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feature Recommends Bikes of the Year 2023/24: check out the best gravel and adventure bikes

Whether you're after something quick and lively or a companion for a multi-day epic adventure, here are the 10 best gravel bikes we've reviewed over the past year – find out which is number one

Welcome to the highly anticipated reveal of the Recommends Gravel and Adventure Bikes of the Year 2023/24. In the ever-evolving world of gravel cycling, our expert team has rigorously tested and evaluated a plethora of two-wheeled adventurers to bring you the definitive list of the past year's top performers. From steel steeds crafted for loaded expeditions to high-tech carbon speed demons designed for podium finishes, our selection spans the diverse landscape of gravel riding.

These gravel bikes have been scrutinised for their performance, versatility, and overall ride experience, ensuring that whether you're conquering rugged trails, embarking on bikepacking escapades, or simply seeking the perfect companion for your gravel adventures, you'll find your ideal match in our rankings.

Whether you're a seasoned gravel aficionado or a newcomer to the off-road realm, scroll down to unveil our top picks for the Recommends Gravel and Adventure Bikes of the Year with the winner of this year's title revealed at the end.

The prices quoted below refer to the bikes at the time we reviewed them. They're the ones upon which we based our comments. Some may have increased since that time.

10. Spa Cycles Rove 725 2 x 10spd Hydraulic £1,695

2023 spa cycles rove 725 hero

This Reynolds steel bike is aptly named, as it's a bike designed for loaded adventures or flat-barred gravel rides, exploring the wilderness. The look of the Rove might remind you of early mountain bikes, and to a certain extent, that is a good reference point as this bike is targeted at those looking for a flat bar gravel bike. 

The Rove is built upon a 725-grade heat-treated steel frame which provides a smooth, compliant ride and looks classy with the neat welds and beautiful paint. What makes this bike adventure-ready is the extensive amount of mounting points, routing for a dropper post, and sliding rear dropouts that accommodate various gearing options. You get an entry-level Shimano Deore groupset, hydraulic disc brakes, and FSA finishing kit, all of which provide good value for money and are also affordable to replace. The handbuilt wheels with Teravail Ehline tyres complete the setup. 

The Rove is a joy to ride, and despite the burlier build (just over 12kg), it feels lighter than you'd assume. The ride feel of it is comfortable and fun, making this bike ideal for both off-road adventures and casual rides. The heavier construction means the bike remains controllable at low speeds, even when loaded up with bikepacking kit and feels nippy and surprisingly nimble when on technical sections of track or trail.

Why it’s here: This is a versatile bike for adventures or flat-barred gravel blasts.
Read the full review of the Spa Cycles Rove 725 2 x 10spd Hydraulic here.

9. Orro Terra X GRX400 £1,599.99

Orro Terra X GRX gravel bike sideview in studio

Orro Terra X is an aluminium-framed gravel bike that offers neutral handling with a geometry that strikes a balance between agility and stability. While this build is not going to get any lightweight prizes with its 10.45kg weight, the heavier mass is compensated by enjoyable ride quality on various terrains. 

The Terra X's geometry resembles that of an endurance road bike, delivering a relaxed yet racy demeanour. It's got easy handling, especially on gravel tracks and byways, without ever feeling twitchy. The calm ride characteristics make it suitable for riders who prefer a more relaxed experience while enjoying the scenery.

With ample mounting points for accessories like mudguards and racks, the Orro Terra X is also a very capable adventure or bikepacking machine, remaining balanced and controllable even when loaded with everything but your kitchen sink. 

The frame, made of aluminium alloy, boasts durability and toughness and features quite unique tube profiles and a press-fit bottom bracket for added stiffness. Cable routing is internal for the front triangle, resulting in a clean appearance. And in terms of tyres, you can fit 42mm-wide rubber.

The bike's shifting is handled by Shimano's entry-level 10-speed GRX RX400 gravel groupset. Despite being entry-level, this group delivers smooth shifting and reliable performance, with a decent spread of gears suitable for various terrains. The Fulcrum Rapid Red 900 DB wheelset, though not lightweight, is also a dependable choice for entry-level gravel riding.

In terms of value, the Terra X is competitive, offering a well-specced package for its price of £1,599.99, and overall, this bike is a great entry point to gravel riding, combining fun, ease of use, and versatility.

Why it’s here: This is a confidence-inspiring gravel bike thanks to neutral handling with the benefit of plenty of mounts for versatility.
Read the full review of the Orro Terra X GRX400 2023 here.

8. Marin Gestalt XR £1,980

sideview of Marin Gestalt XR gravel bike on a gravel road with top tube bag

The Marin Gestalt XR emerges as a standout gravel bike, boasting a radical mountain bike-inspired geometry that lends itself well to some rougher gravel tracks, and it comes with a dropper post for added descending confidence. 

Built upon Marin's Series 3 Beyond Road 6061 aluminium frame, full carbon fork, and triple cage mounts, this bike is ready for both fast blasts on the trails, and little off-road adventures.

The frame is specced with a Shimano GRX groupset and FSA cranks, and the aluminium rims are wrapped in 44mm wide Vee Tire Co. Rocket Mans tyres. The Gestalt XR tipped our scales at 10.64kg, which means that it's not the lightest bike out there. It is, however, built for stability and a confident ride-feel more than hill-climbing efforts. This intention is evident in the 46cm wide bar that gets a 16-degree flare, and also from the TransX dropper post with a Marin Beyond Road Concept Elite saddle.

The mountain bike-inspired geometry and spec mean that this bike excels on flats and descents and has excellent rear-end compliance. The bike's prowess on fire roads, stable cornering, and surprising versatility, even on singletrack, contribute to its appeal for riders who love speed and rough stuff. 

Why it’s here: This MTB-inspired gravel bike has all the possible capabilities in a fast and approachable package. 
Read the full review of the Marin Gestalt XR here. 

7. Ribble CGR SL - Sport £2,399

Ribble CGR SL Sport

The CGR is Ribble's true do-it-all bike, and in our testing, the SL Sport model gained praise for its smooth riding and a versatile design that seamlessly transitions between road and gravel terrains.

This carbon fibre bike boasts an impressive blend of features, making it a compelling option for those seeking a do-it-all bike – whether that encompasses cyclocross, gravel, or road riding – or all three. The geometry strikes a balance between a roadie bias in build and gravel-oriented components, offering stability on loose surfaces with a neutral front end for easy handling.

Weighing in at 9,550g, the CGR is built upon a frame that uses Toray's T1000 and T800 grades of carbon-fibre, and offers a lengthy wheelbase for stability, slacker head tube angles, and generous tyre clearance. The bike can accommodate up to 45mm-wide rubber on 700C wheels or 47mm on 650B wheels. Although it might not please everyone aesthetically, Ribble hasn't routed cables internally through the head tube on the CGR, meaning that changing your cockpit components is a lot easier if, for example, you wanted more gravel or road-orientated bars. 

Despite the tyre clearance, this bike's versatility extends to the road, where it performs admirably, maintaining a road bike feel while offering a comfortable and responsive ride. The stiff frame gives effective power transfer and confident handling, and mounts for full mudguards mean this could be a great bike for winter training or commuting.

The road orientation is also visible in the spec of this bike. The Sport model we tested comes with Shimano's latest 12-speed 105 mechanical groupset (which is without a clutch that could be beneficial for gravel), and Mavic Allroad wheels with Schwalbe G-One Allround 40mm tyres, delivering a well-rounded and capable package. Unlike pure-bred gravel bikes, though, the gearing on the GCR is a little less forgiving; you get a 50/34-tooth crankset paired with an 11-36T cassette. As with any Ribble, though, you can customise the spec before buying, which is a great way to make this bike suit your preferred discipline. 

Why it’s here: Smooth-riding, good-looking crossover bike that works on a range of terrains without compromise
Read the full review of the Ribble CGR SL - Sport here.

6. Cairn E-Adventure Rambler £4,289

Cairn E-Adventure Rambler

E-bikes have been popping out like mushrooms after rain recently, and the Cairn E-Adventure Rambler is one of the best we reviewed in 2023. Representing an updated version of the E-Adventure 1.0, the newest e-gravel rig features enhanced frame geometry, a sleeker appearance, and a Campagnolo Ekar groupset. 

The Rambler's frame draws its inspiration from mountain bikes, offering a slacker design for increased comfort and aggressiveness on the rough stuff. Available in five sizes (XS to XL), the frame incorporates mounting points for luggage racks and bike bags, making it suitable for bikepacking or daily commuting as well.

The assistance on this bike comes from the Fazua Ride 50 Street Drive Pack, which delivers up to 58Nm of torque. Its performance is smooth, and the powerful assistance is the most notable on steep climbs. The Fazua system offers three levels of assistance: Breeze, River, and Rocket, with a 250Wh battery providing up to 120km (74 miles) of range.

In our testing, the bike shone across various terrains, from gravel to bridleways, underlining its versatility. Cairn has equipped the bike with Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres that are fast and grippy, and the 13-speed Campagnolo Ekar groupset impressed us with crisp and precise gear changes, with the thumb shifter option catering especially well to riders with smaller hands. The 10-44t cassette gears you up for even steep climbs.

Overall, the Cairn E-Adventure Rambler represents great value for money if you're looking for an electrified gravel bike that will take the sting out of those steep climbs. 

Why it’s here: this is a hardcore e-gravel bike that can also work as a commuter
Read the full review of the Cairn E-Adventure Rambler here. 

5. YT Szepter Core 4 £3,800

YT Szepter Core 4 1

This year, we've seen quite a few gravel bikes launch with suspension forks and dropper posts, and the YT Szepter Core 4 is one of them.'s editor Aaron Borrill described this as a fast, dynamic, and highly capable gravel bike designed for mountain bikers. The bike is YT's first foray into the drop-bar market, and it's no surprise that despite the drop handlebars, this bike is still very gravity-oriented with long and slack geometry. 

The Szepter's design is distinctive, featuring a geometry centered around a 40mm suspension fork, and geometry figures resembling those of a hardtail mountain bike contributing to stability and predictability on trails. The Szepter can accommodate up to 45mm-wide tyres and includes built-in mudguards, something that riders in the wet and muddy UK will appreciate.

Despite the dropper post and suspension fork, YT has managed to keep the Szepter's weight at an impressive 10.15kg. Some of this can be attributed to the ultra-modulus carbon fibre frame and the build kit. The bike comes in two spec grades – Core 3 and Core 4, with the Core 4 being the one we reviewed. This option boasts a SRAM Force AXS groupset, and XPLR cassette, paired with a RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR fork and Reverb AXS XPLR dropper post. The Zipp cockpit continues the high-end theme but is slightly damped down by the alloy wheels.

In terms of performance, the Szepter offers a blend of stiffness around the bottom bracket, and compliance in the seatstays and angled dropouts. The bike handles like a mountain bike, excelling on technical trails and providing ample grip.

The YT Szepter Core 4 could be described as an "out-and-out trail slayer" that offers a unique and enjoyable riding experience, especially for those seeking a gravel bike with a mountain bike twist.

Why it’s here: This is a capable, affordable, and super-fun-to-ride gravel bike.
Read the full review of the YT Szepter Core 4 here.

4. Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 £4,799

Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 2024

This bike has earned its place on multiple international gravel race podiums so it's no surprise that it also impressed us in our testing. The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 is the newest iteration of the German bike maker's Grail gravel bike and comes with a revamped look compared to its predecessor and Canyon's more adventure-oriented Grizl gravel bike. 

The newest Gravel has been made for gravel racing, and this is evident from the way the bike prioritises aero gains and excels on fast rides without compromising on reactiveness. Gone are the double-decker bars that used to be the distinctive look of the Grail. Instead, it now features a one-piece Double Drop Bar that is aero, gravel-optimised, and has an integrated slot of aero bars. 

The frame of the bike features a brand-new frame storage solution, which means that you can easily stash your spares inside the down tube and in a very sleek way attach some additional frame storage in the front triangle. The integrated cable routing adds to the sleek aesthetic of the bike. 

It's not just the looks that Canyon has nailed with the new Grail; the bike's stability and agility, paired with responsiveness during climbs and sprints, make it a confidence-inspiring performance gravel bike. The frame geometry has a focus on aerodynamics and stability, and although all now roll on 700c wheels, there is a wide range of sizes available to accommodate diverse riders.

Our test bike was equipped with an 11-speed electronic Shimano GRX815 groupset, which provides crisp shifting, and the 2x setup (48/31-tooth chainset, 11-34T cassette) caters to versatile riding conditions.

The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 can be lauded for its competitive pricing, making it a very appealing, versatile, and high-performance option for gravel enthusiasts.

Why it’s here: A race-ready,  fast and reactive bike with a focus on aero gains, without compromising on comfort or versatility
Read the full review of the Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 here.

3. Vitus Venon EVO-GR Rival AXS £3,500 

Vitus Venon EVO-GR Rival AXS

The Vitus Venon EVO-GR is a race-inspired gravel bike that we absolutely love. It's the gravel version of Vitus' all-road Venon bike and stands out for its light and nimble feel, and excellent value for money. Constructed with superlight unidirectional carbon fibre, the frame is light and its geometry lends itself to an agile ride feel. 

The Venon EVO-GR boasts a generous 45mm tyre clearance, highlighting the bike's gravel capabilities. It also comes with mudguard compatibility, and internal cable routing adds to the versatility – whether you want to ride it mainly on the roads or off them. 

Available in six sizes, the Venon EVO-GR's geometry can accommodate various riders. The Rival AXS build we reviewed is priced at £3,500 and has a wireless 1x Sram Rival AXS drivetrain setup with a 40T chainring and a 10-44T cassette. Finishing components include an FSA NS SMR stem, Prime Orra Carbon handlebar, Primavera carbon seatpost, and a Vitus Race Performance saddle. The finishing kit consists of Primavera 44 Carbon Disc wheels with 44mm deep rims wrapped in 40mm Michelin Power tyres.

The Venon EVO-GR impressed us with its speed and manoeuvrability, and it excels on fast, flowing trails. The frame's slender upper portion and narrow seatstays further enhance comfort, making it suitable for longer rides and even lightweight bikepacking.

Why it’s here: An awesome race-inspired gravel bike, that works just as brilliantly on the road
Read the full review of the Vitus Venon EVO-GR here.

2. Mason Bokeh 3 GRX £3,280

2023 mason bokeh grx hero

The Mason Bokeh 3 is a high-quality aluminium gravel bike that earned exceptional praise from reviewer Stu Kerton for its great ride quality, stunning finish, and versatile geometry suitable for various terrains and speeds. Despite limited colour options and being a little on the heavier side among gravel bikes (it is aluminium, after all), the overall build quality and performance make this bike a great choice for gravel riders of any skill level. 

The Bokeh is Mason's long-standing gravel bike, and the third iteration includes additional mounts for carrying luggage, enhanced cable routing, and increased tyre clearances for knobbly tyres and muddy conditions. The new Rangefinder AS fork, designed in-house, also adds to that allowance for large tyres, load carrying, and comfort. 

Our test bike came built with an 11-speed Shimano GRX 800 mechanical groupset and featured a 1x setup with a 42T chainring and an 11-42T cassette. Mason has partnered with Hunt to equip the bike with the AdventureSport Disc wheels, which come wrapped in Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres. The rest of the bike's components also add to its responsive and nimble nature, which makes it suitable for both rowdy gravel rides and long-distance adventures.

While the Bokeh 3 may appear pricey for an aluminium gravel bike, its design, ride quality, and attention to detail make it a high-end product intended for serious riders seeking a classy-looking gravel rig. The bike's versatility, responsive handling, and comfort contribute to its overall appeal, justifying the investment for those wanting a capable and enjoyable gravel machine. 

Why it’s here: Great build quality with a ride comfort to match.
Read the full review of the Mason Bokeh 3 here. 

1. Fairlight Secan 2.5 GRX 820 £3,269

roadcc recommends awards 2023-24 - Gravel and Adventure Bikes of the Year - Winner

And here we have it… Top spot in the Recommends Gravel and Adventure Bikes of the Year 2023/24 countdown goes to the Fairlight Secan 2.5. This steel bike boasts exceptional ride quality, a versatile design for various terrains, and meticulous attention to detail. To top it all off, the proportional geometry ensures a near-custom fit for riders.

The Secan 2.5 is a top-tier gravel bike that excels on both gravel trails and roads. The frame's steel tubing contributes to stiffness while simultaneously providing a smooth ride even on rough roads. Both the frame and the fork feature numerous mounting points, making the bike a great companion for bikepacking trips as well. What makes this a true gravel bike? Well, the frame can accommodate up to 60mm tyres in 650B size or 50mm with a 700C wheel. That's more than wide enough for most gravel riders.

The 2.5 model we tested introduces updated MK2 dropouts, and the 12-speed Shimano GRX 820 groupset adds to the bike's allure, offering a wide range of gears, although still wit mechanical shifting. The rest of the components – including the FSA handlebar and stem, Fizik saddle, and Panaracer GravelKing tyres on Hope 20Five Pro5 wheels – are high-quality and well-matched to the bike's target market. 

The Secan 2.5's geometry, meticulous design, and versatility are what have made it our Gravel and Adventure Bike of the Year. It is a fabulous gravel bike which you can still enjoy on paved roads too. Our resident reviewer Stu Kerton – who rides dozens and dozens of bikes in a year – says the Secan is one of the best bikes he's ever ridden, and that's saying a lot. 

Why it wins: Simply a stunning bike from every aspect and hugely versatile for all kinds of gravel riding, and even road. 
Read the full review of the Fairlight Secan 2.5 GRX 820 here. 

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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