Gravel bike vs Road bike: One bike for fun and occasional gravel race

I’m planning to sell my road bike and upgrade to a nicer gravel bike ($4-7K) with a different set of wheels for gravel and road. Would be interested in forum’s experience and thoughts with different gravel bikes. True Grit from Lauf looks like fun, but does it ride well on the road? How about the Specialized Diverge?


I did the same thing. Purchased a 2018 Scott Gravel 20 and a second wheel set (nicer set than what came stock). I can ride asphalt with 28mm slicks, gravel and cross. So far have been very pleased. I even added a 4iiii crank power meter so I can now measure power on all my rides.

Check out the Open UP/UPPER. They can be built up to UCI weight limit (if you got deep pockets) and are the perfect Swiss army knife, do all, road/gravel machine.

Little expensive tho


My winter bike is a Kinesis Tripster AT that I have a set of gravel wheels and a set of road wheels and it works great for me. It is set up more for offroad than road, with flared drops and a slightly more relaxed position than my road bike - I don’t mind this for the kind of riding I tend to do in winter but I definitely prefer going back to the road bike if I want to ride fast.

It’s probably worth thinking about what your mix of road/gravel will be and what compromises you’re happy to make to suit each type of riding.

If I could only have 1 bike I’d seriously consider the Allied Allroad. Check out this review of Allen Lim’s(The Skratch Labs guy) bike.

And from personal experience my Diamondback Haanjo is great with road tires on it. The difference between this bike and my road bike is only noticeable when riding them back to back.


I exclusively rode a Cannondale CAADX for almost two years. Have two separate wheelsets for it (road and gravel).

I recently picked up a CAAD12 as my main road bike, but I honestly still prefer the CAADX for everything except for speed. The 12 is definitely faster (though not by a tremendous amount) but the X is far more comfortable and versatile. It’s still my endurance, recovery, bad weather, and gravel rig anyway.


I have a Salsa Warbird and was planning on getting a road wheelset but I haven’t really needed to. When I go on group road rides I’ve just added extra air pressure. I’m sure someday I’ll get that second wheelset.

My wife has a new Specialzed Diverge and is in the same boat, both are great all-around bikes.

If money were no object I would seriously look at the Open UP or Moots.


I built up a Santa Cruz Stigmata a couple years ago and despite considering myself mainly a triathlete it’s become my favorite bike. I’ve got two sets of wheels; one with a set of 40cm gravel tires and the other with a set of 30cm road tires. Both are tubeless and I really like switching back and forth between the two and using the bike for both road and gravel rides. With the 40cm tires it handles all types of dirt with ease. It’s of course great on gravel, but is also great on non technical single track. I set it up as a 1x and have a XT di2 rear mech and it shifts great both on the road and the dirt.

I also use the bike for occasional cross races and it works great for me. Not a full on cross race machine like a Crux, but for me it’s all about the tires. If it’s dry I use the 40cm gravel tires and if it’s wet I swap them out for a set of 35cm mud tires. I know there are better choices for “racing” cross, but I do it just for fun and the Stigmata works great for me.

On the road side of things It’s definitely not a racing bike, but I still like taking it out on a group ride with the 30cm tires and other then running out of gears (because of my 1x setup) while descending it does a great job as a road bike too.

It’s a really versatile bike and I honestly couldn’t be happier with it.


That’s what my SuperX is…I ride road centuries on it, commute sometimes, even head out for fast ride on the road wheelset with 28c tubeless with an 11-36 cassette and then slap on the Allroad Pro wheels, 40c tubeless, and 9-46 TRS Race cassette for gravel and CX…

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I’ve got an Open U.P and use it for Gravel, CX rides and racing and road during winter, with a set of 700s and a set of 650s and it is fantastic.

Really can’t recommend it highly enough.


@shawrx Do you ride the stigmata in triathlons? I only have the option of owning 1 bike so I’m considering getting the stigmata as my commuter/triathlon/training/gravel bike (with 2 sets of wheels).

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Ah yes, the Stigmata crew is here, such a great bike.

In addition to my Di2 Stigmata, I also own a Di2 CAAD12 which is also a great bike, and I’ve owned a few road bikes, yet none of the speak to me like the Stigmata. On the road I do 30/32 Spesh tubeless tires and I’m sure it’s slower than the road bike from that tire and the aero, but I can’t tell and still enjoy group rides with that bike. I still ride the CAAD12 like one day per week on a drop ride and I’ll race that if I ever do another crit, but knowing what I know now I would have just bought a 5th set of wheels for the Stigmata.

I currently run 44x11-34 on the Stigmata and about to put a double on it. I did not like the jacked chain line I dealt with in the mud this season and that’s also going to be much nicer on the road with the Stigmata.


I have another bike I use for tris, however it was out of commission for a bit this summer and I did do a triathlon on the Stigmata. It was actually perfect for the race as I was doing as it was very hilly and started with a 20 minute climb. The gravel gearing made it so I could just easily spin up the climb and just using the drops on the way down felt pretty quick. I think I would have been a bit faster on my other bike, but not enough to really worry about.

It wouldn’t be the best bike for a flat/fast triathlon bike course, but unless you’re trying to be really competitive it’ll still totally get the job done.

If I was going to buy a dedicated gravel rig (and I race a lot of gravel) right now, it would be the Open U.P. because I would want the versatility of the 650B option for different types of gravel.

But…if I was buying a “one bike to rule them all” whip for both gravel and road, I would seriously, seriously consider the Allied Alfa Allroad. I was an original owner of the GT Grade (circa 2015) which was one of the first true crossover gravel/road/do-it-all bikes, and it was amazing (before being hit by a car with me aboard it…).

Full disclosure – I have a dedicated road bike AND a dedicated gravel bike right now – and neither is one of the ones mentioned above. I ride the 2017 Norco Search Carbon for gravel, but it lacks the 650B versatility. It is an outstanding bike, though. So that might be another one to look at.


Just brought a Norco Seatch xr Carbon. Full cabron - mounts for everything everywhere. Will take 650b as well. And not the price of a open Up

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I have ridden a cross bike (Kona Major Jake) on road, gravel, singletrack and cross courses for two years. I also have an older Cervelo, but I almost always take the Jake when I ride. This experience has led me to be almost certain I’m buying an Allied Alfa Allroad next year. It’s pretty much the perfect geometry, and made in America by some solid folks to boot.

my .02, YMMV.


I have seriously been considering this very thing… purchasing a “quiver killer” bike. My rare road rides have become more endurance/enjoyment/exploration based and less spirited group rides or racing. The idea of racing gravel is appealing. I have been really intrigued with the Open U.P. My only concern is the relatively slack head tube angle (71º on a medium) and longer trail. I’m sure it would be great on gravel and fire roads but not sure how it would feel on pavement.

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I’ve been riding the Ibis Hakka since this summer as my road and gravel bike. It’s very similar to many of the bikes mentioned here with bountiful wheel and tire options. The bike goes from pavement to dirt with ease and I’ve even ridden CX on it.


Good thread. I recently bought a 3T Exploro and I love it. I had been seriously looking at the Open UP – test rode one, spent time in the saddle on both rode and loamy steep trail in up to Mauna Kea – but it wasn’t for me. I looked seriously at the Stigmata but liked the geometry and ride qualities of the Salsa Warbird. The price held me back though. But I got connected with a 3T distributor who had ready to build bikes and sent one to the local 3T reseller. At $3660(?) list for the 3T Exploro Team 2017, it was the least expensive option.

If the OPEN is a mountain bike that does road, the Exploro is the road bike that does trail. Same designer, different purposes and ride characteristics. Personally, I like the Exploro’s ride much better than the Open, and I did like the Open. It has the same (nearly the same?) wheel options as the Open.

In the past month that I’ve had the bike, I’ve ridden it on dry gravel, rocky & rooty terrain, grass, snow, mud, wet leaves, etc. The stock WTB Byways work well, so far, except for steep climbs in 4" of snow (not much traction) or on long soaked grass, but that’s why we get second wheel sets, right?


To close the thread, I ended up buying the 3T Exploro and absolutely love it. It’s like riding a Cadillac on the road. Not a crit racer, but great for everything else.
I went with the ready-to-paint option and had a local guy do a custom paint job.