New gravel bike recommendation

Hi everyone,

I’m looking at starting racing gravel event this summer and because I have a pretty limited budget, I narrowed down my option to the 4 following model:

  • Giant Revolt Advanced 2 (3800$ CAD)
  • Marin Headland 2 (discounted to 3500$ CAD)
  • Cervelo Aspero GRX 600 (discounted to 3900$ CAD)
  • Argon 18 Dark Matter GRX Mix 2x (discounted to 4000$ CAD)

The outlier here is the Marin as I believe is the most singletrack focused one with a dropper post and a 1x setup which I’m unsure about. As for the other 3, I have owned the Giant before (should not have gotten rid of it…) and it was well equipped but had issues with the rear hub and was very heavy in stock form. I’m not very familiar with the Cervelo but it looks like the racier option but the least well equipped one with extremely cheap wheels (just like the Marin). The Argon 18 is probably the better equipped one and the only one with my size that comes with the 170mm crankarm I normally run.

To me the Cervelo will probably be the less comfortable of the bunch but the lightest and closest to my race bike position but since I’ve never raced 100+ km long gravel event this might not be a good thing.

Any recommendation is welcomed of if you have another model that is similarly priced that I haven’t thought of please let me know.

Thanks all!

I’m a fan of Marin from a value perspective, but make sure you check the geometry. They tend to have a more upright geo (shorter and taller) than some brands. I’ve tried to make their frames work for me and I just can’t. I need long and low……but if the gel works for you, give it good hard look.

Your assessment re: the Cervelo and fit is probably pretty accurate….and also the reason I got mine - it is basically a gravel bike for roadies. I wouldn’t be too concerned about reports of the bikes being “too stiff” because current gravel tires / sizes will provide plenty of comfort, even in rough stuff.

Have you looked at the Weekend Warrior Wireless Lauf Seigla Rigid?

I’m enjoying my Race Wirelsss tremendously.


Seconding the Lauf. In terms of components per dollar it’s unbeatable. Just double check the sizing they run long on the top tube.

I’ve never heard a bad thing about the Aspero. I think they look great and If you can get one discounted or used the prices are OK.


I just found a brand new discounted Trek Checkpoint SL5 for 3500$ CAD with the deal only available today. Is this something I should grab as fast as I can? The specs compares pretty good to my other option is would be the cheapest one of the bunch?

I’ve been in the market for a gravel bike recently, didn’t want to spend much either. Lauf did not work out for me size/geometry-wise (personal preference, nothing wrong with the bike), so I ended up with Fezzari Shafer. Love it!

Probably the only complaint so far is the stock fulcrum wheels. Nothing particularly wrong with them, but I feel like dt swiss on my mtb are way smoother overall. There’s an option to upgrade to zipp 303 at checkout, but I figured I’d rather upgrade later, when I know better. But anyways, wheels are not a deal breaker by any stretch. I still love the bike.

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Looks pretty great to me. The wheels are garbage but you won’t get great wheels with anything at the budget I guess. Otherwise the spec is great and the geometry is a nice middle ground/leaning roadie that seems ideal to me.

That said, I’d still only buy it if you do the research and decide it’s the one you want. $500 in the grand scheme of things isn’t much compared to having just the right bike. I’ve settled on the Aspero after trying a more MTB inspired gravel bike first (Fezzari Shafer)—didn’t realize how much I’d miss having more road feeling geometry for gravel racing.

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I’d second the Lauf. I have a Revolt Pro 0. It’s fast. Bought a Lauf and my Revolt is now a road bike. Lauf prices are really good for what you get.


Being in Canada might be worth checking out T-Lab as the are domestic (built in Montreal)

Considering his apparent budget, not sure that T-Lab offers any complete builds even close to that price?

Seems their frameset is that range from what I’ve seen.

Thanks for all your answers, the T-Lab is definitely outside my budget and the Lauf geometry seems a little too mtb for me and since I already have a Epic Evo I’m leaning more into gravel bike that are closer to road bike geometry.

At this point I think I’m leaning more toward the Trek Chekpoint SL5 because price wise it’s hard to pass considering the Cervelo Aspero is just a bit too much money for me and I’d rather spent that extra 500-600$ on better wheelset.

I’m just unsure about the Trek’s IsoSpeed, does it really make a difference and any downside beside the obvious weight penalty?


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IsoSpeed does indeed work, especially on the road. Does it work on gravel? That depends on the gravel you are riding (I have a Domane and no other downsides). Super chunky gravel it doesn’t do much.

IMHO I would buy Checkpoint over the ones you listed (the wheels do indeed suck though). Note that I decided to go with a Crux over a Checkpoint due to the geometry/weight/tire clearance (budget wasn’t really my concern). To me those were more valuable than isoSpeed (I already run 303 FC and the trek is a bit of a boat). Now if Spec would just ship the darn thing.

I ride/race an SL5 and it’s served me well. While it’s geometry is skewed toward rowdier gravel, it’s more than capable on smoother/faster courses (I often use it for saturday group rides on the road rather than my aero madone). I like what they did stretching out the reach and running a shorter stem/bar while keeping the headtube angle reasonable. Gives you the stability of the longer wheelbase without the sluggish feel of a slack headtube. It’s a ton of fun to ride fast, particularly when things get chunky.

Weird, I saw 72.5 head angle and 61mm trail. Maybe that’s an older version? I wouldn’t call that rowdy gravel geometry.

66mm trail on the 58 frame and 72.3 on the head tube angle. While the head tube angle isn’t slack (keeping it somewhat responsive), they pushed the wheelbase (106) and reach (41) pretty far out. It descends and climbs technical stuff very well. The wheelbase is a trade off if you get into twisty single track kind of stuff or tight switch backs, but it’s a good trade for the stability and I don’t typically see much of that in the racing I do (and I also like that the toe overlap is eliminated). Whatever they did with the geometry, it’s just confidence inspiring for me. I used to race a domane (which was trek’s gravel bike before the checkpoint), it was great on smooth fast courses, but scared the crap out of me on fast technical stuff (especially descending). I thought I wanted road manners on my gravel bike until I hit some more technical courses.

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More to it than that. The Reach, Front Center and Eff. Top Tube on the Checkpoints are on the long end of the spectrum. That all combines to make a long wheelbase with the rider more at the rear for more straight line stability.

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Well thanks everyone for your comments, I ended buying the Checkpoint as they deal was ending today and I don’t think I can go wrong with the Trek.


This thread is now worthless without pics……:crazy_face:

Nothing better than New Bike Day.


That seems like a really nice balance between responsive steering and stability on rough roads. I like the theory for sure: will have to throw a leg over one some day.

I will need to be patient as it won’t be ready until the end of next week. This will be my third new bike day this year, I definitely have the new bike disease in me :roll_eyes: