-style​ ​1x​ ​systems​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​mud-catching​ ​complexity​ ​and​ ​weight​ ​of​ ​a​ ​front​ ​mech,​ ​while  compact​ ​doubles​ ​–​ ​typically​ ​50/34-tooth​ ​front​ ​chainrings​ ​and​ ​a​ ​cassette​ ​with​ ​11/28​ ​teeth​ ​– give​ ​you  range​ ​and​ ​climbing​ ​ability.​ ​Super-compacts​ ​(48/32​ ​or​ ​46/30​ ​front​ ​rings)​ ​push​ ​that​ ​further.

MEET​ ​THE​ ​CONTENDERS

The​ ​Scott​ ​Speedster​ ​Gravel​ ​10​ ​Disc​ ​2018​ ​(£1,499),​ ​//product​ ​LINK//​ ​reimagines​ ​the​ ​best​ ​of​ ​Scott’s  proven​ ​Speedster​ ​road​ ​bike​ ​range​ ​for​ ​gravel​ ​riding.​ ​Its​ ​double-butted​ ​aluminium​ ​frame​ ​has​ ​redesigned  geometry​ ​and​ ​a​ ​carbon-bladed​ ​fork​ ​boasting​ ​ample​ ​clearance​ ​for​ ​tyres​ ​up​ ​to​ ​38mm​ ​wide,​ ​although​ ​its  35mm​ ​Schwalbe​ ​G-One​ ​Allround​ ​rubber​ ​does​ ​many​ ​jobs​ ​very​ ​well.

The​ ​full​ ​Shimano​ ​105​ ​groupset​ ​provides​ ​effortless​ ​shifting​ ​on​ ​a​ ​20-speed​ ​compact​ ​double.​ ​Shimano’s  BR-RS505​ ​hydraulic​ ​disc​ ​system​ ​provides​ ​greater​ ​modulation​ ​of​ ​braking​ ​power​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​tackle  descents​ ​with​ ​confidence.

Stepping​ ​up​ ​the​ ​gravel​ ​food​ ​chain,​ ​Specialized’s​ ​£2,000​ ​Diverge​ ​Sport​ ​2018​ ​//product​ ​LINK//​ ​strikes​ ​a  balance​ ​between​ ​steady​ ​off-road​ ​handling​ ​and​ ​sprightly​ ​tarmac​ ​performance​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​Specialized’s  Open​ ​Road​ ​Geometry.​ ​The​ ​road​ ​buzz​ ​dampening​ ​properties​ ​of​ ​its​ ​FACT​ ​9r​ ​carbon​ ​frame​ ​is​ ​combined  with​ ​Specialized’s​ ​Future​ ​Shock​ ​system;​ ​a​ ​suspension​ ​unit​ ​subtly​ ​integrated​ ​into​ ​the​ ​bike’s​ ​headset,  offering​ ​a​ ​full​ ​20mm​ ​of​ ​travel​ ​for​ ​control​ ​and​ ​comfort​ ​on​ ​the​ ​rough​ ​stuff.

Shimano’s​ ​dependable​ ​Tiagra​ ​groupset​ ​is​ ​a​ ​20-speed​ ​compact​ ​double​ ​with​ ​48/32t​ ​chainrings​ ​and​ ​an  11-34t​ ​cassette.​ ​Specialized​ ​38c​ ​Trigger​ ​Sport​ ​tyres​ ​give​ ​grip​ ​on​ ​gravel​ ​and​ ​dirt​ ​yet​ ​still​ ​roll​ ​quickly​ ​on  tarmac,​ ​while​ ​stopping​ ​is​ ​taken​ ​care​ ​of​ ​by​ ​TRP​ ​Spyre​ ​mechanical​ ​disc​ ​brakes.​ ​With​ ​mounts​ ​for​ ​racks  and​ ​fenders,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​three​ ​bottle​ ​cage​ ​mounts,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​truly​ ​versatile​ ​bike.

A​ ​women-specific​ ​model​ ​from​ ​the​ ​same​ ​stable,​ ​the​ ​£1,500​ ​Women’s​ ​Diverge​ ​E5​ ​Comp​ ​//product​ ​LINK//  pairs​ ​a​ ​high​ ​quality​ ​aluminium​ ​frame​ ​–​ ​including​ ​the​ ​Specialized​ ​Future​ ​Shock​ ​20mm​ ​suspension  system​ ​–​ ​with​ ​a​ ​carbon​ ​fork.​ ​Spec’d​ ​with​ ​Shimano’s​ ​excellent​ ​105​ ​groupset​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lower​ ​11/32​ ​cassette,  its​ ​geometry​ ​has​ ​been​ ​tailored​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​female​ ​riders,​ ​and​ ​is​ ​rounded​ ​out​ ​with​ ​the​ ​wider​ ​Myth​ ​Sport  saddle​ ​and​ ​suitably​ ​sized​ ​crankarms​ ​and​ ​handlebars​ ​with​ ​a​ ​shallower​ ​drop.

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