Need help choosing a gravel bike

Last year I was going to borrow a friend’s mtb to try a local gravel series here in Kansas. The stars didn’t align and I still haven’t ridden more than .75 miles on gravel (to get to paved roads) in 20 years. Now the gravel series added a 200 mile race, and I MUST ride it!

I’m currently at a FTP of 3.72 W/kg, this past year is my first in a decade without a century road ride. Not the fastest on pavement, best century was 5:23:20 mostly solo. But I want to be fast.

So now I’m seriously shopping for a gravel bike. Here are my current thoughts:
Specialized Diverge - aluminum frame, 105 components except cranks. $1900. The future shock up front and cobble gobbler in the rear are appealing. I could spring for carbon 105 at $3k, but that difference would get me a power meter… Aluminum version has been my leader.

Salsa Warbird - aluminum, all 105 2018 version for $1900 (LBS will give me an extra discount to match the Diverge price). I hadn’t seriously looked at Warbirds, being a lot more than a Diverge, but that price is appealing. No suspension. Being full 105 I could get a Stages PM. One downside is the frame is purple lol

Giant Revolt - $2100 for carbon with 105. No suspension either. The D-fuse seat post means no after market shock-equipped seat post. But it is carbon for a heck of a price. Carbon Diverge Tiagra comes in at $2100. My first road bike as an adult was a Giant OCR1 that I rode for 11 years and 14000+ miles before putting it on the trainer.

Trek Checkpoint - for about $200 less than the comparable Diverge it gives a few more mm tire clearance and lots of mounting points for everything. Rear suspension is that the seat post isn’t rigidly attached to the top tube. No front suspension. Manager at that LBS said it checks all of the boxes in what he recommended Trek put in a gravel bike.

All that said, what do you fine folks think? I tend to stick with gear for a long time, so this decision is a tough one! Want to get it right. Thanks!

Which exact Checkpoint model?

The carbon SL models are the only ones with the rear IsoSpeed.

The aluminum AL and ALR models do NOT have rear IsoSpeed.

This doesn’t address the models you’ve mentioned, but have you considered a Fuji bike? (Full disclosure, I ride for a Fuji sponsored team, but would recommend their bikes regardless)

The Jari or Cross would suit your needs at a comparable price point for higher end equipment. Both models have 42mm tire clearance, and come well-equipped.

With Performance bikes running store-closing sales, you might even snag a 2018 model for a great price, depending on your size needs.

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I really really want a Rocky Mountain Solo 70…


I love my KHS Grit gravel bike. The 440 is in your price range too

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I bought a Warbird Carbon Rival several months ago. I love it. I prefer 105 but Rival has been fine. It fits me well and is a comfortable bike. So now I am a Salsa fan! I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of those bikes. See which one fits/feels the best. Have fun, new bike day is the best day!

Also check out the Canyon Grail. $2100 for carbon, 105 group set.

I’m in the market for a gravel bike also. I’ve been looking at the salsa warbird. I like the 45mm tire clearance on 700s, and the ability to run 2.1”tires on 650b. Also like the various frame attachment points for bikepacking.

I haven’t pulled the trigger yet tho, so will also be interested to hear people’s perspectives on the bikes you listed.

I really with I could buy the grail frameset with the aeroroad integrated bars instead.

I’m sure you’re right, I was focused more on the carbon Checkpoint, must have been an SL.

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The Trek LBS also had Fuji. Looked at the Jari but the Checkpoint seemed closer to what I was wanting. The Jaris at Performance Bike are lower-tiered than I’m looking, great thought though!

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Have you looked at the Jamis Renegade range - I have the Elite…plenty of fun with some G1’s on and pretty quick on the tarmac with some regular road tyres on. Happy hunting.

Another one to add to your list to check out is a new small company called Noble Bikes. They have a nice Gravel Bike (GX5) that gives you a lot for the price. I went down this same path and ended up with a custom built Trek Boone to give me more road and cyclocross versatility. I am limited to probably 38 or 40 tire size (have 35s on it now), but I love it. Both the Specialized Diverge and Trek Checkpoint would be very good options. I have ridden the Diverge and it is nice. Both weigh more than my Boone. Good luck deciding.


I’ve been contemplating a frame upgrade that I can run 40’s on with good mud clearance.

Argon 18 has come out with a gravel bike and it seems to tick all the boxes;

Consider the Kona NRB. Super fun 650b bike. Can run 700 if wanted. I’ve had more fun on it than I originally imagined. No nonsense aluminum frame. Good for long gravel rides. Still fast. Can get rowdy on the trails. I only regret getting the 2018 model at a discount instead of going for the better spec’d 2019.

I waffled between the Kona and the Warbird but the shop nearest me deals in Kona.

I’m guessing you’ve ridden them all, which will definitely be informative – for what it’s worth, I just got a Diverge Comp and LOVE it. Fits me perfectly, and I love the future shock and seat post damping…have ridden a fair amount of gravel and some mild single track, and the bike is a blast. Makes me want to get on it every time I look at it. Good luck with your decision!

An update: wound up going with the 2017 Salsa Warbird (aluminum w/ 105). Rode it the next day fown my road, 10 miles each way, had a blast. Bike and I were covered in mud. A deciding factor was that it had 105 cranks. Conveniently Stages is clearancing their 105 Gen 3s, so it should be here tomorrow :grin:

Holefully the weather will cooperate so i can get a couple test rides with the power meter before my firat race on March 9th. Looking forward to a spring of gravel races!