How to Choose the Right Gravel Bike to Start Cycling

If you're looking for a versatile bike that lets you conquer paved roads, dirt paths, and everything in between, a gravel bike might be your perfect match. But with so many options on the market, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.

This guide will equip you with the knowledge needed to find the ideal gravel bike for your cycling journey.

Understanding your needs

The first step is to identify your riding style and the terrain you plan to tackle. Gravel bikes come in a spectrum of capabilities, from speed demons built for smooth gravel races to comfortable explorers designed for long bike rides.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Riding Style: Do you prioritise speed and efficiency, or a comfortable, upright position for long rides?
  • Terrain: Will you be sticking to well-maintained dirt roads, or venturing on rougher, more technical trails?
  • Distance: Are you planning short weekend jaunts or multi-day adventures requiring gear storage?
  • Budget: Gravel bikes range in price depending on frame material, components, and technology.

Once you have a clearer picture of your needs, let's delve into the key features that differentiate gravel bikes.

Frame material

Aluminium offers a good balance of affordability and durability. Steel provides a comfortable ride and dampens vibrations. Carbon fibre is lightweight and high-performance but comes with a higher price tag.

Tyre clearance

Wider tyres offer better grip and comfort on rough terrain. Most gravel bikes accommodate tyres between 32mm and 47mm, with some adventure models allowing even wider options.


Gravel bikes tend to have a more relaxed geometry compared to road bikes. This translates to a more upright riding position for better control on uneven surfaces. Look for bikes with longer head tubes, slacker head angles, and longer wheelbases for increased stability.


A reliable drivetrain with a wide range of gears will allow you to tackle both steep climbs and flat stretches with ease. Disc brakes offer superior stopping power in all weather conditions. Consider hydraulic disc brakes for their ease of use and powerful performance.


Most gravel bikes rely on wider tyres and frame compliance for comfort. Some high-end models come with a suspension fork for tackling particularly rough terrain.

Making your choice

Now that you understand the key features, let's explore some popular gravel bike categories:

Endurance gravel bikes are designed for comfort and stability on long rides. They often have a relaxed geometry, wide tyre clearance, and mounting points for racks and guards.

All-road gravel bikes are a versatile option for riders who want to tackle a variety of terrain, from paved roads to light gravel. They offer a balance between speed and comfort.

Adventure gravel bikes are built for exploration and bikepacking adventures. They prioritise comfort and functionality, with features like extra-wide tyre clearance, multiple mounting points for gear, and a more robust frame.

Gravel race bikes prioritise speed and performance on packed gravel courses. They have a more aggressive geometry, lighter-weight components, and narrower tyres for maximum efficiency.

Test ride and fit

No matter how detailed the specifications, the most important factor is how the bike feels to you. Schedule a test ride at your local bike shop to see if the bike fits comfortably and allows for proper control.

Here are some aspects to focus on during your test ride:

  • Reach: The distance between the saddle and handlebars. You want to be able to maintain a comfortable and powerful pedalling position.
  • Standover height: The distance between the top tube of the bike and the ground. Ensure you can comfortably straddle the bike for dismounting and manoeuvring.

Final Tips

  • Don't be afraid to start with a more affordable option. You can always upgrade components later as your riding skills and needs evolve.
  • Invest in a good helmet and comfortable cycling clothing.
  • Connect with your local cycling community. They can offer valuable advice and recommendations based on your specific riding location.

Choosing the right gravel bike is an exciting journey

By understanding your needs, considering the key features, and following these expert tips, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect gravel bike to explore the world on two wheels. Remember, the most important aspect is getting out there and enjoying the ride!

If you would like to take your gravel bike training to the next level, why not take a look at our range of coaching options designed for any budget and skill level?

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