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Can Gravel Bikes Go on Trails?


Gravel bikes are the holy grail of the cycling world. They are extremely versatile to the types of terrain they can explore and handle. The popularity of these bikes is imploding over the other makes of cycles that are on the market.

Can gravel bikes go on trails? Gravel bikes are built to travel upon vast terrains, including trails. In comparison to other bike models, gravel bikes are designed for a more supple ride; whether it be gravel, dirt, or mountain terrain, it is not dependent on the type of trail.

Gravel bikes have minimal limitations and offer the ultimate riding adventure. They are highly versatile, which allows this bike to fulfill many needs a cyclist has. Features that enhance their ability to master all terrains include more relaxed geometry, stability, and more tire clearance.

Gravel Bike Design

What makes gravel bikes unique, for one, is although their name has gravel in its title, they can be rode on all sorts of terrain, including trails or even payment. They are deemed the name gravel bikes because of their versatility, comfort, and stability in their design for those off-road adventures.

The most important part of the bike is the tires. Essentially, gravel bikes were built based around their tires. These bikes can fit a wider tire that helps increase the tire volume and allows for lower tire pressure to improve comfort and traction when riding off-road terrains.

However, these bikes have other unique features that make them different and special, specific to the type of activity you will be using them for. Now, you do not need a gravel bike to ride on gravel terrains, but they are worth looking into.

Structural Design Made for Trail Riding

Tire Clearance

Gravel bikes are known for having wider tires. The wide tire range offers lower pressure to help maintain speed on paved surfaces but provides traction of off-road trails—the wider the tire, the better, especially for riding on trails.

Gear Systems

Gravel bikes’ gearing mechanism is different, per say, compared to other models. Gravel bikes have a two-by gearing system. This type of system has a larger gear in the front with 9-11 gears in the back, which is better for both on and off-road riding.

The gearing system in gravel bikes gives them the ability to continue pedaling when riding at higher speeds. This allows for an easier transition between slow trail riding to faster smooth surface riding.


Gravel bikes use drop handlebars for the purpose of stability when riding at higher speeds on smoother surfaces for long distances. These handlebars provide versatility for transitioning between paved and gravel roads.


Gravel bikes are designed to seat the rider in a more upright position for better stability and control, as well as comfort. This enables the rider to have more control when riding on rougher terrains. Also, with this, the wheelbase and chain stays being longer to help with stability and control.


Most gravel bikes do not have suspensions. In most cases, the cyclist must purchase the suspension forks aftermarket because they do not come with them. Suspension is nice because it eliminates bumps and makes for a smoother ride. View source

Choosing a Gravel Bike

Ultimately, gravel bikes can ride on any surface. Remember, just because they have gravel in their name does not limit their ability to only gravel trails. Amazingly, these bikes can withstand various terrains with ease.

It is incredible the differences there are in bike models. The structural difference may not be as obvious because they are closely related to the appearance of road bikes and cyclocross bikes, but they have the ability and certain advantages over those and mountain bikes.

When deciding which to choose from, it is important to consider what you will be using the bike for most. Where gravel bikes are made for comfort and ease, their design will benefit the rider regardless of the path you take.

However, it is all about preference and your comfort level. But regardless of the path you choose, the gravel bike will not let you down.

Types of Gravel Bikes

These bikes are a cross between all road bikes and mountain bikes. They are becoming more popular with their ability for daily commuting or weekend adventures. These bikes come in aluminum, carbon, or steel frames.

Out of these three brands, they have been ranked in order to be the best gravel bikes in 2019.

Cannondale Topstone 105

The Cannondale is one of the best gravel bikes with an aluminum frame. It has a tire of 37mm, perfect for trail riding! Its brakes are hydraulic disk. They are popular because of their versatility for a fair price.

The downside to this model is they are a little heavy in weight. The gear system on the Cannondale is 2-11. This model is lower priced than other aluminum frames, ranging around $1,750. This bike is a great option for daily commutes and gravel trails which makes it a valuable buy.

Giant Revolt Advanced 2

This model has a carbon frame, which makes it more light weight than the Cannondale Topstone 105. However, it has the same gear systems and brakes as its competitor. The tire range is a size larger at 38mm.

It’s debatable if the price increase is worth the light frame. The Revolts come in a price range around $2,450. These gravel bikes can increase their tire clearance for rougher terrains.

The Giant Revolt Advanced 2 may cost a bit more than the competitors, but the comfort level they offer for more intense riding is worth looking into.

Salsa Journeyman Claris 700

The Salsa Journeyman Claris 700 is your gravel bike when on a budget. They also have an aluminum frame, but the gear system is 2-8. Also, the tire size is a lot larger than the other two gravel bikes mentioned, and they have mechanical brakes.

This model is not the most luxurious but fair priced for the overall quality. These bikes range around $849. The tire size on these bikes being significantly larger allow for more comfort and tone out most of the bumps on gravel terrain or trails. View Source

Excellent Trails for Gravel Bikes

There are thousands of trails all over the world that gravel bikes can explore, but here are just a few of the most popular.

Lake Hodges in North County San Diego, California

Lake Hodges is a beginner trail for those cyclists that want to take their gravel bikes on single or double tracks. This trail is around 14 miles in length and connect to other gravel bike riding trails.

George S. Mickelson Trail

Another great trail for gravel bike riding is the George S. Michelson trail found in South Dakota. It is 114 miles of crushed stone and some dirt. This trail is ideal for bikes with larger tire ranges to get you through some rougher terrain!

Tushar Mountains

Located in Beaver, Utah, approximately 70 miles is home of the annual gravel race for pro riders. The trail consists of dirt roads climbing vast elevations. A more difficult trail but can be an absolute adventure. View Source

Gravel Bike Trails Resources

A wonderful resource to access trails across the United States is linked below. This map allows you to choose an address or destination of your choice. By clicking on the highlighted trail, the site will give you more information about that trail.


Another resource to find competitive races look to the link below:


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Are Gravel Bikes Comfortable?

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