Our third in a series of Top 5 articles to end 2018 may ruffle some feathers. We first offered you the Top 5 Gifts for the Gravel Cyclist, then the Top 5 Gravel Athletes to Watch in 2019. We now bring you our Top 5 least desirable gravel bikes of 2019. Now that may seem a bit harsh, but here at Gravelstoke we have always valued authentic content, quality goods and thoughtful curation. That means highlighting the best gravel specific products and giving you our honest opinion.
The following bikes were selected solely based on our own preferences, opinions, location and style or riding. Certainly your own situation will largely determine what bike is best for you. Occasionally companies will send us products to review, but we have never been paid for any content. And while we haven’t actually ridden any of the following bikes listed here, we would be happy to give them a proper test in the future. Here we go…
#5 Aventon Kijote
We should first say… this is a $600 gravel bike. So for what it is, the Kijote is actually a pretty sweet deal. Aventon, who is probably best known for their fixed-gear bikes, set out to create what appears to be a legit gravel bike at a redonkulous price. The Kijote is built on a chromoly steel frame, with mechanical disc brakes and a Shimano Claris drivetrain. Its greatest weakness will certainly be weight, with a medium coming in at 28lbs. So while we don’t anticipate seeing the Aventon on any epic adventures, it could be just the ticket for those on a budget looking to join the cool kids popping airs at the local pump track.
Check it out at Aventon Bikes
#4 Trek Checkpoint AL
BS Alert! Didn’t we see this already with the “Domane Gravel”? It looks like Trek is trying to sneak one past us again with the entry level Checkpoint’s AL4 and AL3. Now while the ALR and SL versions of the Checkpoint are formidable rigs that can compete with some of the best gravel bikes offered today, the AL versions are not gravel bikes. We might have let this one slip by as it’s in good company with the rest of the Checkpoint lineup, but when Trek advertises it as having, “Massive tire clearance means you can use tires up to 35c”, we thought that was taking things a bit too far.
See this gravel branded endurance road bike at Trek Bikes
#3 Cannondale SYNAPSE DISC SE
Cannondale’s All Road/Gravel lineup is described as “built to move you beyond the paved and predictable” and includes “specially-equipped models” in their SE collection. Cannondale does have some respectable gravel bikes like the all new Topstone and lefty slinging Slate, but we’re a bit confused as to why the Synapse Disc SE bikes are in this category. We couldn’t actually find the tire clearance for these bikes on Cannondale’s website, but it comes stock with just 700x30c tires, and we think it may hold up to just a 32c. If you’re in the market for a Cannondale, we suggest looking at the Topstone, good looking aluminum gravel bikes that come stock with 40c tires.
See the full Gravel & All-Road lineup at Cannondale
#2 Specialized Diverge
Specialized is well known for their marketing prowess. Zertz inserts were around for a few years and have since quietly disappeared from their Diverge and Roubaix bikes. Their more recent innovation involves a suspension system positioned just above the head tube. According to Specialized, “The Future Shock is a revolution in smoothness, delivering 20mm of travel without degrading speed, handling, or comfort.” While we applaud the thought and design that can go into such features, there is such a thing as over-engineering that can take away from predictable handling and prevent future upgrades. Here’s a thought, build a gravel plus bike that can accommodate 650b x 1.9in tires for that added compliance.
#1 Pinarello Grevil+
Italian brand Pinerello must be very confused on what the gravel market is looking for. Strangely, the graphics on this thing look more like something you would see on a big wheel racer than on a modern day gravel bike. “Full Gas Everywhere”. What does that even mean? To be fair, we do give Pinerello credit for staying true to their design language, and including features we would expect to see in a 2019 gravel bike such as clearance for 650b x 2.1 tires and multiple crankset options.
See the Grevil+ and Grevil at Pinarello
Let us know your thoughts below, have you ridden any of these bikes? Are we way off the mark or on point?
Are there any gravel bikes we should have included in the list?