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Bikes for going the distance over any terrain

So you’ve got about £2,000 to spend (lucky you!) on a brand new gravel and adventure bike, but you don’t know where to start looking? Fear not, we’re here to help to help you with some really good choices of versatile and capable road and off-road bikes in this price range.

Gravel and adventure bikes are all the rage right now. They’re ideal for bikepacking adventures and gravel races, but they’re also super versatile and can be used for more road-based riding including touring, Audax and even the daily commute.

Read more: 19 of the best gravel & adventure bikes — super-versatile bikes that are at home on lanes, potholed streets and dirt roads

 

Most of the bikes are around and about £2,000, we've included a few above and below the price simply because not every manufacturer offers a bike at precisely this price point.

We're beginning to see bikes with Shimano's new GRX gravel-specific components, which feature a choice of double or single chainring transmissions, generally lower gear ranges and the Shadow Plus clutch technology from Shimano mountain bike rear derailleurs which helps reduce chain slap and clatter.

Bergamont Grandurance Expert 2020 — £2,149

2020 Bergamont Grandurance Expert

Hailing from Hamburg, Bergamont may not be a household name, but they've been doing some great work in the gravel/endurance/adventure field. The latest version of the Grandurance Expert has a carbon fibre frame and fork with Shimano's new GRX gravel components and 35mm Schwalbe G-One tyres.

Read our review of the Bergamont Grandurance 6

Canyon Grail CF SL 7.0 — £1,819

canyon grail cf sl 7

You can get Canyon’s most affordable carbon fibre Grail for this price, specced with a Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and Schwalbe G-One tyres with snazzy tan sidewall tyres. A defining feature of the bike is the distinctive CP07 Gravel Cockpit, a double -decker handlebar designed to provide a smoother ride on rough terrain. It might look odd but we found it to be a big help when it comes to providing stability and a real feeling of confidence.

Read our review of the Canyon Grail CF SL

Specialized Diverge — £2,100

specialized mens diverge carbon

The Specialized Diverge is now in its second generation and it’s equipped with the novel Future Shock, a spring housed in a cartridge underneath the stem, borrowed from the Roubaix. It’s designed to provide about 20mm of movement and isolates the upper body, via the handlebar, from a lot of the impacts, jolts and vibrations that come up through the front wheel.

We tested the range-topping S-Works Diverge and found it to be far more than just a gimmick, it actually provides a noticeable comfort benefit on rough terrain, as well as improved control on choppy surfaces. This model is specced with Shimano Tiagra 10-speed derailleurs, RS405 shifters with hydraulic disc brakes, and very smartly a Praxis Alba 48/32t sub-compact chainset. Take notice other bike brands that spec a compact 50/34 chainset on a bike designed for mixed terrain riding.

Read our review of the Specialized  S-Works Diverge

Marin Gestalt X11 — £2,000

Marin Gestalt X11 -1_0

Gravel and adventures bikes owe a lot to their mountain bike cousins, and this Marin Gestalt X11 owes more than most. It’s got a dropper post for smashing down steep tracks with extra confidence, a wide flared drop bar for increasing handling control, and a wide-range SRAM Rival 1x groupset.

It’s a bike we’ve reviewed, and here’s a snippet of the full review linked below:

“It really encourages you to find the most adventurous route between A and B, to seek out that overgrown path in case it reveals itself to be a ribbon of singletrack ebbing and flowing between the trees with which the Gestalt can really shine. It puts a smile on your face. And when you get to some steep and technical descents you’ll still be smiling, as it’s impressively surefooted and capable.”

Read our review of the Marin Gestalt X11

Fairlight Cycles Secan — £2,099

FAIRLIGHT-2018-SECAN-Blue-WTB-59986

The latest Secan gravel and adventure bike from UK brand Fairlight Cycles was a hit with the review team, combining the elegant composure of a well-designed steel frame with very generous tyre clearance and versatility and capability in equal measure.

Tyre clearance has been key to the Secan's development. It provides massive tyre clearance, up to 650x57mm or 700x47mm tyres, or 650x50mm/700x42mm when using the mudguard mounts. That's extremely generous and puts more than a few adventure bikes to shame.

You can buy it as a frameset or choose a complete bike with Shimano 105 for £2,099.

Read our review of the Fairlight Cycles Secan

Cannondale Topstone Carbon 105 — £1,800

2020 cannondale topstone carbon 105

Following on from the launch of the aluminium Topstone range, Cannondale introduced a carbon fibre Topstone and — on first impressions at least — it's lovely. This is a thoroughly competent gravel and adventure bike that offers noticeable more seated comfort than many of its rivals​, and with the 105-equipped version Cannpndale have nailed some important details, notably binning off the far-too-common 50/34 chainset and fitting their own 46/30 for some extra climbing gears. Going lower still would be a simple matter of fitting an 11-36 or 11-40 cassette, both of which are much cheaper than a new chainset.

Read first ride report on the Cannondale Topstone carbon

Merida Silex — £1,700 or £2,250

merida silex 6000

When it comes to geometry, most gravel and adventure bikes split the difference between cyclocross and endurance bikes. Not so with the Merida Silex, which borrows a few ideas from mountain bikes and combines a long top tube with a short stem, and a very tall head tube to get away from an ugly stack of head tube spacers. The result is a riding position that promotes control and stability on loose surfaces and off-road trails, if it’s not the prettiest bike to look at.

There’s a wide range of models to pick from, this Silex 6000 (£2,250) just sneaks over the barrier but there’s also the Silex 600 (£1,700) which saves you a fair chunk. The former gets you a carbon frame with SRAM Apex 1x, the latter aluminium frame with the same Apex groupset. So, carbon or aluminium, what’s it to be?

Read our review of the cheaper Merida Silex 300

Orbea Terra H30-D — £1,699

2020 Orbea Terra H30-D

Legendary Basque bike brand Orbea launched its foray into this sector with the Terra, designed around 40mm wide tyres and with disc brakes, thru-axles and internal cable routing. The model we’ve picked out uses an aluminium frame with triple butted tubing and a carbon fibre fork and is specced with Shimano's new GRX groupset with Kenda Alluvium 40mm tyres.

When we reviewed the 2019 version we found it to be a flighty and responsive adventure bike that has one eye on bikepacking adventures and gravel races and another on the daily grind, with mudguard eyelets for commuting and winter training.

Read our review of the Orbea Terra

Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 — £1,700

2020 Trek Checkpoint ALR5

Also sneaking under the £2k price is the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5, included here because it’s a brand new bike from the big US company and they don’t offer one at two grand. It’s built around an aluminium frame bedecked with mounts for just about every accessory you might need, and neat sliding dropouts so you can either go singlespeed or choose the wheelbase for your riding style. You get a full Shimano 105 groupset with Bonty’s own GR1 40mm tyres.

Read our review of the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5

Vitus Substance CRX — £1,599

Substance-Carbon

Also coming in a few hundred pounds under £2k (you could spend the saved money on some bikepacking bags perhaps?) is the Vitus Substance CRX. It’s equipped with a SRAM Apex 1x groupset with fat WTB Horizon 47mm tyres and a really smart yet understated paint job. It's an absolute cracker off-road, offering a fun yet stiff ride, plus it rolls surprisingly well on the tarmac too.

Having wide, high-profile tyres fitted will make even the stiffest bike feel more palatable to ride, but even with the 47mm 650B rubber pumped up to 60psi for use on the road the Vitus still deals with every road imperfection without issue.

On road rides you can dart off down a new track you haven't seen before and yeah, it's a bit rattly over the really rough stuff, but you can pick out that the frame and fork were doing a damn fine job of absorbing a fair amount of the vibration.

Read our review of the Vitus Substance CRX

Kinesis Tripster AT — £2,200

kinesis tripster

Rounding out our list is the Kinesis Tripster AT, AT being short for All Terrain which points to the sort of riding this bike is intended for. It’s a smartly designed aluminium frame with a Columbus Futura carbon fork and specced with a SRAM Rival/Apex 1x groupset with Kinesis Crosslight wheels and 38mm wide Schwalbe G-One tyres. It’s another bike we really got on well with when we tested it following its launch in 2017.

In our review we said this: “Kinesis has designed a really nice bike in the Tripster AT. It's taken the best bits from the more expensive Tripster ATR and reimagined it in aluminium, and added some useful features along the way. It's a frameset that offers a multitude of build options from a fast road commuter to a large-tyred bikepacking setup for bigger adventures.”

Read our review here

- Is a gravel/adventure bike all you need?

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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.