Gravel bike options

I’m interested in buying a gravel bike for some mixed surface riding and racing. I’ve got 4 frontrunners and am interested if anyone would or would not recommend any of these.

  1. 3T Exploro
  2. Open UP
  3. Lauf True Grit
  4. Allied Able

They all seem fairly comparable with some subtle differences. They each also seem to have some quirks that I’m not fond of. Maybe I’m way overthinking things. e.g. the pressfit BB for the Open Up - I’d prefer threaded, the 15mm front axle on the Lauf, the seat post bolt on the Exploro etc.

Ibis Hakka MX and Santa Cruz Stigmata both have threaded bottom brackets as well. Great frames too. the 12mm front axles are very strong for gravel/road.

All are great bikes…each with something unique to them. Exploro = aero, Lauf = excellent fork, etc.

The Allied Is probably the most “traditional” and the Open the most “versatile”. All are excellent options, it is really going to be what you prefer and how you will ride it.

Personally, I would want a threaded BB over pressfit for a gravel bike…if it were me, I’d be leaning towards the Exploro. Great frame design, pretty versatile as to wheels / tires and excellent ride.

But you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Salsa Warbird?


I was just about to recommend the Warbird as well, as I own one and love it. But, OP did say they want to avoid PressFit bottom brackets. I haven’t had any trouble with mine so far, but I know some have complaints about PressFit.


Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere…

Am I being dumb? - but can some explain to me in layperson’s language the difference between a gravel bike and a CX bike?

In both cases they (for the most part) to my untrained eye look very similar and in fact remind me very much of the old-school mountain bike I rode in the 1980s in my teens (Specialised Rockhopper Sport).

Vastly different to the massively suspended and Uber-chunky mountain bikes that seem to exist now.

I saw the Vegan Cyclist recently rode about on something called a “Canyon Grail” which looked lit me like a slightly more ‘roady or aero’ version of either a gravel or CX bike?

Genuinely trying to get my head around all this as I have recently been riding some routes that have a percentage of compacted gravel trails (on my toad bike) and have really enjoyed myself so considering whether post-lockdown to take the plunge on a different bike to broaden my route planning opportunities

Thanks in advance :+1:t2:


Super short, tire clearance and geometry are the big ones. Options for mounting extra water and gear on gravel l.

There are several good YouTube vids that go into all the details.

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Specialized diverge?

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Yeah, like Chad said, the differences are small, but noticeable. A gravel bike (as compared to a CX bike) usually has a higher BB drop (BB is closer to the ground) and a longer wheel-base, both of which should make it more stable. You may also see differences in head tube and seat tube angle. But, the differences will vary depending on the specific make and model. For example, my Salsa Warbird (“gravel race bike” per Salsa) has 5mm more drop than a Trek Boone (CX), but only 2.5 more drop than a Kona Super Jake (CX) (I just happen to know this because I compared them when I bought the ConflagrationAvian).

I recently heard on a podcast with a pro CX racer (I think it was Groadio with Amanda Nauman) how many manufacturers are dropping CX lines and having their pro CX teams ride their gravel bikes in elite CX competitions. This is not great for CX, as the bikes are a little different, but apparently close enough that manufacturers are eliminating CX lines.

You are right in thinking they are very similar. And, the comparison to 90’s mountain bikes is apt! We are even starting to see various suspension options for gravel bikes. And, GCN has had at least one video talking about this very fact; it seems we are just repeating the evolution of the mountain bike in many ways.


Cool :sunglasses:
This is helpfully informative and sort of steers me towards considering a gravel bike - albeit a non suspension setup that has more of road bike characteristics on the sliding scale of things

PS: sort I’d wish I’d kept my old Specialised that my parents bought me back around 1988; would have ideal :grin:

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I fell in love with CX last year and, so, was considering buying a CX bike… but my local bike shop proprietor convinced me to go with a gravel bike, the Warbird, instead, as Salsa had them on clearance. Is it the most ideal CX bike possible? No. But, it’s pretty close, and will be more comfortable for longer rides than would a CX bike. That’s the idea, at least. :rofl:


You’re probably overthinking it. Buy the pretty one with the most mounts. This is a good occasion for Ti though Moot Routt 45


I’ll second that! That’s one nice thing about the gravel rigs, they tend to have mounting points which CX bikes do not. The Warbird has cage mounts allover the place, which is nice. It did not have the upper mounts for a rear rack, but I did get a seat-post clamp with the mounting holes on it, just in case I want to throw a rack on there for some bike camping or something.

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Cervelo Aspero, no mounts! Not for hauling gear but hauling ass!


Yeah, I changed my bottom bracket out with a BBInfinite BB.


That Chamois Haggar bike,

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What’s your issue with a press fit BB? 1k miles on my new warbird and not a sound. when it does start making noise I’ll just replace it with a thread together Wheels Mfg. BB.

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The issues with pressfit BB’s are well documented. A very high rate of problems with noise.

I went through two Venge’s and could never get the BB to remain quiet. First one was warrantied, second one stated creaking within months. Multiple BB options tried, nothing resolved it.

Does that mean all pressfit BB’s creak? Of course not…but given the high incidence of it, and my own personal experiences, I try and avoid a pressfit, if I can.


Did you ever try the thread together BB’s from wheels mfg? They eliminate the creaking issue. With that solution, it seems pretty short sighted to instantly eliminate all bikes with a PF BB.


Yup…tried it on both Venges. Also know others for whom it did not work (and many for whom it did, as well).

It is probably the best option to fix creaking in a pressfit, but it is not a guaranteed fix and doesn’t change the fact that it is a bad design. When you have to routinely rely on an aftermarket product to get something to work properly, there is a design problem.