Gravel bike with rim brakes that also can use normal road bike rims

I’m a roadie looking for the ultimate backup bike to rule them all.

Does there exist a gravel bike that can fit both 40mm wide tires/wheels and my 25mm road bike rim brake wheels?.

CX frame with canti brakes? No idea whether they’re even made anymore, but a step down in brake performance than even rim brakes in my experience.

Might be easier to go disc and a cheap disc road wheelset?

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I present the Surly CrossCheck, readily available new even today.

Pictured with 43mm Panaracer Gravel Kings, but this bike would fit my Reynolds Assault wheels and road tires no problem!

Probably not what you had in mind though…… you’re probably looking for a used Cyclocross Frame. The canti Trek Crockett will fit 40s and is a great gravel bike as well.


Thanks for reply, yea i think a cyclocross that fits up to 40mm is my best bet. Also when doing some thinking i guess going for something to fit my rim road wheelset is a step back and something i would rarely use.

Will check out the trek’s and similar

cannot understand why anyone would consider canti brakes on a new bike these days - they are a HUGE step down in performace and require a lot of regular maintenance. Back in my CX raciing days they were the only option and I even ran a CX bike as a winter bike one year and regretted it. If you ride in mud with canti brakes then you had better not need to stop in a hurry…

You probably wont find a standard rim brake road bike that fits 40mm tyres due to the limitations of the brake caliper. Dare I ask what your issue with discs is for a gravel bike? Discs are ideal for a gravel bike thats likely to see some mud etc.


If I were you I would only consider that if I came across an old CX frame with canti brakes. But honestly, you are just delaying the inevitable. Yes, you won’t be able to use your road bike wheel set, but in all likelihood you’ll have to switch to disc brakes once you buy your next road bike. So starting with a new bike with a modern wheel set is better in the long run.

The issue is not just the frame, but also a gravel-specific wheel set for rim brakes: I am not aware of any manufacturer that has such wheels in their line-up. Also, gravel usually also means mud and water, which means that you should look at alloy (as opposed to carbon) rims. Carbon rims have severely diminished braking in the wet. That’s not an issue if you ride your road bike on road when the sun is shining, but with gravel riding you will encounter water much more often.

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What’s a rim brake?


Thanks for all the replies.

Other gear question then:

with 23mm internal rim i should be able to fit 28-40mm wide tires?, probably easier than keeping 2 wheelset or trying to use road bike wheelset.

I bought my Cross-Check last year and love it! It’s probably my favorite bike. I think the canti brakes are just more aesthetically pleasing and they’re definitely less maintenance than disc brakes. I’m still rocking rim brakes on the road bike too as again I just LOVE the simplicity of them. I think I may cry the day I’m forced to buy a disc roadie.

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I’m not sure what all this disc brake maintenance that people have to do is…I have 3 bikes with disc and all I do is bleed them like once a year (and that’s just preventative and not because in issue popped up) and then maybe new pads once a year and I haven’t needed new discs yet.


While you may have had a hassle-free experience with disc brakes, pretending that there are no downsides to disc brakes specific to maintenance is disingenuous. Hyper-sensitivity to debris, heat dissipation issues endemic to smaller discs lead to warping, fluid leaks on hydraulic systems, need for bleeding (many riders are not mechanically savvy regardless of how simple you may think the process is), and other failure modes. No one is saying there is a day-to-day maintenance concern, but when something does go wrong at minimum, it could be costly from a time and money perspective, and worse yet, dangerous if not detected. There are pros to disc brakes for sure, not least of which being modulation and feel, but even years later, the cons certainly stack up and for many people greater than the pros. The OP wanting a rim brake option is completely sensible. Compatibility is a breeze, every time you get on a bike with rim brakes, you can have substantial confidence that things are in perfect working order.


Idk, maybe I’m hard on equipment but both my mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes go through master cylinders like they’re going out of style… I’ve lost count of the number of Level and Guide masters i have gone through but I know I’ve had to replace three on my Force CX1 cyclocross bike. I’ve also somehow had two Deore calipers go out on me and dump brake fluid all over the rotors… so I had to replace the rotors too. I also go through a set of pads basically every race.

The problem really is, these things are easy to fix, but replacing master cylinders when they go out is extremely expensive.

I’ve fit 40 mm tires on my Yet Arc-X cyclocross bike. I replaced the cantilevers with mini-v brakes as they are a bit easier to adjust and a bit more powerful.

Curious what you mean by a gravel specific wheelset? More spokes? Wider internal width between the beads? Tubeless? Hookless? Different types of spokes?

Not trying to be argumentative or anything, I just think it’s silly how manufacturers label something like a wheelset as road vs gravel vs cyclocross

Yes, that would be completely fine

I fit WTB Nano 40s on my rim brake Trek Crockett no problem. Having recently switched to a disc gravel bike I’ll attest the performance upgrade is dramatic, at least when going downhill. But I still race CX on that bike and it’s just a fun low-maintenance beater I don’t need to worry about.


It’s not just marketing. Gravel wheel sets have wider internal rim width and are e. g. tubeless-ready or tubeless-only. For example, 3T’s aero gravel wheel set has an internal width of 29 mm. They are also sturdier. Some bikes allow you to mount 27.5/650b mtb wheels with even wider tires.

Yes, you can use narrower rims for wider tires. But one way or another I wouldn’t use carbon rim brake wheels.

And I know a guy who used to use an old Colnago with cantis (2009-2011ish if memory serves) for a while as a gravel bike. He had old pets lying around and didn’t want to invest a fortune to dip his toes into the water. He’s since upgraded to a disc brake bike.

The cons to disk brakes are quite simple: 1. You need to keep your wheels trued. 2. You need to spend some time learning how to maintain them (i don’t buy this ‘not mechanically savvy’ excuse - there’s plenty of good content out there if people want to learn. Heck even the SRAM manual on its own will get you through a bleed or master cylinder replacement with a bit of patience). 3. If you really don’t want to take the time to learn 1 and 2 you can either go for a cable-actuated hydro like the Juin-Tech (practically as good as full hydro) or pay a bike shop to do it.

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Not everyone wants to learn. Some people just want to ride their bikes

See above

Variation on a theme here… Rim brakes are ready to go every time. Short of a brake cable replacement (which many people won’t require during the life of their bikes) maintenance is minimal. No one needs patience or a video to swap brake pads or to use their bike for years. Quick-release wheels are far easier to manage in the case of a flat than thru-axle, another complicating factor that people may not want to deal with.

People love to pound their chest with an HTFU attitude. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of disc, there must be something wrong with the person rather than the process. Sorry, don’t buy it. If you are willing to manage the equipment, great. You can reap the benefits of disc brakes. Some people, like the OP, would rather not leverage money or time to deal with the encumbrance of maintenance that doesn’t exist on rim brakes.

To each their own, it’s not an “excuse” for you to buy, it’s a personal preference.