Photo: John Watson
Sometimes the best gravel bike adventures don’t just take the road less traveled, they leave roads behind entirely. In these cases, you need a bike that can tackle any terrain. A bike that feels fast and efficient on smooth gravel, but is capable and confidence-inspiring on singletrack. You need a gravel bike that can shred.
Shreddy gravel bikes still have drop-bars, but enhance their trail prowess with bigger tires, more relaxed geometry, dropper posts, or even suspension. I’ve picked out some of my favorite gravel bikes that can help you slay singletrack on your next adventure.
Rodeo Labs Traildonkey 3.0 - $6,149.99
The carbon Traildonkey is Rodeo Labs' flagship adventure bike and in it's third generation it has been revised to handle rougher, more ambitious riding. It’s ready to accept massive 700x50mm or 650x2.25" tires. Things get rowdier up front with the addition of the Fox AX gravel fork to soak up big bumps.
Lauf True Grit - $3,549.99
The True Grit’s party piece is the Lauf Grit SL fork which uses glassfiber leaf springs that provide 30mm of travel without the added weight of an air fork. Combine this with a lightweight carbon frame, longer top tube, shorter stem, and clearance for 45mm tires and you have a recipe for a singletrack slayer that can also stick at the front of fast gravel races.
Santa Cruz Stigmata CC - $4,999.99
Santa Cruz employs the carbon lay-up and tube shapes of its Highball mountain bike to create the latest Stigmata, giving it a more compliant ride on rough terrain. The head tube length has increased and the bottom bracket has been lowered so it feels stable on downhills and rails corners. It can fit 700x45mm or 27.5x2.1” tires and has internal routing for a dropper post.
Evil Chamois Hagar - $5,899.99
The wild looking Chamois Hager is all about progressive geometry. With a 66.67-degree head tube angle, low top tube, extra-low bottom bracket, and long reach, it fits and handles more like a mountain bike. With room for big 700x50mm tires, a dropper post, and an Eagle AXS mullet drivetrain, it may be the most adept trail shredder here, even without a suspension fork.
Niner MCR 9 RDO - $4,999.99
The MCR (which stands for “magic carpet ride”) was the world’s first full-suspension gravel bike. At the front, the Fox AX gravel fork has 40mm of travel, and in the rear, the MCR uses Niner’s efficient CVA suspension platform with 50mm of travel. Run it with 700x50mm or 27.5x2.0” tires for the cushiest ride on rough trails.
Open WI.DE. - $7,999.99
WI.DE stands for “winding detours,” which are what you’ll want to take while riding Open’s most capable gravel bike. It has dual dropped chain stays, allowing it to run faster 700x46mm tires or massive 27.5x2.6" mountain bike tires. The front end also has 20mm more stack than the race-oriented Open U.P.(P.E.R.), putting you in the ideal position to attack gnarly terrain.
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty - $8,499.99
The Topstone Carbon Lefty uses a gravel-specific Lefty Oliver fork with 30mm of travel to match 30mm of Kingpin suspension in the rear. Instead of a shock and linkage, Kingpin uses a pivot on the seat tube that allows the entire rear of the frame to flex, improving comfort and traction without adding weight. It comes with 47mm-wide 650b tires and routing for a dropper post.
Good riders can shred on any bike, but all of the gravel bikes featured here will make singletrack adventures more comfortable and fun. No matter what gravel bike you ride, the most important thing is to feel confident so you can get out there and explore new trails.
What shreddy gravel bikes are missing? Do you need one? Or do you still send it on a 'cross bike? Let us know in the comments!
Editor's note: Look below and you'll see plenty of commenters mentioning the Salsa Cutthroat. I agree it's a great bike for shredding! Our inventory changes daily, and I'm regularly updating this list, so I'll be sure to add one when we get some Cutthroats in stock.