Best Adventure Road Bikes

Venture off the pavement with these versatile drop bar bikes

Gear Gravel Tech Uncategorized

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Gravel, Groad, All road, Adventure are all nouns synonymous with this ever-growing segment of “road bike” that has become one of the most popular trends in cycling as of late. Their ability to shapeshift from weekend gravel race rig to backroad touring rig makes them a great option for a do it all bike no matter where you live. Getting you off the beaten path and out into the hills, adventure road bikes are one of the most versatile and broadly appealing bike genres out there today. But what makes these unique bikes different and why should you add one to your stable of two-wheeled fun machines?

Why Adventure Road?

Adventure road bikes allow riders to venture off the increasingly unsafe pavement allowing for greater exploration, quiet solitude, and a reintegration with the natural world. Whether you live in the midwest, the mountainous west, or anywhere else in the world you’re likely to have backroads developed for farming, forestry, mining, or ranching, these varied surface roads open up our local landscapes to new levels and allow us to explore hills, mountains, and valleys we’ve never seen before. Getting off the main road and onto the backroads brings riding a new state of mind and

What Makes an Adventure Road Bike?

Despite their visual similarities, Adventure bikes have quite a few differences from road bikes and cyclocross bikes. First off, they features a geometry designed for riding on mixed terrain and the ability to accommodate wider tires (28c+, up to 45c) for comfort and traction. Other differentiating features include mounts for bottle cages, unlike cyclocross race bikes and sometimes mounts for pannier racks for longer adventures. For stability, most adventure road bikes feature a lower bottom bracket than cyclocross race bikes while many also offer some type of vibration damping in the form of frame inserts or specific frame construction to help minimize road vibration and improve comfort on rough roads.

Specialized Diverge Pro

Featuring a unique 20mm of coil suspension situated beneath the stem, the Specialized Diverge Pro is truly pushing the limits for modern adventure bikes. Designed to utilize technology and engineering to vastly improve ride quality and comfort, Specialized created the Diverge series of bikes which range in price from $1100-$10000. Featuring a low, compact geometry and sleek design characteristics the Diverge series of bikes pack a lot into their adventure road bikes and they offer an option no matter what your budget. We really like the Diverge Pro as it pairs a solid carbon frame, Roval carbon wheels, and a full Ultegra Di2 package into a versatile, high-end adventure rig that can go anywhere and hold up to the abuse you throw at it.

Who’s it for? Riders looking to invest into a solid Adventure road bike with the latest in technology and are not afraid to drop some coin on loads of engineering knowledge.

Price: $6700

More info: specialized.com

Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 SL

With it’s aerospace aesthetics and futuristic handlebar setup, the Canyon Grail is truly a head turner. Designed around comfort, efficiency, and all day ride enjoyment, the Grail line of bikes from Canyon have been touted as some of the most unique looking adventure bikes on the market. Available with a variety of build and component packages, we like the 2x setup versions to give us a wide range of gear options for long days of exploring the bike roads. Damping is provided through a unique floating flex area in the dual design of the carbon handlebar that allows for a decent amount of vertical flex while remaining surprisingly rigid horizontally. Canyon bikes are available direct to consumer and the Grail line ranges in price from $1799 – $5000.

Who’s it for? Riders looking for a budget friendly adventure bike that doesn’t skimp on the latest technology.

Price: $3999

More info: canyonbikes.com

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Moots Routt 45

If you’re like me, if you’re investing $5000+ in a bicycle, you prefer something made from a stout, long lasting material, handcrafted by artisan hands, Moots creates just the bike with their titanium Routt 45 adventure road bike. Titanium is known for it’s compliant and comfortable ride characteristics and Moots is a leader in U.S. made titanium bicycle frames. The Routt 45 frame features 45mm chainstay length and can accommodate up to 45mm tires on 700c wheels. Moots sells both stock frames as well as optional custom frames to help create the optimal geometry depending on your personal needs.
Who’s it for? Riders looking for a lifetime investment with their adventure bike. Though frames aren’t cheap, they will last and can be built completely custom to your needs.
Price: $3759 (Frame only)
More info: moots.com
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Niner RLT 9 Steel

As we’ve always been told “Steel is real” and that statement holds true especially when it comes to adventure bikes. Like that of titanium, steel offers a certain simplicity and utilitarian appeal in addition to it’s time tested durability. Despite the added weight of a steel frame, ride characteristics are smooth and comfortable and when combined with Niner’s carbon RDO fork, the bikes front end is precise and stiff where you need it. The RLT 9 Steel offers an assortment of versatility options in wheel size (700c or 650c), tire width (max 700×50 or 650×2.0), and drivetrain (1x or 2x) options which help make it a great option if this is your first foray into the adventure bike realm. With a starting price of $2700 for a full GRX 400 build, the RLT provides a great value of quality, comfort, and capability.
Who’s it for? Riders looking for a stout yet comfortable adventure bike for daily riding or bigger multi-day bikepacking adventures.
Price: $2700 (2-star GRC 400 build)
More info: ninerbikes.com
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Salsa Warbird

With the motto “Adventure by Bike” Salsa has long been known for their roots in promoting exploration on two wheels and were one of the early adopters of the adventure road genre. Their latest adventure gravel rig, the Warbird, has taken much of the latest technology and improvements in geometry into a sleek, do it all carbon adventure road bike. Offering a wide variety of build options, the Warbird can be spec’d dependent upon your needs and budget with the ability to run either 700c or 650c wheels as well. With the base Tiagra build coming in at $2399 msrp, the Warbird is a great choice for riders looking to get into a carbon adventure road bike without breaking the bank.

Who’s it for? Riders looking for a solid carbon adventure bike with a comfortable, all day geometry, the option to run either 650c or 700c wheels without draining their wallets.

Price: $2399 (Tiagra build)

More info: salsacycles.com

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Trek Checkpoint AL 4

Trek’s midwestern roots give them a close connection to the continually evolving and ever-growing gravel scene. In the past few years, they’ve shifted to creating a much broader offering of gravel/adventure specific drop bar bikes further defining the specific riding characteristics of gravel bikes compared to cyclocross bikes. The Checkpoint offers a nice entry-level option to get riders into the gravel scene while providing a solid Alpha aluminum framset with a carbon fork for further upgrading. With a mix of additional mounts, the Checkpoint also makes for a great bikepacking adventure bike and helps to broaden its appeal and versatility.

Who’s it for? Riders looking for budget option that can double as a touring or commuter but will also allow them to dip their toe into the gravel world.

Price: $1599

More info: trekbikes.com

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About the author: Jordan Carr

Having spent more than half his life riding all types of bikes at almost every type of cycling event, Carr loves the freedom two-wheeled travel has brought to his life. Having spent many years behind the stand at a bike shop, he’s tested road bike products for a number of publications.


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